The Spotlight is on Kathleen Lopez today!
Kathleen has published two novels and is working on her next release now.
I’m really happy to be able to share a bit about Kathleen and her writing with you today!
What would you like your readers to know about you?
My very first story, Between the Shades of Light and Dark, started out as a college homework assignment. My Freshman English teacher at FSU, who I wound up dedicating that book to, gave us an assignment that we worked the course of that class. He had encouraged me to keep at it and I would write more and more, developing and expanding it through workshopping it through other of my creative writing classes. While I had left off writing that first story for some time after college, the idea of how to craft that story was due to him asking me questions and encouraging me to finish the story. It became a bucket list kind of thing so when I finally published it, I had to dedicate it to him.
What inspires you to write?
I have always liked puzzles and teasers, things that get you to think. I like my stories the same way. I like to try to keep some air of mystique, making the reader want to know why and what’s next. Well, I hope I accomplish that in my writing anyway. I like to create a whole environment that while it may be a bit out of the norm for people, it would, at the same time, be something they can relate to as well. I like for people to tell me how they did not see that coming. I think that is why I write my Prologues like I do. That last bit at the end seems to be popular with many of my readers, as I have seen in the reviews and heard in the meet and greets. I like to see how people get involved in the story and the characters. It makes me feel good to know that they feel for the story as I had when I was writing it.
Is there a genre you feel drawn to write or do you see yourself tackling a variety of genres in the future?
When people ask what I write, I tell them I write in the ‘genre of creepy’. I am drawn to writing murder mystery and thriller types of stories. They are the stories I like to read so it tends to be the stories I like to write. It goes along with the whole wanting to understand the why and how of my nature. Having a story where you need to dive deeper into it to find out what the real story is just fascinates me. I am just about to finish and release my first paranormal story. This story also feeds into my ‘genre of creepy’ as there is more to discover the further you get into the story.
I think that I will be sticking with these themes for a while. I do not really see myself jumping to a fantasy or pure romance type of story any time soon. However, if there is a good hook to a story, one should never say never.
Can you describe your writing space?
My writing space is my laptop, period. It is mobile and lets me write anywhere I need to write. I have an office at home, and an office space I can go to if needed, but I tend to write where ever and when ever. I do need some semblance of quiet, but tend to have a television or a radio going on in the background to keep it from being deathly quiet. I need to be comfy as if I get into a good tear, I can be there for a few hours.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
What I like to start with is the main idea of the book, the elevator speech if you will. I try to figure out what is the main purpose. Then I break it down into a very loose outline. Over these first three books, I have developed a schema – Prologue, Chapters 1-11, Epilogue. Over those 13 chapters, I plot out the main point of that chapter. I write out what I ultimately want that chapter to be about or what will be the focus.
Then I start character development. I come up with the main cast of characters, their names, ages, likes, dislikes, personality quirks, etc. I start figuring out what types of characters I need given the type of story I am telling. I craft the characters in a way that will help push the story where it wants to go.
After that, I try to come up with scenes and moments that will carry the story to its natural end. I have found that no matter how much time I spend in prep work, the characters will take on a life of their own and throw me a curve every now and again. I have been known to have to step back and figure out how to adjust after a character decided they wanted to go off script.
What is your go to snack when writing?
I do not have a particular snack, but I do tend to avoid anything that will make a mess on the keyboard. I try to avoid cheese coated anything as there will be orange fingerprints on the keyboard. I think tortilla chips maybe what I eat most often, with or without salsa. However, that only works if I am thoroughly convinced I know how to get through a scene. If I am struggling to get the right words down, then that crunching sound throws me off.
Are any of your books or characters based on personal experiences or people in your life?
I try not to base them on real people. I think it is dangerous to do so because then if you write about someone and they figure out it is based on them, they may see something that only you noticed. You may write about a trait they do not like or that they did not think you saw in them. I tend to base my characters on a collection of traits that I have seen, both in life and in television and movies. I try to highlight those traits that people will find believable in my characters.
