An Interview with Kathy
What are your most recent projects?
I have two books due out in March 2017.
All Birds Have Anxiety is a photo illustrated book along the lines of All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome, Inside Asperger's Looking Out and All Dogs Have ADHD.
Lisa and the Lacemaker Graphic Novel is - wait for it - the graphic novel version of Lisa and the Lacemaker. It is adapted and illustrated by the amazingly talented graphic artist Mike Medaglia.
I am also in the process of co-writing a three book series, called the Spectrum Series, for younger children highlighting the strengths and talents of children with various diagnoses. My co-author is the zany Josie Santomauro. I am very much looking forward to laughing our way through our writing time together.
How did you become an author?
When I was a school teacher, I read many books to my classes and love the worlds that were created. Finally I decided to create my own worlds. Once I had my first idea, the novel took over took over. I wrote it by hand, and my poor father, who owned a computer, had the dreadful job of interpreting my handwriting and typing it up for me. It never did get published. But I still have my handwritten notes, so who knows, one day I may bring them out and rework them. My first book published was a book of plays based on Bible stories. It was a ‘right time, right place’ book. But then I became interested in Asperger’s and wanted to capture the positives of the syndrome in an Aspie character, and that became my focus for many years.
How many books have you had published?
Currently, I have nineteen books published in Australia, the UK, US and the UAE, with translations into thirteen languages. I have two more books due out in 2017 plus a three book series to write.
Who was your favourite author as a child?
In the beginning, it had to be Enid Blyton. The Magic Faraway Tree, The Secret Five! Places to dream of and aspire to. I wanted to be one of the Famous Four.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life as a writer?
No one person, just life in general. I watch people. I observe places. I take notes. I see someone and devise a life for him or her. I steal people’s phrases and characteristics. And my travels have influenced me a lot. I try to see life from many angles. I like shades of grey and try to avoid black and white scenarios.
Do you have a routine when you write?
In a perfect life, I would have a routine. Unfortunately my life over the past few years has consisted of moving countries twice and a lot of travel. On a good day, when I have the house to myself I can work solidly for hours on end, and then it may take days before I get that chance again. So for now, my ‘routine’ is intense irregular sessions.
How many words do you write a day?
Depends. When I’m writing a novel, I try for 2000 words a day. But some days I will spend hours over one sentence. When I’m stuck, I put on music, and start pacing. There might not be many words produced, but the creative flow is brimming.
When I write my photo illustrated books I can spend a whole day looking at literally thousands of photos and come away with just one perfect image and feel that it was a good day’s work.
Likewise when I am deep in my non fiction I may research a topic for days, listen to podcasts, read books, and then refine the essence of all I have learnt into one perfect sentence. It’s tedious and exhilarating all in one.
Do you enjoy writing, or do you find it a painful experience?
I LOVE it! I can’t imagine anything in this world I would rather do. When there are times I can’t write, I get withdrawal symptoms. I need the creative outlet or I get irritable, tense, tight shoulder blades, the works.
Do you show your work in progress to anyone?
No, not usually. I like to finish my work first. Then I like to edit it at least once by myself and only then I will share it with a select group of people whose opinions I value. Until I get my thoughts straight I don’t want to be influenced by anyone else. This all changed, of course when I began to co-write with J.S.Kiss and with Josie Santomauro, but you can soon read about those expriences on the “With J.S.Kiss" and "With Josie" pages.
Are the plots of your books preplanned?
When I write novels, I’m a bungee jumper – that is, I don’t plot to much extent before I start. Rather, I jump in and let the characters take control. Sometimes when I am on a roll, I finish a chapter and sit back in amazement as my characters have gone places I never meant them to go. They come alive and take over. When that happens it’s elating!
However, my photo books are the opposite. Every step is mapped and controlled.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
TIME! There is never enough.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
If you had asked me that years ago, I would have said fantasy and sci-fi as that was where my passions lay. But circumstances meant I have written in many genre and I’ve enjoyed them all. Lately, I am being led more and more towards non-fiction and I am surprised at how much pleasure facts can bring.
Do you base your novels on real people and events in your life?
Absolutely. I use life. People. Landscapes. Things I see around me. Emotions. Music – I’ve written whole novels based on pieces of music. Once I saw an old leather gun powder container, with a cobra stopper, in a shop. As soon as I picked it up, I knew I had to write about it. It took me a year to bargain it down to a price I could afford, then it sat on my lap for weeks as I wrote a novel. And people certainly influence me. I have the most amazing, eclectic friends who are a constant inspiration to me.
Are we going to get a chance to read any more Kathy Hoopmann books?
As mentioned above, I am currently working on the Spectrum Series with Josie Santomauro. In my 'spare' time I am working on a children's picture book capturing the essence of the Bible. A hugely challenging and rewarding exercise! Apart from that, I am always writing, and I have dozens of ideas so hopefully there will always be a next Kathy Hoopmann book coming out soon.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Don’t just start to write, finish what you write. No one has ever had an unfinished novel or article or poem published, at least, not while they were still alive!