Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Friends with Kathleen O'Connor

Welcome to our Friday Friends feature. This week we meet romantic suspense writer KATHLEEN O’CONNOR.

Kathleen is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and recipient of a James Michener Fellowship. She is the author of four novels and her short stories and articles have appeared in Good Housekeeping, Liguorian, St. Anthony Messenger, Redbook, Seventeen and Woman’s World. Her website is

HWH: Hi, Kathleen. Great to have you with us today. First of all, can you tell you what genre you write and what motivates you to write this type of book?

KATHLEEN: I’ve always been a romantic so write romance and romantic suspense.

HWH: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

KATHLEEN: A pantser. I write very character-driven fiction and let my characters take me to unintended places.

HWH: There seem to be a lot of us ‘pantsers’ around! But, having done the first draft, I edit and then re-edit, and re-edit again. How do you know when to stop ‘tweaking’ your manuscript?

KATHLEEN: There is that bleary-eyed moment when you know you can’t make it any better.

HWH: I’ll remember that! Now, what’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received or read?

KATHLEEN: Short story writer Michael Lee said when you think it’d done - the story or novel - put it away for a week and give it another look.

HWH: I think I’d probably then start editing again! In contrast to that, what’s your cure for ‘writer’s block’ or when you’re stuck at some point in your story?

KATHLEEN: I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and do the exercises she prescribes. It always works. Every morning you must write three pages of whatever is on your mind and it's amazing how that primes the pump for story ideas. She also believes in something called The Artist Date. She wants you to spend an hour or two a week and go somewhere alone that will delight your senses - a museum, a thrift shop, a florist or a scenic area. Anything that will delight the child within. I like to go to a vintage clothing shop and imagine who might have worn the fashions in a previous decade.

HWH: I like the idea of the Artist Date and I love your choice of a vintage clothing shop. I think we all have favourite characters from our books. Which, of all the characters you have created, is your favourite – and why?

KATHLEEN: Detective Sunny Cloud from my novel ‘No Doubt’ is my favourite because he’s had a hard life and instead of making him bitter it’s given him empathy. He’s also the best looking of all my characters.

HWH: You have two new books out. Can you tell us more about ‘Men of Paradise’ which has been released from The Wild Rose Press.

KATHLEEN: ‘Men of Paradise’ details what happens when two strangers inherit joint custody of an untrainable but adorable West Highland Terrier named Dudley. Lauren Pierce, owner of a gift-shop business, doesn't want to co-parent her dog with Yuma Hawk, the new Director of Security for the gated Florida community where she lives. She fears he will discover she is illegally raising her orphaned nephew in the age-restricted community. Also Lauren, disabled from birth with cerebral palsy, feels she has had enough rejection from men in her young life and doesn't need to meet any more. Only Dudley, the dog, understands why this unlikely duo was brought together.

HWH: Dudley sounds adorable – and very understanding!
Your second book, ‘A Private Matter’ was re-released from Whiskey Creek Press, having originally appeared as ‘No Accident.’ What’s it about?

KATHLEEN: Mitch Gallagher is obsessed with finding the killer of David Forjane. The young detective believes the murder’s proximity to the victim’s workplace is the key clue. Tess McConnell, a new hire, at the same corporation complicates the detective’s job though.
Unaware Gallagher is a recent widower, she comes on too strong and then feels terribly rejected when the grieving detective doesn’t respond. To get even, she ignores Gallagher and initiates some amateur sleuthing of her own. The detective suffers during this ‘cold shoulder’ treatment and eventually discovers he is more ready for a relationship than he realized. And it will take the efforts of both these characters to solve a murder where the killer left no clues.

