Friday, March 4, 2011
Author Interview - Into the Path of Gods by Kathleeen Guler
Describe your books in five words or less.
Gritty, realistic Arthurian spy thrillers
How did the ideas for your books come to you?
The Macsen’s Treasure Series originated from a dream I had about a dark-haired, dark-eyed man wearing medieval garb who was searching for something in a dark, dank tunnel. He struck me as someone who strove to set things right amidst a great deal of turmoil. Imagination? Past life memory? Wishful thinking? Who knows? But he became the basis for the series’ main character Marcus ap Iorwerth. “Into the Path of Gods,” the first book in the series, contains a scene in the middle that reflects the dream.
Aside from the dream, most of my ideas come from history and studying how people thought and acted in other times. The challenge of puzzling together a long-past era is fascinating. Ideas also sometimes come from tiny snippets of inspiration—an impression from a movie scene or photograph, a piece of music, watching the way someone moves, a phrase, or any number of other seemingly unrelated things. Regarding music, I’ve got a lot of inspiration from some of Hans Zimmer’s dramatic motion picture scores, especially the movies set in historical times. Great stuff for visualizing characters!
What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
I love all parts of writing: the intense research, imagining the characters, plotting, the first draft, rewrites, revisions, edits, polishing. Each can be challenging and sometimes frustrating, but I never say any one is harder or easier than the other. I enjoy them all equally. Probably the only difficult thing is finding enough time to truly allow my imagination have a good long run. I laugh at the folks who always advise: find a quiet place to write and don’t let anyone disturb you. Hah! Doesn’t work in real life. Fortunately, I’ve taught myself the discipline to always be thinking and imagining the story and characters at any time, so that when I do get to the keyboard, at least I can get some words out.
What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I recently completed the rewrite of my first book, Into the Path of Gods, which was originally published in 1998. It needed tightening up and I am pleased to report it is now in most ebook formats along with the rest of the Macsen’s Treasure Series. So now it’s time to move on to something new and over the past few weeks I began research for my next writing project. The premise is about four main characters who recur throughout a collection of interconnected short stories, each set in a different era. At this point I’m just exploring ideas and need to do a lot of research to find the stories in the history. I have a sense of the beginning and end, but little in between. But that’s the fun of research—finding the characters and what they do!
Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
Historical fiction has always been my favorite genre to both read and write. I have always felt more at home in past times than in my own time. I don’t really know why. Some say interest in other times may be subconscious memories surfacing from past lives. If so, perhaps that would explain some of the odd dreams…??
What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
This is such a wonderful feeling. The most gratifying comment I ever received came from a woman and her husband who are in their 80’s. The gentleman had read the first three books in the series and was looking forward to the fourth, A Land Beyond Ravens. Unfortunately before it was published, the man had a stroke. His wife feared he might not be able to read the final book, but when it came out she got a copy for him. Later she told me that by reading this book—because he enjoys the stories so much—he began to recover his cognitive brain function. Even though he sometimes struggles and goes over the same page again and again, reading this book gives him a good mental exercise that is helping his recovery. It moves me to tears to know that something I wrote has helped someone so profoundly.
What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Q: What has the writing life inspired you to do that you never dreamed of doing when you started?
A: Two things. First is public speaking. Like most folks, I avoided this like the plague all through school. If I had known that being an author also entailed giving presentations, I would have perhaps been a bit more open to the idea of taking a public speaking class. Still haven’t had the chance to take one, so I’ve been learning on my own and gaining some great experience. Guess what? I actually kind of like it and as my speaking skills improve, hope to develop more presentations to deliver at writers conferences and other venues.
Second, I have started graduate school with the goal of a Masters Degree in history. Since I have had to learn the historian’s craft of research over the years and because it was time to start researching my next writing project, it just seemed natural and the perfect opportunity to aim some of that work towards a degree as well. Now I also see why so many writers also teach—not only does it give some badly needed income, but it also gives admittance to the university’s academic resources that would otherwise remain inaccessible.
What was your road to publications like?
Publication, as for most authors, was a long, arduous road. I was lucky to find a small publisher with a great editor who believes in my work. For that I will always be grateful. The drawback has been that small publishers, their books and their authors are often and unfairly ignored in the industry simply for their lack of size, regardless of quality. Sadly, in order to take my writing career to the next level, I find it necessary to attempt to move on to a larger publisher in the future. Hopefully it won’t be completely starting from scratch because I do have a track record now that includes eight awards.
Kathleen Guler is the author of the four-part Macsen's Treasure series of historical spy thrillers set in fifth century Britain. She has been recognized with numerous writing awards, including her most recent book, A Land Beyond Ravens, which won the
2010 Colorado Book Award for historical fiction. She has also published numerous
articles, essays, short stories, reviews and poems, is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the International Arthurian Society, and participates in several writing organizations. While currently conducting research on her next project, she is also working on her Masters degree in History.