TODAY’S AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT features Katharine Hamilton, a southern belle in cowboy boots. Right there, you know she has the right stuff to pull you onto the dance floor and straight into the arms her epic fantasy books! Without further ado, here’s.. Katharine!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a city girl turned ranch wife, a brand new mom, a little sister, a fiercely loyal friend, and a quirky Southern Belle obsessed with sweet tea. Oh, and I’m a writer.
- How did you get started on your writing journey?
I first started writing in college. My first “work” was a giant poster book for my niece Taylor. It was about her as a princess and incorporated family members as other characters. I wrote a story and completed the illustrations, and that sparked an idea in my head… “I could do this. I enjoy this.” So I decided to give children’s literature a whirl. So in 2009 I released my first children’s book. From there I published two more in 2013, and then branched into Adult Fantasy Fiction in 2015.
- Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?
Henry and Charles can create the most amazing mental pictures of the societies they are writing about. Their character descriptions are out of this world, and I look at their ways of dialogue development mixed with scene description as influences in my own work. With Frank Peretti, I love his style of writing. The good vs. evil motif is strong in most of my books and a theme I intend to carry through most of my future works as well, and it stems from my love of his work.
Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?
My latest release, Redemption Rising, is Part Three in The Unfading Lands Series. It is the epic finale of what has been my obsession for the last year *haha*. It is about four kingdoms facing off against a mysterious darkness that encompasses a Land of Unfading Beauty. The Unfading Lands, as they are called, threaten to overtake the kingdoms and they must find a way to overcome the darkness without giving into its temptations or threats.
- How is the title significant?
For this book, the title is extremely significant because it wraps up the overall theme of the series. Redemption from the darkness. Throughout the series, characters fall into different aspects of darkness or temptation. The question of whether or not a person can truly be forgiven or redeemed from such darkness is the main theme throughout the series. Some people would say “yes,” that people can overcome anything. And yet, there are those who might say, “no,” you cannot come back from such dark choices. There is a play on whether or not the kingdoms can overcome the darkness, but also the characters, themselves, and whether or not they can overcome it as well.
- Where did inspiration for this come from?
I love stories that make you think on a deeper level while also being exciting and entertaining. I love that the reader can dive into these stories and see themselves through the eyes of one of the characters. I drew inspiration from my own interests in literature trying to combine my favorite styles of writing all into one work.
- Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
Oh my goodness, there are so many characters, but I will try to just name a few.
Princess Elizabeth is the main female lead in the first book and she is headstrong, determined to break the mold of the typical princess, and she believes love is worth the fight. I stem much of my own personality into her. There are many times my own personality comes out of her mouth. *haha*
Prince Clifton: The noble, honorable prince willing to do whatever it takes to protect his kingdom and those he loves. He is the ultimate great guy who sort of becomes the glue holding the Realm of the four kingdoms together.
Prince Ryle: The prince who faces issues with pride and the fine line between selfishness and duty.
Prince Edward: The prince who constantly, willingly flirts with the line between good and evil. His actions are constantly drawn into question and so is his allegiance.
There are so many other characters, but they all have key roles throughout the series.
The main three characters are the Prince and Princesses from the Northern Kingdom. It was important to me to have three siblings, and each book follow a particular sibling closely. I am one of three siblings, a brother, a sister, and then me… and I wanted to incorporate a bit of my life into the series.
- Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
Though I have had many male readers, most of my readers are women. And I initially aimed for my readership to be between the ages of 20-45, my readers have surprised me though and my demographic has changed to more of 14 years old to my oldest reader currently being 93, and all ages in between. I try to write stories that anyone can enjoy, especially those looking for a wholesome story that their teenage daughter can read while also enjoying it themselves.
What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
The main message in this series is hope. There is always a chance for someone to change their life or circumstances, even if it seems the odds are against them. It is never too late to change. There is always hope.
- What is your writing process like?
I have slowly become more organized the more I write, but I am still not a structured person in regards to my writing. I map out some ideas and then just roll with them. Usually I find the less I map out, the better my stories develop. A great story will take on a mind of its own. I’m simply the vessel to transfer it to paper. But I try to at least keep a list of characters, their personality traits, and their main purposes close by so I do not lose sight of what message or purpose they are to initially serve in the story.
- How do you go about editing your story?
Oh editing… I am pretty sure every writer cringes at the word “edit.” *haha* I edit while I write. Then I edit in sections. I edit as a whole, multiple times. I then send it to section readers who read it as I write it, and they catch a few things, though they simply are just reading it to keep me accountable to keep writing. But their feedback and eyes catch some things I may miss. And then, once I feel it has come together pretty well, I send it to my editor. She then works her magic and helps clean it up even more. There’s a proofing process after that, once the manuscript is turned into a book form. I then read the proof copy several times looking for formatting issues or any small misses that may have slipped through as well. It’s a long process, but I find it the best way for me.
- Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
I did not have to look very far for my cover artist, because she is actually my sister. How lucky is that? And no one seems to understand my crazy self, better than my sister. She is patient, with my scattered brain and she captures exactly what I’m telling her… usually on the first try. We are on the same page with design ideas, and it works rather smoothly.
- How did you go about getting published?
When I first started out, I used a self-publishing house that took care of everything for me. But as I continued to produce books, I wanted to be more hands on. So now I have switched over to independent publishing and love it. I did try the route of traditional publishing, but it was not for me. Though I did encounter some very kind people.
- What was your self-publishing experience like?
A marathon, not a sprint. Haha. You learn as you go. That is the key thing to remember. You learn what you like and what you don’t, and you also learn what you are capable of. Once I learned the business, I decided I wanted to dig in with both hands. I tend to have a take-charge personality, and I think that has paid off for me much better than when I let others handle my publishing experiences.
- What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Pros: Full control over every aspect of your writing; higher royalties; and it is SO FUN!
Cons: Obviously you have more work cut out for you in regards to marketing your work, and you have to find and hire your contributors (editor, cover designer, etc.) instead of having them at the ready.
- What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
Hmmm… the biggest surprise for me was how fulfilling it would be. I mean, I knew I would enjoy the process because I love learning new things… but I did not realize HOW MUCH I would love it.
A bad surprise would be that self-published works sometimes have a bad reputation. I was not aware of this going into the journey. A book was a book to me. I did not care how it came to be just as long as it was a great read. But I have found that it is sometimes hard to change peoples’ mindsets in regards to not being traditionally published.
- How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
Social media has transformed advertising and marketing for anything, but it has especially been beneficial for me. It’s amazing how interactive it allows you to be with your readers. I also have a website I use, and then good ol’ word of mouth. The biggest compliment for a writer is when their readers spread the word. That is the best promotion a book can receive.
- Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?
I wish someone had warned me about the vanity presses out there. It’s easy to have someone promise to fulfill your dreams of publishing a book only to find that they aren’t truly helping you at all. I wish someone had told me to go Indie from the get go. It would have saved a lot of time, money, and frustration.
- Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Do your research. Do not be afraid to ask questions or seek out other authors for help. You would be surprised how helpful your fellow authors can be.
- What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
I have found my comfortable place in Adult Fiction. Though I currently write in the fantasy genre, I do not intend to stay there permanently. I have current works in process and though my journey with The Unfading Lands has come to a close, several other adventures will be sprouting up shortly.
- What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
- Quote of the day – Charles Dickens (newbloggycat.com)