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Author Interview: Kat Caffee (Author of the Followers of Torment Series)

This is outside of the Book Blog Tour, but I had the opportunity to "sit down" (ie: chat online with) another talented author, and the only day I had was today.  Out of that chat came this fantastic interview with author Kat Caffee, author of the fantasy series, the Followers of Torment.  She has a new book coming out, and a brand spanking new website.

What better time than now to post this?

Exactly what I thought!

The Interview


1) When did you first discover your love for writing?
I’m actually an “accidental author” to be honest.  I’ve been a story teller from a very young age (somewhere back around 2nd or 3rd grade if memory serves), but I have always had trouble getting the stories down into some form of long-term form.  The current saga I’m working on, and the series that are lining up at the doors behind it, are the first stories that have come through the fires with any hope of completion.  I’ve had to take a brief detour right now, before I can honor the tone behind my fourth novel, to get to know the secondary characters better so they can be the supports the main character needs for what I’m putting him through.

2) What inspired you to write the books you wrote?
I have a long history of role-play, and that’s where the Followers of Torments originates.  I was introduced to the 3-D chat platform IMVU, and he was my first character I developed there to play.  Even though I started in someone else’s role-play rooms, before long a smaller sub-group developed around my character and we broke away to see where that story would take us.  After a while, the group drifted apart as life put other demands on us, and I figured I was done.  I put the story on a shelf, and walked away, never expecting to go back to it again.  However, the story was not done with me.

About 10 years after I had shelved it, the story decided it had waited long enough, and came back with a club, and ultimatum:  “Write me, or don’t sleep.”  I tried, I really did!  I tried to win that argument – I was just starting grad school in a different field than I had obtained my master’s in, but the story refused to be silent.  I think, with my current list of published books, you can see who won the debate.

3) Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
I’m an extreme panster, and I know not everyone is.  However, I tell anyone struggling with a story – panster and plotter alike – trust.

Trust your characters, and get to know them.  Even if you need to plot out the major points in your story, unless you trust your characters, they will remain wooden and stilted.

Trust your story – there will come a time when the story starts to warp on you.  If you trust that it will come back, the detour can (and often does) bring in some interesting pieces you may not have thought of before.  This can often times create unexpected tension to help drive things forward.

Trust yourself – no, this is not a soap box of “if I can do it, you can”.  Rather it is saying that you know what your story needs.  There is a mountain of advice out on the internet about how to write that best seller.  Read it, but don’t take all of it to heart.  Trust yourself to know what your story needs.  This helps you to develop your own “voice” and writing style, and it also allows you to remain authentic in what you put to paper.  Without this trust, there is a good chance your story may never see those final words written, or if you get that far it may mean that you have something that goes in a drawer somewhere to be forgotten.

4) Do you have any future works planned?
For now, I’m trying to get through this saga.  However, I’ve got one long series kicking at the stall doors to be turned loose, and two more shorter series beating at the house doors to be let in.  (On may be a single, I won’t know until I start writing it.)  I’ve got a tentative time line on the central piece of my website that shows where (and how) all the stories tie together.  That was one of the things that struck me as I work on The Followers of Torments – there is immense potential for other stories to emerge from the wilderness, and a huge world to explore, of which I’ve only seen a tiny piece.

5) How do you deal with writer's block?
There’s such a thing?

In all honesty, I’ve been extremely lucky.  I haven’t had to deal with writer’s block, though I have had to pick through a couple of writer’s jams – where the ideas are flowing too fast to be pulled together, so create a log jam that blocks up all progress.

In situations like that I either go screaming for friends to help me pick through the “logs” until I can find the one holding the mess in place, or I back up and start forging a detour.  Sometimes, the cause is that I haven’t properly set up for an event, and so I’m trying to do too much in the same scene – set up the event, have the event happen, and build the tension even higher.  If that’s the case, I’ll back track at least a chapter or two, and see if I can find a good point to start the set up, so it’s a slow build, rather than a sudden eruption.  Sometimes that works, sometimes not.  When it doesn’t, then I scream for my editor to help me find where I left the plot hole I know is there, and I glossed over.

6) Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Ummm… If you mean finished, then Out of the Darkness is the only one that qualifies.  If you mean attempted, then I have one I’d like to go back and see if I can salvage one day.  It’s blown up in my face enough times, I’m not sure there’s anything there to work with past what’s been written down.  However, if I do go back and try, It will be after I’ve teased every possible Alterraden story out of the wilderness I can, because there is no tie-in back to this world that I can identify.

7) What is your writing process?
::chuckles::  Sit down, make sure I’ve got some type of non-lyrical music playing (like Audiomachine or Two Steps from Hell), and “check out”.

I’m not the author of my own works, I swear.  I’m just the conduit for the pukah (and their stories) to use for entering the world.  If I try to do the writing, I get in the way of myself, and it really shows – things wind up stilted, the focus shifts from the characters to the plot, and my editor just about vibrates through the internet to come strangle me for all the errors I’ve given them to correct.

When the story writes itself, it is a rich and varied tapestry with compelling descriptions and vivid characters.  When I write, it’s almost like an artist’s pre-sketch that is  begging to be filled in and brought alive.

8) Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the East Piney Woods of South Texas around the Houston area.  However, I’ve also traveled most of the U.S. with the exception of Alaska (though I’d love to go there!).  I’ve made a few excursions down to Juarez before it became dangerous, and I’ve also dreamt of traveling to Canada.

I’m not sure the “where” influenced me, so much as the “how”.  I’ve always been an outsider, more introverted than anything.  Even back in grade school, I was taller, smarter, or heavier than the other kids and so found myself excluded from almost every activity.  I’m also avidly avoidant of sports with very few exceptions.  Because of this, once I was exposed to more advanced books beyond the “See Spot” type books, they have been my escape, my friends, and (at times) my solace.

My first “grown up” book I was exposed to was fantasy, which is probably why fantasy holds such a big section on my book shelves.  Dad reads sci-fi, so that runs a close second.  When I went through a really ugly time in middle and high school, mom worried that I was retreating from reality, and insisted that if I was going to read, I had to read the classics.  There are a few that have carved a permanent place on my shelves, but I still remember the day I was allowed to dive back into my fantasy!  Not sure which day I consider the best in my life so far – the day I graduated with my bachelors, or the day I was allowed to start reading fantasy again.

9) Who are your favourite authors?
Oh, dear.  That’s an eclectic mix.
E. E. “doc” Smith – I love how his series flow from one book into the next, like turning a page when you move between books.
Jane Auel – I may skip the pages upon pages of description she uses after the first read through, but I love lingering over them the first time.  Not only does she manage to let you see the world she’s writing in, she transports you so you experience it.
Elizabeth Moon – One of the best authors I’ve come across with character driven plots.  There are a few that I’ve read recently who match her, but so far I haven’t met anyone who surpasses her.
Alexander Dumas – I’m not exactly sure what he’s done, except stood the test of time.  Of all the classics, his are the ones I go back to time and again.  Especially if I’m feeling down and out.

10) What are your five favourite books, and why?
Another eclectic mix:
Elizabeth Moon’s Deed of Paksennarion – not only does she manage to bring a no-name girl into a place of prominence, she does it in a way that is completely believable (for a fantasy book.)
E. E. “doc” Smith’s Lensmen – as I said, the fact that when you shift between books, it is like turning a page in one volume.  He also does a great job with pacing, world building, and developing/contrasting the political issues that I would love to be able to match.
Steve Miller and Sharon Lee’s Liaden Universe (last count 20, and still going) – Fun and sassy books that somehow manage to remain stand-alone installments, yet follow a coherent internal chronology.  They span worlds, time, and cultures without problem, and are interesting enough to lure you from one book to the next.

11) Describe your desk.
Organized chaos.  During the semester I usually manage to impose some type of order, but once I’m out of class for the semester (and I hope to be forever!) things tend to get disorganized in a hurry.  I’ve got lots of storage, unfortunately that means I’ve got lots of places to put something where it will be “safe” and then forget which “safe” spot I put it in.

