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An Interview with Author Pamela Nowak

Pamela Nowak is an award-winning author of historical romance set in the American West. In 2021, Five Star Publishing released Never Let Go: Survival of the Lake Shetek Women, Pam’s debut in women’s historical fiction. The novel has been described as “[a] tale of bravery, sacrifice, and determination…rich with historical detail and a cast of unforgettable women who refused to accept their fate.” You’ll find Pam on her website PamelaNowak.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon author page.


When readers turn the last page of Never Let Go, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
I’m hopeful readers will feel a connection to the women who were involved in the incidents at Lake Shetek and recognize that each of them was uniquely empowered to navigate through all that happened to her. Too often, the raw facts of history fail to reveal what drove the individuals involved. I hope readers will laugh and cry and “feel” with these women.

What sparked the idea for the story?
Because the story is based on real events, I have to say history sparked the idea but the idea to focus on the women only has been with me, loosely, since I was an adolescent. I grew up just a few miles from Lake Shetek and learned about the historical facts when I was in grade school. Those events came alive when I toured the cabin sites along Lake Shetek at age eleven. Then in junior high, I took a class on Minnesota history and learned more. I even wrote three pages of a manuscript but tossed it because I had no original take that would make the story different from other fictionalized accounts. The history continued to intrigue me, shaping research projects in high school and in college.

Then I got married, raised a family, and started writing historical romance. But the story of the five women who survived the Lake Shetek events haunted me. Every time my hometown paper ran a story, it clambered for attention. In 2017, I made the decision to jump away from romance and follow the story.

How did the book come together?
When I made the decision to finally write it, I had a hefty amount of research material about the 1862 events already and the Minnesota Historical Society has a great digital collection — but there were several challenges. I needed to go through the primary and secondary accounts with a fine-tooth comb to reconcile the different recollections of the timeline of events. I also had to research the lives of each of the five women prior to 1862. Once the research was done, I had to craft individual personalities/goals and motivations/character arcs and fit that into the historical record that shaped the larger plot. And, because I had five protagonists, I had to generate five different voices within the novel.

In terms of a timeline, it took a year for the research and writing of the manuscript, then about three months for beta readers and final edits. With this book, because it was a different genre, I also spent nine months marketing it to agents and editors at larger publishing houses. In the end, the time period of the book proved problematic for them and I sold it to the publisher of my historical romances. It took about a year for the submission/contract/three-phase edits/ARC review process. That put me into the throes of COVID and a six-month delay in release.

Tell us about your main characters and why readers will connect with them.
There are five protagonists in Never Let Go: Laura Duley, Lavina Eastlick, Almena Hurd, Christina Koch, and Julia Wright. Each of the women had her own unique dreams for life and each had a journey westward that created hurdles in the way of her goals. When the Dakota attacked the isolated settlement, each woman had to dig deep to discover the power needed to emerge strong. I think readers will find a bit in each woman with which they can identify, and I’m hopeful I’ve done a good enough job with making the women real and emotionally accessible that readers will connect with all five.

Did what-if questions help shape this work?
What-ifs always help shape my work. To some extent, because the novel is based on real events, there is less room to play with what-ifs. But I still had to craft each woman’s motivations and character as well as to shape connecting scenes so, yes, exploration of possibilities was important.

What makes this novel unique in the historical fiction market?
It has five protagonists—not uncommon for epic novels, but most historicals center on one character. I also think that the book could have been classified as creative nonfiction due to the deep research behind it. Finally, because the fictional elements are so research-inspired and plausible, readers who are familiar with the actual events will likely not identify the fiction from the fact unless they are reading with that purpose.

What was the most rewarding aspect of putting the project together?
There were three huge rewards for me. The first was in seeing the women come to life the way they had lived in my mind for so long. The second was in my growth as a writer with this book. The third was in the reactions of Minnesotans who know the story and expressed their delight in experiencing the story emotionally rather than as dry fact.

Share a few surprising facts you discovered while doing research for the book.
As I reviewed the scholarly accounts, I learned researchers had made an error on the time events that began on the day of the attack. Secondary accounts were all off by two hours. I suspect that had to do with daylight savings time adjustments being made incorrectly and everyone else repeating the error. There were multiple references to sunrise, and it’s now very easy to look up historical times of sunrise online—something not available to earlier researchers. I also discovered that recollections about Across the River/Pawn (one of the Dakota involved) were largely shaped by bias and that there was nothing in the historical record to support him having tricked the settlers or even supported the attack.

For Never Let Go to work, what decisions did you have to make regarding historical figures or events?
The mid-nineteenth century was fraught with cultural bias. Those who wrote the history of the U.S.-Dakota War were shaped by those biases and by the emotions of having lived through the events. I knew this going in, but I made a conscious decision that I would use Julia as a viewpoint character to reveal information about the Dakota culture and tribal structure. For Laura, I stuck to her well-known prejudices. In this way, I hoped to both reflect the prejudices of the time and foster better understanding of the Dakota. I also had to make decisions about shaping Laura’s character to ensure she was sympathetic. This meant I couldn’t rely solely on primary account recollections about her because most of her contemporaries didn’t like her. I had to dig deeper to find the sources of the traits others saw as negative and draw out the positive traits others hadn’t seen.

Of all the books you’ve written, which one was the most challenging and which was the easiest (or most enjoyable) to write?
Every one of them has been both challenging and enjoyable, each in its own way. I’m always in love with my characters, their story, and the history I use. I’m always challenged by the push to improve my writing. But I think I’d have to say Never Let Go was the most challenging (because characterization had to be shaped around fact and scenes motivated to fit into real events) and the most enjoyable (because the story haunted me for so long) and easiest (because I had known the history for so long).

Looking back to the beginning of your writing/publishing career, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
That it’s okay to be frustrated because it means I’m learning and improving. If I’m not frustrated, then I’m not stretching myself as a writer.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m currently about one-quarter of the way through a manuscript centering on the Fool Soldiers, the group of young Lakota men who ransomed and returned the Lake Shetek captives. The research for their story has been fascinating, exploring what shaped these men and the untold stories of how they were treated after the rescue. My research into Lakota culture has brought rewards and new connections as I’ve touched base with some of the descendants of these men. My challenge is in telling their story as it should be told.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I love connecting with readers and am always up for both live and Zoom author appearances/library talks and book-club discussions. Much thanks to all who visited today to let me share! Please connect with me on my website or social media (Facebook/Twitter).