Do you have a favorite character or book you have written?
My favorite character would have to be Sheriff Martin Shuller. I often refer to him as ‘that poor bastard’, if you pardon the language. He started as a filler character really. He was a character I introduced in the first book to come in and push the murder investigation plot point. I did not put too much into his full development – background, history, etc. – since he was just there to do his thing and that was it. I wound up liking him more than I thought I would. I decided by the time I finished the first book that my follow up release, Prodigal Son, would be about him. It would follow him home and we would know more about him. Heck, I wanted to know more about him.
After I abused him emotionally over two books, I switched genres and began writing my paranormal story. It was going fine until I had a thought. What if the character in this story was Shuller’ sister, the one he talked about to Jeanie in the dinner? I did not intend to bring him along into this story, but he would not keep quiet. I rewrote the first three chapters to make way for him to work his way into the story later on in the book. He wound up getting more page time in the process.
I am not sure he will show up in the next two stories I have in the queue, but then again, I had not planned on him being in the third one either. I guess he will let me know if he wants a vacation soon enough. He would certainly be my favorite character, the poor bastard.
Any hints as to what readers can expect next?
I have two stories that I have started spec’ing out. One is a crime/murder-mystery and the other is a paranormal. I am not sure which one I will tackle first. I even toyed with the idea of toggling between the two, but not sure if I will.
The crime/murder-mystery story is something really new that I thought of recently. It is an idea that many writers can relate to so there may be a bit of tongue-in-cheek to it. Readers should also get the concept since fans like to get to know writers and would understand the point of the story as well. It will focus on the life of a writer and them getting mixed up in a series of ‘unfortunate events’.
My paranormal story is another idea that I have had for a while, but am trying to build up the hook more for it. I have a pretty good idea of what it is, but there needs to be a lot more development for it. I need to flesh out more of the ‘creep’ factor for me to really get moving on it.
Once I publish Sweet Child of Mine, I hope to have another book out in one to two years time. I try to stick to that as much as I can. Being an Indie Author, you need to publish to keep the word going about you, to build that base.
Tell us about your Street Team and or Reader Group and let us know how interested readers can join.
When I started writing as an Indie Author, there were no rules to follow. There really should not be, but I found myself a bit lost when I first started trying to be published. The whole concept of not going through the traditional publishing house and doing it on your own is daunting. There are too many missteps to make if you do not know what you are doing.
I never formally generated a Street Team or group. I never knew how to get that rolling. I tried hiring PAs to help, but there are so many out there that are either no good or plain money grabbers. It ruins you on the idea of hiring strangers. I have struggled to find how to develop that team or group. I am trying currently to form a beta readers group for this next release and have been hinting on Twitter and my Facebook fan page about gathering interested people. I would love readers who are interested in helping in that aspect as I do feel to be an island onto myself with it all sometimes. I try to encourage readers to contact me via my website, Twitter, or FB for such items. I am really trying to ramp up that aspect lately.
For new to you readers, what book would you suggest they read first?
While I try not to write a book where you must read this one to understand that one, I would suggest the first book, Between the Shades of Light and Dark. Since my first three do have the same character, I would consider them to be a character thread and not so much a sequential series. I may reference the previous book in the newer book, but like a one-liner and nothing that will throw the reader out of the story if they had not read the previous release.
I had always had the knack myself of getting deep into a book and finding myself lost only to realize I picked up book three and not book one. I try not to do that to my readers. The books really can be read in any order if the read so chooses.
When not writing your own books, who do you like to read?
My favorite author is Stephen King, shocker. I think that is a bit telling when it comes to the type of stories I like to write. Anne Rice’s earlier works too are amongst my favorites. I have read Koonz and Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark as well. I seem to be drawn to those types of stories whether reading or writing.
Share a random fact or two that readers don’t know about you.
I like to paint ceramics, and growing up I painted a lot, mostly of Indians and wolves. I have not painted in quite some time, but still have the pieces I painted back then. It is very calming to me to focus on those types of crafts.
