Name – Kate Douglas
Where are you from
—I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the town of Vallejo, grew up in Stockton in the San Joaquin Delta, and now live in the northern California wine country, in Sonoma County. We’re in the little town of Healdsburg—town life after about thirty years in the country.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
—I grew up with an older and younger brother, typical 1950’s household with my dad going off to work and my mother staying home with the three of us kids. I graduated from college in 1972 with a double major in English and Anthropology
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
—I have a new contract with St. Martin’s Press and will be writing a contemporary romance series that’s set here in the wine country, though I’ll continue my Spirit Wild series, a spinoff of my Wolf Tales series from Kensington Publishing. I’m doing those books independently, in print and ebook.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
—Would you believe in second grade? My father used to recite poetry—he had an amazing memory and a beautiful voice, and I remember listening to him recite those epic, ballad poems: The Highwayman, The Raven, Charge of the Light Brigade—so many of them I remember—and I started writing poems when I was very young. I had one published in the local paper when I was seven, and I was hooked. And, as a side note, I think The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes was my first introduction to romance—ill-fated though that one is.
I’ve always written for pleasure. I also wrote commercials for a radio station in Turlock, California when I was just out of college. I also worked as a newspaper reporter, did freelance articles for publication, co-authored a cook book for a local winery and then got into fiction and romances with ebooks back in 1998 before my first print book released from Kensington in 2006. I really can’t not write.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
—I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. Getting publishers to agree that I was an author was another story!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
—My first book, which has never been published, is called RITE OF PASSAGE. I actually dreamed the story in about 1983 or 84 and wrote the first fifty pages or so in longhand. Finally finished it in the mid-1990s. It’s filled with errors, but it proved to me that I could write a book and finish it. One day I may pull it out, fix it up and publish it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
—My writing has evolved a lot over the years, though I’m still a “pantser” when it comes to sitting down and writing a book. I create character profiles for my main characters and then ask them what’s going on. I may have a general idea for a plot, and sometimes I even write it out, but the actual writing tends to flow from the characters and rarely follows my original plan. So far, it appears to work.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
—Titles just come to me while I’m working through the characters. Sometimes I’ll get an image of a scene in my head, and that will give me the title. It’s different with every book. With Dark Refuge, the one I just finished, I knew my heroine had dark secrets that were keeping her from intimacy, though I had no idea what they were. The man she falls in love with is the only one who can offer her the emotional refuge she needs to deal with them. Once I got to the end of the book, I realized it was a perfect title for the story.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
—I’m working on a novella in a new series and I’m just in the planning stages, still getting to know the characters, so I’ll talk about the one I finished last week, which was Dark Refuge. It’s the fourth story in my Spirit Wild series and one I’m publishing independently, since Kensington decided not to publish more of them. My Chanku/ shapeshifter stories always have a message, essentially that the power of love can heal a lot of the problems we have, but that it’s impossible to love someone else until you’re able to love yourself.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
—Considering that I write about a shapeshifting alien species that’s been on Earth longer than humans, it’s actually got a lot of realism. My characters deal with real problems. They’ve got insecurities and fears, and they wonder if they’re making good choices when things get scary. I think that many of my books, with topics of abuse and other issues that all people may have to deal with, address those issues in a manner in which readers can really identify. I often hear from readers who’ve been victims of rape or abuse in their own lives, and they’ve identified with a character in a story. And since the victims in my stories can become wolves or other predators, they often get to deal with their assailants in a satisfyingly gruesome manner. I had no idea how satisfying that could be for a victim of rape until readers who had been assaulted wrote and told me.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
—I think a lot of what we write comes from our own experience, and much of the things in my Chanku stories are taken from events I’ve either been exposed to or dealt with, though I have to admit, I’ve never had sex with multiple partners or with a wolf. (And yes, readers DO ask me that!) I figure that’s where a good imagination comes in handy.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?
