Interview with Kate Tenbeth

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My father was in the Air Force so I travelled quite a bit when I was young. Looking back, moving so much gave me a sense of the sheer variety of life; I met new people from different backgrounds, adapted to different learning styles as I moved from school to school and I really enjoyed the new challenges. I'm sure it's influenced my writing as I learned to observe before plunging into the deep end with people and still to this day I love people-watching and learning about the stories behind the person.
When did you first start writing?
I started to keep a diary when I was about 8 and although I loved writing even at that age, I know the diary gave me the confidence to say what I was thinking and feeling. As I became older I was lucky enough to work in news and current affairs on BBC Radio 4 and then The Economist newspaper and I learned to write concisely and to edit heavily only bringing out the salient points. I still edit heavily and I have to keep reminding myself I no longer work in news!
Why did you become an Indie author?
I'd been writing stories for years and won a writing competition organised by The Literary Consultancy and the prize was mentoring by a professional editor, Caroline McCarthy. Once this finished Caroline encouraged to go take short courses to develop my skills but as a single parent I just didn't have the money to pay for them and for a long time was too proud to say anything. When I did eventually tell her she put my name forward for an Arts Council award which I was lucky enough to obtain and worked with a mentor for a year (thank you Caroline!). I wrote and wrote and wrote. I sent everything off to publishers and agents and my work received rejection after rejection. I kept being told I could write but that I wasn't quite good enough. Yes, I could (and still can!) paper my wall with rejection slips!

Then in January 2011 I set up a writing group with a friend and our first speaker, the young author Penelope Fletcher, absolutely inspired me. She spoke simply and honestly about self-publishing and I remember thinking 'I can do that!' - so I did. At that point I didn't even know what a kindle was but I set out with real enthusiasm and willingness to learn and embrace new ideas and what a journey I've had! Yes, I've made some mistakes - I signed on to one publisher only for her to take my books down from Smashwords. One of the worst mistakes I've made and I'm still struggling to recover but it's all part of the learning curve and without making mistakes you don't find out what is good in life.

All in all I've been very lucky, I've had great reviews, sold lots of books, gained a lot of confidence and sense of achievement and more than anything else I still love writing - I can't stop! - and I'm looking forward to the future.
Why do you write children's books?
Ah, actually my main love is writing adventure fantasy but ironically I haven't published anything I've written in that genre yet. This goes back to the time I heard Penelope Fletcher speak - I literally ran home afterwards and dug out the Burlington bear stories I'd written for my son when he was young, and I self-published them because they were the closest to being ready! I published 'Beyond the Forest', loved the process so much I self-published another and then another and now I have 5 in the series and one of them is now an audio book. I love writing the Burly & Grum stories, absolutely love it and hope one day I'll be able to do it full-time (fingers crossed!). However, I simply could not have done all this without the great talent of Rob Jones, the artist who has brought the characters to life and Pat Scullion who created the audio book. Thank you guys!

I've also self-published 'Unlucky Dip' a story for young adults and hope that I will soon publish those adventure fantasy books that have been on the back burner for so long!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Oh my goodness, where to I start?! From the very beginning I have found Smashwords to be supportive, innovative and inspiring. I remember when I first self-published I printed off the instructions and went through it line by line until the book was prepared for publication. Having pictures in the Burly & Grum books could have created some problems for me, but the instructions were spot on. They always have been and I'm sure always will be.

I feel as if I've been on a huge learning curve alongside Smashwords - we've both been growing and improving together.

I've already mentioned that the biggest mistake I've made so far has been to listen to a publisher and let her take down my books from the Smashwords site. I was just starting to gain sales and although I've since left that publisher and have been on my own again for almost 9 months now I am still struggling to recover. But, having said that I'm ever optimistic and tenacious and I'm sure sales will improve :)

