When you’re single, separated, divorced or widowed, there’s no shortage of well-meaning friends wanting to fix you up with someone new. For Detective Josh Hartnell, it’s not just about finding romantic companionship for himself, it’s about finding a caring woman to be a mother to his little girl. Not every relationship, however, is a blissful match made in Heaven … as Josh is about to find out in Kat Schuessler’s new romantic suspense, Think of Me.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or were there other career paths percolating in your imagination when you were growing up?
A: When I was younger, I read Harriet the Spy and wanted to be a spy when I grew up. I was obsessed with spy gear and sneaking around. As I grew older, I realized the movie was more about Harriet being a writer than being a spy. Then I read the Harry Potter series and my yearning to be a writer increased.
Q: Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
A: The first thing I remember writing is a series of short stories featuring myself as “Super Kat” and my neighbors as the villains.
Q: What titles might we have found on your nightstand as an adolescent? As a teenager?
A: As an adolescent I was reading Harry Potter, Harriet the Spy, and Anne of Green Gables. As a teenager I read Stephen King books, the Series of Unfortunate Events series, Twilight (don’t judge haha), and all of the books I read as an adolescent.
Q: Which authors do you feel have had the most influence on your wordsmithing style?
A: I was definitely influenced by Kresley Cole and Stephen King. The snarkiness and backstory they give their characters always delights me and I strive to at least resemble their characters a little bit.
Q: What inspired you to start writing romance?
A: I first read A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole and became addicted to the whole series. It had never occurred to me that I could write so visually about sex and people would not only read it but enjoy it. I decided to try writing a sex scene and when it flowed so easily, I knew I had found my genre.
Q: If your own life were an existing romance novel or movie, what would it be (and why)?
A: Pick the most pathetic one you can think of and that’s it. You’re probably thinking Twilight but at least that included vampire action.
Q: Plotter or pantser?
A: Pantser. I have tried to plot and I can barely stick to a timeline.
Q: Do you allow anyone to read your works in progress or do you make everyone wait until you have typed The End?
A: It really depends on the person but I tend to want to wait unless I hit a wall and need advice.
Q: Think of Me is part of a series. How did you come up with this title and the titles of your other books?
A: The first book was untitled until halfway through the book, and I just could not think of a name. I was watching Phantom of the Opera and a line from one of the songs stuck with me, so I decided to go with it. After that, I just tried to find more lines that made a good book title.
Q: What do you find to be the biggest challenge in creating a series as opposed to a standalone novel?
A: I always feel like I need to make the next book better than the last, and it’s a lot of pressure for me. I’m also unsure how much of a review of the last book I need to include.
Q: Who are your favorite and least favorite characters?
A: My favorite character is definitely Rory from No Backward Glances because she represented my past and how I wish I could have been. We both had dark times and contemplated suicide, and we both made it through, but she did it with more grace. She was also able to actually be with somebody she loved who helped her learn to trust again.
My least favorite character was Kelly, Rita’s roommate in Think of Me. I don’t think I spent enough time developing her character, and even though she was only a side character, I feel like I could have made her more interesting than I did.
Q: Are any of them patterned after people you know (including yourself)?
A: Almost all of my characters are patterned after people in my life, including my sisters, best friends, parents, nieces and nephews, lovers, and exes. I also tend to include a few inside jokes between the characters that I have with people in my life. It makes me feel closer to my characters.
Q: How does pop culture influence your writing?
A: I actually wouldn’t say it influences my writing. I just do my best to reference it as much as I can, because I feel like it not only makes people laugh, but it connects my readers to my characters by giving them something in common. This is also why I try to write speech the way it’s usually spoken, including slang words, despite the fact that a lot of professional writers frown on this. Real people don’t speak with perfect grammar; they use slang and speak easily, and it’s instantly relatable.
Q: How do you ensure that pop culture references won’t “date” your material down the road?
A: I do my best to choose references that are iconic enough that people will always understand them. I also try to throw in some that are mildly obscure but hit little niches of people that get excited about their fandom being mentioned.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to experiment with in your path as a writer?
A: Although I don’t have any experience with it, I would love to try writing a lesbian romance. I feel like it would be enough of a challenge to keep me interested.
Q: Ever had writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
A: I have writer’s block a lot. I actually have a really odd treatment for it: I watch the movie Bag of Bones, which is an adaptation of Stephen King’s book by the same name. It contains a writer who has writer’s block and he finds a way to overcome it. Watching his joy as he finds his ability to write again always inspires me to get going so I can try to find that joy.
Q: What’s your greatest weakness when it comes to writing?
A: My greatest weakness is definitely coming up with my blurb and synopsis. I find it very difficult to sum up a 60,000 word novel in just a couple of paragraphs, all without giving too much away.
Q: Like many authors today, you chose to go the route of self-publishing. What governed that choice and what do you know now that you didn’t know when you started?
A: I chose to self-publish mainly out of necessity. I would much rather publish traditionally but it seems to be a dying art. What I know now is that my dream of seeing my book on a literal store bookshelf is probably never going to happen because technology has taken over. I’m very old fashioned when it comes to books.
Q: Where do you see the publishing industry going in the next 10 years? 20 years?
A: I have a really bad feeling that print books are going to disappear and ebooks will be the only format. I really hope that isn’t the case but that’s the way the world seems to be going.
Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?
A: The only thing I can think of is that I have been learning American Sign Language and have really been enjoying it. I’m definitely not fluent but I believe I could hold a conversation.
Q: Best advice to fellow authors?
A: Edit. Edit. Edit some more. Then put the book aside for a while, maybe a month or so, then re-read it and edit again. Finally, have somebody else proofread it. When you’re that close to your book, you’re going to miss a lot of errors because your eyes will just slide over it.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m trying to work on a third book but with my daughter running around like a maniac it’s hard to find time to write.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: First, thank you to my readers for reading my books, whether you enjoy them or not. The very idea that you read a novel that I wrote astounds me and I am so grateful for the time and money it took to buy and read it. Second, I want to encourage everybody to remember that, even with technology encroaching on our lives, nothing will ever be better than holding a physical book in your hand, turning the pages, and inhaling that classic smell. There is no battery on a book. And if we keep buying and reading physical books at least as much as, if not more than, ebooks, they might just stick around.