Welcome to this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest, Katherine Lampe, a versatile spec fiction author I met through Broad Universe. When she was twelve years old, Katherine was thrown out of Sunday School class by her minister father for advancing a symbolist interpretation of the story of the expulsion from Eden. This marked the beginning of her career as an Iconoclast, which she pursues on a daily basis by asking difficult questions until people run away in terror. As a writer, she is a staunch proponent of the Independent movement and is outspoken against the sexism, classism, and narcissism often found in traditional publishing. Her Caitlin Ross series of paranormal novels follow the adventures of a witch married to a shaman in Colorado, and explore problems ranging from abuse of power to dysfunctional families. The fifth in the series, The Cruel Mother, was released in September, 2013, and Katherine is currently working on the sixth, to be titled Demon Lover.
Part 2 @ Emily – Friday, October 11
Part 3 @ Sandra – Monday, October 14
Part 4 @ Vicki – Tuesday, October 15
Part 5 @ Terri – Wednesday, October 16
PART ONE: ABOUT YOU
When and why did you begin writing? I have a hard time remembering. It seems like something I’ve always done. My mom was an English teacher and my dad’s hobby was History, so we always had books around. I know I learned to read early, before I was five. And I have always loved words. My mom used to tell a story about me being two and watching some old TV vocabulary puzzle quiz show, and having all the answers. And I remember when I was bored, just pulling books off shelves. I’d hide under the piano and read. So it was a natural transition for me, to move from reading stories to writing them. But I guess I had to learn the alphabet first.
Tell us about your early works—what was the first thing you ever wrote? The first thing ever? Well, there was this poem about my grandmother I wrote in second grade or somewhere around there. My dad kept it in a folder on his desk for years. And in third grade, I think, we all did a book-making project, writing and illustrating a book, and binding it in cheesy cardboard covered with contact paper. I wrote a myth about the origins of the horse, based on Kipling’s Just So Stories; I was fond of them—still am. But the first major thing was an epic fantasy I wrote in a series of spiral notebooks the summer before I started high school. It was called Song of Peralynn or something like that, and it was a typical “innocent going on a quest that leads to self-discovery” kind of thing. I recall it with a kind of embarrassment, although in retrospect it had some things to recommend it. Lots of monsters, for example. And it won a writing prize at my school, although I think that was mainly because no one else entered in the same category. I think there’s still a copy in my mom’s attic somewhere. Hopefully, no one will ever dig it out.
When did you first consider yourself a professional writer? Not until about a year ago. I owe it to my friend, Stef, who suggested I make my books available on Smashwords because she wanted to read them. I’d been trying without success to go the traditional publishing route, and I decided, “What the heck?” Before that, I’d self-published a book of fairy tales for mature readers, Dragons of the Mind, but I’d never managed to sell a single story, let alone a novel. So when people asked me what I did and I told them I was a writer, and they followed it up with the inevitable question, “Oh, have you published anything?” I’d look down and say something like, “Oh, uh, I self-published a book, but, you know, I haven’t done anything real.”
Then one night my husband and I were at dinner, and the waitress asked me THE QUESTION, and I managed to say, “Yeah, I have a series of novels available for e reader, and I’m working on the print editions.” Because it all at once struck me that writing, telling stories, is what I do, better than I do anything; that I have skill at it and I’ve earned the right to call myself an author, not just a writer. And that I don’t need to be ashamed because no one in traditional publishing has validated me in that area. I can own my ability. Since then, although it’s been difficult to remember at times, given that there’s still such a stigma on Independent authors, I’ve considered writing my profession.
What books have most influenced your life? The Hobbit. I first read that in second grade. I told my brother I had hairy toes, and he said I must be a Hobbit. I asked him what a Hobbit was, and he told me to read the book and find out. So I did, and I thought it was the most amazing thing. But one funny thing—or maybe not so funny, considering I was only seven years old—was, it never occurred to me that Tolkien had invented Hobbits. I already had read a lot of folklore and fairy tales and stuff, so I knew that Wizards and Dwarves and the like had this-world roots. So I just assumed Hobbits were the same. I spent years, on and off, trying to find references to them somewhere else. Of course I never did. But that set the tone for how I have conducted my life ever since: I run across something that intrigues me, and I try to track it down. And, of course, it was the first novel-length fantasy I ever read, and it has influenced all the reading and writing choices I’ve made since.
What genre do you write? It’s so difficult to pin down genre these days, especially when you get into the fantastic realm. Epic Fantasy, sure; you see some sort of Hero’s Journey with a Good/Evil dichotomy and you can be pretty sure of the label. Hard Science Fiction is almost the same: look for alien worlds and lots of tech built around (hopefully) scientific extrapolation. But when you go outside those, everything gets all squoodged together. I mean, what’s a Zombie-Time Travel-Magical-Love Story? Do you call it Horror for the Zombies? Romance for the love story? If the Zombies and the Time Travel both have logical explanations, is it Science Fiction? Or is it Fantasy for the magic? I have this conversation with other authors all the time.
I consider my novel series paranormal for marketing purposes, because it deals with monsters and magic, and the characters’ relationships to both, in the world we know rather than another. However, it’s outside the lines of some typical paranormal works because it lacks vampires, werewolves, and that kind of thing. So I honestly don’t know. I’m approximating. I wish we could do away with the question of genre altogether, but I understand it has value for readers trying to predetermine whether or not they’ll like a particular work.
What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)? All my books are available in both print and electronic format.
Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Website: http://www.katherinelampe.com is my official website, but I actually am terrible at keeping it up. If anyone wants to take on web design, please contact me!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KELampe
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2707900.Katherine_Lampe
THE CRUEL MOTHER: When Caitlin Ross was fifteen, her mother had her committed to a mental institution in hopes of curing her of magic. After a sympathetic psychiatrist helped Caitlin secure her release, she left her family, and ever since she has kept as much distance between herself and them as possible.
But when her sister calls to tell Caitlin her mother is dying, she yearns for some kind of reconciliation and chooses to return to her childhood home. In Detroit, Caitlin runs into her former psychiatrist, who asks for her help with one of his patients, a troubled teenaged girl. Although Caitlin at first refuses to get involved, escalating family tensions drive her to visit the girl as an escape. Discovering the source of the girl’s problems will lead Caitlin into a world she’s only imagined, one that holds a startling revelation about her own origins.