—An odd collection, actually. A very old edition—1892—of Aesop’s Fables which I read over and over as a child, another book, the 1921 edition of Many Trails, a book of horribly tragic animal stories by H. Mortimer Batten, my 1904 copy of Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter, and my dad’s copy of One Hundred and One Famous Poems, among them. Also, a 1950s set of the Book of Knowledge, which was a children’s encyclopedia. I read the entire set of books from cover to cover before I was ten. All of them essentially confirmed and reinforced my love of reading and filled my head with tons of trivia—that, in turn, led to wanting to write.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
—There are too many to count. So many authors have influenced me through their collected works, and often with the friendships we’ve developed over the years. Anne McCaffrey wrote wonderful science fiction that took world building to a whole new level, and I was very lucky to get to know her in the last years before she passed away in 2011. Jayne Ann Krentz is another author who is always so helpful and has great advice when it comes to career choices. One of the best things about romance authors is that so many of them believe in paying it forward. It’s a very supportive community.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
—I have Robyn Carr’s Four Friends on the table beside me now. I’ve already read it and I liked it so much I’m reading it again. JR Ward’s new book, The King, is due here any day, along with Savannah Fox’s The Dirty Girls Book Club, and Lindsey Piper’s Blood Warrior, the second book of her Dragon Kings series.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
—Three new to me authors I will definitely read again—Jane Lark, a New Adult author who wrote I Found You, which is an excellent, very dark but beautifully written story. Emma Lang’s book, Endless Heart is another—I’ll look for more by Emma, and another author I’d not read before (I believe she’s someone well-known who normally writes historicals) with the pseudonym Lindsey Piper. Her book, Caged Warrior, first in the Dragon Kings series was so good I’ve already bought a prequel novella and am waiting for Amazon to deliver the next book. (I tend to read more print than ebooks. Screens mean work to me! A print book means I’m off the clock.)
Fiona: What are your current projects?
—I’m waiting for copy edits for Dark Refuge, which will be out in late May, and starting the novella for St. Martin’s Press. The working title for that one is Tangled. Which is the reason it’s taken me way too long to get this interview done and back to you. My apologies!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
—My agent, Jessica Faust, owner/president of BookEnds Literary Agency. She stuck with me when it didn’t look as if I’d ever find a good home for my books, and she continues to support my career after over a dozen years. She’s got a terrific sense of humor, and the best thing is, she gets me. Not a lot of people do, at least not as well as she does. Which is scary, sometimes. Well, all the time.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
—Of course I do. It is my career—has been for years. My husband’s retired and I’m not. I write full time and average anywhere from three to six books a year. I’ve written over thirty since signing with Kensington in 2006, not counting the stories I’ve published independently.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
—No, I’m usually pretty happy with them by the time they’re done. If I’m not, I’ll rewrite it until I’m satisfied it’s the best I can do before I ever submit it for publication.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
—Diaries and growing up in a house full of books. I’ve family diaries going back to the Civil War, which means I come from generations of writers. I think writing is embedded in my DNA. And reading, of course. As a kid, I read anything I could get my hands on, but it wasn’t until a friend loaned me the first Harlequin romance I ever read that I knew I wanted to write those books. This was in 1976. I didn’t actually start writing one until the mid-1980s, and didn’t finish the first one until the early 1990s. The first one didn’t sell, so I wrote another—Honeysuckle Rose sold to an epublisher in 1998. I’ve recently re-released it as Fatal Deception. I started writing erotic romance in 2001, and that’s really when my writing career took hold, but Kensington offered my first traditional publishing contract in 2005.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
—Of course. From Dark Refuge Book 2 of the Spirit Wild series, this is a scene where my protagonists see each other for the first time after about ten years apart:
Emeline arrived at SFO and waited in the Cheval Global Industries hangar. The company maintained a fleet of jets and helicopters which allowed her to bypass the general airport entrance and all the security hassles. With the plane due in around midnight, after the frustrating couple of days she’d had, Em really didn’t want to deal with all that.
She watched as the company jet with the bold CGI logo and its proud pack of wolves racing across the fuselage touched down, circled back on the runway and rolled smoothly across the tarmac. Too bad she didn’t rank a corporate jet for her trips to Asia. No lost luggage that way.