I also tend to have to share quite a bit of my desk with my cats.  I’ve tried to make them a cubby to curl up in, but they insist on claiming what free space I have.  Especially if that means they can use my keyboard as their pillow.

12) When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading and reviewing – I’ve found some absolute gems in the indie author community this way.  One of the things I do to help my fellow authors out, and to help pull my library out of the stone age.

Blogging – I started with one, and that has since warped into a full website comprised of three interconnected blogs.  I also run another tumblr blog, though that doesn’t get as much love as it should.

Beading – for some reason I can’t knit or do needle point, but I can sit and play with tiny seed beads all day long.  I’ve been slowly working up beaded swag, though I don’t have enough to think of trying to sell any of it.  I tend to save what I do make for special occasions, and my year end thank yous to my team.

Obey my cats – I know, pets are supposed to obey their human.  Something tells me you haven’t run across this particular pair of felines.  Talia’s a mellow lady, but her partner in crime, Punkin is a lot more demanding.  If I don’t obey, he has ways and WAYS of making my life uncomfortable.  (Like laying on the keyboard, crying piteously for attention, or tearing up my homework.)

Though next spring, I also have to attend class – I am a student after all, so that tends to take priority.  These last two years, it’s actually managed to overwhelm any “free time” I thought I had to the point I had to shut down and pull out of all my author pursuits for months at a time.  I’m hoping when I graduate I won’t have the same time demands, even though I’ll be working.

Kat Caffee's Biography

K. Caffee has always been a storyteller. Now, she is sharing her words with the world, rather than a small group clustered around to hear what she has to say.

When she is not taking anyone on a ride through her wild imagination, she is thinking of something new to tell, trying to keep her cats from claiming the keyboard from her, or studying to pass her next class exam.

Buy the books

Out of the Darkness sale links

Smashwords:  http://ow.ly/LvwAm
Barnes & Noble:  http://ow.ly/LvTo1
iTunes: http://ow.ly/LvTrN
Scribd: http://ow.ly/LvTBF
Amazon:  http://hyperurl.co/Out-of-Darkness
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/out-of-the-darkness-34
Bol.com: https://www.bol.com/nl/p/out-of-the-darkness/9200000033253105
Intera:  http://www.inktera.com/store/title/06511c1d-01d3-4583-8920-dccc54e4b4c6

Remember the Shadows sale links:

Smashwords: http://ow.ly/LvU1C
Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/LvU99
iTunes:  http://ow.ly/LvUaR
Scribd: http://ow.ly/LvUcH
Amazon:  http://hyperurl.co/kmhx9g
Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/remember-the-shadows-1
Bol.com:  https://www.bol.com/nl/p/remember-the-shadows/9200000038489466/
Inktera:  http://www.inktera.com/store/title/fb1e11bb-40eb-4113-9347-e4de0b5a92ee

Into the Sunlits sale links:

Smashwords:  http://ow.ly/RBZeQ
Barnes & Noble:  http://ow.ly/RODtN
iTunes:  http://ow.ly/RODn7
Scribd:  http://ow.ly/XgNoQ
Amazon:  http://smarturl.it/IntoTheSunlits
Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/into-the-sunlits
Bol.com: https://www.bol.com/nl/p/into-the-sunlits/9200000048700840/
Inktera:  http://www.inktera.com/store/title/24513e53-7996-479e-9efd-629b164250a7

Beslynx Spiritwalker sale Links:

Amazon:  http://smarturl.it/BeslynxSpiritwalker

Connect with Kat Caffee

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/PukahWorks
Blog (The Home Office) - https://pukahworks.wordpress.com
Website Blog (The Followers of Torments) - http://followersoftorments.pukahworks.com
Website Blog (Alterraden) - http://pukahworks.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/PukahWorks
Google + - https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KatCaffee/about/p/pub
Tumblr - https://www.tumblr.com/blog/pukahworks





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