Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Please join us between Thanksgiving and New Year's when our authors present original holiday short stories. We hope they will add to the season's festivities! 11/28 Annette Dashofy, 12/3 E. B. Davis, 12/8 KM Rockwood, 12/13 Korina Moss, 12/18 Tammy Euliano, 12/23 Warren Bull, 12/28 Paula Gail Benson Have a wonderful holiday! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Interview with Kate Thornton

KATE THORNTON was born in Great Lakes, IL, and enjoyed traveling the world as a child with her family. Opting for even more world travel, this time with an edge to it, she served 22 years in the US Army, retiring in 2001. With a rich background of exotic locales and an insatiable appetite for reading in all genres, she began writing short stories. Her first short, "Just Like In The Movies," was published in David Firks' legendary Blue Murder and nominated for a Derringer award. With over a hundred stories in print, she enjoys teaching short story workshops in Southern California.

EBD: Your short story anthology Inhuman Condition is an apt title. You show humanity through inhumane situations, settings and through technology. To a reader, your shorts are like a slider coming over home plate to a batter: the reader doesn’t anticipate the angle. How do you decide on the slant?

KT: Usually, I get the slant first, after playing "what if" with a situation I find intriguing. Then the story sort of wraps itself around the slant, which to me is the point of the story.

EBD: I can’t help but feel that your military background has factor in your choice of subjects. Where do you get your ideas?

KT: I get them from everywhere, really. I save clippings from newspapers, magazines and the web and I keep an idea file on my desktop. But mostly I listen in on peoples' conversations, and old Army habit. I don't always hear things correctly. Or maybe I do.

EBD: There is an amalgam of genres in your stories, mystery coming out of the barrel, a little sci fi here, a bit of paranormal there…and sometimes the timing of your stories, the future, allows you to comment about our current society. How do you choose? Is this intentional, by design, or do you think of the story first and the reflections just come?

KT: I write mostly for magazines in print and on the web – many of them are specifically mystery-oriented or definitely science fiction, so I must be aware of the genre when I am writing for a particular magazine or anthology. But given that, I am then free to write about the things I find interesting and if a story I was writing for a mystery venue turns into a speculative fiction piece with little mystery but lots of speculation, then it gets polished that way and sent to the science fiction venues. I guess I think of the story first, then think about where it would fit, and then write it. It doesn't always fit where I thought it would.

EBD: Cosmic justice and injustice seem to be prevalent themes, from sixteen-year-old girls already doomed to overheard words that can evoke disaster. Is that a theme you see in the world?

KT: Yes. And I really like both the idea of cosmic justice and the idea that I personally can mete it out through writing.

EBD: Some of your characters seem to step out of life and onto the page. Are they real people, composite people or imaginary?

KT: Well, thank you. Everything I write is fiction, but I try to make my characters as real as possible. I am pleased when that happens.

EBD: Some of your protagonists aren’t easy to like. Some are bad guys. Is that perspective one you purposely get across to readers?

KT: Yes. So many of the people we know – the protagonists in our lives – are not very nice.

EBD: In one of my favorites, “Key Witness” a two-year-old captures the bad guys. In another, “Two Mules for Sister Sarita” the protagonist has a most unlikely profession. Can the normal be found using extremes?

KT: Well, they are all part of the normal human tide that makes up our experience of life – in that way they're normal. But we all have different ideas of what "normal" means, and only by experiencing the extremes can our own versions of normal be put into perspective.

EBD: Are you happy with your publisher, Denouement Press?

KT: Haha! Trick question! I gotta say yes - after all, they did publish me! Not that I would turn down a meeting with Simon & Schuster or Knopf…but there is a lot to be said for the personal attention a small press can give an author. I am very happy with the book and with Denouement Press.

For an excellent review of Inhuman Condition, one I totally agree with, go to: Jackie Houchin's website.  November 12, 2010 review.


Warren Bull said...

Thanks for sharing. It's great to hear how other writers work.

Victor J. Banis said...

Always interested in seeing how others do it. Thanks for a thoughtful interview

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Very interesting interview. I enjoyed knowing more about Kate.

Pauline Alldred said...

I much enjoyed finding out how you choose your protagonists and how your short stories evolve. I wonder how much you draw on your twenty-two years of military experience. The military is such a close-knit society.

Kate Thornton said...

Thank you all for your kind words! Pauline, although my Army experience shapes much of the ways in which I evolve characters, and has given me a lot of great locations for settings, you are right about it being a close-knit society - and a lot of what I did/saw I can't talk about. But it also also gave me a lot of great insights into other types of closed societies.

Warren Bull said...

I was at breakfast with friends this morning and they joked about appearing in my short stories. Some of them have already.

Kate Thornton said...

My husband & I have made appearances in Sue Ann Jaffarian's MURDER IN VEIN book...I hear she's going to kill us off at some point in the series.

GBPool said...

Kate's short stories always hit you in the gut. Her characters are hard edged, but real in a world she creates with a deft hand, whether it be on another planet or right here on our little blue marble. Always a great read.

Jan Christensen said...

I just can't believe that a big NY publisher hasn't picked Kate up yet. She's so good! Nice interview. I love reading about how writers work.

Ricky Bush said...

Thanks. I enjoyed the interview, Kate. Nice to hear that you haven't been killed off yet.

Jillian said...

Great interview. Enjoyed it.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the interview complements, but really the pleasure was all mine. Kate's stories, her variety, pulled punches that I didn't see coming-and for me-especially as a mystery writer, that is a feat. I usually can anticipate what will happen. But now, I'm also intrigued. I'm a Sue Ann Jeffarian fan so now I have to go and read MURDER IN VEIN.
Sorry I was on the road yesterday. Thanks for all of your comments.

Kaye George said...

I, too, loved INHUMAN CONDITION, and devoured every story. The book didn't last nearly long enough!

I hope to see another one from Kate in the future. Thanks for the interview, E.B.