She wondered who was on it, what packmate her father had found to help her. She was sorry it wasn’t Aaron. She actually missed her big brother, but her dad had only said he’d make certain someone was here by midnight. She hoped so. She was still haunted by that poor woman’s unspoken plea for help.
She’d not heard from her since. It had been Thursday evening when Em gave her the business card. She’d waited all day Friday, but no word. She hadn’t planned to call her dad, but until she got this settled, Em didn’t think she’d be able to quit worrying. The woman, Sissy was her name, had to be Chanku. Em had gotten a glimpse of dark amber eyes, a dead giveaway when combined with the strong telepathic voice.
Mindspeaking was not broadly known as a Chanku trait, but as far as Emeline knew, no other sentient species had the ability. Sissy had contacted her as clearly as if they’d been speaking aloud, face to face.
The door on the side of the small jet opened and a staircase lowered. Em stepped out of the shadows as a large figure filled the doorway, so it definitely wasn’t Aaron, and not one of the women, either.
She heard male laughter and then a man swung into view and came quickly down the steps. Her heart stuttered in her chest, and shivers raced along her spine. It couldn’t be.
She glanced behind her and fought the compulsion to run back inside, into the shadows where he wouldn’t see her. How could her father do this? Didn’t the man have any compassion at all?
“Hey, Em. Goddess, girl, it’s good to see you.”
And he was there, dropping his bags, wrapping his arms around her in a big brotherly hug, swinging her around as he’d done when she was three. When she was five, when she was fifteen. Even now, when she was twenty-six years old, a fully-grown woman in charge of an entire division of the same company he worked for.
“Put me down, you oaf.” She hated the fact she was laughing, but she shoved against his chest, and as always it was like pushing against a brick wall. At least he hadn’t called her by that horrible nickname he and Aaron had tagged her with.
He set her lightly on the ground. “EmyIzzy, you never change, except to get more beautiful. How come you haven’t found a man?”
She brushed her hair out of her eyes. The she carefully smoothed her skirt over her hips and glared at him. “Please don’t call me that. I’ve hated that name ever since you and Aaron cooked it up.” Before he could answer, she spun about and headed back to her car. “It’s late, but I’m hoping we can go look for her.”
“Her, who?” Gabe slung his pack over his shoulder and followed her. “Emeline,” he said, and she couldn’t help but notice his emphasis on her name, “I have no idea why I’m here. Oliver said that you were involved in a situation, but not what the situation is.”
Em opened the trunk on the little SUV and Gabe tossed his bag in the back. She got behind the wheel, and once he was settled, she turned and glanced his way. “A woman contacted me telepathically. She’s a prostitute, working in Chinatown, and she’s terrified. I gave her my card, told her to call me, but she said her pimp was close by, and I could tell she’s afraid of him. Then her client showed up and she got in his car and left. I haven’t seen her since, but I’m sure she’s still out there.” She backed out and headed for the freeway. “If she’s still alive. That was Thursday evening, and she was very afraid.”
Gabe sat silently beside her. Finally he turned, and she felt his heavy gaze. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I certainly didn’t expect anything like this. But you’re right. We need to find her. Whatever I can do, Emeline.”
