Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What, When, Where, Why, How with Kathy Otten

Give a warm welcome to author, Kathy Otten!

What is your least favorite thing to do?

While cleaning has never been a priority for me, I absolutely hate cleaning the bathroom, especially scrubing around the outsides and back of the bowl. When I was a teenager I had a job waitressing in a truck-stop diner, and being the newbie, I always got stuck cleaning those nasty bathrooms at closing. It must have left an indelible impression because I also quit using public bathrooms unless it was an absolute emergency.

When is truth stranger than fiction?

When it defies logic,or coincidences pile up in such bizzare ways it becomes almost unbelievable. Many years ago a new employee started at the place where I worked. We started talking and discovered that we were both born on the same day, in the same year, at almost the exact time of day. Not only that, but it turned out we were both married to dairy farmers, we both had Jersey cows (unusual in Holstien country,) not only that but earlier that year we had been looking for farms for sale--we were renting at that time--and it turned out one of the farms we looked at was the one they were renting, we had been talking in the kitchen that day, but neither of us remembered the other until we started talking cows that day at work. Then we discovered we each had a boy and two girls. Her son was the oldest and named Brian. My son is the oldest and his middle name is Bryan. Her youngest, a girl, was nearly killed by a horse when she was little; my youngest daughter was nearly killed by a cow when she was little. Weird, huh? If I put that in a story no one would buy it.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

Wyoming. I've always wanted to live there since I read, My Friend Flicka when I was a kid.

Why do so many people want to live by the beach?

I imagine its the soothing rhythm of the waves, the open space, especially after the confines and stress of life, and the timeless beauty of the sunsets. Personally, I prefer lakes. I love the trees and I'm not real fond of sand.

How many different homes have you lived in?

Since I've been married, which is 26 years, we've moved 6 times. The worst was when we moved from Vermont to western NY, with pre-school kids, horses, a cat, a dog, a duck, and a herd of dairy cows, plus equipment. We changed farms 3 times in 2 years once. We sold our cows in '94 and have been in our current home ever since. I'm done moving.

Kathy Otten is a historical romance author as well as a working mom who lives in the open farm country of western NY with a husband and three college age kids.

She grew up in a small Vermont farm town where her parents owned the general store. Her mom collected antiques and her dad loved the old movie cowboys. Consequently, she and her brothers grew up watching Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and John Wayne on TV, and visiting places like Old Sturbridge Village and the Shelburne Museum. Always a nut for horses, her parents gave her a Quarter Horse mare and she had horses in her life for the next thirty-four years.

The Nation's Bicentennial sparked an interest in Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys and she and her brothers spent many hours tromping through cow pastures looking at the ruins of forts which once guarded Lake Champlain. It was fascinating to wonder about the forgotten men who long ago, trod those historic places, and left remnants of themselves behind. Images like these became fodder for Kathy's imagination, and notebooks began to accumulate under her bed.

Not much writing was done during the next few years. Marriage, kids and a dairy farm came along. It was while breast-feeding the kids in the middle of the night, she discovered that without cable TV, the Harlequins in the grocery store were a good way to pass the time. With a baby in one hand and a paperback in the other, came the epiphany that comes to most aspiring writers when they read a Harlequin, "Why, I can write a better story than this!"

Out came the notebooks and the eventual realization that writing a romance is not as easy at it would seem. As a matter of fact it was down right hard. After a few rejection letters the notebooks went back under the bed.

It wasn't until the cows were sold and the kids were all in school that a neighbor offered her their old computer. And what could be done with an old computer lacking internet service? Out came the notebooks. This time Kathy decided to get serious and started to read about the craft of writing. The old stories were rewritten and rewritten. It was time to seek out more objective opinions, and Kathy joined two area writers groups. The help from other struggling writers has been invaluable and her writing has been moving forward ever since.


Dru said...

that was fun

Judy said...

It's funny how the old adage comes true: the only difference between fiction and real life is that fiction needs to make sense.

Thanks for the fun look... I love fresh milk.

Melissa McClone said...

Nice interview.

Wendi Zwaduk said...

Great post. I liked the interview. Iknow how much of a pain it is to move with preschool age children. I learned a lot.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Loved reading about the "stranger than fiction" part!

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Marianne,
Thanks for having me today. Lightening hit our phone line last week and they still haven't come out to fix it. I've called every day and they promise to come, but never do. I try not to get mad at people, but I did today. I'm at the library right now, but we're only allowed one hour.
I think God wants me to finish my new novel.
Thanks everyone for stopping by.

Brandy said...

Good interview, loved the moving forward part!