Interview with Kate Dolan

Describe your desk
I love my desk! It's a big heavy piece of oak that used to belong to my dad and it still has his phone numbers and passwords taped on one of the panels. When I'm not sitting at it, though, I have to slide a piece of plywood in front of the opening to keep my rabbit from chewing on any of the electric cords that are plugged in at the back. I tried to spray paint a design on the plywood so it would look less like a piece of plywood, but now my artistic skills aren't so hot. It now looks like a piece of plywood with faded graffiti, like the graffiti artist didn't really care or was running out of paint. On top of the desk, I have a lamp Dad made in high school shop class, a paperweight with my mom's initials, and a mousepad decorated by my daughter. It shows a mouse's furniture, because it's a mouse's pad. And I try not to notice that I've spilled coffee on it. Scraps of paper with scribbled notes float around the top of the desk like survivors from a sinking ship. And there's always at least one beverage -- coffee, tea, hot spiced rum, Irish whiskey...
What do your fans mean to you?
I am absolutely thrilled that anyone would part with their hard-earned money to buy one of my books. I am very grateful. And when someone takes the time to write a review, I feel truly blessed. Even someone paying a compliment to my writing gives me warm fuzzies. Knowing that someone enjoys my work means more than words can say.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
write and edit a variety of nonfiction as well, so part of my time is spent taking care of that business and of course there are the exciting things like cleaning the rabbit's litter box and picking up the trail of chewed up paper one of the dogs has artfully displayed in the living room.
I'm a big believer in all types of physical exercise for mental health as well as physical, so every weekday I either work out at home or take a class or two at Crossfit or the Y. I try to mix that up with weight training, yoga, bootcamp, Zumba, etc. I even became certified as a personal trainer a few years back because I think that increasing strength and mobility can make such a big difference in someone's life and I wanted to help others achieve the same benefits. But then I realized that the personal trainer business is about selling yourself, just like the business of writing fiction. And it's not something I'm good at. I couldn't sell life rafts on the Titanic - even with a free coupon code! But I still volunteer as a jump rope coach to help kids develop their skill at a very creative sport.
The other "side" of me is a huge history nut. I love to visit historical sites and learn more about every day life in the past. Sometimes I volunteer as an 18th Century living history interpreter, teaching kids how to wash clothes in a tub or cook over on open fire. Now that my own kids are in college and I'm not always running to jump rope shows and baseball games, I hope to get back into historical interpretation more often.
My ideal afternoon would be exploring an old fort on a tropical beach. With a good tiki bar next door.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee. And the strange this is, I don't tolerate caffeine very well so the blend I drink is mostly decaf. I just love the taste of coffee!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was pretty young, I used to watch a PBS show about kids called "Zoom." One of the features involved stories that kids had written and sent in - they'd read it and then create cartoons to go with it. So I insisted on sending in a story. I think I had my mom help print it for me because my writing wasn't too good. We mailed it in and then I watched the show every day waiting for them to read my story. Of course, they never did because there WAS no story. What I wrote was something like "Once upon a time there was a race car driver who didn't win any races. Then he won a race and he was happy. The end." I remember that because later when I thought about it, I was horribly embarrassed that I had submitted a "storyless" story. Maybe that was the start of the learning process for me. I hope that process never ends because there's always something we can do to improve our writing and storytelling skills.
What's the most surprising thing that has happened to you as a writer?
That's a tough question because there have been a few double-take moments for me. One of the first came at night while I was speculating about a story, eagerly anticipating what might happen next as if I were watching a movie. And I realized the enjoyable "what happens next" reaction was prompted by my own story. I knew then that even if my writing entertained no one else, it would at least entertain me on occasion.
The second came during the process of writing that same story, Langley's Choice, the first novel I completed. I got stuck and went on to work on something else. But (again, at night) the characters started to pester me to finish their story. They were starting to take on a life of their own. This was exciting and horrifying at the same time. How many personalities did I want screaming for attention in my head?
So the third and subsequent surprises were the logical progression from the second - the moment when one of my characters did or said something completely unexpected. I'm supposed to be writing the story, so the characters are my servants who move where I put them and say what I've planned for them to say, right? But then sometimes they don't. It was a little less obvious with my historical novels because many of them were written freeform without much of a planned plot. But the mysteries had been fully outlined scene by scene because the publisher required it. So when my characters flat-out disobeyed my instructions, it was a big surprise. It turned out to be great for the story, but it's a little disconcerting to think that my sub-conscious mind does a better job of writing than my conscious one.
What are you working on next?
I have several works in various stages of completion, but at the moment I'm focused on a story about a group of people thrown together in a boarding house in the 1980s. Most of them are college students and all of them are dysfunctional in their own way. Or many ways. So of course this story about messed up people making bad decisions is semi-autobiographical. And it's weird to realize that writing about the 80s is now historical fiction. I don't feel that old!
Published 2017-03-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Change of Address
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 34,910. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2017 by WordWorks Editorial Services. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
Moving away from their ancestral home just before Christmas, Amanda and her unconventional mother and sister meet their new neighbors under the worst of circumstances.
Dinners With Mr. Danville
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 20,950. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2017 by WordWorks Editorial Services. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
To the ever-logical Helen, love is the delusion of fools. So when her sister has the nerve to suggest that Helen has fallen in love with her neighbor, Mr. Danville, Helen sets out to prove her wrong. But Helen isn't prepared for the truth. And, as it happens, neither is Mr. Danville.
An Excuse for Poor Conduct
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 29,250. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2017 by WordWorks Editorial Services. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency, Fiction » Holiday » Christmas
When William Fletcher wakes up on the floor of the almshouse staring into the eyes of the local bully who had terrorized him during his teen years, he knows he's in trouble. Fortunately, she doesn't recognize him—at least, not at first…
A Certain Want of Reason
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 81,700. Language: English. Published: September 27, 2017 by WordWorks Editorial Services. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Regency, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
A farcical romp through London in 1816, from the drawing rooms to Bedlam: A young woman who has devoted her life to caring for her eccentric siblings meets a lord feigning insanity in a desperate attempt to avoid an unwanted marriage.
Restitution
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 120,910. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2016 by WordWorks Editorial Services. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Colonial America, Fiction » Romance » Historical
Western Maryland and Annapolis 1774: A peddler paid to deliver potentially treasonous correspondence entices a Moravian widow and her sons to move to Annapolis. She becomes entranced with the refinements of English civilization while he grows committed to the patriot cause.