Hi everyone. I have another author interview today. This young woman has been writing since she was 10 years old. She is highly imaginative, witty and always fun to talk to. Say hello to Master Story Teller Kathryn Fogleman!
Kathryn, thanks for stopping by. Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Do you have Family? Pets? Anything out of the ordinary?
I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and I still currently reside in the same. Oklahoma is a pretty great place. It drops below zero in the winter, over 119 degrees in summer, tornadoes in the spring, and lots of wind all year round. Oh…and no rain. Awesome place to raise the kids. You should stop by sometime! 😉 But no, really, Oklahoma is awesome.
I have a dog, named Pilot. I get lots of questions like “Does he fly? He-he-he…” and the answer is no. No, he cannot fly. I named him Pilot because my siblings liked the name and I like the character called “Pilot” from the Sci-Fi series Farscape. So, his name has a history, in that regard, but no matter what one may think, I did not name him Pilot because he can fly. However, that being said, he is pretty awesome and has learned several tricks. I’m hoping to turn him into a movie acting dog, like Lassie was!
My family did not fall far from the nut tree… or the fruit tree… whichever. I am the oldest of 6 children. My dad is an electrician. My mom is a blogger. My second sister raises Golden Retrievers. The rest of the gang are composed of a scientist-wanna-be, farmer-wanna-be, crazy-cat-lady-wanna-be, and a unicorn-rider-wanna-be. No lie. The 7 year old sister wants to have a pink unicorn when she grows up. She’s says that I will not be allowed to touch it, because I might rip its horn off of its head… it is a really long story of where she came up with that idea…
Well, I did ask for out of the ordinary. A pink unicorn? Rip the horn off its head? Oh, that just begs a second interview. But I digress. Let’s talk about your writing. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing my first novel when I was 10 years old. I was constantly living in a daydream (still am, for the most part) and I had a bunch of stories forming in my head. The little people in the stories started pounding on the crystal walls of my brain screaming “LET US OUT! LET US OUT!” so, I decided the best way to let them out was to start writing. I started out using a plain old notebook, but when my mother caught on to my desire to become an author, she showed me the magical power of Microsoft Word. After that, there was nothing to stop me. There were just too many stories and people swimming around in my head and they would not give me a break, so I had to give in to their demands and slowly start filtering them out (but occasionally, I can shut them all up with a cookie…or two…maybe three cookies and a candy bar…).
So sugar is the answer to quieting the voices, huh? Interesting… So then, do you write for a particular genre, or do you cross genres? If so, what is your favorite genre to write for?
I began writing in the fantasy genre and I still primarily write fantasy. But, my mother raised me to be a Sci-Fi junkie, so I do dabble in the strange and unusual dark arts of Sci-Fi-ism. My sister and I (the sister who raises Golden Retrievers) are working together on a Sci-Fi series as we speak. I am really, really excited about it. If we ever get it done, it is going to be a HUGE series. Huge as in, like, 8 or 10 books…
8 to 10 books? Very ambitious. Sounds exciting! We are definitely going to have you back when the first book in that series is done. Maybe your sister can join in? Anyway, on with this interview. So Kathryn, are you a planner or a “pantser” – do you plan out your books meticulously or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Uh… I’m kinda both. I plan out a basic idea for the book and I create a back story and a future story that I want it all to connect with later. I don’t even start writing until I know how I want the beginning of a book to be like, how a few scenes in the middle should play out, and how I want the end to end. Once I have those three main things figured out, I write “pantser” style and make them all connect. I really have no idea how the characters will get from the start, to the middle, to the end, but at least I have check points for them to check in at once they get there.
That is a very interesting approach. Kind of a “top down” method of writing. So where do you find inspiration?
Two things: dreams and movies… dreams primarily. When I am sleeping all of my imaginary friends come to life and attack me with all of their stories. A lot of their stories are very original (and that is an understatement). Movies really influence a lot of my story content too. I have been an auditory learner for a long time, and the action and auditory parts of movies really paint pictures in my mind of situations that my characters go through. However, as I have lost most of my hearing the last couple of years, I have become more visual, naturally, which is starting to come out in a lot of my writing as well. Movies also inspire this new way of learning for me as well.
