(Posted on Qwerty Thoughts on May 22, 2019: https://www.qwertythoughts.com/authors-lobby/interviews/kathleen-jones/5ce29daa589c5d05677bcda9)
Interviewed on May 21, 2019, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Q. How would you describe yourself?
I am a lover of words who writes from the heart. I’m also a refugee from the corporate world, and a lover of books, dogs, and 1940’s/1950’s vintage clothing.
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
I published my first novel, “Love Is the Punch Line,” with Moonshine Cove last year. I wrote the novel part-time over a three and a half year period while still employed full-time. When I took early retirement in 2016, I became a full-time writer. After working with a professional editor, copy editor, and proofreader on the manuscript, I submitted it to agents and publishers. Moonshine Cove offered me a contract in August 2017 and they published the book in April 2018.
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
Writing is a way to express myself and to share my insights with readers. So far, my writing journey has been exciting but challenging.
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
First, I write a brief synopsis of the book, followed by a detailed outline. I write the first draft then take a four-month break to read over the manuscript, identify problems, and brainstorm solutions. I then write two more drafts. A typical daily routine involves two focused hours of writing by longhand, during which I try to complete at least one scene in a chapter. After I finish writing a chapter, I type it into a Word file, proofread it, print it out, then back it up on two USBs.
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The most effective marketing technique is social media: writing guest posts on high traffic websites and offering free copies of the ebook on Goodreads.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
Readers want to buy books that speak in some way to their own personal experiences.
Q. What’s the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
A reader told me that the characters in my novel are real people with real feelings rather than the idealized characters in most romance novels.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
In “The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck provides a voice for marginalized people, poor and struggling migrant farm workers.
In “The Woman Upstairs,” Claire Messud makes visible the hidden and lost artistic dreams of a middle-aged woman, dreams that many other people have but never talk about.
Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” although published almost 35 years ago, was perceptive and prophetic.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
I admire John Steinbeck for his great empathy for working people. Claire Messud is a genius at describing the hopes and dreams of ordinary people. Margaret Atwood’s sharp observations and biting sense of humour make her one of the most distinctive authors in the world.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
I am currently writing my second novel. The outline and the first draft are finished, and I’ve completed about one third of the second draft.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what’s the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
The biggest challenge for writers is getting noticed. The worst thing about the book industry? There is a very unfair bias against indie (including small press) authors. Mainstream media reviewers at newspapers and magazines won’t review our books, and libraries won’t order them. Also, indie authors are expected to spend their time and money on marketing and selling our own books, two things that most of us aren’t good at. I for one would rather spend my time on writing.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
I want to spend time with family and friends, improve my health, and travel.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What’s your take on this?
I think this is a great goal. Thanks to the endless number of websites out there, it’s hard for authors and readers to connect with each other. Also, it’s a good way for authors, who are usually isolated, to receive feedback on their work.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Two messages: (1) Write what’s in your heart, and (2) hire a team of professionals (a substantive/line editor, copy editor, proofreader) to polish your manuscript before you submit it to agents and publishers.