Hey Everyone!! :-)
Please join me in welcoming Katherine Gilbert! Katherine, will you please tell us about yourself and how many books you have written?
Katherine: Well, "written" and "published" are two different things. I've completed five novels altogether, but I've only recently had the first one published. As for me, I've been born and raised in South Carolina (unofficial state motto: Please Don't Blame Us for Our Lunatic Fringe. We Know They're Nuts). I was raised in some pretty gothic homes, so I come by my interest in the weirder parts of life honestly.
Me: Ha! Well, we all have people in our lives that we feel the need to apologize for, at times. ;-) Congrats on publishing your first novel! What's the name of your book and what inspired it?
Katherine: It's Protecting the Dead. As the blurb says, "After a childhood filled with demons and her devil-worshiping parents, Lydia longs for a quiet, normal life, a safe haven somewhere blissfully dull. Being the manager at the Roanoke Apartments seems to fit that bill. But Lydia soon learns that you can't leave the past behind so easily. She finds herself faced with unclogging drains for werewolves, conducting nightly vampire counseling sessions, and caring for two talkative cats. Then there's the distraction of Geoffrey, the hottest, and most angelic, boss anyone ever dreamed of. As if that isn't enough, the demon who nearly killed her shows up to finish the job. So much for a peaceful, simple life..." As for its inspiration, there was, until recently, a real apartment complex in Decatur, GA (where my novel is set) which my sister and I once visited on an apartment hunt. Unfortunately, there was just an odd, gothic air about the whole place, especially the apartment she was shown which gave a definite feeling that anyone living there would never quite be alone. When she asked about the turnover of tenants, as well, she was told, "Oh, our residents never leave." This seemed such a strangely evocative answer that I wrote it down as soon as we were in the car. A few weeks later, I started writing.
Me: That's an awesome opening for a novel! :-) What are you working on now?
Katherine: I can't say a lot about what I'm working on, or I won't actually write it (I don't know why I have this tendency as a writer, but I do). Let's just say that it takes place along the coast of Georgia and involves a secret society, a girl with a shocking personality, a boy she's flummoxed, a gryphon, a vampire, and a couple of revenants--and that's just the part I've written so far.
Me: Ooooh! Mysterious! What authors, or books, have influenced you?
Katherine: I adore the characters and humor of Terry Pratchett. I always wish I could get a line to sing the way his do. If I could convey a sense of place like Barbara Hambly, I'd . . . well, have to be Barbara Hambly. There are certainly many others, as well.
Me: I agree, those are a couple of amazing authors. :-) What are you reading now?
Katherine: My sister (who, if she kept up a Goodreads page, would have at least tens of thousands of books on it--but she doesn't, because she's too busy reading in all her spare time) passed on the YA Heist Society novels, by Ally Carter, to me. I've really been enjoying them, at least whenever I can get the time to read.
Me: Ha! Your sister sounds like a woman after my own heart. For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?
Katherine: I've always been drawn to the comic, the gothic, and a good romance, so you'll definitely see all three in my novel--along with angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, succubi, ghosts, and many other things which go bump in the night.
Me: Sounds like fun! What is your favorite part of being an author?
Katherine: Being able to finally put into some tangible form the stories and characters which are playing in my mind. Of course, the usual struggle is to try to encapsulate those vivid images into something both as simple and as devilishly complex as words. The really happy days are when I can get somewhat close to that mental ideal.
Me: Ah, wrestling with language. Every author's bane. ;-) Do you have a day job as well?
Katherine: Oh, yes. I teach English at a community college in South Carolina. This can be alternately inspiring, heartening, tedious, sad, or infuriating--depending on the semester.
Me: Cool! So your love of literature must run deep. :-) What are the hardest, and easiest, parts about being a writer?
Katherine: Hm, I can really only think of hard ones. Despite what non-writers occasionally seem to think, this isn't an easy job. Among the harder parts, there's: trying to craft and shape into words those worlds I see so clearly, finding the time around real-life demands to actually sit down and write, and going through the many rejections of trying to get published. My new hardest part, though, is marketing. I'm terrible at it! I have no social media savvy, and I always feel like I'm running my hardest just to be three miles behind. I also never knew that I would need so many other skills to try to sell my novel. So far, I've had to learn to make jewelry and create computer graphic banners for giveaways. I don't know if anything's easy about it, but it is very satisfying when I can capture some part of that mental picture well and have written something I actually enjoy rereading.
Me: Oh, yes, the many hats an author has to wear. Don't worry, you're not alone in trying to catch up on that learning curve. :-) What genre do you place your book in?
Katherine: The definitions of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance seem very close to me. Still, I saw someone's definition the other day that PNR is more about the Happily Ever After, so I suppose that's probably me.
Me: One of my favorite genres! Is there anything else you'd like to tell your readers?
Katherine: I like reading fiction which helps me escape from this world into another where I enjoy spending time with all the characters and getting the chance to share their lives. My fervent hope for any readers of my novel is that they will have a moment at the end when they smile and sigh and feel like they've made new friends.
Me: And so all these fine folks can find those new friends, are there any links you'd like me to post?
Katherine: You can buy Protecting the Dead in digital format at any of the following (it will hopefully be out in print sometime in the future, but I don't know the details yet):
You can also find me any of these places (Please come say Hi! I get lonely!):
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Katherine-Gilbert-Author-102573417043950/
Amazon Author's page: https://www.amazon.com/Katherine-Gilbert/e/B07DWFDT92
Smashwords author page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/katherinegilbert
Me: Great! How about a teaser?
