Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Take Five and Meet Author Katherine Valdez

I'm pleased to introduce you all to Katherine Valdez, who is a powerhouse, fun to be around and generous with her time and knowledge. 

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Katherine. Tell us, what inspired you to write your short stories “Little Red Riding Hood Seeks Vengeance” (Open Doors: Fractured Fairy Tales), “The Monster In Her Bedroom” (Havok Magazine Issue 1.1), and your essay “Voice Lessons” (Pooled Ink: Celebrating NCW's 2014 Contest Winners)?

Thank you for having me as a guest, L.A.! My personal life experiences inspired these stories. All the main characters move from a place of feeling powerless to one of strength, wisdom, and self-respect. I especially like that Little Red gets to kick wolf butt. That may have been the influence of writer-director Joss Whedon's TV show “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” in which we see the Buffy grow over seven seasonsfrom a high school student and reluctant superhero to a leader of other slayers who saves the world.

Voice Lessons received honorable mention in the 2014 Northern Colorado Writers creative nonfiction/personal essay contest, and describes recreating my life and finding my voice after leaving an emotionally and verbally abusive husband. I hope readers who know a friend or family member in such a relationship will encourage him or her to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233) to take steps toward escaping the situation safely.

Some of my stories have been dark, but I love writing humorous pieces, too. My secret dream is to do standup comedy. I loved Aisha Tyler's memoir Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation.

Expiration Date, to be published in the anthology BabyShoes: Celebrating Flash Fiction, starts on a satirical note with marriage becoming a one-year contract because life expectancy has increased so much. The idea came from a conversation with a friend.

My guest posts “CloseEncounters with David Sedaris” (Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents' Blog/Writer's Digest) and “TheEffect of Andrew McCarthy on the Female Brain” ( detail my embarrassing encounters with famous authors. It was fun to turn these experiences into what I hope were entertaining stories. The best part was that friends and acquaintances opened up about their own awkward moments when meeting authors they admire.

What were your experiences as a child that contributed to you becoming a writer?

A love of books, reading, and the local library, instilled in me and my sister by my dad. He built bookshelves to hold his collection (which included everything from White Fang by Jack London and Notes from The Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky to Carlos Castaneda's books). There were more books than towels and bedsheets in the linen closet. At the library, I checked out the maximum allowed 10 books almost every time, and loved novels by Madeleine L'Engle, the Choose Your Own Adventure series, teen romances, and Trixie Belden mysteries. My parents' home to this day is filled with my dad's eclectic collection of fiction and nonfiction books, and my mom's biographies of famous women.

I never outgrew my love of Young Adult books, and am glad to hear that a large portion of the YA audience consists of adult readers. You have parents discussing books like The Fault In Our Stars by John Green and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins with their teenagers. These authors tackle heavy duty topics related to identity, family, friendships, and relationships. Besides the authors named above, I love novels by Rainbow Rowell, Veronica Roth, Todd Mitchell, Donna Cooner, and Laura Resau, to name a few. I hope to write and publish YA novels one day.

Do day-to-day life experiences influence your stories?

Oh, definitely. Real life offers great inspiration and ideas for character's personality traits and story ideas. Like many writers, I like to eavesdrop when I'm in public place. It's easy. People don't realize how loudly they talk on their cell phones. Real-life dialogue can be funny, but sloppy and halting, so we have to make it more concise in fiction.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new story?

For flash fiction, I start with a character or plot idea, and just start writing. I usually don't outline. For example, the idea for my 450-word story “Expiration Date” came out of a conversation with a friend who said our society needs to rethink marriage, for various reasons. One is that life expectancy is a lot longer than it was in, say, the early 1900s. If you get married in your 20s and life expectancy is in the low 70s, isn't that a hell of a long time to be married to someone? Especially if you made a mistake and married someone who isn't your soul mate?
If I'm starting a novel, I review the notes I've made in a journal devoted to that book. Sometimes the journal is a simple spiral-bound notebook that I bought for 15 cents during back-to-school sales. Other times, it's a nice journal that a writer friend gave me with an inspiring quote and picture. I also sketch out the plot using the beat sheet from Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. I sometimes practice recognizing the various beats (plot points) when I watch movies.

If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?  And why?

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games series. She's real. She has flaws. Katniss may not be the nicest person, but she's honest, physically and mentally strong, and is sure of what's most important to her in the world: her sister. Her loyalty to and love for Prim is unwavering. Love makes her brave. And, of course, [SPOILER ALERT] she gets Peeta in the end. Not that she tried to. That's another great thing about this series. The protagonist's main goal is not to win over a boy; it's to save her sister's life.

If I were in a different mood, I might choose The Black Widow in The Avengers, because she's smart, strong, and not intimidated by anyone. And she kicks a lot of bad guy butt. (She has commitment issues, but I don't require my superheroes to undergo therapy.)

Give us a brief summary of “Expiration Date” in the upcoming anthology Baby Shoes: Celebrating Flash Fiction.

I'd be glad to share the opening lines.
    When life expectancy hit 95 years of age, married people around the world shouted, “Enough!”
   And just like that, the institution of marriage was reinvented.
   Marriage licenses became contracts you could renew on your anniversary. Or not.
   If you opted out, it was “good bye and good luck.” No hard feelings, no divorce fees, no guilt. The marriage simply expired.
   Attorneys protested, of course. So did politicians.
   But no one paid any attention to them.

Buy Links: 
“Little Red Riding Hood Seeks Vengeance” (OpenDoors: Fractured Fairy Tales)
“The Monster In Her Bedroom”
(Havok Magazine Issue 1.1)
“Voice Lessons”
(Pooled Ink: Celebrating NCW's 2014 Contest Winners)

Bio: Katherine Valdez grew up in Southern California wanting to be an astronaut or Vicky Austin in A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT by Madeleine L'Engle. She settled for newspaper reporter and nonprofit communications director (and 14er peak bagger/backpacker after moving to Colorado in 2002).

Katherine now spends her days hiking, reading, writing, and embarrassing herself when meeting famous authors (which you can read about on her website.) She throws emergency dance parties and wants to be Rainbow Rowell when she grows up.

Find Katherine:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest  | Amazon Author Page
and at her blog. Type your email address in the Follow box and watch for the confirmation email to complete the process. About two posts per month.


  1. Hi Katherine, Great to have you here today. When is Great Expectations due? No pun, honest.

  2. Great interview! I'm lucky enough to have the very talented Katherine in my critique group. She got me inspired to write flash fiction and I've written several pieces now.

  3. LOL. Thanks for a unique opportunity, LA! I appreciate the kind words in your intro.

    April--I'm very fortunate to be a member of a supportive and talented group. Glad you're writing flash fiction! Looking forward to reading your stories.


  4. Katherine, great post! Obviously your adventure in writing is very personal...those are the best kind. Thanks for sharing all the aspects of your life that make up your fictional characters

    I'm with you, Little Red kicking A on the BB Wolf is very deserving and rewarding, LOL!

    It sounds like you have such a well rounded literary background. That's so cool. I love YA novels, too. Maybe it's reliving my childhood through someone else's eyes? Who knows. I just know that if I'm judging a writing contest, I'll take the YA category every time.

    Thanks for sharing your insights and thoughts!!

    Thanks for hosting Kat, LA!!!