‘…another edge of your seat, hanging by your fingernails, suspenseful offering.’
Keep your fingernails clasped to the edge of your seat as today marks the return of Kathryn J Bain to ItsWriteNow.com to chat about ‘A Touch of Suspense’ the first three volumes in the of the KT Morgan series. Kathryn, it’s wonderful to see you back to chat about the ever suspenseful and mysterious life of KT Morgan. For those readers who may not have read our December 2016 chat about ‘The Visitor’, can you bring us up to speed a little on this tale, and the other two stories of suspense included in the ‘A Touch of Suspense’ offering.
The Visitor – When Christine Westman bumps against a stranger in a Jacksonville supermarket, the killer gives her only one month to live. He 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?
Small Town Terror (Winner of the 2016 Independent Digital Awards for Short Suspense) – Strangers are a rare commodity in Bisby, a small town fading away in a quiet corner of North Carolina. Liz Corman runs the town’s diner while her husband Billy tends to the auto shop next door. When KT Morgan’s vehicle breaks down, Liz reluctantly offers the intriguing stranger the use of their spare room. The drama that unfolds with KT’s arrival is nothing compared to what awaits Liz and the town folk, as three men head their way with revenge and murder on their agenda.
Reunion – Twelve-year-old Becky Sidleman thinks things might be looking up when she bumps into KT Morgan in the small town of Marshland, Indiana. However, two men on their way will show Becky that sometimes excitement isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
Wow, KT can’t catch a break! Trouble follows her wherever she goes! What inspired the array of suspenseful challenges that keeps popping up in KT’s life?
I wanted to create a strong female character but didn’t want to do so with a romance. Too often the heroines in romance rely too much on the man to get them out of trouble. I wanted someone who could handle her own, but also someone the reader knew very little about. That’s why all points-of-view so far have been from other people. We have yet to get into the head of KT Morgan.
Readers haven’t seen all of the contents in the head of KT Morgan, but as a writer you would have been privileged with a little more information. How did you get into the head of KT? Was a little of KT’s personality inspired from points of your own personality?
KT actually came about because of Ronda Rousey, the first American female Olympic medal winner for judo. There’s nothing similar between me and KT. In fact, I wish I had her courage at times.
I can see how you’d be inspired by Ronda she is one impressive athlete! So I guess Ronda would be the prime pick for cast selection if your tales were translated to screen?
Ronda Rousey for KT Morgan of course. LOL
*Laughs* I’m sure she’d be just as formidable an actress as she is a fighter! Were there strong ideas about women or life in general that you felt was important to set out alongside your strong female character?
There’s not really a deep philosophical thing in my books. I just wanted to prove that heroes aren’t always male.
As you can certainly do that with the sheer force of KT! Was it important for you to use research to prove other points of KT’s journey through these books?
I researched local areas where the books occur to create realistic nearby towns. “The Visitor” is the only story so far that features a real city and real event – The Jazz Festival in Jacksonville, Florida.
Yes, I remember we’ve previously chatted about the Jazz Festival in one of the earlier interviews. It’s always good to use ‘writing research’ as an excuse for getting out and about! Other than using ‘writing researching’ to justify having guilt free fun, where do you receive your rewards from writing?
I think it was being able to write a short story that reads well. It’s a lot harder than writing a longer book. It can be challenging to create a story and characters readers will enjoy in less than 80 pages.
Getting that mix of plot, personality and pace right in only 80 pages is a challenge. It’s the same challenge they have in the movies, and is probably why we don’t see many 90-minute movies anymore! To rise to that challenge what do you find is the best place to point your focus? Is it on plot or personalities?
For me, plot always comes first.
How has your use of plot evolved over the course of the stories in this suspense volume? What have you learnt about putting plot first?
That I use too many unnecessary words at times. It was hard not to go on and on at times. But in order to write something short, you have to get rid of the fluff.
*Laughs* Would reduction of more fluff be something that you would do if you were to write these three episodes in KT’s life again? Or would you target another aspect for change?
I would change nothing. I really enjoy writing this series. It gives me a break between my longer books.
Are you working on any longer projects at the moment?
I just finished a Christmas story titled “The Chain You Forge” which will be out Christmas of 2017 and am working on a full-length suspense book titled “Fade to the Edge.” The story is about a mother who wakes to discover her son is missing.
A missing child is bound to lead to a tale full of tension. What keeps drawing you back to writing in a world of high tension and suspense?
It gives me pleasure and releases a lot of tension.