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author E. Joe Brown

E. Joe Brown is an award-winning author of novels, short stories, and memoirs whose work is featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His debut novel, A Cowboy’s Destiny (Artemesia Publishing, August 2022), is the first book in The Kelly Can Saga inspired by his grandfather’s stories about life on Oklahoma’s historic 101 Ranch. You’ll find Joe on his website EJoeBrown.com, on Facebook, and his Amazon author page.


What is at the heart of the story you tell in A Cowboy’s Destiny?
Circa 1917, a young cowboy in his late teens wants to chase his dream of becoming a “Top Hand” on the world famous 101 Ranch in northern Oklahoma.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
Combining some real happenings in my late grandfather’s life with the story I wanted to tell. My grandfather was a cowboy on the 101 as a teenager.

Who are your main characters, and why will readers connect with them?
Charlie Kelly is an ambitious young man with a strong desire to live by the cowboy code: “Your words your bond, your handshake is as good as a contract, and you’ve always got your buddies back.” Susan Kramer-Blackaby is a young, beautiful lady Charlie meets along the way. She’s also ambitious and has a mind of her own. She’s a strong-spirited young lady.

What part does your main setting play in the story?
The 101 Ranch becomes a character in the story as do several communities in Oklahoma before 1920.

How did the book come together?
During COVID I wrote the story and much more (about 400,000 words). At the same time, I was in discussions with Artemesia Publishing who became my publisher. We decided to go on contract in July 2021. We have worked together since then to release this first installment of Charlie Kelly’s story in August 2022.

What advice did your publisher give you in preparation for the release of your debut novel?
My publisher and I brainstormed several ideas on how I could enhance my chances at reaching a large readership. We agreed I should do the following:

  1. Create a Social Media presence utilizing active Web, Facebook, and Instagram sites to function as my primary communication tools. The Website functions as my hub. I have a social media professional working with/for me to insure I do things right.
  2. Develop a PR program to assist me in creating a brand. I have a professional publicist working with/for me.
  3. Use my short stories/memoirs as tools to acquaint more people with me. I have several already for sale on my website and my Amazon author page. I have a KDP publishing professional working with/for me. These eBooks have a wide variety of key words associated with them that help potential readers find me.

What was the most rewarding aspect of putting this project together?
I enjoy the storytelling/writing process.

Your writing takes several forms – short stories, novels, memoir, and songs. Is there one form you’re drawn to the most when you write?
I don’t know that I’m drawn to one stronger than the others, but I’ve been so fortunate to have many wonderful experiences in my life and I want to share them. So writing memoirs/short stories will always be something I will do.

How has the creativity and discipline you employ as a musician helped you in your writing journey?
You must do it. You can’t perform or create music just thinking about it. Practice – play – practice some more. Writing is the same. You must write – revise – and write some more.

What writing projects are you working on now?
Novel two of the Kelly Can Saga and some memoirs that will become eBooks.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Author Update 2022: Melody Groves

Author Melody Groves writes what she knows best: the Old West. In 2022, she released the sixth novel in her Colton Brothers Saga, Trail to Tin Town (Five Star Publishing), as well as the nonfiction book Before Billy the Kid: The Boy Behind the Legendary Outlaw (Two Dot Publishing). You’ll find Melody on MelodyGroves.net, Facebook, and her Amazon author page. Read more about Melody’s writing in her 2016, 2018, and 2021 interviews for SouthWest Writers.


What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in Trail to Tin Town?
The story is based on fact. I had to learn about herding cattle, but I enjoyed writing about each of the Colton brothers. I also enjoyed how they love each other and yet annoy each other—just like real brothers! And I loved writing the villain—it was a challenge to figure out how to make him more disgusting every day!

What other challenges did this work pose for you?
The biggest challenge was how much of the previous storylines from the other five books to include. Writing a series is always a challenge.

What was the inspiration for this sixth book in the Colton Brothers Saga?
Based on fact, California residents in the 1800s had been too busy mining for gold that they failed to raise beef. The last westward cattle drive occurred around 1895 from Arizona—they were going to transport the beef via railroad, but the railroad raised the price, so the cattlemen drove the herd themselves. I thought that was an interesting historical fact, plus I needed a story with all four brothers, thinking this might be their swansong, so to speak.

Which brother is the main point of view character in this installment?
This is James’ story—the second brother. The cattle drive was his idea and he’s always the one willing to try something new. He’s a risk taker but has so many demons. For him, simply surviving each day is an adventure. And in the past, things didn’t work out well for him, so I thought it was time to change that.

Why did you end the series with Trail to Tin Town?
Of course, never say…the end. There may be a seventh book, but I doubt it. My characters are ready to move on with their lives. It simply feels like the Saga is done. Their story is told.

Before Billy the Kid: The Boy Behind the Legendary Outlaw offers readers a new take on an Old West icon. How did you come up with the idea for the book?
I’ve been fascinated with Billy since I was a kid. I lived less than a mile from La Mesilla where he stood trial and I used to walk over to where he was tried (it was a bar when I was a kid and now it’s a gift shop). Even then I was mesmerized by this “outlaw” who was wronged in so many ways. I have numerous other connections to him and, even though he’s been written about hundreds of times, I had to put in my two cents. Plus, when I pitched the idea to an editor, she said, “Billy sells.”

Why do you think people continue to be fascinated with Billy the Kid more than 140 years after his death?
Billy is good for tourism. His infamy brings in millions of dollars. But also because he was such a kid with an interesting personality. And there’s enough mystique about him still and endless possibilities which make people wonder.

What was your most surprising discovery regarding Billy the Kid’s life?
Thinking about how, as a kid of 12 or 13, he would have felt to have a stepfather enter his life. Was he pleased, resentful, afraid, overjoyed? I was also surprised to discover he played harmonica. And that he was born in 1861, not 1859 as has been widely believed.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
My favorite part was connecting the dots. I think I’ve come up with why younger brother Joe had the middle name Bonney; why the Mom moved to Indianapolis; how they moved from Denver to Santa Fe to Silver City; why Billy chose to stay in Ft. Sumner when he knew Sheriff Pat Garrett was close by. And I think being a woman helped me truly “feel” Billy instead of simply looking at the facts.

