Author Interview with Susan Kite
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Author Interview with Susan Kite

interviewed on Jan 11, 2020Yukon, Oklahoma, USA
Being an Army brat has the advantage of seeing many different places in one's lifetime. Ms. Kite may have been born in Camp Atterbury, Indiana, but she grew up in Alaska, Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois, Germany, and Utah. After learning to read, her favorite place after any move was the post or school library, reading the works of many contemporary adult and young adult authors. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees at Utah State University and spent 35 years as a school librarian, most of that time in East Tennessee. Yukon, Oklahoma is her current address.

She has two grown children and seven grandchildren. She and her husband have a very opinionated Chiweenie terrier and an energetic young cat.

She has written five young adult fiction books, the latest is Realms of the Cat, a fantasy. There are several other books and a long short story under contract with three different publishers.
Q. You've spent thirty-five years of your life as a school librarian. How did it feel to always be surrounded by books?
I wished I had more time to read all those books.
Q. When did your writing journey begin and what kind of writing did you start with?
I got serious in about 1990. I tried to write some mainstream stories, but found greater success writing fan-fiction stories in several different fandoms.
Q. How did the idea of writing your first book "My House of Dreams" come? And what is the book about?
I was part of a Zorro group at the unveiling of Guy Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We visited the Mission San Luis Rey in California. I was fascinated with the history. The priest in My House of Dreams, Antonio Peyri, was a real person, but the Native American characters were created from my research. I wanted to explore how this invasion might affect a native boy who only wanted to live as his people had lived for hundreds of years. And, of course, the priest felt it his duty to convert the Indians. I tried to be fair to both sides without overlooking how devastating this all was to the California Indians.
Q. Your science-fiction novel, "The Mendel Experiment", was published in April, 2015. What is the storyline?
Mendel is a place rich in resource, but deadly to humans. So scientists create genetically modified children who will get those resources for the Federation. The young people are sent to various Mendel habitats without a memory of their creation to adapt to their surroundings. As the memories return to Corree and her fellow mutants, she balks at blindly following the directives of the Federation. Complications arise when a group of aliens capture Corree and her companion, Ris. They are taken to the alien world where they find that all they had been told about these aliens is not totally true.
Q. What was your thought process while creating the fictional world of Mendel, and the characters?
I wanted something somewhat familiar to the reader so I could concentrate on the characters. While there are differences, Corree's rain forest has similarities to our rain forests. Ris's mountains have similarities to mountains on Earth and so on. I wanted Corree and her friends to have some of the same feelings the readers might have--frustration, fear, anger, despair--while being able to rise above the problems and issues that are set on an exotic world. I wanted those reading the stories to empathize with and like Corree.
Q. What are the characteristics or special powers of your main protagonist, Corree? What other characters of the book play an important part in the story? Tell us about them.
Corree has been created to adapt to various habitats. However, her abilities far exceed what her creator, Windemere, had in mind for her. She can think independently, she loves her new home and she and the others want to be free. Probably the other very important character is Greelon, the Ologrian. The Federation considers them pure evil, something competing for the resources of Mendel, but Corree finds out differently and finds in Greelon a kind of father figure.
Q. Where does the story lead to, in the second sequel "Blue Fire"?
Blue Fire delves into the issue of free will, or the lack of it. Corree and her friends are determined to be free on their adopted planet, while the government wants them to provide the resources they created these mutants to get for them. Jeron plays a role in Corree's growth as well, as a human in total sympathy with her plight. And there is also the way the scientists continue to manipulate human beings.
Q. Does the story end in book number three "Power Stone of Alogol: The Mendel Experiment"? Or are you planning to write book four as well in this series?
I have actually written a fourth book, but it needs a great deal of work. It is set entirely on Mendel.
Q. "Realms of the Cat" is your latest, which is a Children's fiction book. Tell us more about it.
Realms came about as part of a challenge in a writer's group I belong to. The meeting of TB with Rex at the beginning was the answer to that challenge and then it just continued from there. I had written what would now be considered a prequel about TB a long time ago and on a much younger level. TB was actually based on a real pet I once owned. The name came from the fact that he liked to attack and bite toes when he was a kitten--hence the name Toe Biter, or TB for short. When I started writing this tale of TB crossing into an alternate universe to save his former human, I decided to use other former pets as his sidekicks. Butch, the dog, Charlie the crow, and Melvin the cat were based (very loosely) on pets. All pets have different personalities and I used some of those personality traits. Even the little girl and her brother were based on my children even though they didn't have a lot of 'air' time.
Q. Where do your book ideas come from, and how do you choose the title and characters?
Realms of the Cat was originally called Portals, but the publisher said the title was too close to another book she had published. The name Mendel was based on the scientist Gregor Mendel who did experiments on genetics. The idea for Corree came from a dream I had one night--of flying. Mendel came from that. Some ideas come to me from reading, some from things I remember from my childhood. I did watch a a lot of TV back in the day! The choice of the title for My House of Dreams was a wild experience. I had the story written but no title. Then I did more research and found a lexicon of the Luiseño Indians. I actually found out that the word 'noki' (who was the main character) was a real Luiseño word. It meant my house. I immediately had my title, referring to Noki and Fr. Peyri.
