Author Spotlight: Martin Wilsey

  • full-time author, hunter, photographer, rabble-rouser, father, friend, marksman, storyteller, frightener of children, carnivore, engineer, fool, philosopher, cook, and madman.

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Martin Wilsey!

Black and white image of Martin Wilsey's face. Caucasian male with short cropped grey hair with a widows peak, and a goatee. Dark eyes.

Before Martin turned to writing full-time, he was a research scientist for a government-funded think tank. Those skills doing detailed, in-depth research, and whiteboard usage, come in damn handy now. He and his wife Brenda live in Virginia with their two cats Brandy and the famous Bailey.

Martin, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I would love to have a Black Eagle as a pet. One that was more like a friend than a pet. One that had a large vocabulary of words it understood, even though he could not himself speak. He would feed himself and, when asked politely, would also bring me rabbits for the grill. He’d be great during the pending Zombie Apocalypse. I’d name him Elvis.

Oh wow! What a majestic choice!

What do you write and how did you get started?

I write what I love to read: Science Fiction and Fantasy. I like to bring the science back into science fiction. I like to keep my physics as real as possible, so when I cross the line to fiction with things like artificial gravity and faster than light travel, it’s more believable.

I always get started the same way. I create a detailed outline. My outlines always begin the same way. With this:

Fill in the blanks: When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC

That expands into three acts, and eventually into nine acts. In the end, I usually have a scene by scene, bullet list, detailed outline.

I love this process because it is so creative. I am not worried about spelling, or grammar, or punctuation. All my creativity goes into the story and characters, and settings.

I do my outlines in longhand, on paper with a pencil. It’s odd to have a favorite brand of pencil and a favorite pencil sharpener.

Favorite Brand of Pencil and Sharpener?

My favorite brand of pencil is a Palomino – BLACKWING 602. They are so worth it, and you can get them easily on Amazon. I was turned on to them by a fellow aspiring writer—very old school. He still does his writing on an actual typewriter.

My sharpener was my father’s. It is older than me, and I was born in 1959. Built to last. Like me.

My entire journey has been documented on my writer’s blog. It has a ton of lessons learned along the way. It has tips and tricks from several other authors, as well as me. It also has a pile of stuff just for fun, even a weekly webcomic about me and my cat Bailey, who thinks he is my editor and agent.

Title: Drink Coffee, Make Stuff Up
The adventures of an author and his cat Bailey.
By Martin Wilsey and Gerald McGee c2020

Cartoon of a bald Martin, wearing glasses and a grey goatee. He's sitting in a desk chair with a black shirt with maybe green lasers all over it, typing away, with a star trek coffee mug, and a plugged in vadar usb something.

Bailey is a siamese, and says: "Why are you writing so much more this week? What changed?"


I don’t always start off with that stakes sentence — but I definitely write mine before I do my first revision. I’ve gotta admit, although I have decent handwriting, I am much faster at typing than writing and can write much longer by computer than by hand. I may not have a favorite pencil or sharpener, but I do love my Bic pens.

What do you like to read?

I love to read. I read about a hundred books a year. I’ll never get to read all the books I want before I die at 116 years old. I read many kinds of books. Scifi mostly, and I switch between reading classics like Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark, to new SciFi, Indie published Sci Fi, and even beta-reads of as yet unpublished works.

I like to read the same books my family reads so we can talk about them. I have read a lot of romance titles and paranormal romance my wife enjoys. I have read a lot of young adult titles that my kids enjoyed, like Harry Potter.

I also read non-fiction on politics, religion, philosophy, and advances in science.

I even have seven sets of encyclopedias that STILL get read and used a lot.

Oh wow! 100? What a great mix of writing. Before I started writing, I may have read that much. But these days, I often feel like I need to put my time in, in front of my manuscript before I’m ‘allowed’ to read.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Write what you know

What fun is that? That would pretty much eliminate EVERYTHING I write. I will never know what it’s like to travel through time, or fly a ship in space, or survive on a future battlefield, or fall in love with someone that is not quite human.

