Meet Author Kathleen Dienne…

Please welcome Kathleen Dienne. Her hot romantic short story “Get the Motor Running” just released at Etopia Press.

 

 

What’s summer without a little romance down by the beach?

Unfortunately, Kendra’s car dies the minute she arrives in Ocean City, and love is the last thing on her mind. No money, no parents to save her, and now no car, which she needs for her new summer job. Her summer is ruined, and she knows no one’s going to ride in on a white horse to save her.

Jim is no white knight—he’s a hard-working mechanic who’s been too busy to find time for love. Until love walks into his shop with a broken down Honda. He may not have a white horse, but he does have a motorcycle, and that may be all they need to get the motor running…

 

Annie: “Get the Motor Running” really captures the bright, easy fun of summer and romance. Did you set out to weave this into the story, or did it develop as you explored the characters in the Ocean City setting?

Kathleen: It definitely came from the characters. Summer love is so easy when you’re young and unencumbered. Heck, summer love is quicker than any other kind – you can see skin and smell pheromones. Instant attraction is a lot less complicated than it is when you have no idea what’s buried under the parkas.

Annie: Please talk a little about the heroine, Kendra, and the hero, Jim. What makes them interesting as characters. Were they difficult to write, or did they seem to spring easily from your mind to the page?

Kathleen: Oh, they were easy to write. (Too easy, see below.) The thing that I found interesting about them was the way they feel so much older than other people their age. They’ve been forced to be more resourceful and independent. But they’re still young, no matter how old they feel. They’re willing to take chances that will feel crazy to them when they’re settled and telling their own teenagers what not to do.

Their similar background is what made the romance possible. People want to feel connected, to not have to explain themselves. When they find that connection, romance often follows.

I imagined Kendra first. A free spirit, but not flighty or spacey. Why would a free spirit be practical and tough-minded? Maybe she had to be. Also, what would someone who was still basically a kid do if she got in a tough spot? I got to thinking about how people make it through tough times, and the answer is almost always “other people.”

As for Jim, I love blue-collar heroes. I’ve known so many guys like Jim, people who work with their hands, but to whom no stereotypes apply. All of my stories have at least one person who defies his or her stereotype.

I loved Kendra and Jim, probably too much – that’s why they star in a short story and not a novella or a novel. There just wasn’t a book-length story to tell about them. Once they decided to go for a relationship, that was it – they’re going to have a great summer. No conflict, no novel, you know?

Annie: Be honest, are your characters based on people you know?

Kathleen: That t-shirt that says “Be Nice Or I’ll Put You In My Novel” is mainly to make non-writers paranoid. 😉 If I’m writing about an insecure character, I might think about the most insecure person I know and the way she twirls her hair and picks at her cuticles, because you never say “Mary was insecure.” I need to show that she’s insecure in social situations. But the character wouldn’t be my friend. The character has her own reasons to be insecure, her own environment affecting her choices.

For example, Jim started life as a mechanic I once knew, but my old buddy was not an orphan. In fact, he lived with his parents. Jim’s an orphan, and that’s made him into a very self-reliant person who also understands that you need to live for today.

Annie: Well, do you put yourself into your stories?

Kathleen: Good grief, no. When I was trying to come up with the tagline for my author site, I seriously considered “Putting the erotic in neurotic since 2009.” I’m way too much of a scaredy cat to make for an interesting heroine. I mean, I’m in the stories in that I know what blushing feels like, or how being stood up can cycle a person through nausea, shock, and rage. But the actual adventures are all in my imagination, and the thing about the way I write is that I’m following the story the same way you are as a reader. I don’t know what’s going to happen until I turn the page, either!

Annie: I have to admit, you have quite a diverse set of skills—you’ve been a reporter, a theatrical stage manager, a ghostwriter, a sloganeer, a video game consultant, and a marketing analyst and a fiction writer. Aside from the ghostwriter/fiction writer jobs, do any of these other “hats” you’ve worn influence your writing, your style, or the stories you create?

Kathleen: Of course! Being a reporter was especially helpful, because I learned to watch subjects closely for the detail that would set my stories apart, make ‘em stick in a reader’s mind. Working in video games also helped me as a writer quite a bit – most of how I communicated with players was through text. It’s very easy to offend people when they can’t see your face or hear your voice, so you have to learn how to say what you mean with the perfect word.

