|Kathleen Morgan has received numerous awards for her work, including a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice award and Career Achievement award, and The Literary Times award for Literary Excellence in the Field of Romantic Fiction. She was also a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist. She now focuses her writing talents in the area of inspirational fiction, offering readers characters who struggle to redefine their growing faith in everyday life.
Favorite Verse: Psalms 27:1 - The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?
Our Interview with Kathleen Morgan
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a registered nurse with a master's degree in counseling. Between active duty and the reserves, I've got over 20 years time in as an Army nurse. I've been married 30 years to the same man, and am the mother of two sons and two step children. So far, thanks to the step children, I'm also a grandmother of four. I've been writing since 1985, and had my first book published in 1991. I wrote fifteen books for the secular market before deciding to make a major change and begin writing for the Christian market. <I>A Heart Divided<?I> will be my 15th book for the Christian market. Can’t believe I'll soon have a total of 30 published novels. Never thought, when I first started, that I'd ever have that many ideas.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
I've got a lot of favorite verses, and they change from time-to-time as I discover a new one particularly pertinent to where I'm at spiritually. Here's my current favorite, from Micah 6:8: The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
How did you get started writing Christian fiction?
After the death of my youngest son in 1996, my life changed in so many ways. It was then I looked at where my writing was going and decided I no longer wished to write for the secular market. After much thought and prayer, I submitted a book proposal to Revell and it was accepted. That book was Daughter of Joy, my first book for the Christian market.
How did you come up with the concept for A Heart Divided?
It was initially conceived many years ago as my first venture into a western romance for the secular market, and I had the first 8 chapters finished, then put it away to work on something else. There was a lot I liked about the characters and interior conflicts of the hero and heroine, though, and when I decided to develop a new western romance series for the Christian market, I decided I very much wanted to finish their stories. So I don't really recall the original reason for coming up with this story. It was very easy, however, to incorporate the theme of forgiveness and its relationship ramifications into the story on a deeper, more spiritual level, because even in my secular books, I always had a moral theme anyways.
How much of A Heart Divided is factual?
It's not based on a specific historical incident, but the descriptions of life at that time (1870s) is as factual as I could make it. I researched clothing, food, furniture, etc. appropriate for the time. All the characters are fictional, though.
How closely is A Heart Divided based on your life experiences?
Well, I always end up incorporating some aspect of my own spiritual journey or issues into all of my Christian books. Guess whatever issue I'm struggling with at the time ends up in my book in some form or another. I don't want to incorporate pat answers to serious spiritual questions into my books, and anything my characters work through in the course of the story are as honest and authentic as I can make them, at least from my point-of-view and Biblical interpretation, anyway. Hopefully, they'll seem so to at least some of my readers too.
How long did A Heart Divided take you to complete?
About 7 months or so.
Do you have a favorite character in A Heart Divided? Why?
I liked my hero and heroine very much, but the hero's brother, Nicholas, has a very special place in my heart. I liked him for his courage in the face of his severe disability, and how he never gave up hope and how he clung to God to help him rise
above his limitations to become the role model and inspiration for everyone else in the family.
How much research did A Heart Divided take?
A moderate amount. Since I wasn't pulling in any real historical characters or historical events, I didn't do as much as I will for the second book in the series, which is based around a real historical event. Problem with research, at least for me, is that I go looking for one little detail and two hours later I'm still reading, because I get so caught up in the research. I love learning about how people lived and acted in the past, and I have to force myself to stop reading and get back to writing.
What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing A Heart Divided?
Well, that's a hard question, as I find so much of what I learn in researching interesting. And I finished that book in January, over 9 months ago! But one thing I found interesting is how they stored food in those days, in stoneware crocks and preserving jars of stewed fruits sealed with wax and covered with cheesecloth, or in jars with zinc, screw on caps. Not that we still don't do a lot of that the same way today, but I just didn't know much about that sort of thing until I researched it (I blanch and freeze all my garden veggies, and have never canned or preserved, BTW). So, some of my readers won't necessarily find this interesting, but old hat. Me, though, I thought it was kind of fun to read about.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Staying within my publisher's word count for my books. I tend to go over it most times. Spent too many years learning to write longer books, I guess. Pulling myself out of a story I'm currently writing to stop and work on some aspect of the book soon to be published, like doing copy edits or proof reading galleys, is also another challenge. It's always hard to get back that emotional intensity needed to write a book from scratch. I do it, of course, but it just takes a lot of effort to get that momentum going again. It's a necessary evil, though, if you want your books to come out on a regular basis.