That being said, my experiences do color my writing. I have fallen in love. I have been horribly injured. I have fired a belt-fed, full-auto machine gun. I’ve slept in a monastery. I have cooked over an open fire. I’ve known hunger and regret and joy. I have flown alone in a small plane on a clear night under a sky full of stars. All these experiences inform my writing.

One day I will finish writing my memoir. There is where I will write what I know. Well, maybe more like what I believe.

Exactly! What you know and what you’ve experienced should definitely influence and add relatable depth to your story, but don’t be bound by it.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Finish Things

I was plagued for decades with the most common type of author self-sabotage. I never finished anything. I would get most of the way through a project and paint myself into a corner. I would have another good idea and start working on that project, lying to myself that I could work on more than one at a time. Pure self-sabotage, never finishing anything.

Interestingly, the most important skill I have learned to be successful is not talent, and it’s not inspiration, it’s not the muse striking. It’s discipline. It’s doing it whether you feel like it or not. It’s like wearing your seatbelt or brushing your teeth. If you do it every day, inspiration learns where to find you. People hate to hear it. It’s work. Treat it like a job. The best job in the damn world, and I am living proof.

Drink coffee, make stuff up, and people send me money. How awesome if that!?

But first, you must Finish Things.

Definitely a key step in creating! I’ve finally sorted out the ‘finish things’ part — at least when it comes to finishing the drafts of the project. I just haven’t been able to give up on any of my stories — so I keep revising them every so-many-rejection letters.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Solstice 31 Saga

Barcus is a working stiff looking for a good paycheck. When the Ventura and its crew enter orbit for a scheduled planet survey, the ship activates an automated defense system protecting the planet. Although the Ventura is destroyed in the attack, Barcus alone survives the harrowing fall to the remote planet surface. He struggles to remain alive and sane and to discover why everyone he knew and loved on the Ventura was deliberately murdered.

Swinging between despair and fury, Barcus discovers that for every answer he obtains, there are more questions raised. Barcus is assisted by the Emergency Module, Em, his most useful tool. It is an artificial intelligence system contained in an all-terrain vehicle specifically designed to help him survive. Barcus soon finds himself in the middle of a planetary genocide of the local native population. He is unable to stand passively by as more people die, even if they are long lost colonists who fear “the Man from Earth” like children fear the monster under their bed.

Will Barcus ever find his way home? Will he find out who is responsible? Will his rage just burn this world down? Or will he find his soul in the eyes of a starving, frightened woman?

Solstice 31 Saga Short Stories:

Virtues of the Vicious

Elizabeth Cruze came to Earth for one reason: to buy weapons. She never counted on ending up in prison. Never fear, though, she’s not planning on staying there long.

Special Investigator Neal Locke has made a career out of catching the most elusive and dangerous criminals. He’s never failed to “get his man.”

When Cruze escapes from prison, Locke is tasked to track her down. She should be easy to find…all he’s got to do is follow the trail of bodies.

But Locke has been an investigator for a long time. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there’s more going on than what he’s been told…

The Once Damned – (Novella)

A disgraced royal guard who failed in protecting his King hunts down those who cost him more than just his honor.

The trail of blood that follows him doesn’t all belong to someone else.

He walked away once. Now there is nowhere else to go.

Anthologies with Short Stories by Martin Wilsey:

Website | Website Two | Blog | Tannhauser Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes | Facebook Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Ventura Theater

Author Spotlight: Thomas Kane

  • fantasy writer by way of England and Maine

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Thomas Kane!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

After a few years publishing supplements for D&D and other role-playing games, Thomas M. Kane moved from the US to the UK where he lectured in international politics and strategic studies at the University of Hull. He has now returned to his original home in the Maine woods, where he writes fantasy.

Thomas, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

My WIP features a princess with a pet lizard. While writing it, I researched real-life pet lizards and fell in love with bearded dragons. Apparently, many of them play with toy balls, recognize their humans and like to snuggle. I had never known reptiles behaved that way, but now that I do, it fits with a lot of what I believe about the world. And I think they’re really cute!