However, the series I am currently working on, Tales of the Wovlen, is almost completely inspired by playtime. When my sister and I were little, we spent a great deal of time outside and we created our own imaginary world and people and adventures. Tales of the Wovlen branches from this imaginary world that we created. It is so amazing to see it coming to life through publication!
Playtime? Kind of your only little roleplaying world. That is so cool that you were able to put that into print. So what have been your experiences with writing so far? Can you name a positive and a negative one?
Positive: I get to kill people without going to jail. *evil smile* Negative: I occasionally become emotional and get caught up in the moments in the story. I have to feel it to write it, and that often makes it hard to differentiate between real life and the fantasy… plus, I am not an emotional person. Like, at ALL. So becoming emotional is not my favorite thing to do. It’s very draining.
That is not all that uncommon for writers you know. I know a number of other authors who say they became highly emotional after writing certain sections of their book. I’ve definitely had the experience myself. Like that “oh wow” moment, or finding that tear in your eye. I think it is good though overall. If you can put your feelings into your writing, readers should be able to “feel” those same emotions. But I really digressed there. Sorry! On with the interview. So Kathryn, do you listen to music, watch TV, or do anything unusual while you write?
When I am writing, I usually lock myself away where it’s semi-quite, and I will occasionally turn on some music. I prefer to write without music, because music will influence the mood of my characters while I am writing, but if there is a lot of activity going on with the siblings in the house, I cannot concentrate. So, the headphones and music go on. Sometimes I will start talking to my characters while I am writing. There has been more than one occasion when I have started yelling at them and I suddenly snap out of it to find my younger siblings in the room looking at me like I just lost my marbles.
Ha ha! That is great! I love it! And don’t worry, I know a lot of authors whose characters come to life for them. So you are not completely crazy. Just as long as they don’t start yelling back…ahem…Anyway, is there a message conveyed within your writing?
I try to convey a message in all of my writing. The main message I am attempting to convey in Tales of the Wovlen is that God is real. God is alive. God is involved. God can’t be ignored. It is something that is very close to my heart, because it is something that I have to deal with in real life regularly. People are always trying to put God in a box or ignore Him. Some of my characters try to do the same thing, but find out that it is impossible to do, just like it is in real life. If you open your eyes, everything around you in this world says that there is a God, there is a war, and none of it can fit into a refrigerator cardboard box.
That is very profound. Belief is a powerful thing. And writing is a great medium to spread it with. I hope you continue to write from your heart like that. Well, then, most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading?
I haven’t really read anything for a long time. I read lots of stuff on Wikipedia! But I haven’t actually sat down and read a good book for almost 6 months now. I cannot – CANNOT – read a novel while I am writing a book. I can barely read a biography while I am writing my own book. What I read influences my own writing way too much. However, I can read all the documentary books I want. Recently, I finished browsing through a book called Fossilized Customs. It is a very informative book that I intend to go back and read through more thoroughly. I would suggest it to anyone who likes to study about mythology, ancient culture, and that sort of stuff. It is very informative!
Can you name your favorite traditionally published author?
That would probably be Bryan Davis, Frank Peretti, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I cannot pick JUST ONE because I like them all for different reasons. Tolkien was my first love in the Fantasy genre. I love his in-depth world, languages, customs, mythology, etc… he did a very impressive job in building his world. I have yet to find anyone in the fantasy genre who has done as well in building their world. Bryan Davis just amazes me with his story crafting. He can build and twist a story like no other author I have read yet! I strive to make my stories as complicated and exciting as he makes his. Frank Peretti’s books are powerful and dark, without being evil. That is a very hard balance to maintain, in my opinion, and he does an excellent job at it. I have learned a lot from his balance of darkness and I try to input that into my own villains. A villain has to be dark, or they look shallow. At the same time, you can’t show their complete darkness or you start wading into waters that you do not want to be in.
Again, very profound. What about your favorite indie/self-published author?
