Today, I’d like to welcome Kat Schuessler, Ohio author of Think of Me, to my blog. I hope this interview sparks some interest and leads you to your next great read.
Alright, lets jump right into the Q&A and find out what Kat is willing to share about her life and her writing process.
Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
Aside from writing, I also work as a counter attendant at a local restaurant, which just means that I answer the phones, make pizza dough, and handle pick-up orders. I do like it, but it isn’t a life-long career. I do think I’m good at my job but there have been jobs that I was better at.
What is your family like?
I have a very large family. My parents got divorced when I was eleven, and a year later my dad remarried, so I have the extended families of three parents behind me. In my immediate family, I have my parents, my step-mom, two sisters, two step-brothers, and countless nieces and nephews. I also have a fiancé and a beautiful eighteen-month-old daughter.
Congratulations on the upcoming wedding and of course your daughter. I’m a mom too and I truly believe children are a blessing and a wonderful source for creativity. If it doesn’t bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
When I was younger, I lived in a house near Lakewood, OH. Back then I didn’t understand what a beautiful house it was and how lucky I was, I just knew that it was dirty. Nobody in our house liked to clean except my dad, and he was heavily outnumbered, so the house was never really clean. Now, looking back, I wish we had kept it cleaner so that my sisters and I could have appreciated it.
Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing?
I love to play the flute. I’ve been playing since the fourth grade, and I wish high school could have lasted forever so I never would have had to leave marching band. I also love to read, crochet, and binge-watch shows on Netflix – especially “Gilmore girls”!
What is your greatest dream?
My greatest dream changes constantly. When I was a little girl, my dream was to publish a book. That’s happened. After that, my dream was to have a beautiful little girl, and then that happened. Another smaller dream that came true was to be a contestant on the Food Network show, Worst Cooks in America, which I never thought would happen in a million years, but it did. Now my dream is to work somewhere where I can make some decent money without sacrificing too much of who I am, and that isn’t fast food; I’ve worked in too many fast food joints in my lifetime.
OK, wow… I love the show Worst Cooks in America. The fact that you were a contestant is so cool to me.
It does seem that your goals and dreams change frequently as you reach them. Congratulations for that. So, what kind of person do you want you could be?
The person I would like to be is kind, loving, generous, and patient, but still a badass, not afraid of offending somebody if it means being myself. I don’t go out of my way to hurt anybody and if I do, I feel horrible, unless they deserved it; karma is real. I think I succeed in being that person, apart from the fact that I tend to speak without thinking, which leads to a lot of people being offended when offense was not my intention.
Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love?
I remember all of my loves. They have each made a massive impact on me, whether negative or positive, and I wouldn’t go back and erase any of them because they made me who I am.
I love that answer. Our past does form us and not wanting to go back and erase any of your past loves says a lot about you and how you feel about where you are in life. Lets switch gears for a bit. Can you tell me about the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
I have to say that I have been lucky, because nothing truly “terrible” has ever happened to me. I’ve had some pretty severe asthma attacks and there were complications after I had my daughter, but because they turned out okay I don’t count them as tragedies. If I had to say anything, it would be the fact that I was suicidal for a very long time, and if not for my family and close friends, that time would have defeated me and I would not be here right now.
You seem to have a great outlook and to be able to look back on what has happened to you and recognize that they aren’t “terrible” because you were able to get through them is a blessing. Many people would see those as setbacks, or allow them to define them, but you seem stronger than that. Its very inspiring. Speaking of inspiration, what or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I was inspired to start writing when I read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling. It took me somewhere I had never been, and I wanted to create that magic for somebody. That was when I was eight years old. I think I started really writing regularly about two years later, so I’ve been writing since I was ten.
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Well, as I said earlier, my dream was to write and publish a book, and obviously I achieved that dream. As for whether or not it was what I expected, I have to say not at all. I didn’t expect that all of the big publishing companies would require an agent, and that by the time I got to this age, traditional publishing would be a dying art. I think that was the most shocking for me, the idea that now anybody can write and self-publish a book without it being a big deal unless there are a lot of sales. I also thought that once my book got published, I would see it on bookshelves, but even traditional publishers only release books online these days, so that dream is starting to seem unlikely.