My late step-mother used to have an Australian bearded dragon! She’d set it on her shoulder, wearing a leash and just walk around. On occasion, it would move, and she’d get surrounded by people asking, “oh, wait. Is that REAL?” They’re great pets.

What do you write and how did you get started?

My father was (among other things) an editor and my mother was (among other things) a poet. They encouraged me to write stories and poems from early on. I discovered fantasy at age 11 when a teacher read The Lord of the Rings aloud in class. He did the Black Riders’ screams.

After that came D&D. I learned about the business side of writing by producing supplements for role-playing games. Meanwhile, thanks to an excellent professor, I became interested in international relations and I pursued and academic career with the thought that it would allow me to write as part of my day job. I did, indeed, publish eight scholarly books in my field, and I also had a fair number of adventures which now show up in my fiction.

My current series is about an introspective woman named Mara growing to adulthood in a time when two powerful countries are slipping closer to war. It’s an adventure story with a lot of intrigue, but it’s also a story about Mara’s home life, her friendships and her observations about her world. Much of my fiction explores similar themes – I am interested in my characters’ inner lives, I am interested in relatively ordinary people and I set my writing in imaginary settings. My academic career taught me some things about real-life war, espionage and international intrigue and I bring this into my writing.

What an excellent environment to grow up in, as a future writer. I’m sure many of us know the appeal of the ‘day job that can support our writing habit,” how lovely to have one that could add compelling stories to the craft itself! And? I have to confess to sometimes caring more about the character’s inner life than their surroundings.

What do you like to read?

I read broadly! The books that most directly inspire my writing these days are Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu. I love Le Guin’s use of the language and I love her willingness to engage with ideas.

Tombs and Tehanu are about a priestess in a sinister cult who runs away and tries to find a life that’s right for her. As someone who has moved across the ocean twice for not-entirely-dissimilar reasons, I appreciate that plot!

Ah, I remember having a soft spot for Tehanu back when I read it. Le Guin is an amazing writer and an excellent muse.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

When people treat writing advice as unbreakable laws

I think all writing advice needs to be taken in context. Writing advice becomes pernicious when it encourages people to try to catch others out for breaking arbitrary rules. I also have to say I have limited patience for gatekeeping, domineering behavior, and the attitude of “no pain, no gain.” This is another reason I like Ursula K Le Guin – she has written clever essays querying such attitudes as the Hemmingway-fueled presumption that every adjective, adverb or punctuation mark is a sign of weakness.

When I was learning to write, I listened to virtually all the advice I received and worked hard to apply it. This attitude probably helped me develop a consistent and readable style. It certainly helped me work successfully with editors. However, I found it impossible to make progress with novels until I gave myself permission to stop worrying about taboos and simply say what I had to say. That’s one of the reasons I like to write in first person – it lets me express myself the way my characters express themselves, rather than the way I have been told I must.

Definitely. To quote Pirates of the Caribbean – “They’re more like… guidelines.” But, by studying them, you’re aware of the rules and why they exist, and you break them for a purpose, an intent. The rules give a decent framework to start from… and then you can work your magic.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.


When teaching. I often recommend Gregory G. Columb and Joseph M. Williams’ Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Columb and Williams make the point that each sentence is a miniature story in its own right. They also talk about how to organize ideas into coherent “strings.” I find their system valuable for making writing make sense.

Fascinating! I’ve heard that each chapter should be its own story, but never taken down to the sentence level. *Adds ANOTHER book to her massive to-read pile*

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Mara of the League Book One: The Witches of Crannock Dale

The Witches of Crannock Dale (Mara of the League Book 1) by [Kane, Thomas]

Eleven-year old Mara tries to save her family from invaders. When the knights protecting her town arrest her aunt for witchcraft, she wonders who her real enemies are.

This is a story of war and espionage, set in a low fantasy world.

It is also about a child getting to know her mother and father in a new way.

Mara of the League Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City

The Rebels of Caer City (Mara of the League Book 2) by [Kane, Thomas]

Throughout five years at a strict boarding school, Mara has turned to her friend Annie-Rose for comfort. Now Annie has disappeared. Mara teams up with two other students – bold Gretchen and soft-spoken Ginny — to find her missing friend.