Celebrity Crush? Male – Gareth David-Lloyd: I like his style of acting, that Welch accent, and his character was nick-named Eye Candy for a reason; Female – Helen Mirren: she’s just too awesome and I hope to be her when I grow up.
Favorite Beverage? Wine
Sweet or Savory for snacks? Savory mostly, but will hit up the sweets on occasion
What type of music do you listen to? Pop, Rock, Alternative
Favorite tv show? Doctor Who
Do you have any pets? Two dogs, Australian Shepherds, Molly and Boomer (brother and sister); Bearded Dragon, Zilla
Biggest pet peeve? People who start to talk then never finish their sentences
Favorite vacation spot? An island somewhere, or a place where you get to stay in ‘a villa’
Morning or Night person? Night
Favorite sports team? It used to be the Mets, but they have not won since ’86
Hobbies? General crafts, cooking
Between the Shades of Light and Dark
After witnessing the demise of her parent’s marriage, Samantha’s shipped off to remote Columbus Cove. She finds salvation from debilitating isolation in the Cove’s latest resident, Channing. As if off the cover of a romance novel and into the sleepy little town, he’s charming, handsome, and Samantha’s sole focus. But a shocking murder claims more than one victim. Blindsided and embroiled in an investigation as secrets that lay buried beneath the unpaved roads come to light.
Sheriff Martin Shuller is a thorough and honest investigator. When a dear friend is murdered, he is forced to come to grips with the case’s startling revelations while those close to him worry for the embattled sheriff. What occurs in the house on Cedar Mill Lane uproots what he thought he knew. Quiet and normal was what he was seeking. It certainly was not what he found. When the past comes calling…
Sweet Child of Mine
One day can change a life forever. You can try to move on, but what if you find out it’s not allowed. For Jack and Sarah they will soon realize that while they want to let go of the past, it won’t let go of them. What happens when the past decides it’s not finished with you. One day of tragedy leads to an seemingly unending cycle of torment. When it comes to families, it’s the ties that bind…
About Kathleen Lopez
Falling in love with writing was a happy accident back in junior high for Kathleen Lopez. The assignment of covering the latest school event for a county paper fell in her lap when the teacher passed it along to her at age 14. Journalism became a passion and then a career she spanned over the next 10 years, writing throughout school and freelancing once graduating college. Several of her poems were published during her college career at Florida State University where she pursued a creative writing degree.
She always maintained a notepad and scrap papers of story ideas and themes to write about one day. Her first book publication, Between the Shades of Light and Dark, was actually a short story that started in a freshman English class at FSU. The story became the premise of future college assignments and was work-shopped through several classes during her work in the creative writing program. The story became a side project to work on in her free time, which between kids, schooling, and life in general getting in the way, free time became less and less. Upon completing her Ph.D. in Project Management, she returned to writing again and completed her story.
Her intention was to have a murder mystery as her first published work. The intrigue of the genre had always piqued her interest. It became a goal for Kathleen to have a published murder mystery to add to her list of writing achievements. She felt this story had been residing on a computer for too long and needed to leave the nest. While pulling off a successful murder mystery could be daunting without it being her first entry into being a published author, without the effort of pushing this through, she would never know if it would sink or swim. With this goal accomplished, her plan is more of the stories sitting in storage will soon follow suit. The characters in her stories are not based on anyone particular, but perhaps may have acquired some personality quirks from the people she has known in her life. The settings are amalgamations of places she had dreamt up with a hint of places she remembers from her past. She felt that characters need to be real enough for the reader to care; they need to be more every day than fantasy for the reader to want to read about them. Each story should be a journey.
Connect with Kathleen:
Kathleen, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!
I love spotlighting authors and sharing the amazing work that they do.
Readers, make sure you drop by and visit Kathleen at her social media sites to learn more about ‘Between the Shades of Light and Dark’ and ‘Prodigal Son’ as well as her upcoming release of ‘Sweet Child of Mine.’
Have questions for Kathleen Lopez? Leave a comment and I’ll make sure she sees it!