With eight fiction and five nonfiction titles, you have a great track record for finding traditional publishers to take on your book projects, especially since you don’t have an agent. What’s your secret?
My secret? Being in the right place at the right time. And going to meetings and conventions. I credit SouthWest Writers and especially Western Writers of America for presenting me the opportunities to meet editors. The trick is to do your best and work well with these editors—a book is a team effort.

What do you consider the most essential elements of a well-written novel? How do these elements differ for a nonfiction book?
A well-written novel is all about character. Yes, a plot is nice, but it’s all about character. The more in-depth the writer gets into what makes a character tick, the better the novel. If a reader can’t relate to a character, especially one who’s only two-dimensional, then the reader will put down the book.

Nonfiction, I’ve learned, needs to contain information that is new and yet relatable to the reader. And yes, the characters, even though they’re real, need to be multi-faceted. Good writing is good writing, whether it’s fiction or not.

What is the most difficult aspect of writing historical fiction?
Putting my characters in events that really did happen. I’ve had to change timelines and even character ages, etc., to match with a historical event.

What writing projects are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on two novels—a third book in the She Was Sheriff series, and the beginning of a series about a guy in Texas who wants to be a more successful outlaw than the James Brothers. I’m also doing several magazine articles.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I’m incredibly grateful and indebted to the people who’ve helped me along the way to achieve my dream of being a professional writer. We’re all in this life together and it doesn’t take much effort to help someone else.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Author Update 2022: Chuck Greaves

Former attorney Chuck Greaves is the award-winning author of four books in the Jack MacTaggart series of legal mysteries. Writing as C. Joseph Greaves, he has also authored three standalone literary fiction novels. His newest MacTaggart release, The Chimera Club (Tallow Lane Books, May 2022), presents the newest case for main character Jack who one reviewer calls “a man with the talents and ethics of Clarence Darrow combined with the charm and mischief of Jack Sparrow.” You’ll find Chuck at ChuckGreaves.com, on Facebook, and on his Amazon author page. Read more about Chuck’s writing in his 2016 and 2019 interviews for SouthWest Writers.


What is your elevator pitch for The Chimera Club?
When film producer Ari Goldstone is murdered in Los Angeles, the DNA evidence points to only one possible suspect: disgraced financier Jimmy Kwan. Except that Kwan was seven thousand miles away in Hong Kong on the night of the murder. Hired by Kwan’s daughter to defend her father, attorney Jack MacTaggart must first solve an even more urgent mystery – how to stay alive long enough to bring the real killer to justice.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
As a former L.A. trial lawyer, the procedural aspects of writing a legal thriller like The Chimera Club come naturally and don’t usually require much in the way of research on my part. This novel, however, required quite a bit of research into DNA evidence, how it works, and how it might be challenged. Then, of course, came the secondary challenge of presenting that information to the reader in a way that’s both understandable and compelling, all without slowing the story’s forward momentum.

Tell us how the book came together.
Unlike most of my novels – this is number seven – this one began with a very high-concept ending that, unfortunately, I can’t really describe here without ruining the surprise. Suffice it to say that, with that ending in mind, the writing process involved creating compelling characters and confecting a propulsive plot that would lead readers to that inevitable conclusion. For me, this was the opposite of how I usually work. In most of my MacTaggart novels – this is the fourth – I begin with a milieu into which I toss Jack and follow along with him as he muddles his way to an ending that I might not necessarily know myself until we get there, together. In the case of The Chimera Club, it took me two years to arrive, but I always knew where I was heading.

With this fourth novel in the Jack MacTaggart series, did your protagonist still surprise you as you wrote his story? How would Jack’s friends describe him? How about his enemies?
Jack is such a likeable guy that I think even his enemies would have to concede that he’s pretty good company. Good for a laugh, in any event. I’m not sure it surprised me, but Jack definitely falls in love this time around, with his client’s daughter, a former fashion model who, when the story opens, owns and operates the hottest nightclub in L.A. Jack usually maintains a certain emotional distance from the women in his life – that’s why he’s still single in his early forties – but this time he falls head-over-heels. Which in crime fiction is rarely a good idea.

When did you know Jack was a strong enough character to carry a series?
From the jump. When we sold the debut novel Hush Money to St. Martin’s Minotaur, they recognized Jack as a strong series character, and we never had to pitch them. Which is a good thing because Jack is basically me – or a smarter, funnier, better-looking version of me – and I’d hate to be writing anyone else.

What is the main setting of The Chimera Club, and why is it the best place for the story to unfold?
Great question because, as I mentioned earlier, I started with an ending and could have set the story literally anywhere. Well, anywhere in L.A., given Jack’s backstory and history. Why I chose Chinatown is a bit of a mystery even to me – how do these things happen, anyway? Maybe blame Jake Gittes. I guess it began with Jack’s love interest, a Eurasian beauty whose father, Jack’s client, is a disgraced hedge fund manager known, since his conviction a decade earlier, as the Chinese Bernie Madoff. I needed Jimmy Kwan to be a felon because, for the story to work, his DNA had to be on file with the authorities when film producer Ari Goldstone is murdered in Los Angeles. And one thing led to another, as these things will do.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
Returning to Jack. The first three MacTaggart novels – Hush Money (2012), Green-eyed Lady (2013), and The Last Heir (2014) – are now eight years old. In the interim, writing as C. Joseph Greaves, I expanded into literary fiction with my titles Tom & Lucky (Bloomsbury), a Wall Street Journal “Best Books of 2015” selection and a finalist for the Harper Lee Prize, and Church of the Graveyard Saints (Torrey House), which was the six-city “Four Corners/One Book” community reading selection for 2019-2020. So returning to Jack, my first-ever literary creation, was its own reward.

You began your fiction writing career later in life. What did your mature self bring to the writing table that your younger self never could have?
I don’t think I could’ve written a credible legal thriller without having practiced law for as long as I did. Not, at least, without a lot of research and effort (kudos here to Michael Connelly). So there’s that. Also, I like to think Jack brings a certain world-weary philosophy to the MacTaggart novels, and those calluses are earned. Not to mention the discipline required to write seven novels in fifteen years. And finally, fairly or not, the writing life is infinitely more accessible to those with some savings in the bank, at least at the outset.

