Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
No one else in my family or through my life and writing career has also taken up the mantel of “author”, so I didn’t have a mentor in the traditional sense of someone taking me under their wing and teaching me the tricks of the trade. However, I hold a very special place in my heart for my aunt.
This woman has been my mentor throughout my entire life, and remains the person I can go to about absolutely everything. She was the one who gave me my very first journal when I was ten, which, coincidentally, was the same year I started writing fiction. She encouraged me to “let my freak flag fly”, so to speak, and has been there with me through every up and down in my already deliciously full life (even when it had nothing to do with writing).
Most recently, my aunt was the woman who helped me get over a huge hump in how I felt about myself as an author, and more importantly how I felt about myself as a person who deserves to keep writing. This was a few years ago, before Daughter of the Drackan was ever published and before I’d really started putting myself out there in the writing community. It was before I even started my own editing company.
I think a lot of writers struggle with the personal and social stigmas around being a writer, and even more so around calling yourself a writer. A lot of people respond to that with, “Do you make any money?” or “How do you support yourself?” and while I’m sure some intentions behind those questions are good, it often serves to propel us further into the hole of self-doubt.
I was lucky enough to come to a place in my life where I had the opportunity to be a full-time writer, and I felt guilty for it. Could I tell you why? No, because I don’t think there was a specific reason. I’d finally gotten the opportunity to do what I always wanted (through the support of amazing people in my life and a number of truly blessed circumstances), and I struggled for a long time to accept that opportunity with open arms. My aunt had been there with me through the entire struggle, and the last conversation we had about me ‘really being a writer’ was the conversation that turned everything around for me. Without a doubt, she helped me get here.
I took away from that realization that, when we’re offered the chance to do what we love, we have to take it and embrace it. Feeling guilty or worthless over the gift of opportunity is like not eating a meal because you’re made it perfectly. It doesn’t make sense. And I found myself able to embrace the turn my life has taken and really become the author I’ve always wanted to be (and maybe on some level never thought truly possible).
What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?
I count myself incredibly fortunate to have such overwhelming support from my family, my husband, and even his family. When I’d decided what I wanted to do in college, and went on to major in Creative Writing—Fiction at CU Boulder for my Bachelor’s, I know that some of my family thought I was nuts. What could I possibly do with that kind of degree? Well, the plan was to continue my schooling all the way to a PhD and teach Creative Writing at the collegiate level, giving myself plenty of time and space to work in an academic community I so love and to write. For a degree.
But alas, my life went somewhere else completely (and I wouldn’t change it for the world). Still, my family has always been supportive of my writing. My mom tells stories about how she’d fall asleep at night to the sound of my typing on the computer, which I find hilarious (that would keep me up all night). Since publishing my work, a lot more of my family has read it (I guess it’s easier when you have an actual bound book?), and they’ve all expressed surprise at how much they loved it and encouragement for me to continue. My husband’s family has been the same way (my mother-in-law gifted Daughter of the Drackan as Christmas presents).
My husband Henry has been the most phenomenal support I could ever ask for. While I sit at home, run my business, and write, he works and continues to give me that opportunity. We make a fantastic team, and I know this wouldn’t be possible without him. He’s not a big reader of fiction (though he is a walking Encyclopedia), but sometimes I think he promotes my work more than I do. He says he loves to see me doing what I love, and that he’ll do everything he can to make sure I keep doing it. And while he tries to act all tough, I definitely peeked and caught the corner of his eye shimmer when he opened a copy of my book and found his name in the acknowledgements.
How do you describe your writing style?
I’ve been told that my writing style is dark, gritty, and filled with vivid detail. I like that description! I’m a huge fan of the metaphor, though I use them sparingly in places where it really packs a punch. Long sentences don’t particularly appeal to me, so I keep them relatively short and flowing, while doing whatever I can to make sure every word brings up an image. I’m a firm believer in ‘less is more’ – if I can describe a place, action, or emotion as little words as possible, I go that route.
Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?
I do hear from my readers, and I absolutely love it! I want everyone who ever reads my work to contact me, and I always get back to them because it’s important to me. Even though I write these other worlds and give the people in my head a chance to exist, I’m still just a person who likes to chat. And there is nothing I enjoy more than talking about fiction—mine or anyone else’s.
Most of the questions I get are, “How did you think of that?” or “What inspired this?” A few people have asked me in eager anticipation whether or not a work will have a sequel (which is such a great thing to be asked). Some of my readers are also writers themselves, and they’ll ask me how I manage to write so vividly, or what tools I use to create whatever character they particularly enjoyed. Those questions are the hardest to answer, and I feel a little cheap when I say, “I just do.” It seems like it should be harder…
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story, for me, is something that really goes deep into a character’s inner battles. Of course, I love Dark Fiction, and that’s what I write. Everything I’ve ever written has an element of darkness, either within the plot or the characters themselves (mostly the characters). A good story, in any genre, will peel back the outer layer of a character to dig around in the guts. What’s going on in their head? What’s important to them? What do they want and why is it so darned difficult to get it? In my opinion, emotions, motivation, and decisions are more important in a story than even the most epic adventure. If a character falls flat in their complexity, the story doesn’t really matter much.
What book are you reading now?
I’m going to answer this question honestly, even though I find my answer a bit funny (and way off the norm of my normal reading).
I try to diversify in my reading—spread my knowledge all around. The more I read, the more inspiration I get and the more variety I can draw from to put into my own work. While I mostly read Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and most recently Steampunk, I’m not reading any of those right now.