Together, Mara, Gretchen and Ginny take on a conspiracy involving some of the most dangerous people in their world.

For more check out my website, facebook, and twitter for blog articles, books reviews, and supplemental material on my novels.

For more stories and articles for free, check out my newsletter. Just email me at to subscribe.

AND? Join the conversation! Discuss the Mara series and other thought-provoking stories in the Facebook group Kane’s Coffeehouse.

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter

Author Spotlight: Carrow Brown

  • an urban fantasy author, psychology grad student, and lover of tacos

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Carrow Brown!

Long-haired brunette, with green eyes, pale skin, and a large sword. Wearing a green t-shirt.

Carrow Brown grew up in a military family and traveled the world absorbing everything she could (including whatever bad words she could find!) Her passion has always been to write stories to share with others that both entertain and provoke thought.

Carrow resides in sunny Arizona with her husband and German shepherds. In the little free time she has between writing The Ghost Walker Chronicles and her clinical psychology graduate work, Carrow can often be found sketching her characters into life and hiking in the wilderness with her husband and dogs.

She is easily bribed with tacos and the answer is always “yes” if you offer to show her pictures of your dogs.

Carrow, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Dogs. All the dogs. I love dogs. I have only four because we don’t have room for more.

Puppies are pretty much the best.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I’ve been writing probably since high school.

My first writing memory actually came when I was in elementary school and we were given a writing assignment and I totally did horrible at it. And I remember how afraid and shameful I was about the poor quality of my work and it kind of put me off of writing and reading in general at the time. As I got older and I read a lot of books, I wanted to kind of dive into it again but didn’t feel I had the skillset at the time. But by the time I hit High School, I started writing for myself a lot more. That usually looked like fanfiction about 90% of the time but I also did creative writing exercises for English class. When I graduated from high school and went straight into the military, I didn’t pick up writing again until I was probably 25. I joined a couple of games online with other individuals who like to role-play their characters and I got back into writing that way.

When I turn 30 I kind of realized that one of the things I always wanted to do as a kid was ‘write a story’. So, I decided that this was the time, that I was going to be serious and actually write my book and get it out and if I publish one book before I died I was going to call it a victory.

Now, I’m kind of here with my one book out and a bunch more on the way and I feel pretty lucky. But I will say that it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. I have worked very hard to get where I am right now and I’m still always working very hard. I’m always looking to improve my writing and find better ways to hone my craft.

Know that you aren’t alone with getting established and then going back to your writing. Still. It is so hard! Congrats!

What do you like to read?

I will read pretty much anything but westerns. The reason I want to read just about anything is that every genre has something that makes it unique from everything else and I really appreciate that. By default you find me reading a lot of fantasy urban fantasy and romance. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance are my guilty pleasure to read for sure. Now and then I will also dive into a little bit of fanfiction but as I’ve gotten older truly hard for me to read fanfiction because a lot of people who write it don’t really proof what they’re writing, so it’s hard for me to see past that.

Ha! Your to-read pile sounds a lot like mine!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Make likeable characters

Oh, this is a tough one. The one writing advice as commonly accepted by that I don’t fundamentally agree with is that you have to constantly make likable characters.

My entire book is actually based on the premise of making characters that a reader will like but are not likable. And my counter-statement to this advice is that you shouldn’t make likable characters you should make relatable characters. A character should be somebody that you can look like and identify with but not be likable. For example, one of the characters in my book that everybody really does love is Silence. Even though he’s a bloodthirsty sword that’s always pushing goes to do very questionable and horrible things, people end up enjoying him because he is funny and deep down he does have feelings and wants that people can identify with.

Such great advice. For unlikable, but lovable characters in the mainstream, I usually point to IronMan. I would HATE to date him or have to work with him. But, as a character? He’s pretty well-loved.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Set the scene

You need to set the scene.