In your SWW 2016 interview, you mentioned the possibility of writing a “madcap caper novel” with author Deborah Coonts using her Lucky O’Toole character and your Jack MacTaggart. Have you two made progress on the book? And in your 2019 interview you talked about collaborating with a TV director on a possible cable series set in the Southwest. How is that project coming along?
Funny, I ran into Deb not long ago, up in Crested Butte, Colorado in October, when we both were speakers at their annual crime writers’ conference. Unfortunately, the Jack MacTaggart-Lucky O’Toole mashup never got off the ground, although I still think it would be fun to write, since we have similar senses of humor (which is to say, offbeat). The TV pilot, on the other hand, did come to fruition. Director Felix Alcala (ER, The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Madam Secretary, etc.) and I raised around $700K to film the pilot episode from my original script. We shot it in 2020, mostly in Mancos, Colorado, during the worst of the Covid pandemic (fun!), and are still looking for a distributor. If you think traditional publishing is a tough gig, try Hollywood. It’s been a real slog.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Only that The Chimera Club, the fourth installment in my Jack MacTaggart series of legal mysteries, is now available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook, wherever books are sold. Oh, and it’s a perfect beach read. “MacTaggart is full of awesome.” – Library Journal


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy has a new speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Author Update: Avraham Shama

Avraham Shama is an award-winning nonfiction author who specializes in the Russian economy and in the spread of new technologies. His newest release, Cyberwars — David Knight Goes To Moscow (3rd Coast Books, May 2022), is a work of fiction based on true events that one reviewer calls “a thriller reminiscent of Cold War spy novels.” You’ll find Avi on his Amazon author page. Read more about Avi’s writing in his SWW 2017 interview.


What would you like readers to know about the story you tell in Cyberwars — David Knight Goes to Moscow?
The novel is about a New York University professor named David Knight who experiences a breakdown in 1999 after he is fired by his wife and by his employer. David moves to New Mexico to hide and repair his life at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque. Unexpectedly, he falls in love with a young Latina professor at UNM, and the C.I.A. sends him to Moscow to spy on the Russian economy. In Moscow, he accidentally discovers that Russia is preparing for a cyber war against the U.S. Upon his return home, he mobilizes the Agency to begin a counter cybersecurity program to defend his country. In the process, he redeems himself and deepens his New Mexico roots.

The novel is also a tender love story across the Hispanic and Anglo cultures, as well as about an unexpected transformation of David Knight to a patriot. The book is meant for ordinary people like you and me, interested in what is happening to the security of the U.S. and in what could happen to them in view of the Russian threat. It is also intended for readers who like reading about impossible love, and about self-redemption.

What unique challenges did this novel pose for you?
The novel is a work of fiction based on true events. My overall challenge was how much to reveal and still protect my sources. On the other hand, this format allowed me to take certain liberties in portraying the dangers of Russia’s cyber espionage.

What sparked the story idea for the book?
My work in Russia began in1988 and continued for many years during which I came to know many things about the country. But I did not think to write this book until years later. My motivation to write this book was wanting readers to know how President Vladimir Putin decided to invest in cyber weapons in 1999, how he later used these weapons to interfere with the U.S. presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, and how now he is using cyber weapons in his war on Ukraine, in addition to conventional arms. I also wanted to assure readers that, with the help of protagonist David Knight, the U.S. has developed its own cyber technology to counter Russia.

How did the book come together?
The book took longer than an elephant pregnancy from conception to delivery. It was conceived in Albuquerque’s Flying Star restaurant on a leisurely Sunday afternoon over many cups of tea with my friend Robert Spiegel. Then came the planning: detailed outlines of plot, characters, locations, even mood and rhythm, followed by writing first and second drafts. While writing the drafts, I began sending query letters to potential publishers. Then it was time to show the draft novel to five beta readers and incorporate their comments into the next draft. 3rd Coast Books offered me a contract, and the cycle of editing and rewriting started all over again until the novel was published recently and became available at Albuquerque’s Organic Bookstore, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Altogether, from start to finish, this novel took two elephant pregnancies.

Who are the main characters, and why will readers connect with them?
My main protagonists are ordinary people like you and me confronting extraordinary situations. Different readers are likely to identify with different characters. My characters include:

David Knight: A young, brilliant NYU economics professor, David plays by the rules but has zero experience in espionage. He is about to be promoted, when NYU and his wife fire him, resulting in his nervous breakdown. David moves to Albuquerque to rebuild himself, but instead, falls in love, and the CIA hires him to spy on Russia’s economy. In Moscow, he is constantly under surveillance and his translator, Alexa Abratova, seduces him. He doesn’t know how to handle these situations. Nevertheless, David obtains critical information about Russia’s plan to mount a cyber attack on the U.S. David mobilizes a U.S. counter-effort and, in the process, is transformed from a mild professor to a warrior who saves his country from the claws of the Russian Bear.

Alexa Abratova: Alexa is an ambitious Russian beauty recruited by the Russian Security to spy on David Knight and his country. She works at The Academy of the National Economy, hosting David. She is David’s translator. Alexa knows men and enters the U.S. through David’s pants. After arriving in the U.S., she breaks into the Albuquerque nuclear lab at Sandia National Laboratory to steal secrets, where David apprehends her. She agrees to spy for the U.S.

Toni Chavez: Toni is a young Latina. She grows up in the small, Hispanic community north of Santa Fe. As a child, she makes a painful transition from her Spanish heritage to a novel Anglo culture that paves her future. Toni has just taken her first job at UNM, where she meets David Knight and falls in love with him. She is an unintended trailblazer: first in her family to go to college, first Latina professor at UNM’s Political Science department.

Michael McDonald: Mid 40s. Mike has the deceptive appearance of a playboy, but he is smart and good at his craft. We meet him as a Sandia National Laboratory scientist who is invited by David to help with Alexa’s research. He is an antidote to Alexa. We later learn that he works for the Agency and is onto Alexa the spy from the moment she arrives in the U.S.

Yevgeny Turgov: Yevgeny is an old-school communist and Rector at the Academy, but everyone knows he is a leading member of the Communist Party, keeping tabs on everything. Yevgeny is unhappy with the widespread poverty brought by the economic restructuring. He expects the new Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, to make Russia great again.

Sasha Pachenko: A washed-out Russian scientist with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics who works in the secret city of Chelyabinsk. He is now taking management courses at the Academy in Moscow. Sasha is developing the use of big data that could destroy Russia’s enemies, including the U.S. He seeks David’s help to move to America in return for helping the U.S. against the Russian cyber threat.

