Author Spotlight Interview: Katherine Eddinger Smits
Today’s interview is with author Katherine Eddinger Smits. With a fascination for the occult, a master’s degree in social work, and over 20 years clinical experience, Katherine writes paranormal romance that addresses real-life issues of self-acceptance, body image, relationship dynamics, fears, and phobias, through stories filled with fantasy and romance. Her books often include mages, mermaids, and magical creatures. Mystery, suspense, and a little sex add spice to her novels. We were honored to chat with Katherine about her writing journey, style and exciting upcoming projects.
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
KES: First, thank you so much for interviewing me today! I’m so pleased to have this opportunity. I love stories and read all kinds of fiction. So, elements from many genres sneak into my books. Romance is my favorite, but I like to read and write books which include mystery, suspense, the paranormal, and even some humor. Sometimes I find it difficult to categorize my writing because it blends so many different genres.
HG: We’re happy to have you! So, when did you take the plunge into “author life” and what was the transition like?
KES: Although I started writing stories in grade school, I didn’t pursue it as a career until after I worked for 20 years as a clinical social worker. I needed to focus on raising my children and contributing a steady paycheck to the household until then. When I started my first novel, I had no confidence it would ever be published, so it was a long time before I worked on it seriously. After I joined a local chapter of Romance Writers of America and met published authors who were generous about helping newbies, I finally believed it could happen for me. The first publisher to whom I submitted offered me a contract. It was a dream come true, but about a week after the e-book was published, the company declared bankruptcy. My book vanished. I was devastated, but I got the rights back and within a year, found another publisher.
HG: Wow, what a journey! Can you tell us what inspires your writing?
KES: I often discover a fascinating location first. I believe setting is a major part of the book and infuses everything from characters to plot. My debut novel, Water Dreams, was inspired by my love for my hometown of Tarpon Springs, Florida. I lived in West Virginia at the time and hated winter. I longed for the blue water of the Gulf of Mexico and bright, warm days in February. So, I decided to move there in my mind, at least, and Water Dreams developed from there. Sometimes, the characters come to me first, though. They can be most insistent about having their story told. Witch Trial Legacy evolved from my fascination with my family history. One of my ancestors was hanged for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Another ancestor was related to Cotton Mather, the judge who sentenced many of those executed. I wondered what would happen if someone was descended from both a person convicted of witchcraft and her accuser. Then, I thought about where that person would go for help with problems inherited from the merging of those two lines. Cassadaga, Florida was the perfect place! Cassadaga is a real town founded by Spiritualists in 1894. Many mediums live there and conduct seances and message ceremonies for people seeking to connect with loved ones who have passed. It’s incredibly charming and unique and the perfect setting for Witch Trial Legacy.
HG: Witch Trial Legacy, which you’ve briefly mentioned, is the first book in your new Cassadaga Collection, and released earlier this month (Oct 11). Congrats! Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters and what readers will love about this story?
KES: Witch Trial Legacy is a contemporary, supernatural suspense romance with paranormal and historical elements. (Did I mention I can’t stick to one genre?) The heroine is Sybilla Sanborn, a nurse gifted with the ability to heal with her touch but cursed with visions of future tragedies which she cannot prevent because no one believes her warnings. She finds Cassadaga, Florida, renowned for its Spiritualist community and mediums who communicate with the dead. She seeks someone there who will help her either figure out a way to make people believe her or get rid of her visions. The hero is Conn Ahern, an Iraq war vet with PTSD trying to make a go of the ranch he inherited from his grandmother by working as a paramedic. He hates Spiritualism and wants nothing to do with the town. When they meet, sparks fly, but not always in a good way, and fan the flames of jealousy in someone in town who does not want them together.
HG: Fantastic. How do you come up with character names?