She was left in her usual state of confusion, as they pulled up in front of another of the buildings, a gray stucco one.
Geoffrey shut off the cart before turning to her. “Glory is a fairly normal resident in appearance.”
Linda fervently prevented herself from analyzing that statement.
“The next two will be a bit harder for you to handle.”
He got out of the cart without allowing her to answer or beg for a reprieve. It was probably for the best. While she wanted desperately to believe that he was just referring to some physical disability they might have, the day so far had taught her not to go in utterly unprepared. After all, her boss was probably right. Any more fighting, and her mind might get pulled right off its last hinge.
She kept this truth close to her, tried to plant a smile on her face, as they approached the apartment door. It was only once he looked at her as though she was suddenly juggling gerbils or something that she realized her smile was undoubtedly fairly manic. She took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. It wasn’t easy. Given all that had happened so far, there was no telling what to expect. If some undead guy wrapped in bandages loped his way toward the door…
She did her best to repress the hysteria her life was teaching her, as Geoffrey rang the bell. Hard not to notice that it sounded out something that resembled the opening bars of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” Those hours listening to classic rock radio were taking their toll.
Tragically, the person who answered the door didn’t make her feel any better. She supposed she should just be glad that there were no trailing bandages that she could see.
The new resident was not the type of monster she had feared, however. They were met, instead, with a wide, but disturbingly carnivorous, smile. Yellow eyes alighted on her boss, and the smile grew even wider. “Geoffrey, darling!” the man exclaimed, pulling him inside. “Get yourself and your delicious little assistant in here.”
Hairy. He was just hairy. Nothing more to it than that. Okay, so his beard, hair, and mustache all seemed to have completed the sort of forays the earlier applicant’s had started, matching up with each other to form more a fur mask than anything else. But there was no reason to panic. That was probably perfectly normal, right?
She repeated this mantra, as another voice met them from the kitchen. “You’re late, the pair of you!” The fact that she couldn’t see the man who said it didn’t make her any less nervous.
“Sorry!” Geoffrey called back before turning to the first resident. “Glory kept us a bit.”
Both men rolled their yellow eyes slightly, as the second entered the room. “You always were her favorite.”
Despite her efforts, the panic was beginning to truly set in now; Linda looked back and forth between them, trying very hard not to go mad. If the first resident had been hairy, the second looked more like a bag of fur that someone had attempted to construct a human shape out of. She tried really hard to believe that they were just suffering from the sort of disease that had put some nineteenth-century unfortunates into freak shows as “dog-faced boys.” Her mind reeled, denial dissolving. But that sort of thing had been eliminated long ago, right?
She decided not to believe in such science, finding that explanation far easier to accept than any of the alternatives.
Geoffrey turned toward her, as she was attempting to keep her eyes from rolling back in her head. “These are some more of our longer-term residents. This is Hugh Baskerville.” He pointed from the first to the second, as she did her best to tuck all the escaping parts of her sizzling brain back in. “And this is Laurence Cheney.”
“But my friends call me—”
“No, don’t,” she begged, knowing what was coming, her face buried in her hand. First, it was… well, everything, and now it was Lon Chaney and a Conan Doyle character. Good grief.
She knew she was being rude, knew she certainly wasn’t being a good assistant to Geoffrey, but she couldn’t quite force herself to look up again. If she did, she was going to see things she couldn’t wholly deny. She couldn’t take that. Whatever its dangers, denial felt safe. There was only so much oddity her brain could withstand, before it just started to explode.
She found herself sitting on the couch a moment later, knew that all these men were watching her, knew that she was direly failing whatever test she was being given. But she just couldn’t help it. It was too much, was far too weird. If only life could be all picket fences and well-tended lawns and SUVs and…
Okay, so she really wasn’t dumb enough to think such details meant an utter lack of misery, but they just seemed so nice, compared to her life. She felt someone sit on the couch beside her, knew it was Geoffrey, even before he spoke.
“Give her a minute,” he whispered, tenderly stroking her blue hair.
That only made her sigh all the more. There were times she truly wished she could be a stereotypical vapid blonde.
That wish, of course, was part of the reason why she’d ended up with the hair color she was now stuck with, but she wasn’t up to such analysis.
One of the residents sighed softly. “I guess we are a bit much for a first day. Especially with our moon phase coming up and all.”
She wished she lived the sort of life which made it impossible to guess what they were talking about.
Geoffrey’s soft touch made her raise her head again, her eyes a little misty, as she gazed at the two residents’ worried yellow eyes. Their normal clothing only made the situation weirder. The one who had greeted them, Hugh, dressed much like her boss tended to. The second one was even wearing a business suit. She was trying not to scream.
Fortunately, Geoffrey surprised her out of the impulse, pulling her close, his arms tender, mouth by her ear. Into it, he whispered a series of soft, soothing sounds. Like at her lunch with Glory, none of them were quite recognizable, except for her name. “Lydia,” he would breathe, before those only half-hidden words began again. “Lydia.” It made her real name so darn tempting that she couldn’t quite remember why she’d ever chosen another, and it finally made her sanity begin to piece itself slowly back together.
She wasn’t certain how long they were like that, knew nothing except his touch, his comfort. Some final spate of words settled inside her as a sort of hope for the future, a thought — even if she had no conscious access to it — that comforted her even more. She felt his soft kiss there, before he finally leaned back. She didn’t really know what to think, after that.
Me: Perfect! Thank you so much for stopping by, today, Katherine. And thank you, also, to the rest of you who joined us. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the latest in Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)