About the author: KATHLEEN IRENE PATERKA is an Amazon bestselling author of women’s fiction novels. Her popular James Bay series includes Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned. Her latest work, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. Her newest release, Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel, was published by Booktrope Publishing in October 2015. Kathleen lives in Northern Michigan with her husband Steve, where she is busy working on her next James Bay novel.
Describe yourself in five sentences: My husband would say I’m his best friend (true), romantic (I try my best!), and passionate about the things (and people) I love. My daughter would say that I am a perfectionist (true), creative (true), and overprotective (Hey! She’s 34 years old, but I’m her mother. Mothers are allowed to be overprotective!). My own mother (who died in March 2015) would have said that I work too hard (still debating that one), that I’m too hard on myself (I tend to agree at times), and that I’m kind, generous, and good-hearted (Mom, stop! People will think you’re prejudiced). My friends would say I tend to run full-tilt (true), I can be counted on to keep my word (also true), and that I’m loyal to a fault (and this is a problem?). As for what I think about myself? The jury’s still out on that one!
What is your writing/editing/publishing process like? I’m a very slow writer. It takes me a good year to write the rough draft of a book. My novels tend to run 80,000 – 100,000 words. There are days I consider myself lucky to even get one page written. Once the rough draft is finished, I start in on a round of edits (my least favorite part of the creative process). I hate chopping away at my words; I consider them ‘my babies’. Once the edits are done, I work with a professional editor/proofreader. The story is then re-edited, and then submitted to either my publisher or readied for indie-pub.
When did you know you were a writer? When I was 8 yrs old, I read my first Trixie Belden book (a series about a teenage girl detective). After devouring the novel, I made a decision right then and there that when I would grew up, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden books.
Salty or sweet? I love a dash of salt on foods, and a bit of sweetness in the books I read.
Every author must have (a): Patience, perseverance, and nerves forged of steel.
Do you have any writing rituals? I’m up early every morning, on purpose. The house is quiet, and there are no distractions to pull me away from the steady stream of dialogue as the characters start chatting in my head. The world outside may still be sleeping, but my mind is buzzing. I try to get it all down on paper before too many interruptions pull me out of the magical daydream my imagination has created.
Tell us what a typical day is like for you? Since I have a day job (I’m the resident staff writer at a Castle! How romantic!), it’s necessary for me to allocate my time very carefully. My alarm goes off at 5 every morning. By 6:30, I’m dressed, have had breakfast, and am at my computer where I work for two hours on my latest writing project. I shut down at 8:30 AM, and then I’m off to work at the Castle. After dinner with my husband, I’m back at the computer answering emails and chatting on social media. Weekends, I pretty much follow the same scenario, except my alarm doesn’t go off at 5 AM… plus, I allow four hours for writing, rather than two. But regardless of whether I’m working my day job or not, mornings are reserved for my novels. That’s when my creative juices are fresh and flowing.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? Both! I’m a big fan of our public library, which has plenty of hard cover and paperback books to enjoy. Libraries = free books! What’s not to love about free books? But eBooks are great too, and I especially love my Kindle. There’s no waiting for someone to return a library book you want to read. Just download it on your Kindle. One flick of a finger, one-stop shopping! But hard/paperback or eBook, the most important thing I look for is a great story that keeps my interest.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Retired from my ‘day job’ as staff writer at a Castle, and cozily tucked away at my home computer working on my novels.
If you could meet another author, who would it be? Stephen King. I’m a huge fan of his books. His novel 11/22/63 about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is a literary masterpiece. King’s non-fiction work On Writing is the one craft book about writing that I keep close at hand.
What do you want readers to take away from your books? Take heart and have courage. There are plenty of experts out there handing out advice on how to deal with things. You can have all the head knowledge in the world, but it doesn’t begin to touch what’s inside your heart. My novels are about real people trying to find their way through issues or events that have shattered their lives. How do you learn to pick up the pieces? I believe that it’s ultimately about listening to what’s in your heart, rather than your head. That’s what I hope readers gain from reading my books.
