Dear Kathy, were you a calm, quiet girl when you were a teenager?
I was shy, and after moving from one Canadian province to another, I had to adjust to a new curriculum. That meant cramming four years of French into one during the ninth grade. However, I made time to interact with my schoolmates, contribute to the school newspaper, and write a column for the community weekly until I graduated high school.
So I guess the answer is a qualified yes.
When did you first learn that you were interested in literature?
I started scribbling poems and stories as a young child, and won my first writing contest in sixth grade. My story, for a provincial competition, was about a weed infestation that required the attention of the weed police. I don’t have my working copy of the story any longer, but I remember the opening: “Calling all cars, calling all cars.”
Have you ever met a very famous and prosperous fiction writer face to face?
No, but if I had the opportunity, I’d love to meet J.K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin. That doesn’t mean I agree with every facet of their writing styles, but I’d enjoy chatting with them—especially if we were all together in the same room.
Oh what a story that could make.
Do you have a fixed schedule to write and read? I mean, do you spend a certain amount of time on reading and writing daily?
I try to write every day, often squeezing in a few minutes at a time. I read several hours weekly. However, I don’t follow a rigid schedule.
Kathy, how can writers measure their progress themselves? Is it possible at all?
By setting a series of attainable goals, writers can look back on their accomplishments and smile. Attainable is the important word. It’s unrealistic to say “I’m going to sell more books than Stephen King.”
Envision a tree. You don’t notice its growth, but if you take a picture of it once each year, you’ll see how it stretches toward the sky and slowly becomes taller. Goals are like that.
Plant a seed.
In due time, it will blossom.
Imagine you have a one-week trip to the Moon in the future and you are allowed to take only one book there to read. What book would you choose?
Tough question. I’d probably choose an omnibus edition or a Wildside Press Megapack® for Kindle that I’ve already read. Sorry, but I’d need to think about this question for hours before coming up with a definitive answer.
I remember you used to share more poems and stories on your website but now it seems that you spend more time on helping writers expand their vocabulary and select more suitable words. Am I right? If yes, please tell me why.
Yes, you’re right, Sam. If I could stay awake twenty-five hours a day (no, that’s not a typo), I’d be able to do both. On my hard drive I have the first draft of a novel, revisions of two others that have already been published, an anthology of sci-fi stories, and dozens of short stories in various stages of completion.
Is fiction helping us become stronger and wiser humans or is it distracting us from the real world and other humans who live around us?
Good fiction does both.
The human race must learn from past lessons in historical fiction, and possible futures envisioned by speculative fiction. We also need the temporary distraction fiction provides from horrifying world events.
If you had only one hour to live on this beautiful planet and you were given the chance to choose between chatting with a group of people and reading a good book, which one would you choose then?
That’s an easy question to answer. People, especially family, always take precedence.
You live in Canada. Are there any significant differences between reading and writing communities in your country and those in the United States (or the United Kingdom)?
Most people don’t realize I’m Canadian. I write in U.S. English because it’s accepted by the largest number of readers. It doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my Canadian heritage, though.
Unfortunately, a growing number of American adults believe that colour and honour are misspellings. Ditto for travelling and sulphur. No point in arguing. I can color my writing with American words and still honor my Canadian roots while traveling to Sulfur Springs Mountain in California.
Can you read fiction in other languages like French and Spanish? If not, do you buy translated fiction books written by non-English writers?
My grandparents emigrated from Europe to Canada. They, like most Europeans, spoke several languages. Their chosen method of communication at home was German. My father spoke only German until he went to school, and on his first day, he asked a fellow student, “Wie heißt du?” The boy looked at him like he was demented and ran away.
After that, Dad learned English quickly, and as an adult, spoke with no accent. A few years ago, I decided to learn German. Since then, I have read some German books and written a couple. My books were checked by a native speaker who works as a translator.
Would you please name your most favorite female fiction writer?
That changes with each new book I read and love.
Is it more difficult to write a play or a short story? Have you ever written a play?
I have never written a play, but I can affirm that writing a short story takes more effort than writing a novel. Especially in flash fiction, every word must be weighed. Rather than write ran quickly, I would choose a strong verb like dashed or raced. Most people, including me, include extraneous words in speech and writing. He walked back and forth would become he paced. And so on.
In your opinion, is creativity a talent or a skill? In other words, can we learn to be creative?
I believe that most people possess a creative seed somewhere in their psyche. It might be the ability to draw, play a musical instrument, create gourmet meals, or write. Nourishing and exercising that ability will help it grow.
And my last question. Have you ever fallen in love with a male character of a story?
Yes, in my own writing and in the writing of others. It’s short-lived, though. Real people are more interesting. Have you ever tried to hug a fictional character?
Thanks, Sam, for your interesting questions, and your continuing kind comments on my website, KathySteinemann.com.
I wish you much success and happiness with your blog!