Author Kate Mathis, Living Lies, describes her book as a great “beach read.” Part romance, part spy thriller, Living Lies follows Melanie Ward, a secret agent who leaves the world of espionage and deceit when she is passed up for a promotion.
After almost a decade in banking, Mathis left the fluorescent lights to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a writer … and, unlike her main character, never looked back.
Why did you write Living Lies?
I started writing Living Lies when my twin daughters were about three. I’d been in banking for almost 9 years before then—I thought I’d always be part of corporate America. But, after they were born, I decided to stay home. It didn’t take long for me to start missing adult conversation: I missed people and couldn’t figure out a way to have it all, so I started to write. I’d always wanted to write, and I have a dozen unfinished stories from when I was in junior high and high school. This time, writing was an escape from laundry and dishes and I loved it.
What was your writing process?
I wrote on weekends at a local fast food restaurant. Thinking about the plot and the characters all week long so the short hours spent actually typing were efficient hours. I did this for almost three years.
My original story is nonexistent in the finished product—whittled away after many attempts at revision. It was sometimes difficult to delete those scenes, but the story outgrew my first idea.
How did you develop your main character?
The main character, Melanie Ward, is strong and courageous—she is capable of doing things that I think I can, but in reality can’t. She is flawed independence. Her voice came naturally, though there were times that it was difficult to decide which path to take with her.
How/why did you make the decision to mix two genres?
I didn’t purposely mix genres. I had made a conscious choice to write what I would like to read and I like to read a variety of subjects. I grew up reading science fiction and horror then, after I had kids, I read about fairies and magic and for myself I read light mysteries. I have a photo from when I was a freshman in high school—it’s a New Year’s Eve party, I’m with my parents and I’m carrying a book. Sad.
What was your favorite part of the process?
I enjoyed my characters, I liked them—I don’t know if they existed if we’d be friends but they’re a part of my life. They were the only people in my life who listened when I told them to do something. That was more than my kids, husband, or dogs.
The greatest challenge?
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get published, and I was right. I painfully opened dozens of scrap pieces of rejection “letters,” I quit a couple of times, I revised to suit different suggestions, I’m sure I cried and I repeatedly told myself that it was okay, because I was having fun.
Do you get writers block?
I haven’t had issues with writers block. I’ve been thinking about these people for years, getting to understand how they think and what their motivations are—they’ve invaded my waking and dreaming hours.
Do you have any advice for writers?
What worked for me is that I didn’t give up. I would be bummed by rejection or harsh criticism and threaten to quit but within a week I’d find myself back at my laptop with Melanie and Trish—fixing. Writing is a process and I’m a learner—with every sentence I hope to learn and do better.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
I’m grateful for my beginners ignorance. It added years to my finished product but I am a better writer because of the time spent. But, if I could go back, I wouldn’t have wasted time fretting over query letters and exact format of submission guidelines.
The sequel explores the lives of some of the secondary characters and the rivalry between Melanie and Finn Parker heats up. I’m excited about it and have been working nonstop to get it out for an early fall release.
And during the years while Living Lies was only living in my hard drive I began a young adult novel about a girl and a Elfin prince which is mostly complete and a woman’s fiction comedy that makes me laugh just thinking about it.
Tags: Author Q&A Fiction Kate Mathis Living Lies Novel Romance Spy Write On!