Sunday, September 16, 2012

Special Author Spotlight--Kathleen Shoop

Today's blog post is an interview with one of the top 5 finalists in the literary fiction genre of the Kindle Book Review Indie Book Awards! I was very excited to interview this author and I'm sure you'll all enjoy learning about her and her amazing book, After The Fog.

Author Spotlight

After the Fog is the second novel by bestselling Kindle author Kathleen Shoop. Her debut novel, The Last Letter, garnered multiple awards in 2011 as did After the Fog in 2012. A former Language Arts Coach with a Ph.D. in Reading Education, Kathleen lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

~Good morning, Kathie! Thank you for doing this interview with me today. I'm sure all my readers are wondering: What made you choose the self-publishing road over the traditional avenue?

--Hi Denise, thank you so much for having me and for asking such great questions. I did start down the traditional publishing road. I had an agent for a women’s fiction book and she wasn’t able to sell it. The next two books I submitted to her weren’t the right fit for her—one was too small and quiet to be my breakout novel (this one is coming out soon!) and the next one was historical fiction and something she wasn’t interested in repping. I submitted some of these books to other agents who found them too literary, didn’t connect with them or didn’t see a market for them.

The more I wrote and got better, the more trusted the readers I identified to help me craft a strong book and the more no’s I got for strange, particular reasons, the more I felt like getting a traditional book deal was akin to winning the lottery. I know many, many people have a different experience than I did and I’m happy for them, but I felt as though there had to be some perfect match on particulars that are unknown to all parties (writer/agent/editor) until they come across it. I knew as a reader myself and in having many friends and colleagues who are voracious readers that readers don’t look for the same match that agents and editors do.

They want a good book no matter who published it. Take, for example, Sara Gruen’s, Water for Elephants. What a fantastic novel! According to the feedback I got from traditional sources, the world must have been eagerly awaiting a depression era, circus train book for it to have become so successful. I believe readers are looking to be swept away by a well-told story, no matter the genre, no matter who published it, no matter who wrote it. I hope I deliver that for readers. And, I’m so, so grateful that technology brought along all the avenues for me to find another path to readers.

I will always work to become better and I’m not opposed to a hybrid publishing existence, but I’m satisfied that technology has allowed for self-published authors to pursue their dream of connecting with readers, of reaching “unreachable,” markets.

~I am in the revision process of my first novel. I've noticed how tough it is to get an agent, and many writers I know have taken the self-publishing road. What is the best advice you would give to an author considering self-publishing?

--Congratulations on being at the revision phase of your novel! That’s a wonderful, but work-intensive place to be! I think every writer has to weigh both paths to publication. I am so grateful to have the self-publishing path as it stands today, but there are times when credibility issues creeps in for me. I think writers have to fully understand if they’re ready to self-publish and take the hits for having put out an “un-vetted” book. Most readers don’t care or know who published a book, but it can sting to hear fellow writers put it down. I had to get to the point where the thought of being read was more important than the thought of having an agent and editor say it was time for me to be read.

The best advice has been given by countless others—read a ton, study other authors, work with other authors, write the best book you can then move on and write the next one taking the lessons learned with you. Whether you self-publish or go the traditional route, that advice works.

Then find a group of writers to hook up with and form a network. There are many organizations on-line if you don’t live near other writers. This type of group is the best for moral support, business brainstorming, and in helping you become the strongest writer you can. Some people are shy or uncomfortable with explicit social networking—these writers still need a network they can depend on even if they aren’t looking to tweet or facebook with others.

~I have a group of writers who are great for moral support and are invaluable for helping me with my work. I agree, we can't go it alone. Both of your novels, The Last Letter (which is also on my TBR list) and After The Fog, are historical fiction. What do you enjoy about writing in that genre? Also, what is your favorite genre to read?

--I don’t have one favorite genre to read—I love literary, historical, thriller, mystery, poetry, and especially nonfiction. I adore history and for me, having the added layers of another time and place gives me the opportunity to explore age-old relationships and issues in what can often be seen as a “new” way. What I mean by new is simply that history provides places and experiences that have been forgotten or never known about for wide populations of people. It’s part of what fascinates me as a reader and so it fascinates me as a writer.

I love the research involved in writing historical fiction as well. Although, I think research plays a part in any book, no matter the genre or setting. There are so many interesting little facts that help create a fictional world—that’s also what is compelling to me as a writer.

~What was your inspiration for writing After The Fog?

--The true events of “The Five Days of Fog,” otherwise known as Donora, Pennsylvania’s historic 1948 “killing smog” inspired this book. Donora was an extremely profitable steel town that supplied the war effort, the country’s infrastructure efforts and more.

But, having so much (three mills along a few miles of a bend in the Monongahela River) industry in a valley that had strange weather patterns, meant the town was nearly always foggy and often smoggy. This created health issues, environmental issues and political issues—but the money for immigrants and wealthier folks was hard to say no to. Money complicated what seems today as an obvious answer—shut down the mills when the smoke starts suffocating people. Most of the timeline reflects the manner in which the real fog settled in hung around for so long. That fog is the backdrop for my story. The heart of the story is the Pavlesic family whose troubles are exasperated (along with the whole town) by the debilitating industrial smog. Rose Pavlesic is tough—a no-nonsense public health nurse, wife, and mother who just wants her life in the proper order! Well, of course that can’t happen in fiction!

~After The Fog is already downloaded onto my Kindle Fire. I can't wait to read it! What have you found is the most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

--Besides the contentment I find in crafting stories and shaping fictional lives, the most satisfying part is being read. Having readers contact me to say they loved the book is just fantastic. I’m not supposed to care who likes it, if anyone likes it—it won’t stop me from writing if no one does—BUT, boy it’s nice to get a note or facebook post or tweet when someone does like it!