KES: This is a really fun part of the process for me. I look at baby name websites, read the meanings of names, and often name characters after people I know, either to honor them or for a not so nice reason (Revenge). In Witch Trial Legacy, Sybilla’s name comes from the word Sybil, which is an oracle. Sanborn is an old family name from my mother’s side. Conn is a name of Celtic origin and means high, wise, and mighty. Ahern comes from Gaelic and means, “Lord of horses”. I thought that was appropriate because he was a war veteran and owned several horses. Sometimes the characters insist on names I didn’t intend to give them. Anton in the book I’m working on now refused his original name. I tried to call him Edward, but every time I sat down to write, it would change to Anton. Eventually, I gave up and let him be Anton. Another character, owner of the town hotel, had to settle for Edward. So far, he hasn’t objected.
HG: Love that. Names are fun! So, if Witch Trial Legacy was made into a movie, who would you cast?
KES: Alexander Skarsgård would make the perfect Conn. I went nuts for him in True Blood and he would absolutely be my first choice. He’s handsome, but can play dark, conflicted characters, and Conn has issues. For Sybilla? Maybe Sophie Turner. I liked her as Sansa on Game of Thrones. Sybilla is a serious person and I think Sophie could pull that off considering what she went through at the hands of George R.R. Martin and the writers of the television show.
HG: Oooh, excellent actors. What feeling do you want to leave people with when they finish one of your novels?
KES: I hope they feel satisfied. I try to keep the promises I make in the beginning of the book and tie up all the plot threads with a lovely, romantic bow. If the reader sighs and says, “aww…” at the end, I have achieved my objective.
HG: Perfect. Switching gears, tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. Did it change during the pandemic? When and where do you write?
KES: I use a spare bedroom as an office. I do most of my writing on a desktop computer with an enormous screen which causes less strain on my eyes. I also have two laptops and a tablet and use them all for different things. I work from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm most days, but not necessarily writing. I also blog, put out a newsletter, mentor a few new writers, and just finished editing a book (other than my own) for the first time. The pandemic stripped away a lot of things I enjoyed such as get-togethers with friends, travel, and shopping. We’re still isolating most of the time because Florida is a hot spot. My husband and I are vaccinated, but we are both over 65, so we need to be careful, and we’re waiting for a booster. However, giving up all those fun activities left me with more time to work. I finished revising Witch Trial Legacy during the pandemic and planned out several more books.
HG: Sounds like you have a great routine. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what’s on your playlist?
KES: No, I need silence to work. Music drowns out the voices in my head.
HG: Understandable. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
KES: I dream about my characters. One night, Nik and Bas from Water Dreams fought so much, I had to tell them to knock it off so I could sleep.
HG: That’s awesome! I hope you eventually got some rest, haha. What do you like to do when not writing?
KES: I ride dressage, spend time with my lovely Irish Sport Horse mare, Corrin Castle, and clog dance with a group of friends to entertain residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The name of the group is Sass with Class, and our signature song is Older Ladies by Donnalou Summers (because we complain to our instructor that we can no longer learn new steps since we’re older than we used to be). Of course, I love spending time with my family. That’s the top of my list, but my husband and I live in Florida and the kids and grands are in Virginia, so we don’t spend as much time with them as we would like.
HG: How wonderful! If you could ask your author idol one question about their writing, writing process, or books, what would it be?
KES: My author idols are Stephen King and Nora Roberts. If I ever met either one, I would probably be fangirling too much to speak, much less ask a question. But, there is one thing I would like to say to both of them: please don’t ever stop writing!
HG: I totally get that! Before we wrap up, what can you tell us about any projects you have in the works?
KES: I’m working on plotting and writing the next books in the Cassadaga Collection including: The Cassadaga Christmas Cookie Catastrophe (Kacey and Anton’s story), The Haunting at Spirit Springs (Neelie’s story), Christmas at Cassadaga (Edward’s story), and an untitled book which will be Elana’s story. The books all take place in and around the fascinating town of Cassadaga, Florida and will be connected but not chronological.
HG: You’re busy. We’ll be on the lookout for all of those when they go up for pre-order. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today! For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
KES: My website is: http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/ Sign up for my newsletter and receive an exclusive, free short story. I send out newsletters once or twice a month and always include contests, freebies and fun.
- Blog, Katherine Smits Word Siren
- Group Blog, Pen Dames
- Amazon Author Page
- Foundations Books
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Thank you again for interviewing me! This was so much fun, and I really appreciate the opportunity.