She noticed that he said her name in a much kinder tone this time. Without the snark. Then he softly added, “You know you can count on me.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
—Not in the writing itself, no. In finding time without interruptions, yes. We’ve moved to town after over thirty years of living in the country without close neighbors, and I’m still not used to the sounds of town life. I’ve had to start wearing a headset to block out the noise.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
—I have a lot of favorites for different reasons: Joey W. Hill because she writes the most sensual erotic romances, so perfectly crafted they read like poetry. Jayne Ann Krentz because her stories flow so beautifully and she always manages to bring her characters to life, whether she’s writing her contemporaries, or the historicals as Amanda Quick or futuristics as Jayne Castle. Robyn Carr is another—she’s nailed the small-town/family dynamic that always leaves me smiling—great stories with real-life situations. And there are many, many more. My shelves are filled with “keepers.” I need more shelves!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
—I usually attend at least two conferences a year, mainly because I need the chance to connect with other authors and readers. The social aspect is important—I spend most of my time in my home office with my fantasy characters. When I write books set in different areas, my husband and I load the dog into the motorhome and go. We spent a lot of time up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the DemonSlayers and Dream Catchers series, and also went to Sedona, AZ for the DemonSlayers. Kalispell, MT was another destination, since that’s where my Chanku shapeshifters have their headquarters. If we can take the time to get away and go see where I set my books, it’s always easier to write them.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
—Not me. Cover art depends on the publishers. Kensington’s art department did all of the books published with them. I think the best of all my covers at Kensington was the one for Dark Wolf, the first in my Spirit Wild series. The books I publish independently are done through Beyond the Page Publishing, the assisted self-publishing company I use to edit, format and post my indie books. I have eleven up on my own with the twelfth, Dark Refuge, coming out at the end of May. I have more input on the BtP covers, but I don’t do them. My favorite cover there is for a romantic comedy I wrote called 68 & Climbing.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
—Nothing, really. Just getting my butt in the chair and writing. I never seem to run out of story. I’ve always felt I have a very generous muse. I’ve gone long periods—a few weeks at times—without writing, but once I sit down and get started, the words seem to be where I need them. I have spinal arthritis, so sitting for long periods can be uncomfortable, but when the story is flowing, I can usually tune out the aches.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
—I’ve learned more about my characters and have a better feel for this second generation of shapeshifters. The first Wolf Tales were all about the parents’ generation and that series ended in 2013 (for my characters.) Spirit Wild takes place in 2039 when the children are grown. They have a new perspective on being Chanku—their parents lived in secret, afraid to let anyone know they existed. The children have grown up in a world that knows who they are. This generation knew from the time they could understand that they would one day shift. Writing from that perspective is a learning experience, and I’m enjoying it. Each book tells me more about their world.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
—If you want to write, don’t give up, but do prepare. Learn proper grammar and punctuation, the basics of writing. It’s so easy to publish now, and way too many writers think they don’t need editing. They learn to format and publish their books without any editorial input. Big mistake if the work isn’t ready. Trust me—we all need editing. Finding our own errors is almost impossible. Seeing weaknesses in the story—ditto. Second piece of advice—don’t give up. Hard-headed and stubborn are quality traits if you want to succeed as an author. If you intend to write as a career, join an author’s group. Romance Writers of America is good for those writing romances, and the local chapters are really supportive. It’s important to learn the business of writing. If you see it as a career and not a hobby, it is a business. If you want to succeed, you need to learn all you can about it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
—Writing is a process. A lot of my ideas are internal, but I get even more from my readers. Things they’ll say about a story, questions they might ask. Your input counts and I do listen. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about things, either. I always answer. It might take a few days, but I will get back to you. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?—I have no idea. I was reading my parents’ Doubleday book of the month books by the time I was eight. I grew up in a house filled with books, and went to the bookmobile every week. I had special permission to choose books from the adult section, but also to check out as many books as I could carry, and I would read every one of them before the week was up.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
—I used to, before I started writing full-time. I sewed, crocheted, did a lot of photography, gardened. I still garden and I love to cook, but writing is always what I want to be doing. Plus, we have six grandchildren, and three live close by. There are a lot of baseball, soccer and basketball games to attend.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
—I don’t watch TV. The Rachel Maddow show while I’m cooking dinner and the evening news is about it. When my husband watches TV, I’m either writing or reading a book.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
—Any and all. Life’s too short to limit myself that way—what’s a favorite today will change by tomorrow, and that goes for all three categories.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
—Remember that anthropology major? I wanted to dig for dinosaurs. I’ve actually got a great collection of fossils and cool stuff I’ve collected over the years. I’m curious about everything, and there really are numerous careers I might have enjoyed, but I love what I do. I get to go to work in my jammies, write about good looking men and hot sex all day, and get I paid for that. What’s not to love?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I don’t use Twitter much—it’s too easy to get lost in the world of tweets that have absolutely no relevance to what I’m doing. The ultimate time suck! But Facebook is sometimes the only social life I have, and I love the chance it gives me to connect with readers.