What are the main settings in the novel, and how did you choose them?
This novel takes the readers to many fascinating places in New Mexico, Moscow, and New York, all dictated by plot. In Albuquerque the reader is introduced to life in academia at UNM and its Student Union, the Duck Pond, and to eateries like Los Quates, Paul’s Monterey Inn restaurant, the hiking trails in the foothills of Albuquerque, and the secret existence behind the tall fences of Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. In Santa Fe, the reader joins David in La Fonda bar to meet Sasha Pachenko and more. And in Antonito, David is introduced to life in the small Hispanic town where his girlfriend Toni grew up. In Moscow the reader experiences the Academy of the National Economy, stays in a Russian style Bed and Breakfast, visits the tourist sites, and inhales the special odor in the lobbies of many apartment towers. Other settings include New York City, where the reader gets a glimpse of life at NYU and in its faculty housing, not far from Washington Square, and dines out with David Knight and his colleagues in a real Italian restaurant.

When did you know you had taken the manuscript as far as it could go and that it was ready for publishing?
I have never felt that any of my six books (and more than fifty articles) were ever fully ready for publishing. There is such a finality to publishing that I am almost always reluctant to let go. As a result, I use a practical yardstick: when my writing is the best I can do for the moment and my publisher concurs, then I let go.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
By far the most rewarding part of writing and publishing this spy novel was the conception and planning stage, the part that began way before I put any word to paper. At that phase the novel was perfect, its plot flawless, its characters intriguing, and its narrative flowing.

Cyberwars: David Knight Goes to Moscow is a departure from your nonfiction work. Why did you choose to go in this direction?
I had written five books and numerous articles before this spy novel. They were mostly nonfiction, dictated by the mind and driven by facts, although my memoir, Finding Home: An immigrant Journey, and several of my short stories allowed me certain literary freedoms associated with writing fiction that I found pleasing. But Cyberwars is fiction based on true events. In this respect it is a departure from my other literary works. I chose this fiction route because it afforded me the privilege of creative writing, which I found liberating and appealing. There was another reason why this spy novel had to be written as fiction. Had I gone the nonfiction route, I could have harmed some of my sources, which I wouldn’t do.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




Author Update: Ed Lehner

Author Ed Lehner is a poet, novelist, and short story writer. His newest release is Grandpa’s Horse and Other Tales (AIA Publishing, March 2022), a collection of twelve short works. You’ll find Ed on Facebook and Twitter, and on his website ELehner.com. Read more about Ed and his writing in his SWW 2020 interview.


What do you want readers to know about Grandpa’s Horse and Other Tales?
While some short story collections have a central theme, this anthology is a mix of diverse topics including enhanced memoirs, mystery, and romance along with fanciful flights concerning Covid-19 and climate change.

How did the book come together?
I had all the stories written, and doing a collection had been in the back of my mind for a while. Once I made the decision and the commitment to do it, the book came together fairly quickly. However, I then went back editing and rewriting which took me several months. My publisher then agreed to review it and was eager to work with it. It then went to the editor who had the editing finished very quickly. Of course there was cover design and formatting. I would have to say the whole process took about a year overall.

I discovered AIA Publishing, a small operation headed by Tahlia Newland, when I was looking for an editor/publisher for The Awakening of Russell Henderson. I came across Tahlia’s name on the Alliance for Independent Author’s list of recommended services. She had good reviews as an editor and her costs were very reasonable. After having a great experience working with her on The Awakening, it was a no-brainer to send her Grandpa’s Horse and Other Tales. She sent the manuscript to Barbara Scott-Emmett, who lives in London, for appraisal. Barbara gave it her blessing. From there it went on to Katherine Kirk who lives in Ecuador for line editing. Tahlia’s daughter, Rose, designed the cover and did the formatting. I find it amazing that I had people from all over the world get this book into print (Tahlia lives in New South Wales, Australia.) The process was easy and seamless. Tahlia is amazing. She responds to my emails within twenty-four hours.

Tell us a little about each story in the collection.
“Grandpa’s Horse” ● A memoir piece that grew into an event I over-dramatized. I wrote this about the late John Stewart, his song “Mother Country,” and the crowd that watched a dying blind harness race driver do a last run around the track in his sulky, speaking to me of a time when people gathered for events whether contrived or spur of the moment.

“Library of the Occult” ● My first try at mystery. Once I got into it, it flowed easily to conclusion, totally fun to write. It was interesting to research London and try to emulate British dialogue. Watching a lot of stories on Brit Box helped. My editor was British and South African and found only one wording that wasn’t how an Englishman talks.

“A Man Called Thomas” ● Dystopian stories aren’t something I read, but with climate change in the forefront of our present time, I found this story easy to write. I see the population on this planet either unaware of or not wanting to make the minutest changes in their lifestyle to stem the heating of the planet. There are others who have no choice due to poverty or other circumstances. We seem to be unwilling and unable to solve a global problem that desperately needs fixing. This story is my personal rant.

“The Test” ● This short story came from an assignment in an online writing course…someone gets into a bad situation. What happens?

“The Anchor” ● Written for a contest in which we were given two images: canoes pulled up on a rocky shoreline and a lightning storm down a long, dark road bordered by tall hills. It was tough to get this one going, but in the end, surprisingly, it won second place.

“Katie” ● Part memoir of my childhood wanderings and a neighbor woman along with a fictional ending to the story.

“A Bottle of Dope and Shine” ● Another memoir piece, albeit, somewhat enhanced. I don’t know if the old boys playing cards were actually drinking moonshine. If they were, they didn’t offer me any. But the Coca-Cola part is honest truth.

“Starlight” ● I’ve always been fascinated by the deserts in the Four Corners (New Mexico) area. They have a magical mystique about them, so I wrote this about a damaged veteran suffering from PTSD and guilt who lives alone in the desert and is visited by a strange woman one night.

“Swinging on a Star” ● Written for a short story contest, and the Bing Crosby song jumped into my head. The setting is based on my in-laws’ beautiful home on their farm overlooking the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa.

“Becky and Richard” ● I was sitting on the patio at my favorite coffee shop a few years ago when two young adults sat down nearby. While I couldn’t hear their conversation, I could see them scoping out the tourists and knew they were doing some local criticism. The rest was from my imagination.