What are you working on right now? My latest book takes readers back to the small resort town of James Bay (the setting for my first four novels: Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned. The book features Chuck’s Tavern and Grill, a local eatery from the first four books. Chuck owns the Tavern, and his adult daughter Katie is the manager. Chapter 1 starts out with a simmering stew of a story that quickly escalates into a rolling boil when a mysterious young woman shows up at the Tavern and takes a seat at the bar. Who’s the stranger? What’s she doing in James Bay? Why is she so fascinated with Chuck? Katie’s radar is on high alert. She’s very protective of her dad, and she doesn’t appreciate strangers trying to worm their way into his affections. There’s a touch of mystery, a dash of romance, a pinch of suspense, and plenty of twists and turns… blend together, and hopefully it will turn into a delicious read (especially since each chapter features a favorite recipe from Chuck’s menu!)
**Blurb: Immersed in the regal world of weddings and romance, Lily Lavender grew up believing in brides, grooms and happily-ever-afters. A direct descendant of the British royals, it seemed her destiny and royal birthright to someday assume a position as wedding coordinator in their family-owned wedding chapel business. But when her mother Mimi’s third marriage eventually fails, Lily’s dreams of her own happily-ever-after quickly fade. She’s no longer interested in a life of assisting brides walk down the aisle into a life of disillusionment and possible divorce. Lily turns her back on The Royal Wedding Chapel and leaves Las Vegas to fashion a life of her own. Years later, Lily—now a single mom—discovers her teenage daughter has run off to Las Vegas, lured by Mimi to help run the chapel. Determined to save her daughter from the broken dreams of Sin City and the nonsensical world of which family fairy tales are made, Lily returns to Las Vegas. But nothing prepares Lily for the royal drama which awaits her… or the sins and secrets she stumbles across that threaten to close the chapel and ruin her family forever.
There’s a reason they call this town Sin City, my mother told me long ago when I questioned her about something I’d heard at school that day. But when I asked about the secrets part, Mimi had refused to explain. “You’re much too young to hear about such things, Lily,” she said and left it at that.
I wandered away, a confused eight-year-old, my head filled with even more questions. How could Las Vegas be full of sin and secrets when it was filled with so much sunshine? Growing up in this town, in the ornate, spacious villa behind Mimi’s Royal Wedding Chapel near the center of the Strip, I saw the glitz and glamour. It shimmered and sparkled like the beautiful brides in their wedding gowns gracing the aisles of the chapel. Peeking around the pews, I saw their glowing faces, heard the vows exchanged, witnessed the beginnings of so many happily-ever-afters.
And then I grew up.
It took a while—around the time Mimi’s third marriage, the one to Jack’s father, collapsed—for me to discover the truth. Las Vegas is full of sin and secrets. Most of them stay in Vegas, left behind to be cleaned up by maids and blackjack dealers who sweep away the debris. Others get carried home like guilty luggage, busting up marriages and businesses and causing bankruptcy.
I’m forty years old, and that naïve little girl I used to be disappeared long ago. She learned that happily ever after is merely an illusion and that sins and secrets can weigh just as heavy on your heart as our family’s heirloom tiara can weigh on your head. The dazzling crown, in the special display case behind bulletproof glass in the lobby of the Royal Wedding Chapel, gleams like the fortune it is worth. But the antique combs pinch and the diamond diadem is a burden. How my grandmother managed to keep the jewel-encrusted crown on her head when presented to the Queen is the stuff of which family legends are made. With my grandfather descended from British nobility and in distant line for the throne, the tiara is a priceless treasure, proof of our family’s heritage.
As far as I’m concerned, though, that tiara is exactly where it belongs: safely behind glass, viewed from a distance. It glitters and sparkles, but the pain isn’t worth it. Dare to wear it, as I did once, and—just like the secrets hidden in Sin City—the pain and guilt will tear you down. I’m lucky I managed to yank it off in time.
And I refuse to allow that tiara to ruin my daughter’s life the way it almost ruined mine.