Award winning author Kathryn Mattingly has taught fine art, creative writing, and English literature at several private colleges. Aside from her short story collection and literary suspense novels with Winter Goose Publishing, Kathryn’s work can be found in numerous small press anthologies and various print magazines. Kathryn has been a professional editor for a small publishing house and at one time ran her own editing service. In addition to her fiction, she has over 30 nonfiction articles published. Kathryn lives in Historical Old Town Napa, where she shares a 116-year-old house with her husband, their cat Sophia, and a resident spirit named Genevieve.
As a writer I study the masters to perfect my skills. There are lots and lots of things you can do to become a better writer, but nothing trumps that. After years of reading the best fiction out there, I can name three things those bestselling authors have in common, regardless of their genre. They are all great storytellers, they all have a highly developed sense of imagination, and they all create characters we can relate to.
Think Stephen King. He is a master of all three, and because of that he is a legend in his own time. Think Donna Tartt and her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Goldfinch. Despite all the varying opinions about her book, I love every word of it. It is art unfolded to me, like an Andy Warhol painting in its reflection of an unsettling societal picture, unraveled in a pure genius fashion.
Steven King’s use of imagination may be more flamboyant than the stark truth of what we experience with Theo’s point of view in The Goldfinch, until you consider how Tartt unraveled her entire story through the eyes of an adolescent boy. And like King, she manages to draw us into her characters by causing us to identify with them. That my friends, opens the door for the character’s world to become our world; their stakes in the game become our stakes in the game.
My books have been categorized as character driven suspense novels. They all have a central theme revolving around something puzzling that the main character is desperate to solve. People often ask which novel is my favorite, and the truth is that I love each of them for different reasons, based on the unique triumphs and challenges I had while writing them. I will say that for whatever reason, the first novel (Benjamin) seems to be a fan favorite. It also won an award as a manuscript. Somehow the pages are sprinkled with an extra scoop of magic, which is that elusive part of fiction we don’t realize we’ve created until our readers tell us. It is what makes readers think about the book long after the last page is read.
My main motivation for writing is how we as people view ourselves, and our world; how we solve personal challenges; how we grow as individuals. My settings are inspired by places I have lived or traveled to, because that’s what moves me emotionally and spiritually. I firmly believe that reading should engage all of your senses and knowledge about the world to date, and then it should mess with that. A good book should make you wonder, ponder, examine, doubt, fear, laugh, cry. A good book should deconstruct and reconstruct you on some level. It should be emotionally and intellectually comparable to the best ride you laid your ticket down on at the fair.
At one point I had a New York agent who encouraged me to get a resume of short fiction published while he worked on selling the books. So I began writing short stories and sending them off to anthologies soliciting submissions for their particular theme. Soon I was published in quite a few of them. This all happened during a time of tremendous change in the publishing industry. Self-publishing had come into being, and all types of boutique publishers appeared on the scene. Pieces of the publishing world fell out of neat order and into temporary chaos. My New York agent retired just as my personal world became equally chaotic.
For the next few years I ran the graphic art department at a private college where I also taught art and literature. When the college closed for financial reasons, my career evolved into being senior editor for Possibility Publishing. We put out a few wonderfully creative books before realizing (like many boutique publishers) that turning passion into profit was not that easy. It was during that time in my career where I once again considered getting my own novels published.
Of the publishers that wanted my work, I chose Winter Goose, because I loved the books they were putting out. I have been very happy with my Winter Goose family and all that they represent, which is a lot of great poetry and imaginative, gut wrenching fiction. They have published not only all of my fiction novels to date (Benjamin, Journey, Olivia’s Ghost, and coming next spring, The Tutor), but also a collection of my short stories (Fractured Hearts). A synopsis of each book can be found on my website: https://kathrynmattingly.com/ and on my Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE
Living in Napa, CA has been the inspiration for my next novel, Katia, which will take place here in wine country. I currently work for the Enthusiasts department at CIA Copia in Historical Old Town. Copia is the public facing half of the California campus for the Culinary Institute of America. I check guest registration for classes, run the cameras in the studio during our interactive cooking demonstrations, and give educational tours of the architecturally stunning facility.
I am having a love affair with Napa, where I am lavishing myself with knowledge about wine, food, and art in this richly diverse and creatively lush environment. My hope is that I can somehow sprinkle the pages of ‘Katia’ with a little of the magic so generously bestowed upon this valley of the grapes.
Jackson and Olivia Porter's daughter Ava is thrown overboard during a squall on Puget Sound. In a flash of lightning Livy sees someone on a nearby boat pull something from the water. No one comes forward with their child nor do they recover a body, yet Livy clings to the belief their daughter was rescued. Jackson believes his wife is mentally unstable and falls into dysfunctions of his own. Their marriage is torn apart and Livy flees to the Oregon Coast, where she encounters a legendary ghost-child in the lighthouse manned by her father. She begins to wonder if Jackson is right about her mental instability as she bonds with the ghost, who has a message about Ava. It is as if the squall from nowhere came to reside within each of them, as life unfolds into nightmares of their own making.
Check out Kathryn's Amazon Author Page here!
Where to Buy Olivia's Ghost
10/24/2017 05:09:57 pm
Great article, Kathryn. Believe it or not, I was half-way through Journey when I lost the book. Frustrated, I could not find it anywhere. Then magically, my toe struck something in the SUV, where it had become lodged under the seat. I was nearly impossible to wrench it out, but I did and am now 3/4th's through with it. I'll do a review for you on Amazon. So glad you keep writing and that you are safe from the horrific Napa and related fires.
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I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.