~Thank you again, Kathie for talking to us about your book and your publishing journey. Good luck with your writing and congratulations on being one of the top 5 Finalists in Kindle Book Review's Indie Book Award!

--Thank you, Denise, for having me to your blog. I appreciate the time you took to have me here and I look forward to hearing more about your work!

A love story wrapped in historical drama…In the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 “killing smog,” headstrong nurse Rose Pavlesic tends to her family and neighbors. Efficient and precise, she’s created a life that reflects everything she missed growing up as an orphan. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from the love of her life, Henry, her dutiful children, and large extended family. When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin? Will love be enough?

Join Kathleen Shoop and 9 other award-winning authors in the 
Featuring 10 Literary Fiction and Thriller Titles! 
Tues. Sept. 18-Wed., Sept. 19th.
10 Award winning books and SEVERAL chances to win a
$10, $20, or $50 Amazon gift card
(3 lucky WINNERS will be chosen!)
Click the image below for details

Want to learn more about Kathie Shoop? Check out her interview with Gemma Wilford.

You can also follow Kathie on Pinterest---Facebook and Twitter


  1. Fantastic interview! I didn't know that true events inspired After the Fog, and I can't wait to read this one. Rose sounds like a very cool character, and I am already imaginging the fog...I can't believe all of the hoops you were jumping through with the agent process, and I am so happy you decided to carry on without one! Readers love good stories...period. Thanks for sharing this interview, ladies! :-)

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Glad you liked the interview. Yes, Kathie's agent search was enlightening for me. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Kathie, you write so beautifully. I have loved all three (yes, the ARC of your third!) novels. You are truly gifted, and your research and the truth of your book comes out clearly in every scene. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. Sarah is so right - readers love good stories...period.
    Denise, thank you for hosting Kathie and bringing us this wonderful interview.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      It has been my pleasure and honor to interview Kathie. Thanks so much for visiting. :D

  3. Wow Denise what an amazing interview you did with Author Kathleen Shoop. I have also downloaded your book , After The Fog Kathleen and I can not wait to read it! I loved learning about how you chose self publishing to traditional publishing and how you came about doing that. This was such and inspiration to all aspiring writers! Wow Ladies! This was so amazing! Bravo!

    Syl Stein

    1. Hi Sylvia,
      Thank you for the kind words. I am so inspired by Kathie's answers! Thank you for stopping by!

    2. Dear Denise,

      Your most welcome and I think the interview was amazing and yes Kathie is very inspiring!

      Syl Stein

  4. Denise, thank you again for hosting me at your blog--you are so kind to do so!

    Sarah, thank you for your interest! The true events of the fog are compelling by themselves and I hope I did the truth justice in this fictional tale. Hope you like it!

    Melissa, you are always incredibly complimentary and so so supportive. I don't know how I would have gotten involved in networking like I have without you. Your praise is high, indeed, thank you!

    Sylvia, I'm so glad you liked the interview! The publishing world is tough no matter which path is chosen (a hybrid sounds great to me!), BUT, self-publishing has allowed me into the game and for that (technological advancements that allowed it) I will always feel so fortunate. Thank you Kindle, Nook and Kobo...Ipad,, the world has changed! Hope you enjoy the novel and thanks for your support.

    1. You're such a sweetheart, Kathie. It was such a pleasure to interview you.
      Good luck with all your writing endeavors!

    2. Dear Kathie,

      I absolutely loved it, it was so inspirational, and I agree that the publishing world is very tough. I am so inspired about the self publishing and I agree that the technological advancements have allowed for that to happen! I want to say how happy I am to here about your success and I most definitely will be enjoying your novel and your most welcome! You also give aspiring authors like myself the willingness to keep pushing forward. Great interview with Denise!

      Syl Stein

  5. Fantastic interview Denise, well done! I am just over half way reading After the Fog and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
    I really love your question regarding advice on self publishing and Kathleen's response truly fills an aspiring writer with confidence and determination in their work and is someone to idolise and aspire to be like.
    This interview really inspires you to write what you really want to write and not what publishers/editors/agents want you to write.
    Well done and good luck to Kathleen Shoop

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Gemma! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

  6. Great interview Denise. Kathy, thank you for your foresight and courage to move forward and independently publish your work. From the praise I've read here about After the Fog, it seems we've all benefited by your resolved. I'll make sure to add it to my winter reading list.

  7. Great interview! I especially liked the question on self-publishing. To hear the author give us her worries on going the self-pub route really reaches out to the readers on a personal level. I like it when the author seems like a real person.

    1. Hi Olivia! Yes, she really opened my eyes to keeping the self-pub route as an option for my novel (whenever it's done!)
      Thanks for stopping by.:)

  8. I downloaded your book too and can't wait to read it! Great Interview Denise. Good luck in your future endeavors Kathleen!

  9. Hi Denise and Kathie, thank you both for sharing this enlightening interview. It's made me want to read After The Fog even more!

    Like many others who have commented, I was interested in Kathie's thoughts about self-publishing versus the traditional route, having had to take that decision myself with my grandfather's books. It's so true - if you have a story worth telling, readers will want to read it, and it's fantastic that there are options for us out there now. Well done for persevering, Kathie!


    1. Hi Mike! Sorry I missed your comment.
      The more I hear about self-publishing, the more I want to research this option.
      Congratulations on your award!Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Replies
    1. Hi Sarah! I can't wait to read After The Fog. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by. :D


Thanks for your comments. I LOVE hearing from you! :D