“The Ultimate Zoom” ● Having gotten on the Zoom train during Covid, I wondered what might happen if we could magically travel through time and space like on Star Wars or Star Trek…“Beam me up, Scotty.”

“Dana’s Story” ● This novelette came out of my second novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. I always felt that Russell’s wife, Dana, had a bigger story. So I gave her one. I thought it would be a short story, but she had a lot more to her tale, thus the novelette length.

Which story was the most challenging to write?
I would have to say that “Starlight” was my most challenging. It was one of the first stories I wrote and it was hard for me to keep it short and focused. Unlike a novel where there can be different situations and an ensemble of characters, I found it difficult to stay with only two and their immediate situation. Also, I found it difficult bringing it to an end without continuing it on into somewhere it didn’t need to go.

Who is your favorite character in the collection? Did any characters surprise you while you wrote their story?
Thomas from “A Man Called Thomas” would be my favorite character, I suppose because of his mysterious presence and his message. I was surprised at how feisty Emma, from “The Library of the Occult,” turned out to be.

Which story would you love to see play out in a movie?
It would be a toss-up between “A Man Called Thomas” and “Katie.” But I would have to go with “Katie” as it’s a story of coming of age, friendship, bigotry, and love.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
Strange as it might sound, going through these stories and doing the editing and rewriting was my favorite part. I liked revisiting what I had written with fresh eyes.

What are you most happy with, and what do you struggle with most, in your writing?
I am most happy when I am involved in a project. I wrote The Awakening of Russell Henderson (a 90,000-word novel) in less than three months. I was fortunate the story seemed to write itself. What I struggle with is when I have a good story going and it suddenly stalls, like a novel I’m 40,000 words into now. I have several avenues towards the end that I have written and am not happy with any of them.

Do you prefer the creating, editing, or research aspect of writing?
Obviously, I like creating the story, the characters, the plot, etc. I also find the editing to be rewarding as it gives me time to review, rewrite and renew as needed. However, it can become a bit tedious after so many edits. That’s when it needs to go to a professional. Research, when needed, is essential. Even though a story is fiction, it’s important to have the essential facts straight such as defining a location, a road, a geographic area. Some things a writer shouldn’t try to make up.

What typically comes first for you: a character, a scene, a story idea?
Any of the above can spur me into a story. I listen to a lot of music, and just a word or a lyric can send me into a story idea. I like to people watch and make up their stories in my mind. I think I have quite a catalog of different characters residing in my head.

Looking back to the beginning of your writing/publishing career, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
I wish I’d had more guidance in publishing. I decided to self-publish for a number of reasons and I made some big mistakes (and costly ones) with publishing my first book. I wish I had done more research. After that debacle, I discovered the Alliance of Independent Writers which turned out to be a great resource.

Do you have writing rituals or something you absolutely need in order to write?
Being a completely undisciplined person, I have no rituals or set times to write. When I’m in the process of a story, it’s constantly on my mind. When I wake up during the night, I’m lulled back to sleep with thinking about where the story might lead, various dialogue, or situations. I don’t write it down, but I always remember it the next morning. Even during my morning meditation, ideas will come. I’ll sit down during the day and get everything down. Weird, but it’s what I do.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I have several short stories underway as well as the above-mentioned novel. I would like to put together another anthology when I have enough material.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Thanks to SouthWest Writers for their great support for all the writers in our area of the world.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Edwin Light

Edwin Light is a classical pianist who makes his debut as an author with Growing Up in the Colonial (December 2021), a memoir of his childhood lived in the Colonial Hotel in Copperhill, Tennessee. One reviewer wrote: “Edwin Light lovingly evokes the personalities that populated his childhood growing up in the family hotel in 1940s and 1950s….[A]t its heart, this memoir is a tribute to Edwin’s mother and grandmother, the lessons they taught him, and the love they shared.”


Why did you write Growing Up in the Colonial, and who did you write it for?
Friends told me over the years that the stories I had shared with them were interesting and they should be written down. After all, not everyone grows up in a hotel. And, I wanted to preserve for me and my relatives our family history.

What prompted the push to begin the project?
About ten years ago in Santa Fe, I was teaching piano to my friend, Glynn Anderson, a retired English teacher at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I told her about my childhood experiences and she encouraged me to start writing my personal history. In a short time, we traded services: piano lessons in exchange for critiques.

Describe the Colonial Hotel and the place it holds in your heart.
The Colonial was and still is my home, even though the building is no longer standing. I fondly remember my seventeen years inside its walls: all the family gatherings at holiday times; waiting on tables in the dining room/greeting all the hotel guests who opened the world to me; a rat that disrupted a canasta party; my aunt’s suicide in the room next to mine; et cetera. The tug of home is undeniable. My mother and brother both died from Alzheimer’s disease; both begged to return to the Colonial and Copperhill, Tennessee in the last days of their lives.

Who is your favorite “character” in the memoir?
That would be my grandmother. Starting in 1913, when the Colonial was built, she prepared three meals a day for the guests and family while raising seven children, and she continued cooking meals through 1960. When her husband died in 1922, she became the proprietress of the Colonial and a single parent. When I came along in 1940, Grandma wrapped her arms around me too, and supported me in my endeavors. When she passed in 1971 near her 90th birthday, her descendants paid tribute to the matriarch who had brought comfort and joy and stability to our family for several generations.

Tell us more about the book and how it came together.
I began by scribbling a few stories. I had written, for English classes in high school and college, short compositions about my experiences and a few brief fictional pieces. Now I started thinking about writing a book for the first time. A daunting task! My friend, Glynn, whom I’ve already mentioned, nudged me onward. Over a five-year period, with many stops and starts, I penned a manuscript that skittered in many directions. That’s when I turned to several editors for help in taming my material. I knew I had content, but I also knew I needed to shape it. Three editors, all three here in New Mexico (two through SWW), gave me specific ways to deliver my story. I made numerous revisions. Thank you, editors. I learned, after the fact, that you need to establish in advance a budget for the publication of a book. Then I approached traditional publishers, but no interest was expressed with the exception of two editors who encouraged me to press on. One editor said, “Try self-publishing.” SWW guest online speaker Robin Cutler introduced me to self-publishing and to IngramSpark. I now have a contract with Ingram and through that company I connected with a book designer, Van-garde Imagery, that produced, much to my satisfaction, the cover of Growing Up.