As an Indie-Author myself, I can relate. I have seven published novels and three workbooks available on Amazon. Like most authors, I dream of having my books on a shelf at a brick and mortar bookstore, but sadly as bookstores close it seems that dream gets farther and farther away. Lets go to something a bit more positive, who is your role model?
Oh, gosh. This is hard, but I have to say my dad. He is the kindest, most patient parent I could have asked for and he has always been there to catch me when I fell. It didn’t matter if I was upset over something as trivial as a break-up or something as major as feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore, Dad has always known exactly what to say and do to make me feel okay again.
My father, and mother, are my greatest role models too. So, I can relate. What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is anything happening to my daughter. I have literally had nightmares about her being hurt or killed and I’ve had several panic attacks afterward, and I couldn’t be calmed until I held her in my arms and could feel her breathing.
I think most, if not all, parents can relate to that fear. We can’t protect our children from everything, but we sure as hell try. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books?
I prefer paperbacks, for sure, with hard-covers in a close second. Besides the fact that they don’t rely on batteries, I just feel smarter when I’m reading a physical book. They are also easier for me to read because I tend to miss a lot when reading books on a screen. As for audio-books, I don’t have the attention span for them. I tend to space out and miss half of the story.
Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
I have read several books more than once. There are way too many to list, but some of my favorites are the Harry Potter series, “It” by Stephen King (actually, a lot of Stephen King’s books), the entire “Immortals After Dark” series by Kresley Cole, “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, and “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M Montgomery.
You are a girl after my own heart, you had me at “It”. What is your opinion of novellas?
If they’re written well, I am fine with it. The length of the story isn’t what matters to me; what matters is the content. If you compare “The Stand” by Stephen King and “Penpal” by Dathan Auerbach, the lengths are vastly different but they both make my hair stand on end, and I believe that is the ultimate goal.
Have you ever read a book just based on its cover?
When I first saw “A Hunger Like No Other” by Kresley Cole, the cover was just so alluring that I knew I had to read it. That led to my obsession with her series, “Immortals After Dark” and actually what led me to start writing erotica.
You have me intrigued… I may have to check out “Immortals After Dark” as I have never read it. What is your favorite film based on a book?
This is an impossible choice. From “Gone With the Wind” and “Anna Karenina” to “Phantom of the Opera” and the “Harry Potter” films, Hollywood has done so many amazing adaptations that picking a favorite would take forever.
What is your favorite book genre at the moment?
I’m really hooked on horror books at the moment. I’ve been re-reading Stephen King a lot, and that’s going to take me a while considering how many of his books I have.
What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why?
I’ve really wanted to get my hands on Stephen King’s new book, “The Outsider” and Michelle Obama’s autobiography “Becoming,” even though autobiographies usually aren’t my thing. I also got unexpectedly excited when I heard that E.L. James will be writing a new book.
YES, YES, YES!!! “The Outsider” is on my list as well. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
At the moment I am reading the paperback version of Stephen King’s “Needful Things” for the… fifth time?
“Needful Things” is probably one of my favorite Stephen King novels, but I haven’t read it in years. I just might need to pick that one up again. There is just something about the old Stephen King novels that call to me. If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Seth Rogan, Kathy Bates, Meryl Streep, and Whoopi Goldberg.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say?
My latest work is called “Think of Me”. It’s about a single dad who gets set up by his friends to meet a woman, and his past puts them both in danger.
That sounds interesting… now I need to know what he is hiding in his past. So, if “Think of Me” part of a series?
It is the second book in my “Point of No Return” series. The first book is called “No Backward Glances”.
And now I have two new books on my ‘To Read’ list. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)?
Jennifer Stevens designed both of my covers. She just told me where to find good stock photos and told me to find a photo I liked, and she magically turned it into a gorgeous cover.
Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)?
I listened to a large span of music genres, but I mostly listened to “Dream Theater”. All of their music served as beautiful background music to my writing process. More of the bands that I listened to are listed on the acknowledgements page of my books.
