09 September 2010

Author Interview: Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Kathryn Meyer Griffith is a fellow author from Damnation Books. She’s also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother who worked in the corporate world for twenty-three years as a graphic designer and have been writing now for about thirty-nine years; the last ten years full time.
  • As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
From about nine years old I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to grow up and be rich and famous for it. I started drawing objects, mainly horses and cats, and could reproduce almost anything in realistic detail. As one child of seven in a big, poor family that was my way of standing out. It also impressed the nuns to no end at my catholic grade school that I could exactly copy a holy card. Ha, ha.
  • When and why did you begin writing?
At twenty one or so I was home, married and bored, after my son was born, and I read this historical romance that was sooo bad…and thought: I could write one better than this! And so, on my old typewriter, using lots of white-out because I’d never learned to type, I tried to write one. Twelve years later, after I’d grow up a lot (got divorced, went out in the world to work and got remarried) I went back to it and it sold as my second published novel THE HEART OF THE ROSE in 1985….which, by the way, is one of seven of my old Leisure and Zebra paperbacks being revised and rewritten by me and rereleased by Damnation Books and Eternal Press – and in e-books for the first time – in the next twenty months. I just finished rewriting it and was horrified, ironically, to see how bad it was. Well, 39 years ago, I thought, I sure didn’t know much! POV was all over the place and there were way too many adjectives and exclamation marks. I’m so glad I got to rewrite it.
  • When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Strangely, not until I’d had seven novels published. It was 1994. But truthfully, it’s only been recently that I could call myself a real writer and not feel like a fraud or pretentious…with all the books (14 now) and short stories (7) and a long history of rejections, experiences and years of writing and being published behind me I finally feel like I’m a true writer. I’ve lived the life and paid dearly for it in many ways. I quit a good job many years ago to write; never have made a lot of money, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished over the thirty-nine years and that I never gave up no matter what. At least someday when I’m real old I won’t wish I’d gone after my dream, because I did and though not famous or wealthy, at least, I tried. I did what made me happy.
  • If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King. I know every horror writer probably says that but for me it’s true. Not just because he writes horror but because his writing spans genres. He can write about anything. I admire his courage to do that. Like me, he’s not just a horror writer.
  • What book are you reading now?
Neferiti by Michelle Moran. At the moment. I’ve also been rereading all of Noel Hynd’s books (who’s also with Damnation Books now). He was one of my contemporaries at Zebra in the early 1990’s and I love his stuff. He’s really good. But I always have to have a book to read. Late at night when my husband is sleeping. It’s my relaxation.
  • What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write with the TV on low, never music, in my recliner with my laptop in my lap; a cup of my homemade chocolate coffee and a donut or chocolate to eat.
  • How many books have you written?
14 novels and 7 short stories. Would be more but I’m in the long tedious process of rewriting seven of my old Zebra and Leisure paperbacks going back 26 years. This, I figure, might take up to a year or more and then I’ll probably start a new book. Right now I’m trying not to let an idea for a new novel take me over, not until I have those seven done.
  • What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That sometimes a character (her/his goals and problems, outlook on life with a past that made him/her that way) or characters just take over and the plot forms around them as the book grows. The books take me where they want to go sometimes and I don’t know where it’s coming from. The endings are sometimes a surprise, too.
  • What do you think makes a good story?
If the reader ends up caring, really caring, for the characters I’ve created. If, during the book, the reader gets carried away to the world I’ve made and, at the end, he or she smiles or cries. Feels something. Then I’ve done my job.
  • How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Of course, I grew up poor in a large family, three brothers and three sisters, mom and dad. I was very close to my grandmother (my mother’s mother); she was a real storyteller. There was no money but there was love. I realized at an early age that to be noticed and to be someone in the world I needed to shine in some way. So I started drawing, making good grades and singing. I started singing with my brother, Jim; though I stopped when I got married and branched off into art and writing. So there’s a lot of my childhood, good and bad, in all my books. People not having much but overcoming adversity is a common theme.
  • What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Horror. I’ve written paranormal romance, historical and time travel romance, murder mysteries…but the creepy always seems to slip in somewhere, somehow. Ghosts, vampires, possessed guns. I can’t stop it. Ha, ha.
  • How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I start with a character or two or three and the plot develops through them. No formulas. No outlines. I just sit down and start writing and the book takes over. I usually have an idea where the plot is going and some kind of ending…but it often changes before I get there.
  • What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Technically speaking? Computers. If I had to still write my books on a typewriter I wouldn’t be writing any more, that’s for sure. Dictionary and thesaurus (never let the computer do the grammar or spell check for you because it doesn’t always do it right). Emotional tools? A thick skin. Self-motivation. Self-discipline. Perseverance. Belief in one self. A sense of imagination. Determination to learn the craft. A writing career is a life-long marathon, not a sprint.
  • What was your first introduction to horror literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
When I was in grade school, through the Weekly Reader – remember those? – I ordered a book of ghostly short stories and I was hooked. A story in school called The Lottery. Then came Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Ahhhh.
  • The perception of the horror writer is that he/she is just a little bit weirder than most. Do you find yourself — and other horror writers — to be more idiosyncratic than the average person?
Not really. I think all writers are a little strange. Mainly because we live in our own little worlds and spend so much time alone controlling our characters in make-believe. Can’t do that in real life. But horror writers are seen as stranger because we often deal with the supernatural and people perceive that as bizarre in itself. Most people don’t believe in ghosts, werewolves and vampires – but think that if you write about them, you believe. I published Witches in 1993 and people actually thought I was a witch! Got lots of threatening calls and mail from it, too. Sheesh. I’m no witch.
  • What are your current projects?  
Well, I just had my 13th novel, an apocalyptic horror saga, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons released from Damnation Books, and on Sept. 7, my 14th book, a vampire novel, THE WOMAN IN CRIMSON will be released from Eternal Press. Then I’m rewriting those seven old Leisure and Zebra books from 1984-1994 (Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches and The Calling), which will be rereleased with new covers (the ones I’ve gotten so far from DB and EP are fantastic!), in e-books for the first time and in paperbacks, between now and July 2010 from DB and EP. That’s keeping me real busy right now.

  • Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
Well, you can go to any of my websites to see all my book covers, excerpts from my newest books, and see/listen to my self-made book trailers with music soundtracks by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer (www.jsmeyermusic.com). Look me up! Also, you can e-mail me anytime at rdgriff@htc.net if you’d like to talk to me. I love feedback.
 And…thank you so much Su for having me on your lovely blog today. Warmly, author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

You’re welcome, Kathryn, it’s nice to have you.