Two books I’m into currently:
‘Don’t Hurt People And Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto’ by Matt Kibbe. This was recommended to me by a friend who’s particularly active in the political community, and I’m up for reading anything as long as someone doesn’t try to make me think it’s ‘the ultimate’ book of its kind.
I’m also reading ‘Penny for Them’ by Phillip Catshill. I can’t remember where I’d heard about the book. Phillip Catshill is another Indie Author, and in the front matter he talks about how self-publishing his books is a testament to his struggle with language altogether. A stroke victim, Catshill worked for years to rehabilitate himself in order to speak and write again, and he took the reins in his Indie Author career and has done everything himself with this book. It’s a sort of spy/love/war/adventure book, and I’m about a fourth of the way through it. I will say my favorite aspect of it so far is that his protagonist tells the story with the same kind of ‘struggle with language’—while she speaks over a dozen different languages, she can’t differentiate between axioms of different cultures, nor can she obliterate the pattern in her own speech in order to protect her identity as a spy.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
At the end of a long day of working and/or writing, the thing my mind turns to first is being able to read some fiction purely for pleasure. I get so excited about this! Granted, I get to read a lot when I’m editing, and I love being able to see great new books before they ever go public. But when I open a book purely unrelated to work, I get to turn my editor’s brain off. It’s super relaxing, and I make a point to read a little every day. I still get through about a book a week.
I have to give credit to the unwinding powers of sitting on the couch with my husband, cuddled up next to the fire, and watching a good movie. He’s into movies like I’m into books, and more often than not our movie-watching is accompanied by his gourmet cooking. I’m a lucky girl.
Walking around downtown in our tiny Northern California town together is also something I very much enjoy. There are only a few main streets, and we live at the top of the hill just a few blocks away from the heart of ‘downtown’. We get in some fresh air, a little bit of exercise with all the really steep hills here, time feels like it slows down for a while in such a small town. The last time we did that, we bought some pasties to-go and sat on the front steps of the theater house in the middle of the day to eat them.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
My first and most important suggestion for beginning writers is to keep writing. No matter what happens, no matter how you feel or what anyone says, always, always, always keep going. It takes time to get into the flow, it takes time to hone your craft, and it takes time to be better, faster, stronger. But as long as you love it and you want to write, do it.
My second suggestion is to share your work with as many people as you possibly can. Find writing friends, call out for beta readers, submit to competitions and anthologies (though those may not always give you feedback). I know how scary it is when somebody reads what you’ve written, how it feels like a completely lost cause to let anybody see anything you’re working on until it’s finished and perfect. But having feedback and encouragement in the middle of a project, talking about your work with other writers, and listening to what people have to say is so important. You will find praise and hear what people like. Keep doing that. You will also get offered criticism on what’s not working—take it in stride and work on it. The more you share and talk about your writing, the easier it becomes, and the more your skills will flourish.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today! I’m so excited to be here. -Kathrin
ABOUT THE BOOK
Daughter of the Drackan
by Kathrin Hutson
Keelin is the only human fledgling, weaned by the drackans of the High Hills and given their instincts, ferocious strength, and fierce hatred for humankind. But even the drackans closest to her cannot explain why she has violent blackouts from which she wakens covered in blood.
A desperate, reckless search for the source of this secret brings her face to face with the human world and memories from a locked-away past, long forgotten. Keelin becomes a terrifying legend among human assassins while she hunts for answers, and the human realm’s High King is murdered.
While a sickly steward hides within crumbling walls, commanding her every move with a magic he should not possess, Keelin’s journey to track him down threatens her loyalty to the drackans who raised her. The rogue who crosses her path hides familiar secrets, echoing her own terrifying bloodlust and forcing her to consider that there may be something human about her, after all.
The breeze that blew across the water called for Keelin to come back. It swirled around her dark head, pulling it toward the lake, and her eyes fluttered open from the resting blackness. Crouching on her heels, she lifted her head and gazed at the Great Lake that mirrored the dazzle of the stars. The world remained dark to her, but no longer as the dead, helpless dark from which she awoke. A single tear slipped down her cheek, a tear of anger from the depths of her curse, the secret of her life.
Darkened by night, the lake had always been a silent, secret comfort. The wind died down as though it sensed she were herself again, and the world was calmer, sweeter now that she was no longer a weapon hidden from itself.
Keelin remembered nothing from her stolen hours. Every time, she woke at the Great Lake with the wind calling her back to life, the smell of blood always too real. She barely noticed now when she habitually dipped her hands into the icy water of the bank, rubbing them in mud until they were clean. The moon shone so brightly in its fullness; she gazed up at it with longing. In the light of the moon she could see everything. She was so tired of the dark.
Her hands were clean now, but that metallic smell still lingered. The strange deerskin tunic she’d been given still clung to her body and she clawed at it in frustration. Dark rings and damp streaks of blood splattered across it, every moment soaking further through to her skin.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kathrin Hutson has been writing fiction for fifteen years, editing for five, and plunging in and out of reality since she first became aware of the concept. Kathrin specializes in Dark Fantasy and Sci-fi, and the second novel in this series, Mother of the Drackan, will be released this February.
Kathrin runs her own independent editing company, KLH CreateWorks, for Indie Authors of all genres. She also serves as Story Coordinator and Chief Editor for Collaborative Writing Challenge, and Editing Director for Rambunctious Rambling Publications, Inc. Needless to say, she doesn’t have time to do anything she doesn’t enjoy.
You can grab your copy of Daughter of the Drackan, in print or as an ebook, on Amazon here:
Kathrin Hutson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway