Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, I’m Katherine Eddinger Smits and I’m a mature adult.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Florida and lived all over after I married. Now, I’m back in Florida in the fall and winter and I spend spring and summer in West Virginia.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, only because my father was stationed there. A few weeks after my birth, we were transferred to England and lived in Margate, near Dover, in a cold-water walk-up. We lived there until I was two, then moved to Florida. I graduated from Tarpon Springs High School and completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology at the University of South Florida and a Master’s in Social Work at Florida State University. I worked for over 20 years as a clinical social worker at four Veteran’s Affairs Medical Centers (Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Bay Pines, Florida and Martinsburg, West Virginia). After I retired from social work, I decided to pursue my life-long dream of writing. I’m married to the love of my life and I have a daughter who lives in Alexandria, Virginia and a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Norfolk, Virginia. My husband and I split our time between Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I recently self-published a 10,000-word novelette, The Sea Witch and the Mage. It’s the story of a Nerei (mermaid) who seduces a human mage in order to drain him of his powers, but in the process, falls in love with him. Although misguided, she’s not a bad person. She really believes she has no choice.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I don’t really know when I started writing. I scribbled stories at the kitchen table when I was in elementary school and continued in high school. In college, I wrote term papers for other students, just for fun. I know, it was cheating. My bad. During the years when I was raising my children and worked full time, I didn’t write fiction. I was too busy and too tired. However, I always had some sort of writing project. I crafted excellent clinical assessments and patient progress notes and taught other social workers the technique. A local newspaper published a few of my articles. I created newsletters and flyers for clubs and professional organizations, and I was always the person who volunteered to write, whenever someone needed something.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always considered myself a writer. It’s an integral part of me.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to write a shifter story, but I was tired of all the were animals and wanted something different. I also wanted to set the story in Tarpon Springs, which is a small town of predominantly Greek-American sponge fishermen and their descendants. It’s a quirky, unique place that I love. I wondered what kind of shifter would live in a coastal Florida town. There was only one choice: a creature that is human on land, part fish in the water. Since I have been fascinated with mermaids all my life, as soon as I thought of it, I knew this was the story I had to write.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’m not very creative when it comes to titles. Water Dreams refers to the frequent nightmares the heroine, Nik, has due to her phobia of water. She won’t go near a beach or swimming pool and can barely drive over a bridge. Of course, she lives in Florida, so she can’t get away from the object of her fears. Then she meets a Nerei (merman), and he insists she can help his people obtain what they most desire—freedom from the water, the ability to remain on land as long as they wish. Although she thinks he’s crazy, she can’t forget him.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I just write as the words come to me, which I guess is my voice. Everything about novel writing is challenging, I think. Since I started my first book, I’ve worked on plot, dialogue, characterization, showing not telling, passive voice and many other things. I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to learn more and write a better story.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, I write paranormal romance, so a lot of the elements in my stories come from my imagination, but some things are realistic. Tarpon Springs is a real town with a large population of Greek immigrants and their descendants. The Sponge Docks are real, but I made up the restaurants and shops. There’s an Epiphany celebration with a cross dive every January, but I totally fictionalized what happened at the event in Water Dreams. The main character, Nik, dreams about water, everything from massive tidal waves about to break over her head to breathing underwater and developing gills and a tail. I don’t have a phobia about water. However, I do have a healthy respect for it, and I fear the power of it. The dreams in the book are based on a series of dreams I had earlier in life that started out as nightmares of drowning and turned into something I could control and manage. I always thought the dreams were reflections of my fears and anxieties, and that the way they changed indicated my increasing ability to control my fears and my life. I was so fascinated by this concept, that I had to put it in the book.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Even though I grew up in Tarpon Springs, I still did a lot of research on the town before I wrote the book and during the process. I went to the town frequently to plot out where Nik’s apartment would be located, where she might stand to watch the cross dive, things like that. I wanted to make sure my memories were accurate. While I might not always be able to travel to a location in order to write about it, I think actually visiting a place is ideal. I’m writing the second book in the series now. It starts out in Greece. I didn’t get to go there to research it, but I did spend a day in Athens during a cruise, and I used some of what I saw there as details for the book. If you need an excuse to travel, research for a writing project is a good one.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My covers were created by Dusk til Dawn Designs.http://www.dusktildawndesigns.com/The extremely talented and amazing Dawné Dominique is an absolute joy to work with. She’s also an author, so she truly “gets” what we want. My covers are gorgeous.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nik wants to be independent and self-reliant, but at the beginning of the book, she really doesn’t have the skills to take care of herself, especially not when she’s pulled in to the world of the Nerei (mermaids and mermen) and their insistence on her helping them by allowing them to test her, as well as the schemes and machinations of the other factions working for and against her. She’s also held back by her fear of water and her desire to avoid it. Throughout the book, she gradually faces her fears and gains more mastery over her world, until she becomes the person she always wanted to be. One of the messages of the book is that a person can grow and change even when faced with debilitating fears and overwhelming challenges. There are other themes too: the importance of water conservation and ecology, wanting the thing we can’t have, and love overcoming all obstacles are some.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Some authors who may not be well known, but whose work I love are:
Flossie Benton Rogershttps://flossiebentonrogers.com/
I’ve read all their books and they’re fantastic. Coincidentally, they all write paranormal romance. I don’t have one favorite author. I read voraciously and love many writers including: Stephen King, Nora Roberts, George R.R. Martin, Diana Gabaldon, Terry Brooks, Mercedes Lackey, Ken Follett. I could go on and on. However, I can’t omit Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is probably my all-time favorite book. The story of the lonely orphan who grows into a fiercely independent woman influenced the development of Nik and remains a core story in my writing.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I guess I would have to give a shout out to my wonderful publisher, Foundations, LLC. https://www.foundationsbooks.net/They are tremendously supportive and I’m proud to be one of their authors.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. Although I retired from my first career as a social worker, it was never my intention to stop working. I’m glad I have a steady income without relying on book sales, but writing is my job now and I approach it that way every day.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No matter how much I edit or how many editors go over it, no work is ever perfect. I still think about changes to my books, but eventually, you just have to put things out in the world and let them go, fledglings leaving the nest, a little gawky and wet behind the ears, but able to fly on their own.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
As I mentioned before, I learn more about the craft of writing every day. One thing that surprised me aboutThe Sea Witch and the Mage was that when I got to the end of the book, I realized it was just the beginning of Athenia and Thorne’s story. As I typed “The End”, another whole story about them flashed into my brain. I can’t wait to write it, but I have several other books to finish first.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Mila Kunis would make a great Nik. Here’s a picture of her that really captures Nik’s spunk and attitude.
I haven’t selected an actor to play Bas yet, but I’m considering Gilles Marini.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Do your homework. Before you submit to a publisher, make sure your work fits with their other offerings and follow their guidelines to the letter. Rejection hurts. We’re all going to experience it, but why set ourselves up for failure by not following the rules or sending it to the wrong place?
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’m working hard on the next book in the Love’s Siren Song Series now and I hope to submit it for publication by the end of the year. So, to all the folks who keep asking me when it will be out, please be patient. I hope it will be available sometime in 2018, if my publisher accepts it. In the meantime, check out The Sea Witch and the Mage. It’s a 10,000-word novelette set in the same world as Water Dreams and features one of the minor characters from that book.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I recently got hooked on the Bishop Special Crimes Unit series by Kay Hooper. There are about 17 books in the series and I’m at around 14. Once I start a series, I usually binge read all the books. I love these stories. They combine paranormal romance and suspense, which is what I try to do in my novels.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but I can remember learning to read. All at once, one day, the letters on the page made sense. It was magic.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I adore dry, British humor and puns. I also appreciate black humor. Slapstick doesn’t appeal to me. I cry when I see people or animals hurt or in pain. I’ll always try to help.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
The person I most want to meet is neither past nor present, but future. She’s ourgranddaughter, who will arrive in April 2018! I’m extremely excited. We have one granddaughter now, Amelia Rose, who will soon have a little sister.
