Today, we have the amazingly talented Kitten K. Jackson in the laboratory! Please help me welcome her.
Thank you for being my guest today, Kitten. Why don’t we start by telling the folks a little about you?
Hmmm… My first thought is that there’s not much to tell. But then I think, Where do I start? I think the year I was 16 had a lot to do with who I am. That year, a teacher told me I was a really good writer. That teacher (coach) also thought I would make a good plaything, so I was in a relationship with him for seven months. I’m not sure how I survived it. It changed me forever and almost destroyed me. Also that summer, right before getting involved with the coach, I was in a car that ran over and killed a little boy. Still, after all these years, when summer comes around, I get depressed because all those things come back to haunt me. Wow! How’s that for an opener? Hopefully, that’s not TMI. (If so, you can delete it.)!
Oh my, you’ve been through a lot. No wonder your books are so intense and realistic! When and why did you start writing?
When I was a child, I would make up songs. As I got older, like maybe ten years old, I had a strong urge to write, but I didn’t know what to write about. In high school, I wrote poems and easily wrote 15- 20-page letters every night to my boyfriend! Later, I wrote about 200 sets of song lyrics that I never found anyone to write the music to. Then, in 1993 (or 94), after reading The Firm by John Grisham, I decided to write a novel. I wrote By Reason of Insanity about a woman with multiple personality disorder (MPD), which is now called dissociative identity disorder (DID). Just as I finished it and got ready to try to get it published (which wouldn’t have happened, because I was too afraid of the rejection), it seemed that every book and every movie was about someone with MPD, and every talk show had someone on with MPD (remember Roseanne?). Anyway, that was a fairly good book that was lost in a fire. I don’t even have a copy of it. I wrote another novel the next year, Striking Resemblance, which I’ll be rewriting probably later this year. I might change the name. But I didn’t write another novel until last year (2012), when I wrote Keeping Secrets and Keeping Secrets II: No More Skeletons. I wrote them back to back, and then I went back and edited and published the first book. Then I edited and published the second book.
Wow, I’m sorry your manuscript was lost in a fire. Maybe you’ll be able to reproduce it one day. Who is your favorite author and why?
I guess I would say John Grisham. He’s an attorney, so he understands the workings of the law, which fascinates me. I also love his sarcastic humor and the way he breaks up the suspense of his stories with funny lines and situations. I try to break up the suspense in mine with humor, too, but I just don’t have a gift for writing comedy. I wish I did, though. I LOVE comedy. I read a Fannie Flagg book years ago that made me laugh so hard, I literally cried, and my face cramped! I loved it! It was Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man. If you like to laugh, you should check it out. I’m going to have to read that book again, now that I think about it…
Do you feel that John Grisham inspired your writing? Do you feel that your writing is modeled after him?
John Grisham definitely inspired my writing. As I said, I wrote my first novel after reading one of his books. By Reason of Insanity (my first novel) had a lot of courtroom drama, which I really like. As for modeling my writing after his, I don’t think so. If so, not intentionally. I don’t write with anything in mind other than telling the story the best way I can. I don’t really have a target audience in mind when I write, because I’m not writing for any particular person. It’s just about letting the characters tell the story the way they want it told. I blow through the story in a hurry, not bothering with much description, because I’m afraid I’ll miss something if I slow down. (Sometimes, my characters go faster than I can type!) Then when I’ve written the story, I go back and fill it in with some description, though not a lot. I get bored and annoyed with a lot of description, so I write the kind of story I like to read. My books are very heavy on dialogue, because I like the way dialogue carries the story along without having to tell you what happened. It’s like you sort of see it happening, even though it’s in past tense.
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I would really like to be able to make a living with my books, just like every other author. I have that internal drive that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong if I’m not writing, so I would do it, no matter what. But I think one of the things that appeals to me about writing is that I’ve accomplished something and created something that will be here even after I’m gone. I’ve somehow eased the fear of being forgotten by creating something that can be seen many years from now.
I agree. Traditional or self publishing and why?
I’m all for self-publishing for many reasons. For one, I’m sure I would never be published if I had to face all the rejection that almost every author faces before they are published traditionally. I get discouraged and would’ve easily given up, even though I know my characters tell really good stories! I say that because when I write, I get an idea for a story. Then I figure out who my characters are in my mind. Then I start writing, and because I already know the characters, I know exactly what they would say and how they would handle each situation, and it’s like they take over in writing the story. It’s like I’m just the typist. Okay, the second reason is that I can’t stand the idea of handing over all rights and control over one of my books! Writing a book is like giving birth, to me. These are my babies, and that would be like giving them up for adoption! The third reason is that traditional publishers take such a huge percentage of the money your book makes, when YOU are the one who did almost all the work! (I say “almost,” because editors do a lot of work, too.) People think that getting a traditional publishing deal means lots of money and lots of marketing for your book, but that’s not true unless you’re already a big name author or a celebrity. In both those cases, your book is going to sell, so they know they’ll make the money back on your book. But the other authors, even traditionally published, have to do their own marketing, and they sell very few books. It seems that everyone and their brother is writing and trying to sell books. It’s very discouraging sometimes, but you have to just keep trying, because you know you have a good product.
I agree. I could never give up rights to my books either. Tell us about your most recent book and why we should love or hate your characters.
My most recent book is the sequel to my first published book, Keeping Secrets. I am planning to write another book in the Keeping Secrets series, but it won’t be published until next year. Let’s see…why you should love or hate them. Well, the characters are damaged and very dysfunctional. I think most of us are (I know I am!), but there are some people who just cannot seem to relate to them at all. They don’t understand their motives and have a hard time believing people would behave the way they do. Most people who read the book (I just published the sequel, so I haven’t had a lot of feedback from it yet.), love it and say they can’t wait to read the sequel. But I think that their being damaged makes them both sympathetic. My heart aches for them both. Of course, they make stupid decisions and do stupid things, but who hasn’t? Granted, Greg is a loaded gun with a hair-trigger temper, but who hasn’t known a guy like that? And Abbie is an intelligent woman who has a knack for attracting the worst kinds of guys, and you want to yell to her, “What are you thinking?” But who hasn’t known a woman like that? I’ve known lots of women like that. I AM a woman like that! (I have a good husband now, so there is hope!) So I think my characters are loveable, if you see the person inside, which I think I’ve shown you. I can see how some people would hate Greg, because he’s certainly far from the perfect guy, but please remember that he’s doing his very best for Abbie.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are the first 5 songs you would include?
(I love this question!)
Baby Blue by Badfinger,
Wild Horses by The Stones,
It’s Not Over by Daughtry,
Bent by Matchbox Twenty,
and Savin’ Me by Nickelback.
Aside from writing or reading, what is your favorite pastime?
Hanging with my little doxie, Peej, which I do, no matter what else I’m doing. She’s a black and tan, and she’s just gorgeous. She just turned 14 years old, so I try to enjoy her and keep her as close to me as I can while constantly dreading the days I’ll have to get through without her. I also LOVE watching movies! I love the beach, but I don’t get to go very much, though the beach is only about 20 minutes away. Writing/editing keeps me on the couch with my laptop! (I lead a very exciting life! LOL)
What is the one thing you want to do, or the one place you want to go, that you would put at #1 on your bucket list?
The one thing I want is to be happy, which means seeing my daughter happy. As for a place I want to go, I’d say Savannah, Georgia. That might sound odd, but all the photos I’ve seen of that place somehow speak to me. I think there’s a story to be told there, and something or someone wants me to write it. I need to go there.