Hey everyone, we’re back today with another author interview from the Cat Tales #2 bundle, this time with author Kari Kilgore.
Sherry: Welcome, Kari! Thanks for stopping by. Could you tell us a little about the story you have in the Cat Tales #2 bundle?
Kari: “Wicked Bone” is an Appalachian folktale or tall tale, but it’s one I made up. We start with a rather self-possessed black cat (aren’t they all?), her new-to-cats owner, and the things cats leave as “gifts” for the ones they love.
And things get strange from there.
Sherry: It sounds like fun! Do you remember what sparked the idea for this story? What was it?
Kari: My story “Wicked Bone” got its start when I heard my Mom talk about a person we knew having a wicked bone, in that they couldn’t help doing things that were hurtful. That stayed with me, but as usual it shifted a bit once my writer-mind got hold of it. I combined it with a sort of tall tale I’d heard when I was seven or eight, cast my own cat Loretta as the feline lead, and that was where it started and ended up. I was still quite surprised at how the story turned out!
Sherry: I should mention that’s a picture of Loretta herself with the paperback version. :) Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?
Kari: So many reasons! Love, yes, and the pure fun of writing them. They’re wonderful for answering questions during a longer story. I often need to know more about a side or offstage event, but I know it won’t belong in the novel. Rather than writing notes or some kind of outline, I tend to just go write the story. Sometimes that turns out to be a piece I can submit to magazines or anthologies. Sometimes it’s more just for me, but that also means I can use it for reader rewards for people who enjoyed the longer work. I took a Series Workshop with Kristine Kathryn Rusch earlier this year that was tremendously helpful for thinking of ways to expand a series with short stories.
Besides the fun and great practice, short stories are wonderful for marketing. When a story is in a magazine (or anthology, or a bundle like Cat Tales #2), your work is in front of many readers who get to discover you for the first time. If they dig your story and go looking for more, you may have a fan, and they may have a new favourite writer. Great combination!
Sherry: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?
Kari: I don’t believe anything in storytelling is ever perfect, but my favourite since I first read it back in the Eighties is “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” by Stephen King. It’s about women, driving, freedom, love, and magic, and it has never truly left my mind. Especially on long road trips or when I get behind the wheel of a fast, responsive car! He gets all kinds of well-deserved attention for his novels, but I love his short work as much if not a bit more.
Sherry: Have you written any series characters? What’s their appeal for you?
Kari: I have several series characters in all lengths of fiction, from short stories to novellas to novels. A few star in all three lengths, and I’ll be doing more of that. I enjoy seeing how the characters change and grow with each new situation, and with the different people they interact with. Even in different genres sometimes, like when characters from a mystery short story series recently encountered a pair from a contemporary fantasy short story series.
It’s fun for me because I already know the characters a bit, so I get to hit the ground running with the story. But at the same time, I’m going to learn more about them every time. I hope readers find characters they already know and relate to, and that they’re excited to follow along on new adventures.
Sherry: Would you say you’re more of a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?
Kari: I’m definitely the pantser/gardener type. I was recently on a panel with three other writers who called themselves pantsers, and over the hour I realized I was the purest pantser, in that I truly have no clue what’s going to happen next while I’m writing. Most of them wanted to know the end, or the middle, or the theme, or some other aspect. Not me. I want to enjoy telling myself the story and being surprised the whole way through. I pretty much know what’s going to happen when it happens.
Sherry: I’m with you there! I’ve learned to outline a little when necessity demands it, but I’m pure pantser at heart.:)
Do you think the place where you live (or somewhere you have lived) influences what you write? In what way?
Kari: Absolutely. My husband Jason A. Adams (another writer) and I live in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. We both grew up in other places, but we always came back here to visit and thought of this as home. Now we have an interesting insider/outsider perspective that allows us to really dive in and explore the culture, dialect, and fascinating and sometimes mysterious world that surrounds us. We have a mix of Scots-Irish, Welsh, Germanic, European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures in our mountain region because so many different people came here to work in mining or timber. That mix is reflected in food, oral storytelling traditions, superstition, place names, so many things.
We also both know and love the proud, independent people in our region, and we want to write about that. Appalachia and hillbillies have always been a bit of a punch line, largely because of myths and misconceptions. If a story I write can help people from other areas better understand us, that’s great. But more important to me is showing other native folks an image of ourselves that isn’t negative or derogatory. We have challenges here, yes, just like every other region. We have an awful lot to be proud of, too.
Sherry: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview. :)
Kari: Thank you! I write all over the place as far as genre and story length. Various kinds of fantasy, science fiction, a bit of horror, and even contemporary fiction and romance lately. My twentieth indie title will come out on April 20th of this year. And my first professional short story should be out in Fiction River anthology magazine in September.
As far as cat tales, I’ll have a holiday-themed sweet romance short story that features a cat in a collection from Kristine Kathryn Rusch out over the holidays in 2019. That story will have at least one sequel, since two of my cats haven’t been in a story yet, and they’re starting to wonder why. Another in that collection will be a fantasy short centered on a veteran of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.
Returning to Appalachia, I have a post-apocalyptic series that’s partly set here that will wrap up this year called Storms of Future Past.
Sherry: Thanks again, Kari, this was fun!
Kari Kilgore lives and works in her native mountains of Virginia. From that solid home base, she and her husband Jason Adams find adventures all over the world to bring to life in fiction. Exploring local legends and mythologies in particular delights and inspires them.
Kari writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and she’s happiest when she surprises herself. She lives at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the woods with Jason, two dogs, two cats, and wildlife they’re better off not knowing more about. You can find her website at karikilgore.com.
And don’t forget to check out Cat Tales #2 while you can! :) I still have a few more interviews scheduled, so check back soon!