Q. From the day you start writing a book, to finally publishing it, tell us about your thought process through the writing journey.
Drafting is easy, then I usually go through it several times. Most of these stories have gone through edits in writers' critique groups. My publisher had editors who work with me and when they send me the manuscript with proposed changes I go through every word again and not just the suggestions. It's nerve-wracking. What is even worse is the strategy to market the books. That's the hard part--after the book is published.
Q. Would you like to share a few of your favorite lines, from any of your books?
Probably my favorite is the last line from Realms of the Cat. "They walked side by side, king and queen, but for the moment, TB felt like a regular cat with a superior life."
Q. Is there a message that you want to convey through your books that can get the readers thinking?
That anyone can be a hero. They don't have to be mutants or superheroes. Melvin was an old fat cat, but he stepped up and did his best to help the others save the little girl. The other message would be team-work. We can all do wonderful things together.
Q. What genres do you enjoy the most- both for writing and reading?
Science fiction and fantasy, but I enjoy historical fiction and I like to read well written non-fiction.
Q. What other books are you currently writing and what stage are they at?
I have an award winning story, The Legend of Billy Bob Flybottom being developed as an early chapter book with illustrations. It is a tall tale. It is tentatively scheduled for publication in a year. I have another young adult science fiction awaiting editing. A novelette has been accepted in a 100 year celebration of Zorro anthology. Other stories are either being critiqued or drafted. they are mainly science fiction.
Q. What else do you like to do apart from writing?
And reading? A good writer has to be a good reader. When not writing or reading, I sometimes like to embroider ornaments. I swim as much as I can--great exercise.
Q. Tell us about some interesting or memorable incidents from your life.
I got to go to the Holy Land on my 16th birthday. It was a Christmas present, too, as I was gone during Christmas that year (1968). A great big group of us on a British student tour group.
Q. As the daughter of an Army officer who has travelled to a lot of new places through her childhood, what did you like or dislike about this lifestyle? Did all this influence your writing?
Definitely influenced my writing. It made me curious about other places and, I think, it made me more open-minded about other cultures as well. I didn't like the actual moves as I got older, but it was exciting when I was little.
Q. What role has your family played in your writing career?
They encourage me immensely and are always in line to get my next book!
Q. Do you remember the first story or poem you ever wrote? Tell us about it.
The first story I wrote that I still have was a short story from Gollum's point of view (The Lord of the Rings). I wrote several poems in high school that got me an A.
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Social Media. I am still learning all the nuances of that.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
A good story, good publicity, and a striking cover. Books are definitely judged by their covers.
Q. What’s the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
When someone said that my writing reminded them of Andre Norton's. Another was a person who said they cried near the end of Realms. That told me that TB struck a chord with the reader. Then they said they were so happy when they got to the last chapter. Also when someone says, "When's the next one coming out?"
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
At least you said three, although I could easily do a dozen.
Dragonsong trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. It is magical when Menolly finds the lizards and they bond.Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner. Skippyjon has so much imagination and can do amazing things in the confines of one closet.
Recent find? Benevolence by Patricia Crumpler. I love that one because the characters, although deformed, have real emotions, desires, and ambitions and the main character learns to overlook the flaws.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
Andre Norton- she was successful at a time when Science Fiction was dominated by men. (Hence her name change)
C.S. Lewis- He had fantastic characters, beautiful settings, and the plots were simple and complicated at the same time.
Bill Peet- He had a dream to be a storybook author/illustrator and quit Disney to make it happen. I don't even know how many books he ultimately published, but he fulfilled his dream.
Q. Tell us about your publishing journey and how did you choose your publisher?
A friend in my writer's group suggested his publisher. I wrote to her, sent her Mendel and she accepted that. My future children's book came by looking in the internet for publishers near where I am living now. She accepted Billy Bob.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what’s the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
Even if you don't have tech savvy, you have to know how to travel the marketing journey. The idea that there are so many opportunities out there these days to publish is wonderful, but getting the stories into people's hands is harder.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
Sounds like a great idea to me!
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Keep writing and certainly keep reading!! Join writers/critique groups. Write, write, write.

Comments (3)

  • Congratulations! I loved reading your interview, and am definitely eyeing your "The Mendel Experiment" series!

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  • You've been around books for such a long time in your life! I just wish I could also experience that, without having to worry about doing anything else!

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  • By the way, I love Sci-Fi! :)

    1Click to view who liked . Reply
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About the author
Ms. Kite began seriously writing thirty years ago. Fan-fiction was her first focus. Her published young adult novels include My House of Dreams (historical), The Mendel Experiment trilogy, (The Mendel Experiment, Blue Fire, and Power Stone of Alogol); and Realms of the Cat (all four are speculative fiction). She worked in public school libraries for 35 years in Wyoming and Tennessee. Now retired, Ms. Kite lives in Yukon, Oklahoma.