When Christine Westman bumps against a stranger in a Jacksonville supermarket, he gives her only one month to live. A killer moves into Christine’s walk-in closet and watches her nightly preparing for the day of her death. Can Christine survive when midnight hits and The Visitor comes calling?
Kathryn J Bain has set aside some time to chat with me today about her novel, ‘The Visitor’. Let’s kick off today’s interview by starting with what spurred you to write a killer novel about a visitor at midnight?
I usually write Christian but wanted to do something more suspenseful. I thought a short suspense would be a good place to start. I’m not sure where the initial idea came from, but when it came, I went with it.
As this novel is outside of your normal writing genre, did you feel that you needed to do research to make sure that you were achieving the right tone and voice?
No research was necessary. I live in Jacksonville and incorporated the annual Jazz Festival, which made everything fairly easy.
Apart from your knowledge about the Jazz festival, did you inject many situations from your own life into the book?
No. I don’t even have a walk-in closet.
*Laughs* I’m glad to hear that not having a walk-in closet didn’t hinder your ability to write about the terrors within them! Was it an important driver of this book to include specific themes or concepts into this story to accompany the terror?
No, only in my Christian books.
Was it fun to write to take a break from the Christian viewpoint and work in the new play area of suspense?
Yes, I loved the suspense. It was the first edge-of-your-seat book that I’ve written. A lot of people have told me I accomplished what I was after.
How did the characters within this thriller help you accomplish this new adventure?
I wanted a strong female heroine, but not one who was so out there as not to be believable. In fact, the POV character is not even my protagonist, so you really don’t know a lot about her.
Did you find a favorite character within this world?
I love the character of KT Morgan.
Would you hang out with her if she could come to life?
KT would be cool to hang with. She appears to have a lot of secrets.
All those secrets could be fun. Do your characters ever come to you in your dreams to let you know more about their secrets?
No. They usually come to be right as I’m dozing off. I write down the information and that’s usually it.
And how does your normal writing process unfold once you have the initial information?
I write every day from 6:15 a.m. to 7:00 and then when I come home from work (I’m a paralegal). I work from 4:00 – 8:00, taking breaks to eat dinner and watch “Judge Judy.” I don’t have a set number of words I work toward. I’ve learned to focus, which is very helpful with my writing. I am used to multi-tasking and having interruptions, so it’s easier for me to fall back into the writing routine than it is for some authors.
That is a pretty solid routine that you’ve outlined there, and I’m glad to see that you’ve injected a little bit of down time with Judge Judy :). So when you’re following this routine, approximately how long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about three months to write a short suspense book.
That’s a pretty good pace. With a pace and schedule like what you’ve outlined you must have some more books in the works. What do you have planned?
December 9, I’ll be releasing the third in this series. I’ve got a full-length suspense book titled “Fade to the Edge” that should be finished and ready for publication next year. I hope I can do the suspense as well in it as in my shorts.
Good luck for those upcoming titles. I’m sure that the longer suspense will work out, especially if it has been edited well. How have you been approaching the editing stage previously?
I usually reread my manuscripts five times – once out loud. Then I listen to them on Free Natural Reader software. Once those edits are finished, I put it into Grammarly software for grammar checking, then I send it out to my editor.
I think with an editing process with multiple re-reads and reading out aloud you shouldn’t have any issues. Has cover design been an issue for you?
My book cover was designed by Yocla Designs. I highly recommend them.
As you’ve been through the self-publishing process more than once do you also have recommendations on how to get the best book possible?
Write, write, and write. Then when you’re done, write some more. If you’re going to self-publish, do it right. Get your book professionally edited. Don’t rely on your spouse, mother, or school teacher to do it. Also, hire someone to your cover unless you know how to do a good one. You can get both and editor and cover artist for less than $750.00 in most cases.
Those are some great tips. Speaking of greatness I’m going to move us onto the sometimes irrelevant, but greatly appreciated round of quick fire questions, where I try and pull seemingly unrelated information from you to show hidden aspects of your personality. Let’s start with an easy one, what are you currently reading?
I am reading Hank Phillipi Ryan’s “What You See.”
I haven’t heard of that one but I’ll have to check it out. What was your favorite book as a child?
Any of the Hardy Boy books.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t have a particular favorite but I loved those that make you want to be a better person, like this one by Johann Wolfgang van Goeth, “The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”
Wise words. What is your zodiac sign?
Is there a book that you wish that you had written?
A Tale of Two Cities. I love the suspense/history/romance all mixed in.
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Not at all. I have enough trouble standing upright.
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
An original edition of “A Tale of Two Cities.”
A tricky find, but a good choice. Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dinosaurs because they were real.
What are your favorite authors, and do you believe that they have influenced your writing style?
I’m sure they have. I love mystery and suspense authors like Dean Koontz and C.J. Box.
What is your favorite line, quote or statement from your book?
“What do you want?” Her voice shook. I chuckled. Why do they always ask when they already know?
*Laughs*, I’d like to know why people ask redundant questions too! And finally, what is your favorite quote from another author?
“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” A.A. Milne. A great quote for authors who are shy.
That is a good reminder for authors and people in general who are shy. Kathryn, thank you for sharing your wisdom and book insights with us today and I hope that you are able to keep up with the challenge of suspense writing.
Want to find out more about Kathryn? Connect here!