Is there a scene or a story in your book that you’d love to see play out in a movie?
This story begins the week after my mother’s short honeymoon with her third husband, a boarder in our hotel. I was a high school senior at the time and I lived in the room adjacent to theirs with only a thin plasterboard wall between us. Mother and Bernard woke me up every night with the two of them arguing. Insecure Bernard (Grandma and I thought him to be unstable) insisted that mother, the Colonial’s manager, stop talking with the other men who lived in the hotel. Each night the tension mounted a little more until I heard mother say, “Bernard, where did you get a gun!” Bernard replied, “Now you’ll do what I tell you to do.” I panicked and couldn’t move. While begging Bernard to put the gun away, Mother must have been walking towards the door, because I heard her door open and close. I exhaled. She’d escaped his rage. The next day Bernard left the hotel without a gun, and soon after his brother placed him in a sanatorium. The marriage lasted less than two weeks.

What was your favorite part of putting this project together, and what was the most challenging?
I enjoyed writing the comical scenes, because I love making people laugh. Maintaining the chronology of the story often challenged me, even with family written records and tape recordings at hand. What’s the order in which things happened? And I couldn’t always remember the details of a scene. Sometimes though, after reflection, I returned to the situation as though standing in that space all over again. That was spooky.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Judy Willmore

Judy Willmore is a former reporter and private investigator who is now a practicing psychotherapist and astrologer. Her dream of publishing a novel came true in 2021 after years of writing and editing her first full-length fiction manuscript. Judy’s debut release, The Menagerie: Passion, Power, and Poison in the Court of the Sun King (Artemesia Publishing), is based on the Affair of the Poisons, a sensational criminal case of 17th-century France. You’ll find Judy on her website JudyWillmoreAuthor.com.


What is it about the Affair of the Poisons that fascinated you so much you based your first novel on it?
I was intrigued by scholars arguing for years: Did King Louis XIV’s mistress try to poison him? And did she or didn’t she have a black mass celebrated over her naked body? Somehow I just couldn’t believe it.

The Menagerie is more than historical fiction. How would you characterize the book?
The book describes a mystery that has captivated historians for many years. I considered making it nonfiction in order to show exactly how it happened. However, as I got into it, I needed to show why these real people behaved the way they did, especially the heroine.

Who are your main characters, and how did you develop them?
All the characters are real people described by multiple eyewitnesses of the events, except Sylvie. Athenais, the King’s mistress, is portrayed by her contemporaries as deeply flawed, frantically trying to keep the love of the King. However, I have her also seeking redemption. Nicolas de La Reynie, Lieutenant General of Police, acted as both investigator and judge, admired by his contemporaries, hated by the noble suspects. La Reynie struggles with his ideals as he is forced to withhold information from his fellow judges. King Louis XIV is obsessed with bedding any available female, a habit that makes him the proposed victim of an assassination plot, possibly instigated by Athenais. He wants her to be investigated, but in secret.

The book begins with Sylvie Dupont as a little girl who grows into a rather feisty embroiderer who finds herself in the middle of a murder plot. I had to create a character who was not a suspect, not a noble, who could tell the story from the inside of court.

Tell us how the book came together.
Writing the book took many years. I researched as I kept writing, through getting my bachelor’s degree then Master of Science in Psychology. Then life intervened with recovering from cancer and establishing a career as a therapist. Editing it down took more years. I had tons of information and way too many pages that had to be winnowed down into the basic plot. Finally I found Lisa McCoy, my editor, who recommended Geoff Habiger of Artemesia Press. Published at last!

What decisions did you have to make about including historical figures or events in order for The Menagerie to work?
There were actual people—fascinating characters worthy of their own books—that I had to cut out. There were so many suspects among the nobility that I had to narrow it down to who was absolutely essential to the plot. At one point, the book was 640 pages. I cut 200 pages so it would be marketable.

How did you choose the title?
Versailles still has the menagerie, albeit without live animals. I found that the courtiers, especially the women, were trapped, imprisoned by their fathers, their brothers, their husbands, and their desperation led to witchcraft and poison.

Any “Oh, wow!” moments while doing research for this book?
A big moment for me was discovering how the playwright Jean Racine was right in the middle of this. He must have known Athenais’ maid (a major suspect), and he was briefly a suspect himself. Racine, however, helped provide a moral core to the book.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing The Menagerie, and what was the most rewarding?
The most challenging part of writing the book was the rewrite, cutting it down by 200 pages. That took many months and many hard decisions. The most rewarding part by far was the actual writing, creating scenes and characters.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How do you feel about research?
I am a former private investigator, and I love research! But my favorite time is spent with my characters: when it flows, they are in the room with me, and I am taking dictation.

What advice do you have for beginning or discouraged writers?
Don’t give up! And try to find beta readers. I wish I had been able to find one earlier. It might have saved me a lot of time in rewrite.

What writing projects are you working on now?
I am writing a sequel about Sylvie called The Flight. She escapes Versailles’ menagerie and finds work at les Gobelins, the manufacturer of the beautiful furnishings of Versailles. Her dream job, but she is surrounded by Huguenots desperate to escape persecution.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author D. L. Parkhurst

D. L. Parkhurst was a horse owner/rider for decades before deciding to share her adventures in a memoir. Her debut release, Heart Horses: A Woman’s Journey (2021), is described as “a warm and gentle story of a woman discovering herself through the horses she raises and loves.” You’ll find Debra on Facebook and on her website DLParkhurstWrites.com.


What is your elevator pitch for Heart Horses?
A woman realizes her childhood dream of owning a horse, then finds herself challenged not only in equestrian sports, but in navigating life’s losses, surprises, and unexpected turns.

When readers turn the last page in the book, what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
I hope they’ve been entertained while gaining an understanding of some of the challenges and rewards of owning a horse, along with the tremendous responsibility it entails.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
This was my first published book. Trying to organize over sixty years of memories into a story was something I’d never tried before. It took determination to get everything down and go through the editing process. It also took a while for me to find my “voice” and I’m still developing it. I’m also an artist. Although I wanted to provide illustrations for the book, I felt very nervous about it, thinking my art wasn’t good enough. A friend helped give me the courage when she said, “This isn’t a book about your art. You’re using your art to help tell the story.” So I hope that my art conveys even more to the reader about my beloved horses.”