What was your favorite book(s) as a child?
That's hard as I absolutely loved to read as a child, and read voraciously. But I'll say the Black Stallion books and the Ramona and Beezus books, as those really stood out in my mind. That was in early elementary school. Then I moved onto the classics, like Three Musketeers, Quo Vadis, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Tale of Two Cities, Ivanhoe, Gone With the Wind, the Odyssey and the Illiad, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. Most, as you can see, were historical fiction. Guess that comes as a big surprise, doesn’t it?
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
Most definitely the independence of being my own boss, as well as the thrill of storytelling and discovering so much about my story as I write it. I'm like anyone else, and like to be surprised, and so especially savor the little, unexpected discoveries I make as I write. I also enjoy the fulfillment of a finished book, of holding that first copy in my hands just prior to its release. Even now, with soon to be 30 books of my own on my bookshelf above my desk, I frequently marvel that I was ever able to accomplish such a feat, much less continue to do so.
|What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I generally write chronologically, and follow an outline, which is really more like an overall story synopsis. I have general ideas where I want to go with the story, a theme worked out, major characters and their conflicts, and it all kind of comes together to make up a road map of where I'm headed. I have learned with experience, though, not to be so rigid as to avoid venturing off on a side road if that's where the story and characters end up taking me. In the end, you have to let your characters and their reactions to events drive the story, or it won't ring true.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Yes, they most certainly do. It's called "getting to know your characters". Once they become fully developed in your mind (personal history, likes, dislikes, desires, goals, interior and exterior conflicts, spiritual issues, etc.), you come to know how they'd react in any given situation in your story. And a smart author lets them go where they may, and do what they want to do. Makes for a much more interesting and authentic story.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
I'm currently working on book two of this new series, Heart of the Rockies. Book two (tentatively entitled A Tender Mercy) picks up soon after the end of A Heart Divided, and is the tale of a stepsister of book one's hero. I'm keeping my options open for book three's hero and heroine for a while longer. I've got a few interesting choices and, who knows? Maybe even more options will turn up before I'm done with book two.
What message would you like your readers to take from A Heart Divided?
That forgiveness is even more important to the one who was offended, than it might be to the offender. You can't move on with your own life, grow spiritually, and open your heart fully to God and others if you carry unresolved pain over some offense in your heart.
What is your greatest achievement?
Wow, that's another hard question, as I feel I've achieved a lot in my life! Being a wife and mother is quite an achievement, not to mention a lot of hard work. Becoming a nurse and being able to care for so many people, not to mention the personal growth and valuable life knowledge I've gained from it is a very important gift and achievement as well. Selling even one book and seeing it published is also quite an achievement, and then to have seen so many of my books published … well, I feel very fortunate and very blessed. Persevering in my spiritual journey and relationship with the Lord is also quite an achievement, one I strive anew each day to nurture and maintain. I try not to take anything for granted, but with God's grace do the very best I can.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
To share with others the great love God has for us. I try to convey that in the course of my stories, in what my characters go through and learn.
What do you do to get away from it all?
Oh, I don't have any problem getting away from it all. I've got way too many interests and hobbies, or at least would-be hobbies if I could find enough time. But I like reading, watching a good movie (though I am prone to over analyzing it and driving my family crazy), quilting, flower and vegetable gardening, playing with my dogs, and trying to learn to play the harp better. I also try to keep in touch with friends and "do lunch" with them from time-to-time. Relationships have to be nurtured to thrive and grow. Oh yes, I also love to sing in my church choir.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to inform readers of my upcoming book, A Heart Divided, which will be released in May 2010. If they keep an eye on my website, probably after the first of the New Year or so, I'll have the cover art and an excerpt available at www.kathleenmorgan.com. And if anyone's interested in being informed of upcoming releases, they can also go to my website to sign up for my newsletter.