Interview with Kate O'Hara

What is your writing process?
I am definitely a planner, but also a "seat of the pants" writer when a plot twist or funny detail pops into my head. Before I started writing my first story, I had outlined 30 of them, organized them into series to be published together when they were complete and considered my next project when that was finished ;) I always know what the next story needs to be in order to keep the different series moving.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No. I learned to read when I was two, so really don't have much recollection of what it was.I do remember my favorite fairy tale from those early years and suspect it had some impact on my attitude about life. Most other girls read about and dreamed of being Cinderella or one of those other storybook women who were mistreated, bullied and then saved by some man. My favorite was George Kleinsinger's "The Story of Celeste," which was one of the tracks on the "Tubby the Tuba" music collection. I listened to the recording and read along in the book until I about ruined that 78rpm record on my little record player. Celeste did end up with the handsome prince, but it was because she had the courage to sing her own tune and be herself, whether others thought she was beautiful or not. I still think of that lovely, tinkly tune as my song.
How do you approach cover design?
I design my own. If you think they look like some 6-year old did them, that's why. I selected a "branding" design of split background colors with an art piece inset. Title and author are all the same font and similarly spaced. The two colors of the background are generally taken from the art piece itself to make it blend. Some of the art pieces are by "Botticelli, Picasso, Escher, Boucher and other famous artists. Some are pictures of ancient artifacts. Call me cheap. I decided to use art in the public domain rather than pay for a new design ;)
What do you read for pleasure?
Mystery mostly. I love a good "who done it" and also appreciate spy-type intrigue. I have quite enough of reality and like to read for escape.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Fire HD that I use as a tablet computer when I travel. I also read on my phone and occasionally on my computer.
Describe your desk
Cluttered at the moment.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I am a Midwesterner. I was born in St. Louis and moved to a small town in western Kansas while in high school. I have lived in the Wichita, Kansas area ever since. I'm not sure those "homespun" values have influenced my writing as much as traveling to other countries did. I have visited eastern and western Europe, Australia, Asia and lots of places in the Americas. Seeing the world through the eyes and cultural concepts or others changes not only how we interpret the world, but how we interact with it. My adopted motto for my entire adult life has been "We see the world not as it is, but as we are."
When did you first start writing?
As a child, of course. Don't we all have things we want to say? I started writing professionally (for pay) in 1965. TV commercials were my first format. I also dabbled in poetry for my own amusement. I moved up (down?) to radio and then fell into a job writing educational film strips (remember those?). I segued to technical writing for aircraft companies (there are lots of them in Wichita) and finally computer systems. I worked for a construction firm a few months and had a hard hat with the label "Recycled Tech Writer." After I retired from my other careers, I decided to try fiction in May of 2014. I outlined a whole crop of stories and published the first one in June.I have released at least one a month since. Most are short stories, but one so far is a novella.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The latest release is part of a series called Seeker. It's about educating an investigative reporter to become a shaman. Each short story takes the protagonist through another encounter with the world of spirits and self discovery. These events lead her to ask more questions and prepare for the next revelation. The Dystemporal Reporter is the first release of the series.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Time. That and tide wait for no man. Getting a late start at age 71, I didn't want to wait 2-3 years to find a publisher, agent, editor, etc. I just hope I find a readership ;)
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Time will tell.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Weaving the words until they tell a story accurately and invitingly.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'm not sure I have any yet, but I would certainly appreciate some.
Who are your favorite authors?
Today: Matthew Iden, Michael Connelly, John Sandford and occasionally Dean Koontz.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm nearly 72. My bladder usually.
What are you working on next?
Book #5 of the Seeker series - "Draggin' Feet" and when I want a little break, I work a bit on the next novella in the Greek Fire series, "Split Apart"
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I lecture at a local university, judge dog shows occasionally and enjoy the usual pastimes - TV and reading. Keeping up with a rural acre of grass (weeds) and four dogs keeps me busy as well.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually by referral. That is why reviews are so very important. I practically have to beg people to write a review. If they understood how important it is to both readers and writers, they might try to leave one more often.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember writing a story about my parakeet, Jerry, when I was in third grade. The teacher called in my mother to explain that something was wrong with me because I had such a wild imagination and couldn't seem to differentiate between my thoughts and reality. My mother read the story and told the teacher that everything in it was absolutely true. It was the teacher that was having a hard time reconciling her preconceptions to my reality. It really discouraged me from writing for awhile, since my mother had to take off work to meet with the teacher. I just kept my stories to myself.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
If you asked me tomorrow the answer would probably be different, so it's really not relevant. They would be a mix of old classic science fiction, quantum philosophy and religious/inspirational writing. I like anything that makes me think or answers the question "Why?"
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
None so far. Ask me in ten years.
Published 2014-10-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.