Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with Kathi Peterson, author of The Forgotten Warrior

Sydney Morgan is no wimp. A black belt in karate, her defensive moves help keep her tough, even when her mom is diagnosed with cancer and her long-lost dad shows up to play nice guy. But when an unexpected gift transports her through space and time to the land of Zarahemla, Syd just might be in over her head. Accused of being a spy, she has to prove she’s no threat to the locals—including Captain Helaman himself!

As war quickly approaches, Helaman calls on Syd to help his stripling warriors prepare to fight. Torn between concern for her family and for her new friends, Syd musters her wits, strength, and faith to face the coming battle—but her feelings for Chief Warrior Tarik put her heart on the line. Who will survive the Lamanites’ fierce onslaught? And will Syd ever make it home again?

I have to say, I absolutely loved this book. It was creative, fresh, action packed, and even had a little romance in it. The perfect blend for a blockbuster novel. Even though this book is geared toward young adults and teens, I think younger audiences will enjoy the action and adventure, and adult audiences will enjoy the nuances of strong doctrinal references as well as the entertainment value of the story.

Author, Kathi Peterson, and I, go back a long way and not only am I a huge fan of hers, but we are also good friends. I met Kathi when I first began getting into writing. That was back in 1986 (I'll do that math for you -- 23 years ago!!!). I was just a beginner, looking for a place to learn and grow and Kathi was part of a wonderful group of women writers named Wasatch Mountain Fiction Writers. I was blessed to be asked to be part of their group and these amazing writers helped me hone my skills, learn how to "show" and not "tell", and a myriad of other skills I clearly needed to learn. I will forever be in their debt!

Kathi is loaded with creativity and you will find that her stories will cover a gamut of genres and styles. She is multi-talented and I predict she will have a long and prosperous writing career.

Here's my interview with Kathi:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
AUTHOR: I've always loved to write stories, but I never thought about writing a novel until after I had my first baby. I had read all of Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Nora Lofts, Dorothy Eden that I could borrow from my mother. She finally told me, "Why don't you write a book?" So I gave it a shot. That first book was horrible. But I kept at it, and at it, and at it.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
AUTHOR: My pathway was full of potholes, boulders, a couple of mountains and several valleys. I've had a few articles published in magazines, several small concept and biography books for children, but I still wanted to have a full length book in print. When I decided to write inspirational fiction, I finally found my voice. Plus I think after years and years of working on my craft things began to click in regards to plot, characterization, and writing stories that are bigger than life.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
AUTHOR: Oh no, not me. I was never discouraged. NOT. Yes there were many, many times I felt discouraged. But learning to write a publishable story is kind of like playing golf. For quite a while all I could do was whiff the ball, but one day my driver hit it right in the center of the club and that little white ball soared down the course. What a beautiful sight. I'll never forget that feeling, just like I'll never forget the feeling when I first saw my book on a store shelf and I realized I'd finally hit a long drive with my writing. Dealing with discouragement is tough . Even after you're published there are still days filled with discouragement. The trick is to keep your eye on the ball. In other words, keep trying.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
AUTHOR: Since the release of my book, my writing schedule has been topsy-turvy. What I'd like it to be is write in the morning, edit in the afternoon. That's a perfect day.
M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?
AUTHOR: My son suggested I write about the stripling warriors. I've always liked their story of courage and faith, but I wanted a young woman thrown into the mix, so I created Sydney Morgan. And she had to be knowledgeable in fighting and sense during Book of Mormon times most of the women did not fight in war, I knew she had to come from this time period.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire tohave their manuscripts become books in print?
AUTHOR: Don't sit and wait to hear about the book you sent to the editor. Keep cranking them out so that when you receive a rejection, you're already involved with another book and the sting won't hurt quite so bad, plus you're able to look at the rejected book with a more critical eye since you've had time and distance away from it. Fix the problems, sent it out again, and start another book. And here's something very important: learn how to take criticism. Listen to critiques especially from editors and writers whose work you admire because once your book is published the criticism has just begun. People are going to review your book and not every one is going to like it. Those years of learning how to take criticism will come in handy.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sitdown and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outlinefirst?
AUTHOR: I usually have an idea of what I want to write about. Many times I brainstorm with my family. All my children are adults now, and they give me great ideas to work with. I'm also a member in a terrific writer's group. Once my story is taking shape I can take it to them to help refine the plot if I need to. I've written books with an outline and without. It really depends on the book and the momentum I have going into it whether I outline.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer'sblock? If so, how do you deal with it?
AUTHOR: Writer's block for me usually happens when I'm trying to make a character do something that they wouldn't or shouldn't do. In the book I just finished, I came across some wonderful information about Julia Caesar, daughter to Augustus Caesar. She started taking over the story and shutting out my protagonist. The story stopped. As soon as I realized what had happened I went back and put Julia in her place. Then the story took off again.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music whenyou are writing?
AUTHOR: If I'm creating, it has to be quiet. If I'm editing, I listen to the radio in the background.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
AUTHOR: Research helps a great deal. Sounds boring, but it really isn't because as I'm weeding through the information trying to find certain facts, I'll sometimes come across something that will make the story stronger. Makes my day when that happens.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
AUTHOR: The greatest difference, my mother who suggested I write a book. But I would have stopped many times since then if it weren't for my family and the writing community I surround myself with. My husband and children have always been supportive. My writing friends are super! Some I've known for over twenty years. My editor has been very supportive and encourages me to keep working.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
AUTHOR: Definitely. My stories always sound good until I'm reading them out loud at group. Suddenly I can see mistakes I couldn't in the comfort of my office. Plus, my critique group helps firm up weak spots I couldn't see. And when they like a scene, that is a great day!
M.B.: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
AUTHOR: I'm holding The Latter-day Stripling Warrior Contest which ends April 15th. Nominate a youth between 8 to 18, young man or young woman, who has done a kindly deed. For every entry I receive I will send a certificate that says...Johnny/Joannie is a Latter-day Stripling Warrior. More details can be found on my blog or website
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
AUTHOR: My books are at Deseret Book and Seagull Book Stores.
Please add any other information, like a brief bio or bookdescription, that you would like.(I loved what DB put in the conference catalog. Can I just use that without getting into trouble?)After touching a mysterious clear stone, Sydney Morgan is transported through space and time to the land of Zarahemla. As war quickly approaches, Captain Helaman calls on Syd to help his stripling warriors prepare for battle. Follow Sydney as she desperately tries to find her way home, works to gain Helaman's respect, and, despite her best intentions, falls in love.(If you need me to write something different let me know.)


Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Thank you for the review of my book and also the interview. What fun! We do go a long way back. I'm thrilled over your success. And excited to see your latest book on the shelves. :)

JoAnn Arnold said...

Great interview. I find as I read the different interviews, we as writers all fit together like a puzzle, as we all learn from each other.

Stacy G. Anderson said...


Great interview with Kathi! I'm so excited to talk with you two more at Storymakers! You are an inspiration!!


Jen said...

Hi Michele its Jen how are you? I'm still missing your morning class its making me crazy. So I thought you might get a kick out of this.Since you said we have had bad luck since we moved in our house, well just when you think things can't get any worse I get an immaculate infection in my hip joint and can't walk. I had to have surgery so that they didn't have to give me a hip replacement the doctor said, and now I'm at home for 4 weeks with a pick line into my chest for Iv antibiotics that I have to administer 3 times a day. And oh ya I can't work at for at least 4 weeks. Seriously you can laugh now. Please send some good luck my way ok! I miss you guys and hopefully will be back soon. I love your blog and your picture is gorgeous!