This exact story grew out of my experiences doing summer stock theater.

Annie: Really?

Kathleen: Really. Those of us only in town for the season often had uneasy relationships with the permanent residents. If we did form friendships, they tended to be very intense and get off to a fast start.

But if I’m being totally honest, I wanted to write this story at this time because my office is really, really cold. The space heater overloads the fuse that my computer is on. I used to run an extension cord in from the next room, but that’s now my toddler’s room and a big cord snaking across the floor is asking for trouble. I keep picturing him touching the socket prongs. So… cold office. It helps to think warm thoughts. You can’t get warmer than a summer beach romance.

Annie: Would you live at the beach?

Kathleen: See above about being a scaredy cat. If I lived in a beach town, I would never be able to stop thinking about hurricanes, flood waters rising, ocean pollution, the humidity and salt rusting out my car, riptides, and jellyfish. (Sharks don’t bother you if you don’t bother them, but a jellyfish will mess you up just by existing.) Though it’s funny, I don’t think about any of that stuff when I’m on vacation. Then it’s all how awesome Coppertone smells and how much I love bodysurfing and boardwalk peanuts.

Annie: What are you working on now?

Kathleen: Remember what I said about warm thoughts? My hands may be turning into talons of ice, but my brain thinks it’s June in Tuscany with all the sunflowers blooming.

Annie: You’ve mentioned on your blog that you love edits. Naturally, as an editor, I approve…but perhaps you can share a bit on why you love edits. And for contrast, what about fiction writing to you detest?

Kathleen: I know what I mean to say whenever I write a story. The trouble is, as the writer I’m very close to my own story, and while I know some tricks to give myself some distance, that’s all they are – tricks. I’m never going to have the true detachment that an editor has.

A good editor can figure out my intentions, and collaborate with me to make sure I’ve done what I set out to do.

Also, I’m always trying to learn new things. For example, in “Get The Motor Running,” I was experimenting with a technique to give readers a sense of time passing without resorting to a hack trick like “Time passed for Kendra and Jim.” The thing about writing technique is that if it shows, you did it wrong. I never want anyone to read my stories and think, wow, what a cool trick she did there. The story is the only thing I want in a reader’s mind.

In edits for Motor, it fell to the lovely Miss Georgia to tell me that the technique both showed like poorly sanded spackle… and it failed in that she totally didn’t get what I was trying to do.

Great! I mean, sad for me that I wasn’t good enough to pull it off, but great for the book. She removed a barrier between the story and the reader’s mind. What writer wouldn’t want to remove barriers like that?

As for what I detest about writing: There are days when the stories just flow and I can’t bear to stop. Other days I feel completely incompetent and that the measly five hundred words I manage to type before the sitter has to leave are all awful. I detest those days, but here’s the thing – you can’t just say “screw it, I’m not gonna write today” on those bad days. If you want writing to be your job, you have to do your job.

As for “awful,” I’ve noticed when I sit down the next day, I find there’s barely a difference in quality between the easy text and the slog text. Okay, I also detest that – the stuff I write on inspired days ought to be better!

Annie: Thanks Kathleen!

Readers can find “Get the Motor Running” here: http://www.etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=21&=SID

What’s summer without a little romance down by the beach?

Unfortunately, Kendra’s car dies the minute she arrives in Ocean City, and love is the last thing on her mind. No money, no parents to save her, and now no car, which she needs for her new summer job. Her summer is ruined, and she knows no one’s going to ride in on a white horse to save her.

Jim is no white knight—he’s a hard-working mechanic who’s been too busy to find time for love. Until love walks into his shop with a broken down Honda. He may not have a white horse, but he does have a motorcycle, and that may be all they need to get the motor running…

About etopiapress

Etopia Press is an electronic publishing house dedicated to readers and authors. We're looking for the best, most unique, most well-crafted stories out there -- and we know they're out there. By taking advantage of emerging electronic markets and media, as well as existing online and print opportunities, we can provide readers with a wider variety of books and ideas, and give authors an opportunity to get the best editing and cover art in the business. The only requirement: the book has to be good. Good plots, interesting characters, engaging conflicts, well-crafted prose. Write a good book, and people will want to read it.
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