Geographically speaking, nobody could be further removed from the south than yours truly. I'm Pacific Northwest born and bred. However, I've always been a huge fan of the genre known as Southern fiction. Therefore, I'm delighted to present our guest blogger today. Kathryn Magendie, is one of my Belle Book “sisters," and her path to publication is similar to my own. We both found our dream "later in life." The first two books in her trilogy, Tender Graces, Secret Graces have garnered rave reviews. I'm quite sure the third, Family Graces, will also be well received. Her books are available from Amazon and the Belle Books website.Welcome to Book Blather, Kat.
Thank you, Marilee. So happy to be here.
1. Tell us a little about your writing journey.
A long winding dirt-tear-sweat-hope pathed road. Lawd. I am a good example of someone who didn’t follow her dreams until “late in life.” Now, well, try to stop me—haha! You hear those clichéd phrases like, “It’s my turn now!” Well, that’s somewhat how I feel, that it’s time for me to make up for lost time in my writing life. This is all I ever wanted to do and be. The writing/language/character is more important to me than some may really understand. It’s been a long-journey to here, but I think I am more ready for this now than I’d have ever been before.
2. You are a truly authentic writer of southern fiction. Any plans to deviate from that genre?
*Teehee* Thank you—that makes me happy!
I think my Deep South/Appalachian background is too embedded for me to stray very far. Even though the novel Sweetie has a Storytelling Voice not from the south or mountains, the novel is still set in the mountains and has strong ties and setting to Place there. I have written short fiction that doesn’t have a Southern/Appalachian “flavor” to it, but I know when I do that I am experimenting and not really true to who I am and what/where I love to write about/from.
There’s the cliché “write what you know,” and what I know is my roots and where I’ve lived for most all my life. To write outside of those roots/places I’ve lived isn’t impossible, I just don’t feel the connection, and to me connection is important in my settings/Place. Place is often another “character.”
3. You recently finished the third book in your trilogy. Was it difficult to say goodbye to your characters?
Oh gawd yes. There was a whole discussion on my Facebook page where I’m all emotional about saying goodbye to Virginia Kate and the other characters. She, and they, have been with me for years. Tender Graces was my very first novel (to write and to have published), so there’s that, but there is also a great respect and love and tenderness for Virginia Kate and her family. I admit that I think I am actually grieving, and have caught myself with teary-eyes. It’s near-‘bouts as excruciating as losing a good friend. Lawdy.
4. You’re also co-Publishing Editor of the Rose and Thorn, an impressive online literary journal. What are you looking for in submissions?
My co-Publishing Editor Angie Ledbetter and I are very eclectic in our tastes, so just about anything may appeal to us in prose and poetry, and in art—our Managing Editor/Senior Poetry editor is Cynthia Toups, and our Art Director is Alaine Benard—we all mesh/meld together in our love of words and art. We also have a great support staff who help us to make the journal shine; we’re proud of our journal.
However, there are things we do not like, such as gratuitous violence and gratuitous sex, or political rants.
I’d suggest taking a look at the journal to read the prose/poetry, and as well, there is an interview with R&T editors on Duotrope Digest that may shed some light. ( http://www.duotrope.com/interview.aspx?id=540 )
Mostly, send what you feel passionate about, because that passion shows. If you are flopping something onto the page and slinging it out to every editor out there “just to be published,” it will show. I mean it; we always know. That doesn’t mean quickly-written stories aren’t accepted, for quickly-written stories can also be written with meaning and passion, and love of language and character and setting.
5. Are you a seat of the pants writer or a plotter?
I am the consummate panster! I am chaos personified! I am Sheldon Cooper’s long lost cousin-sister! I am completely discombobulated and jittery and . . . aw lawd, you don’t want to be in my head! (And as an aside—exclamation points are fun, but don’t use them in your fiction, except sparingly, rarely if ever in narrative—do as I say, not as I just did *laugh* Oh, and either it’s a question or an exclamation—never!? Or never?! Okay, Editor Kat needs to leave the building—good bye Editor Kat.).
6. Any advice for aspiring writers?
When someone asks this question, I ramble on and on, so this time I am going to try to be succinct:
Don’t ever let anyone say or do anything that makes you turn away from what you love to do. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. If someone says or does something that makes you want to give up a dream/love of something—turn away, don’t listen. Run or walk away going, “La la la la—I can’t hear you—la la la la.”
Write with joy and abandon, and then edit the hell out of it. For gawd’s sake, don’t be in such a hurry to push your work out there—which is so much easier to do now, so please stop and take a deep deep breath first. If you saw the first draft of Tender Graces, you’d barely recognize it from what is the published version. Become friends with your delete button. Oh, and learn when to say DONE because I didn’t just write “edit the ever-loving snotty hell” out of it, did I?
Know the rules and then have fun breaking them. Doing something On Purpose is fun and will lift up your prose. Breaking rules because you do not know them could make the prose wilted.
That’s enough, because I’m already into the rambling stage.
7. How about an excerpt from your upcoming novel, Family Graces?
Thank you. Oh, this was hard to choose, because can I say I love so much about Virginia Kate and her family? I hope that doesn’t sound as if I am bragging, for I mean instead that, well, I love them and so much happens and . . . and well, dang.
FG has dark, light, humor, and in between, so where to go? Light? Dark? Humorous? So I decided to put something a bit darker here, from the first part of the book. This is from Grandma Faith’s point of view.
From the chapters: Grandma Faith’s Last Five Days on Earth—
“Time,” she said, and pulled off her white gown she’d embroidered herself and placed it across the bed. She reached for her yellow cotton dress hanging on the chair, wiggled into it, slipped her feet inside worn-out shoes, all the while feeling the humming, that terrible terrible hot pressure in the air. Taking another deep breath, releasing it slow, Faith walked out of the bedroom and to the kitchen.
At the pocked kitchen table was Luke, still and hard as granite. He sing-songed, “Well well well.”
The hairs on Faith’s neck stood ever higher.
“If’n it ain’t my ever-loving wife.”
She tied on her apron, and then lit the stove.
“Ima thinking I want a fine breakfast,” Luke said. “Some biscuit and gravy . . . .”
The thrumming grew stronger. She turned to fetch the flour jar.
“. . . and Ima want some bacon with them biscuit. Out from the smokehouse.”
Faith hoped he didn’t notice her hands trembling.
“Yup. I went out to the smokehouse m’self and had me a look-see. Where’s that bacon? I said to m’self. What’all’s in this here smokehouse?”
A wild keening shrieked inside her head. Heat pressed against her. His chair scraped back and she turned. Daddy, save me.
Luke, big and mean and red-faced, held the bulging draw-string pouch Faith had kept hidden from him for so many years.
She’d been sloppy. He must have seen her. He must have been watching. For her to be so close.
His words punched the air and fell heavy thudding. “You lying cheating wallering hog.” Luke spilled out the money from the pouch. Dollars fluttered out like dead bird’s wings; coins jingle-jangled as they bounced on the table and on to the floor.
Faith took a running step, another. Two more steps and she’d be to the door. One more—
Again, thank you Marilee for this fun interview. Authors supporting authors is important, and these kindnesses are beautiful and appreciated.