When did you know you wanted to write your memoir?
In addition to SouthWest Writers, I belong to a local Tulsa writing group and had been writing some short stories and scenes for them centered on my horses. Their feedback encouraged me to create this memoir. I had previously written a copious amount of sci-fi fan fiction but had not thought about publishing anything. The memoir seemed a simpler task — I found out that was not the case — than reinventing my fan fic world, which would be required since the main characters were not mine.

How did the book come together?
Between writing and painting, the memoir took about a year to complete. My terrific editor assisted me with development, as well as giving loads of encouragement. I chose to self-publish as an e-book and paperback on Amazon via KDP which was quite the learning experience. I felt like Thomas Edison discovering the five-hundredth way not to light a bulb by the time it was conquered.

The art was photographed and inserted fairly easily within the book, although how it appears in an e-book is dependent on whatever device the reader is using. The cover art was brilliantly done by a graphic artist friend of mine. She used photos of my horses to create silhouettes and then arranged them into the outline of a heart. The burnt sienna cover was created from a sampling of the youngest horse’s coat color.

Any “Oh, wow!” moments while doing research for the book?
It was very gratifying that my test audience enjoyed the story and gave useful feedback. My biggest shock was when I searched my fledgling manuscript for exclamation points and saw where I had unconsciously used five of them in one chapter. There were also several “Oh, ####!” moments when blotting up some watercolor paint that had traveled where I didn’t want it to go.

What was the most rewarding aspect of putting this project together?
Bringing my three horses, Hannah, Legacy, and Hy, into the present and sharing them with everyone who reads this book. Even now I can recall Hannah’s wonderful smell. I hope everyone who reads this will stop and sniff a horse’s neck the next time they have an opportunity.

What makes Heart Horses unique in the memoir market?
Not many people back in my day (before fire, you know) would have attempted horse sports with a Standardbred, which is a breed created for harness racing not riding. But as the world is learning, Standardbreds are multi-talented. Today, I see them performing in dressage, jumping, trail riding, and even as cow horses. People constantly comment on how these horses are willing-to-please. The other unique item in my book is that not many people have their third horse dropped on them in such a surprising way.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got my first negative reader comments about my fan fiction. Some people were unhappy with what a character had done. I was thrilled because it meant they cared. My characters were real enough to them to allow them to care.

What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I often find myself writing late at night or awakening early when a thought forces me to the keyboard. My tortoise-shell cat, Mystique, is a great comfort as she rubs against my arm or plops on the keyboard when I have paused to contemplate something. For her loyal companionship, I have given her credit in my book’s acknowledgement section.

You’re working on a science fiction novel. How did your experience writing nonfiction affect/benefit your fiction writing? Now that you’ve written fiction and nonfiction, do you have a preference?
They both have their interesting challenges. The memoir events actually happened, so there was little contriving a plot, only figuring out how best to piece it together, as well as what to include and what to leave out. The characters are all real, so I only reveal, not create, portions of their personalities.

The science fiction, although derived from many influences, comes from my imagination and often seems to tell itself as I write. But all the characters must be fashioned and built from scratch. I must ensure that the plot hooks together and that the characters remain true to themselves, among myriad other things.

I don’t know yet that I have a preference. Each is an exciting and sometimes even aggravating adventure. Writing the memoir was a learning experience that has informed some of the process of writing my science fiction novel and revealed things inherent in my writing style that I need to be on guard for when editing.

What writing projects are you working on now?
In addition to the sci-fi novel, I’ve also been thinking about writing a memoir of my adventures living in the country. There are many stories my husband and I lived through besides the ones involving horses including tornadoes, prairie fires, and a steak-stealing chicken.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




An Interview with Author Patricia Gable

Retired teacher Patricia Gable has written essays, memoirs, children’s stories, and hundreds of educational articles. A short story she entered in a 2005 contest morphed into her debut novel, The Right Address (November 2021), for middle grade readers. Visit Patricia’s author pages on Amazon and SouthWestWriters.com.


What is your elevator pitch for The Right Address?
Annie heard her foster parents arguing. She finds out they are sending her brother to a different foster home. This can’t happen! They need to stay together. So, in the middle of a snowy night, they sneak out and walk to the next town. Will they be recognized? What will they eat? Where will they sleep? Why is the tall man in the black coat watching them? So many questions, but the most important one: Will they find…The Right Address?

What challenges did this work pose for you?
For years, I have written short stories and educational articles. So, writing a novel was new for me. My revisions centered on adding more details, more emotion and developing well-rounded characters.

Who are your main characters, and why will readers connect with them?
The main characters are children. Annie is twelve years old. She is a responsible, bright, and a loving sister. Willie, her brother, six years old, is bold, funny and unafraid. Soon they meet Emma, the same age as Annie. When Emma learns of their dilemma, she wants to help them. The adventure begins.

What is the main setting? Why did you choose it as the backdrop for the story?
The main setting is a cozy unnamed town in the winter of 1985. When the children run away from their foster home, they walk all night and hide in an alley in this small town. I chose this setting because it felt comfortable, safe and far enough away for the runaway children. A winter storm adds drama and a little fun.

How did the book come together?
In 2005, I entered a 24-hour short story contest. The contest sponsor supplied the contestants with a short paragraph at the beginning of the 24 hours. The writer could change things in the paragraph, but it had to, in some way, be used in the story. That way the contestant was writing from scratch and not sending in a pre-written story. I earned an honorable mention in the contest and the story remained in the back of my mind. In 2021, I took a novel writing course and decided to turn that short story into a middle grade novel. The class started in April 2021, and I had a published novel in November 2021. The instructor of the novel writing class did the editing for an extra fee and the publisher was Booklocker, the same company that sponsored the short story contest in 2005. I worked with the company to design the cover. I used drawings from Dreamtime.com.

What makes this book unique in the middle-grade market?
The book is unique because it is not a fantasy, a horrifying mystery, or a futuristic tale. It’s a simple story of two siblings who are searching for a forever home. There is some tension, humor, and characters that care about each other.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing The Right Address?
For me, the most rewarding aspects were actually finishing the novel and when I held the book in my hands for the first time. I cried.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How do you feel about research?
My father was a writer (essays and poetry) and, from a young age, he encouraged me to learn new words. I enjoy creating and doing research, and I enjoy it when others do my editing because I learn things.


KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.




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