Thursday, May 30, 2013

Author Interview: Kristen Houghton

I sat down recently with Kristen Houghton after I read her novella, Welcome to Hell. I followed her columns in the Huffington Post and and relate to many of the women's issues that are her favorite topic. Some of you may not know that Kristen writes wicked satire, although if you read my book review of Welcome to Hell, you'd know she is a wickedly funny satirist, albeit with a streak of dark humor. I asked Kristen to introduce herself.

I was always a story-teller and that’s what writers do; we tell stories. I was the little girl who could keep her friends interested for a couple of hours by telling all different types of stories. My imagination was, and is, very fertile and active. In high school I created a sort of soap opera and each day during study hall I would hand out the next part of the story. I made sure to always leave a cliffhanger of sorts with each new part to stir up anticipation. 

I just completed the  first book in my new Catherine Harlow, Private Investigator mystery series.  The book is already copyrighted and in pre-publication. I love my characters and truthfully the story seemed to tell itself. It was a very satisfying writing experience and I will be continuing the series. 

Surprisingly, since I am not this way in some other areas of my life, I am a very organized writer. I like to write beginnings, middles, and endings in my stories in that order. This gives me a story timeline and lets me get inside the minds of my characters as if I am going through what is happening to them. Let's say that everything is going along smoothly in the beginning of the story and then something unexpected or traumatic happens, how does that impact one or more characters and how do they react? But I do sometimes write endings or future parts of a story if an idea comes to me.  My filing system on my computer is well-labeled with stories, story ideas, and articles.

Before we learn about your latest work, can you tell us the last two exciting places you visited? Why did you pick these destinations?

Ah, exciting places! Yes, I would love to tell you about those. My husband and I are scuba divers so we try to go on a dive once a year. Last year we dove in the Bahamas from the island of Exuma. This dive was especially beautiful and serene. 

My second exciting destination was in Miami. I was there for a magazine meeting; I had never been to Miami. Everything was fast-paced but there was a feeling of being laid-back too. So different from my home in NYC!

Now, let’s get to your novella. It’s not your first book, so please let our readers know about your others. 

My very first book, published by GPP Life Press, a self-help book for women called  And Then I'll Be Happy! It was launched in December 2009 and its success was a nice Christmas present. My second book is No Woman Diets Alone-There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut. There were twenty-six essays on relationship humor and it did very well. I've also written short horror stories that have appeared in the print anthology books, The Horror Zine.

Welcome to Hell is part black humor, part satire, part morality play. What gave you the idea to put a skeptic in hell and have him deny his new reality? 

      Teddy likes to deal in reality and his idea of Hell was the fire and brimstone version. Arriving in a place that looks like a Caribbean resort and with a host who looks nothing like his idea of the Devil, makes him deny the truth of what they say is really Hell. Plus, I think there are times when, even though we know something is true, our fear makes us deny it. That's Teddy's dilemma.

How in the world did you get from writing about women’s issues for The Huffington Post to writing about a man in hell? Is there a secret message for men here?

Well, I love writing about women's issues but those issues are real, current, and what women experience. For those I deal with facts.

The fiction I love to write, gives me more leeway and creative freedom. There really wasn't a message for men there. I related to Teddy and writing about a man in this type of situation just seemed more comfortable for me. The author Anne Rice  often writes in the voice of her male characters and it seems natural and works well.

What are the last three books you read and why did you choose them? 

      I love reading and don't get to read as much as I would like. I read Inferno by Dan  
      Brown, because I enjoy his character Robert Langdon and because it references
      Dante's Divine Comedy, which I have always loved. I also read Sara Paretsky's V.I.
      Warshowski novel, Breakdown. Two weeks ago I finished reading your debut
      novel Mad Max: Unintended Consequences which was thoroughly enjoyable and
      currently I am reading The Associate by John Grisham, an author whose work I've
      been reading since his first novel, A Time to Kill.

What haven’t I covered that you’d like to add?

Relating to other people is a plus for me as a writer. People, even complete strangers, talk to me and tell me things about their lives.  I can take something they tell me that may seem simplistic to them and embellish it to make it an interesting and readable story. I did that with an incident that happened to a couple on their way to my friend’s wedding. I turned what I was told into a horror story which is in the just released anthology book, The HorrorZine.   The couple was pleasantly surprised and the story received rave reviews.

Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your time and insights with us. And for the shout-out for Mad Max Unintended Consequences. I don't know about the rest of you out there in Social Media Land, but I can't wait to read Catherine Harlow, Private Investigator. Stay tuned to this blog for a future review of No Woman Diets Alone.

No comments:

Post a Comment