Kathryne Arnold holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology, is a licensed mental health therapist and a nationally certified clinical hypnotherapist. Ms. Arnold provides full-time therapy services at an outpatient counseling center in Tampa, FL. She is currently working on her third book in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series, which features the same protagonist as she moves through unexpected life adventures. Ms. Arnold lives on the water in sunny Clearwater, Florida, with Zoe, her toy poodle muse.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
What I like most about writing is that I can turn into myself and get in what is termed “the flow”- an emotional and creative place where time melts away. I become one with my writing space and the written word, hours fly by without a notice. I had a longing to shape a tale based around individuals in my life that I believed would make engaging characters. I had a strong desire to experience a higher level of creativity, to literally produce something out of nothing – a fascinating and challenging endeavor I couldn’t ignore. The part I like the least, and the biggest challenge for me is finding a block of uninterrupted “me time” to engage in writing when I’m not mentally drained, or too physically tired. I work at a demanding full-time job, and being single means I have to take care of every other aspect of my life, leaving little energy left over for creative undertakings. I’ve been very fortunate in that I never experienced the dreaded “writers block.” I’ve been fleetingly stuck here and there, but mostly because something else was going on in my life that was taking precedence. But usually a good night’s sleep or some fun clears my fuzzy brain, and I can get right back into the work of writing.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
Follow your own voice, your intuition and style of writing. Develop your unique method of putting words to paper, listen and pay attention to your inner callings. Don’t be swayed by others. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. This also holds true for editing, promotion, developing presentations, etc. It is obviously important to pay attention to experts in the field, those who have your best interest at heart. Learn to really know yourself, and then to believe in your talents, but do take sincere direction, recommendations, lessons from those who have gone through their writing journey before you. Be open, but cautious. Try not to be influenced too much by other writers that you admire, stay true to yourself. You will hear a hundred different ways you should do something. When overwhelmed or unsure of which road to take, and trust me, this will occur many times in your writing life, I suggest that you stand still, breathe, lighten up and guide yourself toward what feels genuine and honest to you.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
That is a tough question, sort of like nature vs. nurture, and I have no definitive answer. But throughout my earlier school years, I did dabble in poetry and short stories, purely for personal self-expression. I experimented with a creative writing class in college, but never pursued my secret desire of a writing career, feeling the vocation was too self-indulgent, not sensible enough for my German blood. Over the next twenty years, I concentrated further on my work in counseling and social services, later becoming a licensed practitioner. Several years ago, due to a deep yearning to express my feelings in a more artistic manner, I literally sat down one day and began writing my first novel. The resultant book, The Resurrection of Hannah, a paranormal mystery, had been based on a series of powerful dreams, along with compelling and coexisting experiences that inspired me to create a story that would capture the strength of my emotions. Once bitten, I could not help but write my second work of fiction, The Fear of Things to Come, a suspense/thriller. I am finally in the process of writing another novel in what I consider a unique collection of adventure stories, the third in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series.
How do you plan your storyline?
With the initial writing, I don’t really map out a storyline. In the beginning I’m often just kind of daydreaming about my book, questioning where it might go. I sort of meditate and clear my head; then think about the past challenges with my writing that I want to resolve before really diving in again. I let ideas flow in and out and try not to censure myself too much, keeping my mind open to new thoughts and possibilities of where the book might go. After all that, I end up with a rough draft in my head, and then I really buckle down and start seriously documenting a major theme, character details, plot(s), point of view, etc. I use Word and make files for characterization, research, short descriptions of chapters, etc as I’m developing them. I’m big into organization and prioritizing generally in life, so this goes also for reviewing and editing as the story evolves.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
Quite a bit of research and study goes into formulating the plot/subplots, overall theme of the novel, character development and any historical elements that might be of importance. I want any subject or activity mentioned in my books to sound realistic, and that I am relatively or quite knowledgeable about that which I write, depending on the topic. For example, when writing about the incredible garden at the manse in Massachusetts where the character Hannah lived (in The Resurrection of Hannah), I researched extensively the flowers, greenery, trees, etc. that would have been indigenous to the area back around 1785. It was important that I describe every aspect of the garden in a convincing manner, and it was necessary to find pictures/drawings of everything that was to be in this garden in order to be as accurately descriptive as possible.
Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?
I became aware a long time ago that I am following the writing much of the time, that I do not have complete control over the characters. Not with blind faith, but with a knowing that’s hard to describe. When I take my head out of the whole process and go more by gut instinct, the story and characters point me to where I need to go, the path it should naturally take. It’s exciting and fun to see where my mind and ideas lead me. Often this is when I write my best work and it usually makes the most sense, and if for some reason I later discover that it doesn’t, I can just delete it!
Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?
For the most part, yes. It’s always been beneficial to engage in Kindle direct publishing giveaways for my second novel, The Fear of Things to Come. A few times it hit No.1 in Psychological Fiction and Suspense, as well as the Thriller category in several countries in free ebooks. After the giveaways end, my ebook often stays fairly high up in the ratings, in the Top 100, for a length of time afterward, so I am now considered an international bestselling author! I also did a Goodreads giveaway for my first novel, The Resurrection of Hannah, and I sent signed copies to the winners, and in return I received more sales and several reviews from happy readers. I also do signed book or gift card giveaways during my book tours, and this is effective in increasing exposure, interest in my books, reviews and sales. Mostly, I just have fun doing it.
Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?
It’s a toss-up. My first novel, The Resurrection of Hannah, is a paranormal mystery inspired by true events. It was my baby, born out of a real need to tell my story of incredible experiences that happened to me, which still feels surreal after all this time. I wanted to write a completely different type of book for the sequel, which includes a serial killer, lots of twists and turns, murder and mayhem. I really wanted to know if I could write a diabolical character and sound convincing. Both books were a challenge in their own right, but I got to use several of the same characters in the sequel, which I loved because I ended up feeling very comfortable with them, like you do with old friends.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
Not at all. To me that would be stunting my creativity. I want to allow my imagination to lead me by the hand, and take me to places that I didn’t know existed. I feel like the story and characters have the say in matters, not me. But I’m a very willing participant! The title is the one thing I most struggle with during the writing process, especially since I know how important the title is to drawing people into wanting to read your story. It has to make just the right impact.
Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?
Yes. Donnie Brickman, the serial killer in my second novel, The Fear of Things to Come. He was bent on revenge and wanting to destroy everything in his path, primarily the protagonist, Samantha Clark, which is basically me at a younger age, and her beloved boyfriend, Todd. It was fun and thought-provoking to make him an evil and pathological character, yet filled with many emotions and traits that Samantha also possesses, such as regret, fear, a relentless drive to succeed, a love of animals, etc. Two sides of the same coin.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I am Pennsylvania Dutch, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. My father was a well-known and respected reverend, and he founded his own church in Bethlehem when he was in his early twenties. At times when younger, I railed against the deeply conservative and religious roots into which I was born. In the end, however, that lifestyle served me well, figuring prominently in the development of my writing and belief systems.
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
I love the outdoors, so after work I love sitting on my porch with my toy poodle, playing and cuddling with her, and staring at the wide-open bay, a cool breeze flowing over me, with the wind chimes clinking around, just decompressing. Listening to the sound of nature all around.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?
I have so many comfort foods I can’t list them all here. I would say very cheesy pizza loaded with veggies, lobster pie and a perfectly cooked steak are my favorites. My choice for deserts would be white wedding cake and warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Least favorite foods are some of the PA Dutch dishes I was raised to eat, like chicken corn soup and turnip stew. Sorry Mom!
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I now live in Clearwater, FL but have lived several places throughout my life. I would love to move back to Lancaster, PA where I graduated from high school, but that isn’t feasible right now in my life. I will always miss New England and living in Gloucester, MA, but I have no friends or family left there. I would presently choose Savannah, GA and Tybee Island, where my brother and his family live. In fact, if it works out with my new job, perhaps I can relocate there one day as they have an office in Savannah. My dream!
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