Diva Interview: Kathy Bryson
I put out a call for authors of different genres for a new interview series the Divas are going to feature, and Kathy was one of the first to sign up! Kathy not only has an impressive background in marketing, writing, teaching, and journalism but she writes in a genre as impressive: fantasy/paranormal. So let’s get to know Kathy Bryson and her work.
What made you want to write in the fantasy/paranormal romance genre? What is typical of the genre that you find appealing?
As a teenager, I read both fantasy and romance. They used to be very separate genres, but they blended beautifully into paranormal romance! In romance, the central conflict is the two lovers separated and searching for each other. In fantasy, the central conflict is also frequently a search, a search for the solution to a problem, a search for answers to a mystery, the search for one’s self. The quest for love directly parallels the epic quest and can actually be the reason for the quest!
One aspect of paranormal romance that I find particularly appealing is the opportunity to be completely irreverent. That juxtaposition of the fantastic against the ordinary throws the everyday world into sharp relief and highlights all its eccentricities. You put a sophisticated vampire in an all-night business like a mini-mart or Laundromat and you can’t help but laugh!
Tell us about your books.
In Feeling Lucky, Megan O’Malley gives in to drunken temptation, pinches a cute guy’s butt, and ends up catching an angry leprechaun. Turns out, leprechauns are not little green men. In Irish etymology, leprechaun means “sons of Lugh” or the Celtic god of commerce and war. Leprechauns are actually closer to Marines, doing whatever it takes to preserve their gold, and Fergus O’Reilly is no exception. He’s camped out on Megan’s sofa, dropping his socks, hogging the remote, and playing any other trick he can think of to get his money back.
Restless Spirits is another love story that explores Celtic mythology, Shakespeare, and questionable monetary policy. When Marilee Harper agrees to renovate an old hospital into a B&B, what could possibly go wrong? Fixtures turn themselves off and on, and old baseballs fly without help. These are the least of Marilee’s worries, however; she’s also falling hard for her boss. Then the haunting goes too far and her sweet, bookish employer, John Smith, goes missing, taken captive to the Otherworld.
How does your background in journalism help or hinder your creative writing endeavors?
Studying journalism gives you solid training in research and the ability to crank out copy. You learn quickly how to sort through a lot of information to get to the pertinent elements. You also learn to probe, to ask questions and uncover the story behind the initial incident. This helps spark creativity, as you know not to settle for the usual explanation, but to look deeper.
However, journalism also teaches you to get to the point, which can be a too-brief writing style. I end up writing in layers, going back after laying down the initial plot to add details and descriptions to get the richness and depth that make a story live instead of just being reported.
You also have a background in marketing. What do you do to market your books? What advice would you give to other authors on marketing their books and names?
Most of my marketing is online through social media. I love being able to talk books with readers and other writers. And thanks to Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I do that regularly. Marketing has changed radically from the days of press releases and book tours. If you can get those things, great, but you’re not limited to them. You can cultivate book bloggers and conduct blog tours these days as well.
What I advise other authors is to experiment. The reciprocal nature of social media has made marketing very personal. Before, if you put an ad out, you knew if people liked it based on response. Now people can also email or post what they think. So you need to work where you’re comfortable as well as where you get results. If you like to write, then blog. If you take pictures, use Pinterest.
Research, try new things, and track response. You may make mistakes, but if you’re professional and polite, it’s not a problem. The important thing is to be part of the conversation.
What literary influences do you reach from while writing?
I borrowed from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. People sometimes get hung up on Shakespeare being “literary,” but he’s actually really funny. He named a character Mustardseed just so he could make a joke about BBQ. Seriously, you can look it up – Act 3, Scene 1, line 1015.
I’ve also read a lot of Celtic mythology from the original tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann (though not in the original Irish) to Yeats. And I’m not sure it counts as literary, but there was a wee bit of research into the tax code as well (which might as well have been in Irish!)
Please tell us what’s next on tap.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about leprechauns on a mission and innkeepers with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Both my books, Feeling Lucky and Restless Spirits, share the same background in fairy folklore though each can be read independently. However, they’re just the beginning of the epic battle brewing between the King and Queen of the Fairies.
Shakespeare may have brought a long-standing feud to light in 1590-something with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it’s heating up in the modern-day Midwest. You know the Queen did not just get over that joke about falling in love with a donkey! The ladies of Fayetteville are going to have to be strong enough to deal with civil war as well as their jobs, families, and love lives in book 3.
Can you lend any advice to anyone looking to write in the fantasy/paranormal romance genre?
Go crazy! The beauty of fantasy/paranormal romance is you can include anything you can dream up!
However, you have to remember that you are asking the reader to suspend disbelief. What you write has to be plausible. If you’re going to put a vampire in Miami, he has to have some serious sunscreen or other reasonable way to offset bursting in flames. You can’t just ignore the laws of nature or established convention. Working from established mythologies helps, but even if you’re creating something new, readers will be familiar with the literature. Deviations have to be explained and/or convincing alternate realities constructed.
Part of enabling that suspension of disbelief lays in presentation. A beautifully written tale is much easier to accept than one with awkward sentences or blatant punctuation errors. You don’t want the construction of the story to distract from the world you’re creating or event you’re sharing.
You also have to be very clear about your motivation. Fantasy is not the same thing as horror; romance is not the same thing as erotica. While the genres may overlap, you need to know what end effect you’re striving for and the conventions of that particular genre. I recommend reading lots of examples! 😉
About Kathy Bryson
Kathy Bryson knew she wanted to be a writer when she finished reading through her school and local children’s libraries. She spent 20 years honing her writing skills on marketing brochures, websites, and several unfinished manuscripts before going into teaching and finishing a book with all the stuff she enjoys most—from coffee to love to Shakespeare! Kathy lives in Florida where she caters to the whims of two spoiled cats and wonders what possessed her to put in 75 feet of flower beds.
Her first book, Feeling Lucky, won the 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for Best First Book.