How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
I was obsessed with “Phantom of the Opera” for a long time, and my absolute favorite song in the musical is “The Point of No Return,” so there was my series title. One of the lines in the song is “No Backward Glances” and it really struck a chord with me. It really fit the theme of my first book, which generally dealt with not looking back and embracing the future while living with the past. As for the second book, I wanted to keep the POTO theme, and another great song was “Think of Me,” so I went with that.
Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it?
I don’t unfortunately. I have no idea how to make one or where you would even send that. I’m horrible at self promotion.
You know, as an indie-author, self promotion is the hardest part for me too. I think a lot of us are in that boat, which is why it is so hard to go from random indie-author to Best Seller! In your latest novel, who is the lead character and can you tell us a little about him/her?
There are two lead characters, but I guess the main one would be Josh. He’s a single father to a four year old girl. His wife just mentally snapped one day and attacked him and their daughter. They survived and she got locked up, but she escapes and goes after Josh and his new girlfriend, Rita, who is the other lead character.
What is your character’s greatest strengths?
Strength. Everybody in this book, even the “villain,” has some form of strength and determination pushing them through.
And what are his/her greatest weaknesses?
His greatest weakness isn’t even really a weakness; it’s just a symptom of his past. The attack caused him to have severe post traumatic stress disorder, and it makes it difficult for him to be away from his daughter for any real amount of time.
What are some of his/her favorite foods?
His favorite is Italian food, but he loves pretty much all international cuisine.
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
He doesn’t know how charming he is, despite the fact that he is told all the time. He doesn’t try to be a charmer, he just thinks he’s being polite.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
I think they’ll like how strong he is, and how willing he is to lay down his life for the people he loves.
What first gave you the idea for your latest book?
I was reading Stephen King’s book, “On Writing,” and one of the writing exercises was to write a story where a wife attacks a husband or something, and when I first wrote the short story I thought it would be cool to take that one small idea and expand it into a novel.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I am a hard core pantser. The only kind of planning that I do is making character profiles and keeping an updated timeline, and that doesn’t even get made in advance. I make it as I go to make sure that my time is accurate.
I love this. I fall somewhere between pantster and plotter, so I’m always interested in how other authors work. Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time?
I would say that the biggest challenge is what I mentioned in an earlier response, the fact that traditional brick-and-mortar publishers are dying out, with the exception of the huge names that require an agent. Plus, also as I said earlier, when I was younger publishing a book was a huge deal, and only great writers could say that they did it. These days, anybody could write whatever they want and have it self published online, and I feel like that makes it less impressive if you don’t have a wide audience.
I believe I already know the answer to this, but are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company?
I am self-published through Amazon. I did originally find a traditional publisher, but they unfortunately shut down about a year after “No Backward Glances” came out.
If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route?
The owner of my first publishing company, Jennifer Stevens, walked all of us through the process of self-publishing on KDP and CreateSpace until we found another publisher, and I was never able to. After years of writer’s block and discouragement, I decided that if I couldn’t find a traditional publisher, I would just learn how to do it myself. Jenn was a huge help in teaching me how to format, making me a kick ass cover, and giving me more advice than I could ever ask for. I couldn’t have done it without her and I am extremely grateful.
What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
For the love of god, EDIT! Just re-read your book over and over, because you never know when you’re going to see a typo that you missed the first three times. If possible, put your book aside for a couple of weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes; that will reveal the most mistakes.
Amen!!! I couldn’t agree more. Editing is SO IMPORTANT. We indie-authors get a bad reputation when readers find editing issues, not even if they are in our books. Indie-Authors tend to get lumped into one pot and if there are editing issues in one author’s books then there must be editing issues in all indie-authors’ books. It isn’t true, but readers often believe it. So, edit your book both personally, through beta readers, and hire a professional editor!!!
Alright, now that I am done with my little editing rant, where can your readers follow you? Please list links to any applicable websites and/or social media accounts.
I don’t have a blog or website, so my author Facebook page serve as my website. I also included the link to the first book in the series, “No Backward Glances“