I am probably going to get in trouble if some of my buddies read this, but I am going to say it anyway: Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Series. He started out self published, and I think he did a fantastic job for his age and situation! That being said, I do have a few other authors, new authors, who are growing on me. But, I am waiting for them to publish a few more books so I don’t sound biased, just because they are my friends as well…
Grin…I promise not to hold it against you. Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books?
I am constantly reading about biology, physiology, mythology, ancient culture, geology, and I study things myself, in person, such as swordsmanship, self defense, and horsemanship. I want to know what my characters can do, what they believe, how their world looks, how it feels, how it works. I like knowing the clock work. I don’t describe any of “the works” hardly at all in my book, but I have found that if I know how it works, it is a lot easier to get across to the reader how it works without having to describe things in great detail.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case?
I tried self-editing. I failed. The Helpy Helper is a life saver. ‘Nuff said.
Been there. As you know, I also use Melinda as my editor. I don’t want to even think about how bad my first attempt at publishing was. So, you obviously think a book suffers without being professionally edited.
I believe a book suffers if it has not been thoroughly read by outside help and possibly edited by outside help as well. “Professional” editors can do terrible jobs or great jobs. Your uncle or best friend can do the same. It just depends on the person’s experience and willingness to help.
So not necessarily “professional”. I have some other author friends helping me as well. Your right. It depends on who it is. What was your experience with getting your book published? How did you start out? Did you have help?
Publishing my book was really a very easy, delightful experience for me. This is probably because my poor editor did all the work (which means “I had help…a lot of it”). I started out striving to meet the standards of traditional publishing companies, but as time went by, I started to realize that I was jumping through hoops for pennies. I was trying to make a perfect book (by their standards) just so it could be scrutinized and published with a very small royalty for myself. Not only that, many of the publishing companies I was considering were being “assimilated” (Trekkie, can’t you tell??) into the larger publishing companies that did NOT take submissions unless you were someone of interest to them. I was running out of options. Thank God, a couple of self-pub authors directed me to CreateSpace. One of them had even started out with a traditional publisher and switched to CreateSpace, because it was better money and nicer quality. With the help of my amazing editor, I was able to painlessly publish my book and get it on the market in no time at all.
First and foremost, Trekkie!!! Live long, and prosper…Okay, got that out my system. Sounds like it was a bit of a rocky start for you, but things smoothed out nicely. What about marketing? Did you find it difficult? What strategy do you use, if any?
I am still trying to figure out the marketing thing. It is difficult for me, because I hate that sort of thing. I don’t get it. But, I do know that Facebook, blogging, Twitter, and other social media places do help a great deal. Facebook has several book promotion groups. Twitter has hashtags that get a lot of attention. But word-of-mouth is still the best, by far. The more reviews you get, the more blogs you get on, the more that other people share your stuff on Twitter and Facebook, the better your books will do. That much I have figured out.
It is a tough area for most self-published authors. Sounds like you have a good formula going so far. Now then, sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Then can you explain why you chose this order?
Solid Plot, Great Characters, Great World-building, and technically perfect. If you don’t have a solid plot, nothing else will be solid. Great characters make for a great story, and they help make the plot a more firm foundation. World-building eliminates a lot of plot holes and week characters. And “technically perfect”??? I do not know the meaning of this “technically perfect”. Get the others right, and you won’t have to worry about many imperfections.
You are very funny, you know? So far, what is your favorite work?
Currently, I am still working on my first series, Tales of the Wovlen. As I mentioned earlier, the world it is set in was created in my childhood, and there are many, many, many other stories that take place in that world outside of the Wovlen. That world is very dear to me so, dare I say that all the stories I write concerning it will be my favorite? However… there are two books in the making, outside of that world, that came from very vivid dreams. They also will be very precious to me… particularly this one story about a character called Nian… BUT I HAVE TOLD YOU TOO MUCH ALREADY! *pulls out the memory wiping device*
Ummm…where was I? Oh Kathryn, there you are! What was I asking you? Oh, yes…If you could change anything in an existing book, or series, of yours, what would it be?
Uhhh… sheesh. Good question. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but if I could start over again, I would probably NOT start off with Keegan. There are other books I think I should have started off with, but, then again…who knows for sure which way is the right way?