I have a really hard time reading books with seeing when it’s not set. I have encountered individuals who will write the intro piece to whatever it is that they’re doing and I don’t know where I am who I am or what is going on. A lot of people think that this adds mystery and questions to the writing but I’m honestly very frustrated. I’m not saying somebody needs to come in and bash me over the head with these things but it would be nice to have a gradual introduction to this world that the story is taking place in. Starting off with some kind of rambling or a Falafel discussion by the author to the reader honestly is just antagonistic to me and I’m not here for it. So set the damn scene.

That makes perfect sense. The whole, in-media-res thing is often taken WAY too far.

Then again, I only care moderately about what a place looks like, so authors who stop for a page and a half to describe the room and every character, without interweaving any dialogue or action are kinda my pet-peeve. But, I know I’m plot and stakes focused and try to remember to cater a little to those of you out there with movies running in your head when you read.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Queen of Swords in silence is my baby book. It is the first book — my debut book, my heart, my blood, my everything book. I’ve gone through a lot of hardship to get this book out into the world so it’s always going to have a special place in my heart. It’s being relaunched on the 23rd for Kindle with the other formats coming up very soon.

Queen of Swords & Silence

Queen of Swords and Silence (Ghost Walker Chronicles Book 1) by [Brown, Carrow]

A banished Valkyrie stripped of her place among the gods,

Mythics vanishing left and right along with ancient relics,

A sword thirsty for blood and drenched in madness,

and now the roof has a leak—where’s the vodka?

A literal man-eater, Ghost was born . . . damaged.

Where do you go when your own creator discards you?

The world is bleak, but Ghost couldn’t care less about others woes. She has her own to contend with. A castaway, stripped of her valkyrie title, and enslaved for centuries due to her deformity…how’s that for a sob story?

Her love life and bank account are equally empty, her best friend is a bloodthirsty sword, and the roof has a leak . . . but Ghost’s duties ensure very few days are dull. Doing her master’s bidding has some benefits: global travel, meeting interesting people, stealing their priceless artifacts, and doing a little murder if needed. She could be tasked to oversee treasure or execute a magi who foolishly stepped out of line.

But the shadows in Ghost’s world are shifting. When Mythics disappears under strange circumstances, Ghost finds herself in a lethal game of supernatural politics. The Gods seek ancient relics that could prove the ticket to Ghost’s acceptance, but how far will she go to take her place within the pantheon? The stakes are high when one mistake could open a hole into Chaos . . .

 Outside of that, you can find some of my Faye Black work. That is, my guilty self-pleasure venture into romance and anything that involves romance. In 2020, I’m actually focusing on getting more of the stories for Faye Black out just because those are stories that actually make me feel good when I write them. I want to get them out into the world and into people’s hands.

I am an #authortuber, but the only other bit I would throw out there is that I do a podcast with Tamara Woods who is a cozy mystery author. We have a podcast called Authortube News where we basically go through the latest articles and newsworthy items that affect our lives as writers and authors and share them with the rest of the writing an author community. So feel free to go and check that out, thank you.

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram | Authortube News!

Author Spotlight: Megan Mackie

  • a playwright and author of urban fantasy with a dash of cyberpunk

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Megan Mackie

I am a warrior princess from the lost civilization of the Amazons. I am a space captain on a mission to further humankind’s understanding of the final frontier. I am a badass paranormal slayer of monsters protecting my friends and community from things that go bump in the night. Occasionally I write books in Chicago instead of watching TV or being a mom/wife/shameless self-promoter.

Megan, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Phoenix. I relate to this majestic creature who lives life to the fullest and takes risks and when it fails, it burns and hurts and crashes, but then comes back and chooses to live again knowing it will hurt again.

Such a primal and elemental creature. Absolutely made for those who have faced second chances and risen from their own failures.

What do you write and how did you get started?

My current series is The Lucky Devil Series, starting with The Finder of the Lucky Devil. It is urban fantasy combined with cyberpunk, since both magic and advanced technology exist in this world. Like all things, it started with a dream that I then chewed on the rest of the day.

I was a playwright at the time and I came up with this really good, juicy scene and I decided I needed to find the story that justified this scene happening, so I wrote a book during NANOWRIMO, shopped it around and then realized I needed to write another book set earlier, which became The Finder of the Lucky Devil. I am now trying to write back to that scene and I think it may be in book 4 at this time.

