Kate, when did you start writing?
I wrote my first book when I was five, and by the age of ten I wanted to become a writer. My family talked me out of it, because we lived in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. All writers suffered from political censorship, and Czech is hardly a world language. When we defected to the USA, I was fourteen and had to learn English from scratch. I settled for chemistry, which was and still is something of a family occupation. Only once my first daughter was born and I began my work from home as a freelance translator and interpreter, I realized that if I can translate into English, my language skills are good enough to write my own material. I started writing seriously about nine years ago.
What sort of books do you read?
It has to be adventurous, and I like to learn something new from it, regardless of the genre. I also like vivid descriptions of faraway places, whether I have visited them or not. I read mysteries, thrillers, romance, humor, sci-fi, and I have read a lot of fantasy in the past. There are fact-based non-fiction books I read for research, and some of those are downright fascinating.
Ooh, a girl after my own heart! Please describe your typical workday for us.
Having family forced me to become a morning person, because getting up early used to be the only way I could get some uninterrupted writing time before I had to tend to my work and family obligations. My summer work rhythm differs from a school-year rhythm a lot, because I have to remind my kids that “I am working” during the day. When they are in school and I can’t stand my office anymore, and can’t sit still at the dining room table or don’t feel like using my treadmill desk, I go to the gym to “get my wiggles out” and then I settle down at a coffee shop. A change of scenery actually helps me focus on reaching my word count. Then there are days when I sit by the computer and procrastinate.
Those must be the days I find you on Facebook. (Whistles innocently.) How do you research?
Since I’m inspired by everyday events and environments, I carry out a lot of my research in person. For “Wild Horses,” I started riding with my kids. It was terrifying at first, because I am a bit of a klutz and don’t do heights happily, but now I’ve been riding for three years. For “Zipper Fall,” I used to rock climb to get over my fear of heights. It sort of worked. Climbing is great exercise and a lot of fun.
We’ve been foraging for edible mushrooms, which inspired a mushroom poisoning mystery that’s still brewing in my mind. And so on. I am willing to travel and try new things, and to talk to people who have had experiences beyond my ken, to make sure my books are properly researched.
That explains why your scenes are so vivid. What about your writing habits?
I was surprised to find that a lot of writing happens at totally random times, and it happens in my head before I’m ready to commit words to paper. For example, if I am doing a menial task, my mind drifts toward a plot element or to a character. There are times I really want to just sit down and write. Writing is like reading, in that a story line and characters reveal themselves to me as I let my fingertips dance on the keyboard. A good session is less about planning and more about a zen-like state, where the story just flows. Those times are precious and sometimes I just have to excuse myself, close the office door, sit down, and write. This does not please my otherwise supportive husband.
They do like a bit of facetime, don’t they, sigh. How do you come up with new plot?
No matter how cliché this might sound, I really do come up with new story ideas in the shower! New ideas are generally a result of a “fallow” time, when I have been away from existing work for a while and had a chance to absorb new experiences. Vacations, hiking, travel, or culinary disasters all inspire new stories.
Writing those disasters is the perfect way to pass on the misery to your characters. How do you come up with new characters?
Characters are harder for me, because I have to form them, name them, and give them a backstory. Plot just “happens.” That’s why I like to recycle my characters – I’ll write a series of books, instead of a number of isolated stories.
Wild Horses first came out as a short story. How did the book-length version evolve?
Wild Horses was actually a result of a fan fiction prompt on a LiveJournal writing group. I adopted somebody else’s prompt, where one character steals a cell phone, and the owner texts him and asks for its return. I fell in love with the original characters I had to craft, and they really wanted to tell me more about themselves. I kept writing and writing, until a book was done. The book is the first in the “Steel City Stories”.
**makes glittery greedy eyes** The first, you say? What can we expect next?
The second book of SCS is Zipper Fall, which deals with rock climbers. It will come out in late September 2013. We’ll see the lives of some of the characters intersect, but Zipper Fall can be read as a stand-alone. There is a sequel to Wild Horses in the works, and I’m also writing a thriller series, which is a bit of a long-term project. The “Cancelled Czech Files,” a collection of personal short stories, hasn’t reached its publication form.
Where can we find out more?
I have several free reads on my website, www.katepavelle.com. You can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KatePavelle , or on https://www.facebook.com/kate.pavelle, and get my blog updates. Please visit, and enjoy!
Thank you, Kate!
This lady has a way with words, so Czech out Wild Horses and keep an eye peeled for Zipper Fall. (Kate, I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I won’t make any more puns! Don’t make me eat that mush…)