FRIDAY 14th SEPTEMBER 2012
I am delighted and honoured to be hosting an Author Interview with the fabulous Kathleen Shoop! So grab a cuppa and we will catch up with the amazing author…
After the Fog is the second novel by bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, garnered multiple awards in 2011 as did After the Fog in 2012. A former Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
Synopsis of After The Fog:
In the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 “killing smog,” headstrong nurse Rose Pavlesic tends to her family and neighbors. Efficient and precise, she’s created a life that reflects everything she missed growing up as an orphan. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from the love of her life, Henry, her dutiful children, and large extended family.
When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin? Will love be enough?
Hi Kathie, first of all, how do you organise your writing time?
The biggest thing I try to do to organize my time is to be sure that when my kids are at school that I’m writing. At times doctor appointments or something take precedence, but I found that if I try to just “run a little errand,” two hours is gone, I’m irritated by the grocery store and not in the mood to settle into writing. Walking is a big part of when I do my writing as well—lots of plot and character issues have been solved while I walk—I don’t look at that as taking away from my writing schedule—it’s part of it. I will also print out sections of my WIP for waiting in the carpool line or waiting rooms, etc. I try to use every second when I’m kid-free during the work-week to focus on my projects. These little snippits of time that I use in the carpool line are perfect to work out small revision issues.
Which Authors do you feel have influenced your writing?
Francine Prose, Sara Gruen, Geraldine Brooks, Steinbeck, and many many more. These are just some that I try to learn from again and again. Every writer I read teaches me something…
After the Fog was harder for me to write. This was because although it’s historical fiction it’s inspired by a true event and many people who lived through it are still alive, living right down the turnpike from me! With The Last Letter (set over a century ago) I was just as careful to be sure that every little historical thing in the book, could have happened—that it was, based on research as much as possible.
However there isn’t anyone to say, “but, Kathie, it happened this way, not that way…” With After the Fog there are readers who can say “I was there, it didn’t go that way.” That blocked me a little bit, caused me to rethink plot issues and town characterizations so that even if someone says, “No, that’s not right,” I can point to some bit of research (hopefully in the form of eye-witness accounts) that says, whatever it is, is possible.
I am so fortunate to have had the very generous gift of Donoran readers to help me sort through what just wasn’t working and then fix it.
Part of the difficulty in writing about 1948 is also the sanitized version of that era that many of us have in our minds. TV, the idea that the past is always nicer, more genteel, kinder, more mannered, cleaner, is not always so. Using family members, research, and interviews at the time of the fog (to help with crafting the gruff language patterns that sometimes shock modern day readers) I tried to go beyond the stereotypical society and people we all think we know.
My Rose—the main character—is a woman who worked out of the home her whole marriage. Both of my grandmothers did this—one was highly educated, the other wasn’t. But the way we talk about women in the work-place it’s as though women didn’t start working outside the home until 1975. Those are the things I tried to dig deeper into…those are things that fascinate me—ordinary people who are strong and embody unexpected, though possible, character traits.
Where is your best ‘writing space’; the place where you feel comfortably locked away from the world and able to let your creative juices flow?
I have four places—one is in my house—in the guest room, by a small window overlooking my back yard. I easily work there, but sometimes I can’t kick the “I should clean the kitchen voice,” that rises from below. At those times I head to my favorite coffee shop, Curbside Coffee, where people don’t really stop to talk if someone looks busy. It’s one town over so I don’t know as many people as when I try to work in town! The third is with my meditative writing group. We gather in a restaurant meeting room and mediate for 15 minutes, write for 2-3 hours and then talk over a meal…perhaps if I meditated at home more, I could ignore the kitchen voices! Fourth, I am always inspired by travel and can write easily when I’m somewhere else completely! I love that place best!
How did you start writing – was there a particular book or moment in your life that spurred you on?
I’ve been writing in my head forever. I’ve always replayed events in my mind. I’d replay the way people interact, the joy and sadness, discomfort and contentment I see in others—these inspire stories in me. The stories just pop into my head and I know I have to write them down. Also, my father writes every day of his life. He’s never tried to publish anything, but writing is just part of who he is and how he works his world. I think I picked that up! Reading, of course is what spurred me on, most of all. There is simply nothing like finding a book to bury myself in, to go off into another world. I’ve found myself experiencing complete, utter jealousy at reading a wonderfully crafted sentence, a quirky, funny character, an ordinary plot that reads as though it was the most extraordinary setting and series of events that ever was—all of those things spur me to write. I’ve tried to quit writing before…but I can’t. It’s just part of who I am.
Thank you again, Gemma. You have been so kind to have me here!
You’re very welcome Kathie! I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting you on my blog!
Readers – an interesting fact from the Author, a London Tidbit…
Interesting Fact From the Author:
I believe (this recollection is off top of my head) that in 1952 or so London (or nearby area) suffered the same type of temperature
inversion (with mills and areas prone to smog etc.) that produced Donora’s killing smog but 4000 people died in London instead of Donora’s 20 some deaths. Researchers attribute Donora’s luck to the fact a strong storm came in, dispersing the smog after 5 days! I think I have those details right (don’t quote me!) There are some really interesting facts related to how certain people/animals survived the London smog (poorer farmers’ animals survived because they didn’t have the means to muck their stalls as much and some of the properties from animals’ urine actually interacted with the smog, making it less lethal to animals of poorer people than the “cleaner” wealthier people’s animals). I think I’m remembering that right…
Thanks again Kathie!
Readers – here’s where you can purchase Kathie’s books:
Kindle Edition USA
Read another fabulous interview with Kathleen by Denise Baird Stanley right here.
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Love Missuswolf xxx