I definitely started early as well, but I don’t think I was half as committed as you were! Nor as brave, to submit and send your works out at that age. It’s clearly paid off for you. Congratulations!

What do you like to read?

I read a lot of urban fantasy prior, now I’ve been reading a lot of whatever interests me. Because of the numerous cons I go to through Bard’s Tower selling my books next to people like Jim Butcher, Claudia Grey, and Kevin Anderson, I’ve started expanding the genres I read and what I’m looking for now has also changed. Before I just wanted to be entertained and now it’s like checking under the hood of different sports cars.

I know I enjoy my urban fantasy these days, as well. What an amazing bunch of people to get to rub shoulders with!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Make a detailed outline

Make a detailed outline. I find if I do this, I get bogged down by it, at least in the beginning, because I would do that instead of writing the story, or I would start to write the story but too soon chuck the outline I worked so hard on in favor of something juicier so now I do a hybrid thing where I bullet point and only a few scenes ahead with a vague idea where I want it to end up-ish and let my creative inspiration battle it out for words on the page.

Ha! As a self-professed ‘plantser’, I’m a huge fan of the very light outline that you ignore until you get stuck. I’ve written from a more elaborate outline before and the story suffered for it. I do need an end goal, but the shape of that often changes.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.


The world’s greatest thing. Don’t know what the perfect word to use is, put what you mean in brackets and move on. Either you change it later or what you put in brackets was right all along and you keep it. Cut writer’s block issues in half right there. Dithering about perfect words is pointless anyway, chances are your editor will change them, lol.

Key for getting through a rough draft, so you can start to see the shape of the story!

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

The Finder of the Lucky Devil has just been re-released through eSpec Books.

The only thing more dangerous than using your magic to help a cybernetic spy find a missing criminal is being the criminal he’s looking for…

When Rune Leveau is approached by a charmingly dangerous, cybernetically-altered, corporate spy, St. Benedict, his request seemed simple: use her magical Talent to help him find an elusive criminal named Anna Masterson. But Rune has a dangerous secret: She IS Anna Masterson.

Over the past six years, St. Benedict has searched for the Masterson Files, a computer program rumored to do the impossible—cast magic spells. The technology could reshape the world. His last hope is this Finder of the Lucky Devil, but the Finder is proving difficult… and St. Benedict isn’t going to take no for an answer.

Set in an alternate Chicago, where technology and magic are in competition with each other, this fast-paced cat-and-mouse chase makes The Finder of the Lucky Devil a welcome addition to your urban fantasy/cyberpunk library.

Also, check out two related books, Death and the Crone and Saint Code: The Lost. There is one more existing book in the series that will re-release later this year and that is The Saint of Liars.

All of the books are set in cyber-magical Chicago, but they are split into two related series: The Lucky Devil novels (Finder and Saint) deal more with the magical side of the city…or how it intersects with the tech; and the Saint Code series (currently just The Lost) deals primarily with the cyberpunk side of the series. There are two more books currently in the works, The Devil’s Day, which is the sequel to The Saint of Liars, and Saint Code: Constable.

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram

Author Spotlight: Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

  • Award-winning writer of poetry and prose

Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt is a full-time marketing writer who has penned four books of poetry, two children’s books and a novel. Her eighth book – Get Happy, Dammit – is forthcoming from Local Gems Press.

Katherine, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I’d really love a floppy-eared goat. Maybe two. They’d make great friends for our two dogs and one cat.

Oooh! So cute. I actually have friends who raise goats. They’re such pack animals that you really need at least two. Maybe three.

What do you write and how did you get started?

I’m probably a bit obsessive when it comes to writing. In my day job, I write blogs, social media, and general marketing pieces, mostly with an IT focus. I also write articles and edit for Prince William Living magazine. In my creative life, I enjoy writing poetry and short essays. Once in a while, I try my hand at flash fiction.