The only other person I would like to meet is the male cover model for Water Dreams. He is so hot and I’ve looked at his picture so many times since the book was published, that I think he really is Bas. Sadly, I don’t even know his name. Since the cover was made from a stock photo, I probably never will.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I ride and show dressage. That’s horseback riding based on classical training that emphasizes suppleness, flexibility and unity between horse and rider. It’s been described as dancing with horses. Here’s a link to Olympic level dressage. This is the kind of performance that made me fall in love with the sport. Obviously, I’m as far from this level as a tadpole is from a whale.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT6Yn7SLkmQ
My other hobby is clogging. This is a form of dancing that originated in Europe where workers often wore heavy clog shoes for working and danced in them on their breaks. It involves percussive steps that create interesting sounds. In this country, it started in Appalachia and was the forerunner of tap dancing.Cloggers wear shoes with taps on the sole and heel. Groups learn choreography with many different steps. I’m part of a group that entertains at nursing homes, churches and community centers in Central Florida. Here’s a YouTubevideo of some contemporary clog dancing teams. We aren’t anywhere near this level, but we keep on practicing.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTBYKnBqQzg
I don’t count reading or writing as hobbies. Reading is like breathing, a necessity of life and writing is my career now, not a hobby.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love a lot of different TV shows and movies. I was a huge Downton Abby fan and also loved True Blood. I’m mesmerized by Game of Thrones and adore So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. There’s such a range of shows that I watch, that I couldn’t classify them, just like I read across most all genres.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love a lot of ethnic foods: Greek, of course, since I grew up in a Greek town, Mexican, Italian, French. I love all colors. I don’t listen to a lot of music anymore. Anything with words interferes with my writing. When I’m exercising, I like rock music. Most of our clog dancing is done to country music. I didn’t like it before I started to clog, but it’s growing on me and definitely has the right beat for clogging.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
The only way I can imagine a future where I didn’t write is if I’m reincarnated for another life. In that case, I would come back as a dancer.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Nothing. I’m not going to have one. I would like to be remembered as someone who left the places and people I touched a little better than I found them.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, my website ishttp://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/
Katherine Eddinger Smits has a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of South Florida and a Masters in Social Work from Florida State University. After over two decades of helping veterans, families and community agencies as a clinical social worker, she retired to pursue her dream—writing. She has published two paranormal romances and has several more in the works.
She grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Although not from a Greek background, she fell in love with the Greek culture of the town and its close-knit families. She moved away years ago, but she still visits Tarpon Springs frequently to see old friends and classmates, walk the beaches or shop and eat at the Sponge Docks.
She started writing stories in grade school and always intended to write novels someday. However, she put off writing fiction while she raised her family and worked as a clinical social worker at four different Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country. Although she was devastated to learn that her first career choice—mermaid, was not realistic, Katherine found helping veterans and their families fulfilling, and managed to squeeze writing into her life. Whether it was writing clinical assessments, creating brochures for social programs, or putting together newsletters for clubs and organizations, she always had some kind of writing project in the works.
Katherine lives with her husband in Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia. They have a daughter who resides in Alexandria, Virginia and a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughterin Chesapeake, Virginia.
Water Dreams, Katherine’s debut novel, is a paranormal romance set in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is the first book in the Love’s Siren Song series. What happens when a young woman with a water phobia falls in love with a merman who can pass as human on land? How will they save each other when they fall in love against the laws of his people? Water Dreams is available from Foundations, LLChttp://bit.ly/2xZL4eH Amazon http://amzn.to/2eM7ip3 and other major on-line retailers.
The Sea Witch and the Mage is a 10,000-word novelette set in the same world as Water Dreams. Athenia is a Nerei (mermaid), who is also a witch. She must avenge her twin sister’s death and save herself from the same fate, but she can only do so by destroying her magical lover. Trigger warning: Explicit sex and violence and brief mention of rape. Free with KU or $.99 on Kindle. http://amzn.to/2jhF8HA
In addition to fiction, Katherine has written blogs for Sunshine State Romance Authors, Delilah Devlin, Lexi Post, Jennifer Taylor, and Dylan Newton. Her blogs, book reviews and other information are posted on her website www.katherinesmits.com
Katherine is a member of Sunshine State Romance Authors, Romance Writers of America (PRO and PAN Provisional), Florida Writer’s Association and Outreach International Romance Writers. She is also an active member of The Roses, a critique group sponsored by Delilah Devlin.
Please visit Katherine’s website: www.katherinesmits.com for information about upcoming releases and sign up for her newsletter for contests, freebies and special announcements.
Social Media links:
Linked In: http://bit.ly/2wJNG07
Thank you so much for the chance to do this interview. I truly enjoyed it.