Interview with Kate Robinson
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Iowa and spent three decades in Arizona. And I've now nearly spent a decade in California in three wonderful but different environments on the Pacific coast. My best stories are intimately tied to the places in which I've lived or visited. I'm still catching up to stories culled from my childhood and adulthood in Iowa and Arizona, but I expect some writing inspired by my golden year experiences in California to kick in soon!
What's the story behind your latest book?
That's a great question and there are quite a few stories behind the making of The Contest and Other Stories, a collaborative collection of linked short stories that began in the mind of author Joe DiBuduo.
Joe is an artist who works in many media—glasswork, sculpture, and painting. So he has a natural bent for art and a strong interest in art history, a great love of coffee table art books, and of visiting art galleries and museums. His walls at home are filled with paintings and his front yard is filled with his massive sculptures.
As Joe was learning to write fiction, he chose to sometimes to use artwork as story prompts and envisioned a coffee table art book with paintings and stories inspired by the paintings. While he crafted the stories using classic paintings by famous artists as prompts, he felt the collection would be interesting if linked with a more contemporary story about a young man who inherits a failing art magazine from his uncle and keeps it afloat by adding a short story to each issue, solicited via a fee-based contest. the protagonist is the only child of a controlling father, a banker who disdains any connection to the Arts and Humanities. So the young entrepreneur must struggle not only with the financial realities of his business, but also with all the shade and obstacles his dad casts at him. It's an archetypal and universal plot that we hope we've infused with a fresh slant.
Joe brought me onboard as co-author when he had a rough draft of the project and felt daunted by the task of bringing the project to completion. He originally wrote 33 stories inspired by paintings and I culled the collection down to 19 that meshed reasonably well together. Some stories were nearly completed, but many more were rough drafts. Because the stories are historical, they required research as much as imaginative flights of fancy for both of us. The connecting novella and the manuscript also needed developmental restructuring. In retrospect, Joe had the initial vision and the initial go at writing and organizing the collection draft, and I followed up with my two cents. I also designed the print book interior, did the ebook conversions, and some marketing in the form of submitting a handful of completed stories to journals and anthologies to drum up interest in the final collection. We had a half-dozen stories published in advance of the book. It was a fulfilling process to bring our unique talents as writers and publishers to the creation of The Contest and Other Stories.
When did you first start writing?
Probably about the same time that most everyone begins writing, in early childhood. The process of learning to write begins with learning the alphabet. Letters begin to magically and spontaneously form into words prior to being taught how to read, in my experience. But reading sentences and longer text definitely requires more formal guidance. Reading and the craft of writing are inextricably tied together, and why it's important to the writing craft to read well-crafted prose.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have a freelance editorial biz and many of my clients are indie authors. I became an indie author myself when I decided to resurrect my first novel from its home in the dark recesses of my hard drive and post it as a published book. I'd originally considered it to be a learning piece only and not fit for publication, but I found it made sense to polish it up as best I could (it does have many flaws nonetheless as my first attempt at long fiction). So I took it through the POD and digital publishing process from the standpoint of wanting to learn exactly what my self-pubbed authors were dealing with. The science fiction genre is highly competitive and because Heart of Desire is a hybrid novel that brings visionary, metaphysical, political thriller, and scifi tropes into one story, I received numerous rejection letters from presses for it despite some praise for the writing itself.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating something from "nothing" - especially in the sense of crafting fiction - and then entertaining and educating other minds is the best feeling in the world. Getting paid for doing it is the frosting on the cake!
What do your fans mean to you?
I'm thrilled when readers get in touch to share their thoughts about my work, whether good, bad, or indifferent. There's little point in writing fiction unless you have readers to share it with - and true fans are precious!
What are you working on next?
I usually have multiple projects in progress, whether editing for individual authors or publishers, or writing and revising my own work. Right now I'm in conversation with various authors about copyediting their work, and also have just gone wide, publication-wise with The Contest and Other Stories, which began as an Amazon exclusive but is now available at Smashwords and their distribution points as well as at many other fine digital book emporiums.
A few fans of Heart of Desire: 11.11.11 Redux are encouraging me to write a sequel. I haven't put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard other than to jot a few notes relevant to a sequel, but my mind's cogwheels are definitely turning. I'm shopping my unpublished magical realism novella around, and I may self-pub Loop: Life Is But a Dream since I now have three Tootie-Do Press books under my belt, as well as having shepherded many authors through their POD and digital publishing experiences.
My imagination gears are also turning on a sequel to Loop, which is based entirely on my dreams, which are embroidered together thematically to create a coherent story arc. I've started a memoir, and been working for over a decade (very slowly!) on a collection of nature essays and a poetry collection. I tend to be distracted from my own creative work because of the extensive investment of time and energy in my editorial and publication services to other authors and by my paid work as a book reviewer. But I'm edging into the golden years and realizing that I need to get cracking on my own work before I go beyond the beyond!
I'm a big believer in writing "by the seat of my pants" - meaning writing whatever happens to come through without extensive outlining or plotting, so it's not unusual for me to suddenly jot down a short story, an essay, or even a poem while working on bigger projects. Whatever my muse wants to channel is what ends up on paper or screen.
Who are your favorite authors?
Without a doubt, most of my favorite authors dabble(d) in speculative fiction or fiction with extraordinary features - Ray Bradbury is probably my top, perennial favorite. I also love Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murukami, Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, Philip K. Dick, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Franz Kafka, Isabel Allende, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, and many others!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Besides my beloved humans and four-leggeds, writing and editing is what gets me out of bed each day. Or staying in it with a laptop and notebook!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Thinking about writing. Also hiking, beach days with lots of reading, watching film or TV series I think will enhance my imagination and writing, more reading, going to writing groups, chatting with other writers online about reading and writing. Sometimes I stop to eat or take a shower now and then!
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Books by This Author
The Contest and Other Stories
by Joe DiBuduo & Kate Robinson
Inspired by the works of international artists, this award-winning collection contains nineteen spellbinding Young Adult - New Adult magical realist, paranormal, slipstream, alternate history, and fabulist tales linked by a novella.
Heart of Desire: 11.11.11 Redux
by Kate Robinson
(5.00 from 1 review)
You heard nothing happened on December 21, 2012, right? Not exactly. Here’s where the cosmic shift began:
As election year 2008 unfolds, Tess Vaughn’s deepest desire is to give up romance and live a quiet life in rural Arizona. But when the former investigative journalist jogs into the arms of married presidential candidate Senator Harris Cantrell Henry, she finds trouble galore.