The obsession began early on for me. As soon as my mother started teaching me to read, I wanted to write. The spark was there, and I’m not sure my mother understood at the time the degree to which her efforts affected my desire and ability to write. I wanted to create these experiences I was enjoying so much through books. I wanted to give breath to stories and sounds and ideas. I wanted to communicate things in my head that could not come out of my mouth. So I wrote poetry. Then I created magazines. I drew all the ads and wrote the articles based on the imaginary lives of my puppets. I called the magazine Puppet Gossip. I also kept a diary and wrote letters to friends and family. I often read my writing at school and church functions. Writing was something I did all the time. It was part of me.

As I got older, I began to submit my work to be published. In college, I’d send hundreds of poems out through the mail. The sheer volume of submissions helped me land my work in some pretty good magazines and journals. Then I started to help edit our college literary magazine. I launched one on my own through the college, too. After grad school, I began to write books. I’ve published independently and through small presses, and there are more opportunities on the horizon. The hard work that comes along with this obsession has paid off.

I definitely started early as well, but I don’t think I was half as committed as you were! Nor as brave, to submit and send your works out at that age. It’s clearly paid off for you. Congratulations!

What do you like to read?

Besides reading poetry, I seem to have become fascinated by World War II fiction, specifically the work of Philip Kerr. His Bernie Gunther detective series just sucks me in and has taught me quite a bit about history. I also enjoy the eclectic, sometimes speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood and Rupert Thomson. I find their voices most compelling. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is another of my favorites. His brand of magical realism and poetic prose inspires me.

I spent my college years hanging out with history buffs, so I enjoy a good historical fiction. And we all know speculative fiction is totally my jam. What a great mix, very well rounded. I’m sure that helps with your own writing.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Children’s books shouldn’t rhyme

 I think this notion undervalues a timeless art and limits communication. Poetry holds power, and if you want children to learn the nuances of language and fall in love with the written and spoken word, you should definitely introduce them to verse and do it through storytelling. Think about nursery rhymes, which are a meld of story and song. And what about classics like The Night Before Christmas and just about every Dr. Seuss book?

I think we should be embracing verse, not avoiding it, which is why both my children’s books are written as illustrated epic poems. The storylines and illustrations are important, yes, but the sound and stanza arrangements greatly contribute to the overall experience. I don’t know who came up with the idea that we should strike verse from children’s literature, but I think it’s off base.

From what I understand of the advice, it was the plea of tired publishers and agents, tired of ‘near rhymes’ and poor meter. I believe this is one of those: if you can do it well, please do. Everyone else, have mercy on us and just write normally.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Learn the rules so you can learn how to break them

That goes for any art (and a lot of life in general). It’s important to understand the roots of your particular craft so you can glean the best and leave the rest. Take what you need from tradition. Then you can really start to get creative and have a context as you develop your own style and voice.

Definitely! If you break it because you think the rule is stupid, you likely don’t understand what the rule was intended to do. If you do it from a place of knowledge and art, you can often do amazing things with it. After all, the “rules of writing” are more like… guidelines.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

Like everyone else, I’ve had to endure the challenges of living a human life. A few things have happened along the way that sometimes make me wonder how I ever lived this long. But I’ve worked hard to get where I am, I’m pleased with the way my life turned out, and that’s why I wrote Get Happy, Dammit.

It’s a kind of handbook for creating inspiration and motivation. The book includes short essays and poems, and in each brief chapter, there are exercises I used in the college classroom when I taught back in the day. I’ve had teachers, artists, writers, business folks and caregivers tell me how useful these exercises are, so I hope your audience will take a look once it’s published this spring.

[NOTE: She’s also published a few other poetry books, with very different themes: Late April, Bury Me Under A Lilac, Poems From The Battlefield, and Weaker Than Water.

Plus! She has two children’s books (in case you wondered why she felt so strongly about that rhyming advice): Furbily-Furld Takes On The World and A Crane Named Steve ]

I’ll be posting about that book and more on my website. Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or instagram! I appreciate everyone reading, and keep writing!

Katherine's other books:
Poetry books:
Late April
Bury Me Under a Lilac
Poems From The Battlefield
Weaker Than Water

Kids books:
Furbily-Furld Takes On The World
A Crane Named Steve

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