Hola! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Kathleen Cochran
Kathleen Cochran is a writer and former newspaper reporter and editor who raised three children while traveling the world as a soldier’s better half. After a career in journalism, she consulted on several local political campaigns and worked for not-for-profits before turning her fulltime attention to writing. Her books are on Amazon: a women’s fiction, a memoir, a mystery, a novella, and a volume of poetry. Cochran also is an author on HubPages.com where you can find more than 150 articles on subjects ranging from politics to parenting.
Enjoy this book sample of Kathleen’s work: Take This Man is women’s fiction. Three women, who were married to the same soldier at different times of his life, meet – at his funeral. Sparks fly. Intimacies are shared. And at the end of the day, they have learned more about him and each other than they could have imagined.
My War – a wife’s story is a memoir about the author and her family living in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. While teaching English at a women’s language school, her husband trained Saudi soldiers for what would become known as the First Gulf War. She and her children dodged SCUD missiles and dealt with the threat of chemical warfare before evacuating back to the states in the middle of nighttime attack.
Lord, Lord is a mystery. A woman dies and goes to Heaven only to find out she was murdered. She learns who did it by learning about the people in her life who do and do not follow her to Heaven.
If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? I use Kathleen because it is my unused middle name. I use Cochran as an homage to my paternal grandmother. My parents were divorced. It wasn’t until my daughter’s marriage ended, and she and my two grandchildren had to live three states away from me, that I realized what an effort my Grandma Cochran had made to stay in my life.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? I wrote my first one in a matter of weeks – and it showed! My three that are on Amazon each took about three years. I do the Stephen King three drafts, but the time-consuming thing is re-writes after my proofreaders finish their work. That is the hardest part of self-publishing: deciding the book is finished. Years later, if I’ve found a spelling or grammatical error, I’ll still upload a new file. Errors drive me nucking futs! MF: Commas… I hate commas….
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I wrote my first book, which will never see the light of day, after my family and I went through Desert Storm while living in Saudi Arabia. I know. Most writers don’t get such a vivid jump-start. When I finished “Who Knew”, my husband told me if I never wrote another word, I could be proud that I’d actually started and finished a whole book. How many people who say they’d like to write a book, actually do it? I loved him for that, and 20 years later I used the skeleton of that book for “My War.” Never delete anything you’ve written! In fact, “Lord, Lord” includes the beginnings of about a half dozen manuscripts!
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? My best time to write is at two different times of day: pre-dawn and the couple of hours before dinner. If I wake up and get right to work, I get a lot more done. But if for some reason – like life getting in the way – I don’t sit down to write until late in the day, I find I can be very productive. I think it’s the newspaper reporter in me. I’m great when I’m up against a deadline. “The presses run on time” is a good motivator to get the work done.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I hope I’ve learned from my own mistakes. I’ve received some very good advice from my close friends who have progressed from proofreaders to editors. Some of the best advice I received was to read voraciously and watch movies by writers I hope to emulate. It’s a poor man’s way to learn dialogue and comedic timing. Of course, finding the failings in another’s work is easier than spotting those failings in your own. And sometimes it’s downright discouraging. I read Diana Gabaldon and wonder why I even bother?
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? The news is usually on in the background. I’m a junkie.
What have you written? I’ve written poetry, tour guides, newsletters, press releases, brochures, advertising copy, short stories, news articles, features, editorials, annual reports, research papers, articles on various subjects, a memoir, and novels. I think the only form of writing I haven’t done is ransom notes.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? For the book I’m working on right now, I’m using a timeline because it is historical fiction. I want my story to be in sync with the actual events that happened during the lead-up to World War II. In every other instance, I start with an idea and see where it takes me. I’m as surprised as anyone with how the story ends. Often, it becomes a different story that I started out intending to write. “Lord, Lord” became an entirely different book as it progressed.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I’ve designed all my covers except one. The cover for “My War” was designed by a graphic artist, Debbie Celusniak. firstname.lastname@example.org. She captured the story in the cover in a way I never could. For the others, I used CreateSpace cover creator. It was fun and easy.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Yes. I stopped looking for an agent or a publisher and I put my books on Amazon via CreateSpace. I haven’t made a fortune, but I’ve made a damned sight more than I did when my books were just sitting on my computer. Still, marketing a book is actually harder than writing one. Nobody wants to tell a new author that fact. I’m always looking for that One Thing that will put my work into the hands of more readers.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Write. Talking about it is fine. Reading about it is fine. But at some point, you have to sit down and do it. As sportswriter Red Smith said, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” Nobody ever said it was easy. But there is a reason Stephen King has written 100 books. Every day he writes 2000 words. If he finishes a book after writing 1990 words, he starts a new one. Don’t just want to be a writer. Be one. Write.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Lord, Lord was written while I was grieving for my mother. Some members of my family didn’t like it because they saw members of our family in it in an unflattering light (for all my efforts to hide similarities.) But the main reason I write under a penname is so I don’t edit out the heart of the story for fear of offending people I know. And this story came right from my heart, much more than anything I’d written before. Grief is a strong emotion. I hope that strength comes through my words.
Which writers inspire you? Aaron Sorkin and Susannah Grant (Both screenwriters, but great dialog writers to immolate.)
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? I’m writing a historical thriller about the unintended consequences of some of the choices America has made throughout our history. This story involves the romance between Britain’s King Edward and Mrs. Wallis Simpson and the consequences that led to England surviving World War II.
Do you have any formal education in creative writing? I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.
Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? “On Writing” by Stephen King
Where do you come up with your stories? All my work comes from my own life that I subsequently often turn into fiction. (Writers will get that!) Even my current work in progress is loosely based on the life of my great aunt who travelled the world as a single woman in the 1930s.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? You don’t have to be another Harper Lee or Diana Gabaldon. Only you have your voice. Be true to it.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? For 20 years I searched for an agent or a publisher. All I got for my efforts was a stack of rejection letters. Self-publishing has leveled the playing field. My work is out in the marketplace right along with all the other authors. My goal is to be read. Now it is possible.
Tell us something unique about you. During my husband’s Army career, I traveled to five continents, living in two of them – Germany and Saudi Arabia.
Is there anything else you would like to add? No, but I always asked this last question too when I’d interview someone for my newspaper. Great minds . . . !
How can readers discover more about you and you work? Visit HubPages.com to read excerpts from my books and articles.