Well I find Keegan to be an interesting character if that is any consolation…grin…so tell our readers here about your series, and any forthcoming books.
Right now, I am currently working on my first series titled Tales of the Wovlen. The first book, published March 3rd 2014 is titled The Dragon’s Son. The 2nd book will be called The Dragon’s Due and should be available before Christmas.
What about the world of this series?
The world in Tales of the Wovlen is HUGE. I’m saying that I have an entire planet mapped out (and NO. I am not going to give you a picture of my map because it is WRETCHED! I am not a skilled map-drawer.). I have no name for the entire planet (yet), and I don’t have a generalized name for the realm that my current story is set in. I have it all split up into countries. It is all a little complicated to explain, so I will just give the important “landmarks”: The White Mountains, The Dragon Plains & Forest, and Elinralis.
The White Mountains – this is a very important landmark for this part of the world. Everyone bases their sense of direction on these mountains, which are the utter North, as far as these people are concerned. This is because the White Mountains are massive, perhaps 6 miles tall on the shortest peaks, and they are brilliant white. They travel East and West for miles, the Eastern edges dropping into the sea and the Western tail ending at the White Desert (endless miles of white sand…). There is a pass, an opening, between the Mountains that once allowed safe passage and trade between the lands separated by the mountains, but since “The Evil” took up residence in the pass many hundreds of years ago, no one has dare ventured near it. Not even dragons go through the pass.
At the base of the White Mountains lies the Dragon Plains. The Plains are roughly eight miles wide and 100 miles long. In the West, they connect to the White Desert. In the East they connect to “The Wilds”, which is basically a sort of safe zone between the Dragon Plains and human society. The South of the Dragon Plains connects to The Dragon’s Forest. It is a really massive forest that connects to the Black Forest far into the Southeast, and the Giant’s Foothills in the Southwest.
Elinralis is the capitol city of Anuran, the country closes to the White Mountains. Elinralis is very old, and it is said that the white stone its tall walls are made of came from beyond the White Mountains long ago. Not far from the city lies Lake Anuran which stretches all the way up to the White Mountain Pass. On the Western shores of the lake, running all the way up and intersecting with the mountains are the Anuran Bluffs. The bluffs used to be a common place to see dragons long, long ago.
I like the sound of that. It is a great start. I would really love to see it drawn out. I’m sure your readers would as well. Now, introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like/dislike about them?
Pharrgon, Keegan, and Erewhon are my main characters. I like Erewhon because she has this incredible sense of duty that can override every other wish or desire in her. To some people, that sounds bad, but it actually demonstrates strong self-control, which every great leader should have, in my opinion. Keegan, on the other hand, has very little self-control. Not that this is a bad thing either! He acts impulsively, which allows him to do some pretty crazy things that most other people would never do. Pharrgon is…. a DRAGON. What more does a person need to know to like him?! He is regal and wise, but what I particularly admire about him is his dry sense of humor. I mean, only a dragon could pull off being regal AND funny.
Dragons are cool. Do you have a favorite character?
A favorite character? Is that legal? I mean, isn’t that like having a favorite child??
Huge grin…Is it legal? Maybe. Is it right? I know some parents…ahem…Do you have a character you hate/dislike?
Again… isn’t this like having a child you dislike?? However, I don’t mind telling you that Keegan gets on my nerves…
Shakes head…Kathryn, Kathryn, Kathryn…you are a breath of fresh air. So then, are your characters ever based on real people?
Rarely. Very rarely. At least, they aren’t based on anyone I know personally.
What formats are your book(s) available in? Are you intending to expand these?
My book(s) are currently available in paperback and kindle. I hope to expand to audio soon. I would love to someday be able to offer a dramatized audio version of my book!
Well then Kathryn, we have come to the end of this interview. Thank you so much for your time and witty viewpoint on things. For anyone interested in finding out more about Kathryn, here are a number of links to her pages around the web, and her book The Dragons Son:
My Book on CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4668988
My Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Wovlen-Dragons-Son-1/dp/1495937488/ref=la_B00I2TYH00_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406493766&sr=1-1