I find it fascinating that writing about high stress and tension situations actually releases your tension. If I had to guess I probably would have thought that placing your mind in these scenarios might increase stress, but I really love how it’s stress reducing for you. With all of these high stress scenarios in play in your novels, how do you keep track of ideas that have formed, but aren’t ready to be integrated into a story yet?
I have about 30 pages with paragraph synopsis of things that have jumped into my head.
Wow, that’s a significant volume of bits and pieces that you can use to bolster your current tales. How do you use these little titbits when you’re starting on a new piece?
I somewhat plot my books to make sure they will work out and I don’t have a saggy middle, so I definitely know how they will end.
*Laughs* Nobody wants a saggy middle! Other than plotting, what steps do you take to make sure you don’t end up with saggy middles?
I write six days a week and take Sundays off. I usually have two going at once. I write down on a yellow pad a real rough draft of a story, and when I’m typing the manuscript for it, I’ve started writing another or plotting the new one on a tape recorder. I have a forty-minute drive to work (I’m a paralegal) each day, so that gives me a lot of time to plot books.
Do you play some thinking music while you’re plotting to get your mind in the zone, or is the time in car enough to work through your ideas before they get down on paper?
I am easily distracted, so I work in silence.
Ahh, the value in the sound of silence. It can help ensure that what makes it to editing is of a much higher quality. Is editing integral to your process of writing?
I reread my books five times to edit. Then I listen to them in a free program I have called Natural Reader. Once I’m done there, I put everything into a program titled Prowriting Aid which helps with duplicate terms, grammar, etc. I then do one more read through before sending it to my editor or publisher.
Using software to help your editing and publishing process is a great idea, and I imagine at times that it might catch even more issues than a human who is manually checking your work would find. What is your top advice for other humans looking to improve their journey editing and publishing, other than using these software tools?
Always do things professionally. Use a professional cover artist and have your books edited. I can’t believe some of the junk put out there with misspellings, grammar errors, etc.
There are amazing stories out there, but distracting the readers with misspellings and poor grammar can dilute the power of a good story. To prevent further story dilution, where else do you feel authors should focus to improve their writing processes
Get connected in a writer’s group. It can keep you from feeling alone.
Do you feel that your day job has also helped you from feeling alone when writing?
I’m a paralegal and so far it hasn’t really influenced me much. I’ve used the first name of one of our clients for one of my romantic heroines and my character in my upcoming Christmas book “The Chain You Forge” is a personal injury attorney. We do elder law, but deal a lot with personal injury attorneys. I get to see a lot of the shady side to these people.
I’m sure slithers of those shadier sides of people have influenced some of the suspenseful situations your characters have found themselves in, even if it’s just the atmosphere. What your favourite quote from outside of your work that you feel sheds light on an accurate atmosphere of life?
Don’t have a particular favorite, but come across a lot I like. For instance this one from Dale Carnegie: “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Do you live by a philosophy of hope in day to day life?
Yes, The 5-second rule. LOL
*Laughs* Food rules and the hope that food on the floor is still good are among the most important in life! On the important topic of food and food choices, what is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?
Loved the Blue Bell chocolate chip mint ice cream bars, but they don’t make them anymore. But I’ll eat any flavor as long as there are no nuts in it.
Yeah, nuts are not things I really want in my ice-cream either. I feel if you’re going to get ice-cream and other sugar laden sweets having the healthy nuts as a topping or ingredient isn’t really right. In the line of rightness, where do think that the line between insanity and creativity falls?
It leans more toward insanity. That’s why so many writers cross it.
*Laughs* Well, there’s more fun when you lean towards insanity! Irrespective of how far you’re leaning towards insanity, as a writer we know that you love words. Do you have a favourite?
Don’t have one favorite, but the first word that came to my mind was “befuddled.” I heard it used on The Big Bang Theory last night.
That’s a good one. The Big Band Theory is great as they’re not afraid to use words that you normally wouldn’t see in a sitcom. Now here’s a question that I feel would have a healthy debate on The Big Bang Theory. What happens if Batman gets bitten by a vampire?
The same thing if any human got bitten. Batman is human with lots of toys, but no real super powers, so he’d turn into a vampire. Poor Robin.
*Laughs* I’m not sure it would be so bad for Robin. If Batman is stuck indoors during the day maybe Robin gets to take the toys for a spin! To round out today’s chat, what words can you share today to entice readers to pick up ‘A Touch of Suspense’?
No person held more power than one who caused terror in the eyes of another. – from Small Town Terror
Kathryn, thanks for taking us through the tensions and thrills within KT’s world, and I wish both you and KT the best of luck combating the upcoming terrors!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘A Touch of Suspense ( ASIN: B01N80NUI8 )‘.
Want to find out more about Kathryn J Bain? Connect here!