HWH: Here’s the ‘taster’ that Kathleen has sent us about this intriguing story:

A Private Matter

December 18
David Forjane threw his briefcase in the back seat of his new red Saturn. It was a sporty enough car, but did not quite make the statement he desired. He was two years away from the blue BMW. Life was always a waiting game.
He peeled out of the garage anxious to get a mile away from the concrete fortress that was the Rayex Chemical Company. Something about the building affected radio reception, and he was now ready to hear the silky-voiced Samantha of WKAC. Always his companion for the commute home, she spun records for the heartsick and lovesick. He enjoyed their dim patter. Yesterday he heard his girlfriend call in and request a tune for David; a song called Gone. He could not quite believe it. It was his Peggy, of the repetitive conversation and robotic sex, doing something interesting and original. When Marta Johns serenaded him with, I’m beginning to see you’re growing bored with me, David answered, “Oh Peggy, I’ve been bored with you for a long time.”
He looked into the rear view mirror and was surprised to see the departmental loaner car barreling up behind. He thought he recognized the driver, but not the passenger. The twosome was going like hell and about to pass on the left. David reached down to turn on the radio.
A single bullet slammed through his brain before his hand reached the dial.

HWH: Wow – quite a teaser there! I definitely want to read more of this!

Many thanks for being with us, Kathleen, and best wishes for the success of your books, and many more to come, of course.

Please visit Kathleen’s website at

And the exciting news is that Kathleen has generously offered an e-copy of her book ‘Men of Paradise’. Anyone who leaves a comment will have their name ‘put in a hat’ and one lucky winner be selected. So good luck to all!

We hope to see you all again next week, when our guest will be CHRISTINE COLUMBUS. Meantime, have a look at the other blogs by Ana, Toni and Paula – and become a follower by clicking the link on the right. We’ll be very happy to have you with us.


  1. Hi Kathy, How lovely to see you here. I have read all your books and absolutely love them. I like the character of Mitch as he too as things he has to overcome. But I am in love with Sunny Cloud. He is a wonderful guy and very understanding of people. Probably because of his previous problems.Anyone who picks up your books is in for a treat. I know I can't wait for your next one.

    Kind regards, Margaret.

  2. Thanks Margaret and thanks so much Pauline for having me as a guest.

  3. Kathleen,
    Men of Paradise sounds great. I like already how you have woven in timely themes of cerebral palsy and an illegal child. Our lives are so complicated. A happy ending is just what we need. After a raucus journey, of course.
    Thanks for being a Friday Friend.

  4. Thanks Ana. I loved writing Men of Paradise.

  5. From Donna L Bolk (via email):
    Hi Kathleen,
    Visited the blog this morning.I wanted to leave a comment but for reasons unknown my computer wouldn't comply. Just wanted to let you know your novels sound great. Your excerpt was terrific and really caught my interest. I'm off to check out the rest of your site.

  6. From Jeannine (by email)
    Kathy, I always enjoy your books and writing.

  7. Oh, I just love the idea of an artist date. That sounds like it would be just the thing.

    Nice interview, ladies!

  8. Great interview! An artist date sounds wonderful. And I agree about setting your mss aside for a bit. It definitely lends perspective.
    Powerful excerpt too! Definitely a grabber. Best of luck!

  9. Great interview, ladies! Kathleen, I wish you the best of luck in all your writing endeavors.

    No need to put my name in the drawing since I already have a copy :-).

  10. Thanks Debra, Cate and Anne. And thank you Paula for posting the e-mail messages

  11. Hey, Kathleen,

    Thanks for being a guest! I have a question for you... The problem with my writing, I think, has to do with revisions. Can you give us some advice on what to look for when revising? Example, I try and cut words with -ly and -ing endings. I make sure all paragraphs on one page don't start with She or He. I use said most of the time for attribution tags. And I THINK I finally broke my habit of adding person A's dialogue to person B's action.

    Thanks so much!

  12. Hi Kathleen,

    Great interview. You have trod a similar path to me. I am published with Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press too.
    Love the sound of both your stories. Couldn't get more dramatic than a bullet in the head.
    Best of luck


  13. Toni, Sounds like you are doing great. He said is a lot less obtrusive than he barked, he growled, he spat or hissed. And then again once in awhile they work.

    I try to cut 500 words out of every chapter just as a game to see how lean I can get it.

  14. Margaret,

    We certainly do cross paths often at The Wild Rose and Whiskey Creek presses and I'm a big fan of your work.

  15. Paula,

    Thank you so much for the interview. You are a great hostess.