For those indie authors who are reading this, learn from my mistake and DON'T REMOVE YOUR BOOKS FROM SMASHWORDS!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's quite hard to put into words (which is something you'd think I'd be able to do quite easily!) - I just love writing, I love losing myself, of time disappearing while I create another world, of making the impossible possible. Since I've self-published I've discovered an additional joy and that is of meeting other writers and creative people along a similar journey who are willing to provide help and support - it's been a real eye opener in discovering just how generous people are.
What do your fans mean to you?
Most of my fans are actually very young and they all mean the world to me. Although I work full time I try to use some of my vacation to go to schools, libraries or bookshops to talk to children and to encourage them to write stories. I love it and I love them! I have a whole stack of wonderful coloured-in sheets of Burly & Grum drawings given to me from children and I will never throw them away!
What are you working on next?
I am re-writing an action fantasy adventure I started over five years ago. It's about a young hero whose family is taken by a demon and his journey to get them back. Believe it or not I'm not bad at writing fight scenes and I absolutely love making fantasy come to life so I'm looking forward to finally finishing it.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many - Markus Zusak, Laurens van der Post, Khaled Hosseini, David Grann, David Buchan, J Maarten Troost, JA Konrath, Charles Bukowski, Michael Crichton.... I have to stop because I could go on forever!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I was walking home the other day when a feeling of panic almost overwhelmed me - I had a strong sense that I didn't have enough time to read all the books I want to read, to write everything down in my head that I have in there and that I think maybe sums up what inspires me to get out of bed! There is so much to see and do and enjoy in life - I love meeting people, travelling, I want to see sunrises and sunsets, I want to laugh a lot, to give a lot and generally to do as much as I possibly can in life :)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, I work full-time in London so a lot of my time is taken up earning a living but I have an interesting job and am lucky enough to work with nice people so that's fine. My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers last year so usually on my way home from work I stop off to check he's okay. Alzheimers has been a learning curve of a different sort and is another reason why I want to do everything I can now - you simply never know what's around the corner. I have a son who is at university and who spends a lot of time at home still and I love seeing him and his friends - they keep me young! What else do I do? I enjoy creating things and learning new skills and have just signed up for a stained glass course, which I'm looking forward to. When I've exhausted everything I love doing I have to settle down and do the housework!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Because I commute I read a lot and I always try to balance self-published authors with established authors. I use social networking to find self-published authors and will always read something recommended to me. I use sites like Smashwords and Amazon and some free websites.
Published 2013-08-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Unlucky Dip
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 62,740. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
There are always high stakes to play for in the world of gambling, but it’s a world 15 year-old Holly Maddon knows nothing about until her step-mother tries to kill her. The race is on as she tries to discover what her step-mother is up to and whether her father was murdered.
Burly & Grum and The Tiger's Tale
Series: The Burly & Grum Tales, Book 5. Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 4,370. Language: English. Published: February 18, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Animals / Lions, Tigers, Leopards, etc., Nonfiction » Children's Books » Humor / General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Burlington bear, Grum the groblin and Titan the tiger are relaxing playing Twister on a warm summer's day when Professor Simon Clutterbug ventures into the Great Forest. The Professor is trying to help tigers but Titan doesn't trust him. When wee Morag, a young porcupine, becomes ill they all try to help her - but will they succeed and will the Professor earn Titan's trust?
Burly and Grum's Halloween Adventure
Series: The Burly & Grum Tales, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 3,600. Language: English. Published: October 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Halloween
(4.83 from 6 reviews)
Burlington Bear (Burly to his friends) and Grum the Groblin go trick or treating for the very first time. Not only do they collect lots of candy they make friends with a fairy and come across a chilled out creature of the night!
Burly & Grum and The Birthday Surprise
Series: The Burly & Grum Tales, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 14,670. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
It's Burly's birthday and he's decided he'd like to have a lazy day on the beach with his friend Grum the groblin. Little does he know however, that a bank robber is also there trying to hide some gold coins he's stolen. Throw in a detective and his daughter Tara, a crab with attitude and the Toolkit Gang and poor Burly has more than his fair share of surprises!
Burly and Grum and the Secret City
Series: The Burly & Grum Tales, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 14,380. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
(5.00 from 5 reviews)
Burlington Bear, Grum the groblin and Max (the human) are best friends. Burly and Grum show Max a Secret City in the the middle of the forest but hunters are tracking them down. They knock out Burly, capture Max and want to turn the Secret City into a tourist attraction. Throw in some big cats, Grum's mother and brothers, Mike the Angel, a deer and a few ducks and the day becomes very exciting!
Beyond the Forest
Series: The Burly & Grum Tales, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 15,620. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Grum the groblin has been thrown out of his home by his two brothers and has to prove he is brave or he won't be allowed back. As all groblins think that humans only exist in scary stories, Grum decides the best way to prove he is worthy is to go and find one and bring it back home. He meets Burly, a mellow kind of bear, who takes him under his paw and together they go to town!