Met Kathy through EPIC and have spent a few fun hours at the cons talking to her about writing and other things. I've read and enjoyed a few of her books. She's also one of the obscure YA authors.
1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
Hi Janet! Thank you for interviewing me!
I write young adult fantasy and science fiction.
2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
A little of both, I think. I read a lot of my brother's and sisters' books when growing up - Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, horse books, teen romance, but it wasn't until I found my father's collection of science fiction and fantasy books that I found something I really liked to read and which in turn inspired me to write.
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I've tried writing other genres, but fantasy or SF elements tended to creep in - a ghost here, an alien there - so science fiction and fantasy wins.
4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
Science fiction and fantasy. I have several favorite authors such as Diana Wynne Jones, Janet Kagan, Michelle Levigne, Jennifer St. Clair, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Lois McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh and James Schmitz among others. There are some mystery series I follow, but most of what I read is young adult fantasy or science fiction.
5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I've been writing since I was 14. My first book, The Crystal Throne, was one of the books I wrote back then. Thirty years (and many rewrites later) I finally found a publisher for it. I had also written several short stories based on characters in that universe and those were published in zines over the years. I have also written some media tie-in stories for Big Finish in their Doctor Who anthologies.
6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I don't have just one favorite; I’ve got several scattered across several universes. In The Crystal Throne universe there’s Elin, who is learning how to do magic. He resembles a large horse with gray and white spots and his people can talk. He loved tales of magic, so much so that his people cast him out of their herd because he was always talking to wizards and elves. And then there’s Peter Burns, who is a human twelve-year-old from this world who believes in science, not magic. I can always count on him to try to analyze how things work. Salanoa is also a wizard who has appeared in some of my short stories since she was eight and just had the ability to talk with animals, and then as an adult in both The Crystal Throne and Talking to Trees. Talking to Trees has Rafi, who is a six-year-old gryphon.
7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
There are definitely villains in my books. The Crystal Throne has three witches, and Talking to Trees has the Old One, a life-destroyer. They start out just as bad guys, but as I write the book I work out why they are that way. Of course they don’t think that they themselves are evil – it’s just that everyone else isn’t letting them rule the world/destroy the world.
8. What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on two books. One is a young adult story set in a space colony. The other is a sequel of sorts to my interstellar agent stories in Agents & Adepts.
9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
The idea behind “The Rescue” came because every spring I like to watch the webcams focused on falcon, owl and eagle nests. It’s fun watching those tiny chicks hatch and grow into fuzzballs and then learn to fly. It can also be sad, too, because chicks do die. There are wildlife groups that watch the nestcams and there have been some rescues when some of the older chicks fall out of the nests. “The Rescue” is about the rescue of a very odd eaglet.
10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
I had always thought The Crystal Throne would be a standalone book. Then I noticed more and more news stories about some of the blights and diseases affecting trees – chestnuts, Dutch Elm disease, the ash borer. I had written a short story years ago (“Heartsight”) about a wizard who was planting trees to hold an evil being imprisoned and then one day I had a way to connect the news stories and my wizard story. And it worked out that Peter and Jeanne (from The Crystal Throne) had to return to that world again. Only this time Peter’s sister Jody gets dragged into the world, too.
She looked over the devastated land, at the groves of trees buried by landslide, and leaned again into the embrace of her grandmother. “They can’t all be gone!” she sobbed.
“We are the only two remaining. The next strike will be soon.”
There came the rattle of small stones down the side of the hill, almost unnoticed in the pouring rain. Thunder growled like an angry voice.
Her grandmother lightly touched her hair. “You must go.”
Tears mixed with the raindrops streaming down her face. “I can't leave you!”
“You cannot stay. You must find help for us.”
Twylgalit stepped back, looking wildly across the wasteland outside their sanctuary. “How? Where?”
“Only a human can help us. I have spoken to the Watcher of Gates. He knows of our plight. He will ensure you will be sent to one who can help. Now come, give me a hug, dear twiglet, and I will send you on your way.”
Twylgalit fiercely hugged her grandmother. She felt the rough bark against her face for a moment, and then, suddenly, she was elsewhere.
Jody Burns saw the green-haired girl step out of midair.
At first she didn't realize that she had seen anything unusual--this was the mall on a Saturday, after all--but then it struck her that this couldn't possibly be some advertising trick. The girl had not been there a second ago. The air had suddenly rippled and she had stumbled through. She was dripping wet, her hair and clothing clinging to her. She looked as if she had been crying, and Jody could hear a half sniff/half sob as she glanced around at the crowded mall.
The girl shook her head and Jody expected to see droplets of water fly everywhere, but instead she only heard a faint rustle and the short hair suddenly looked dry, lightening to a sea green in color. The water beading her light brown skin and soaking her shirt vanished as if absorbed. The girl hugged her bare arms below the short sleeves and looked around as if she was searching for someone.
Jody quickly looked back at the window display before her. Summer pastels were such a relief after the gray winter drabs. She said as much to Amy Evans, but Amy was looking elsewhere. “Well, check out the new style.”
“Eww, seaweed,” Brittany commented.
Jody turned with the rest of the group. The green-haired girl was heading directly for them.