**AUTHOR PEEK** Interview with Author, Katherine Ramsland
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a fulltime writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share.
I have been writing for over two decades, moving (as we all do) from one genre to another. I started with a book about a philosopher, but then I wrote Anne Rice’s biography, which changed everything. Although I still teach at a university (in Pennsylvania), it’s now in forensic psychology and criminal justice, not philosophy. I’ve also been writing and publishing productively at the same time, so I’d say I have two full-time jobs.
My main hobby is going to movies. It’s a way to just leave the intense mental work of reading, researching, and writing for a while. I also like to travel. I try to set up book projects that will take me to interesting places. Piercing the Darkness got me to Paris, for example, while Cemetery Stories introduced me to Oaxaca, Ghost put me into numerous haunted areas, and The Witches’ Companion sent me to England and Scotland.
My forensic writing has introduced me to many interesting professionals, too, and has gradually transformed me into an international expert on serial murder. As a result, I’ve been able to design courses where I teach on serial crime, psychological sleuthing, and criminal behavioral analysis. Everything in my life seems to weave together, thanks to writing opportunities.
1. How did you get started writing?
Circuitously. I turned my doctoral dissertation into my first book, but I was already publishing a few short stories by then. The academic book was such an ordeal that I thought I’d never want to write again. Then I wrote Anne Rice’s biography, Prism of the Night, and loved the process so much that I thought I’d never want to do anything BUT write. And that book came about merely because I wanted to read about her but discovered that there wasn’t a book, so I figured, “Why don’t I just write one? How hard could it be?” Well, it was hard, but it was also exhilarating. From there I just kept moving more deeply into a writing career.
2. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Oh, so many, and that’s because writers typically must reinvent themselves to keep getting published. So, among my genres are biography, narrative nonfiction, encyclopedias, vampire novels, philosophy, psychological short stories, ghost stories, self-help, immersion journalism, romance, academic treatises, TV guidebooks, travel essays, blogs, interactive mysteries, co-written memoirs, investigative narratives, history, and true crime. Even a cookbook! I try to write about things that inspire my passion, but I also pay attention to what sells. No matter how much we want to write about what we love, the audience counts, too. I suspect that what I’m writing now will not be the last genre for me.
3. What is your favorite part of writing?
The feeling of focus and absolute solitude, as well as the process of learning new things. I don’t enjoy writing quite as much when I already know the subject, so it’s clear to me that my passion centers more in the expansive experience of research and learning than in just forming a narrative. And then, of course, I also love publishing and hearing from readers.
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
I don’t like the marketing, mostly because it takes so much time away from writing and also impairs my ability to focus. These days, we have to pay attention to so many possible marketing outlets, and so many new forms of digital selling, that it’s hard to get a good stretch of time to just think and write.
5. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
They’re everywhere. Sometimes ideas come my way through suggestions from others, but mostly I go find them. Stories come in the form of unique characters or strange (or dangerous) situations. When I meet someone or go someplace, I’m alert to story potential. There’s a “quickening” when it happens, and I move right into it to explore it further. I’ve met self-described vampires, ghost hunters, profilers, coroners, detectives, murderers, necrophiles – there are so many options. I love to watch a good story unfold once I’ve asked the right questions. I also read a lot, and within those sources I find crossover ideas that have not yet been explored. I wrote a book, Snap! Seizing Your Aha! Moments to describe how our inner databases can “snap” ideas for us. I have benefited from the formula I worked up (scan, sift, and solve) quite often.
6. What is it that makes your writing different from all the others in your genre?
I generally try to do things that no one else is doing, like jump into the vampire subculture as an “embedded journalist” who wears fangs and participates in clandestine activities, or go out with ghost hunters as a skeptic who’s willing to try anything – ANYTHING – to see a real ghost. Sometimes things get quite graphic, but I’m always curious. The way I bring scientific forensics and the scrutiny of logic together with supernatural investigations is pretty unusual.
7. Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?
It seems as if I’m reading all the time. I try to stop by about 9:00 at night, because otherwise I can’t sleep. After 9:00 is my movie time. My favorite genre has evolved. I used to like supernatural stories, but now I prefer to immerse in dense psychological suspense, like Dennis Lahane. I also read a lot of neuroscience, or crime history.
8. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
The book I just published digitally is Blood & Ghosts: Paranormal Forensic Investigations. I expect to also publish it as a regular paperback soon. Over the past year I also wrote five “e-shorts” in true crime for Rosetta’s Crimescape series. In addition, I finished a master’s thesis on neuroscience and serial murder, so my “next” book is still in the works. I have no pub date and cannot yet reveal the subject matter (it’s very dark), due to legal reasons. I also can’t predict when it will be finished, but it promises to be my capstone work, the gathering and culmination of so many of my writing threads. I’m quite excited about it.
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read more about Katherine and her release, BLOOD AND GHOSTS, on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench!
Katherine’s co-author on BLOOD AND GHOSTS, Mark Nesbitt, will be highlighted on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s this Friday with his favorite Halloween recipe as well as a special peek into his books.
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Katherine will give away an electronic copy of BLOOD AND GHOSTS to one reader who comments on today’s Interview or Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs. Winner will be randomly selected and announced Friday after 5 p.m. Thanks, Katherine, for sharing your story with us.