...Kathryn Meyer Griffith
1. Tell me about your book Dinosaur Lake and where you got your inspiration for it?
Long story or short version? Well, here’s the long one. Of all my 16 novels it has the strangest story attached to its creation, death and rebirth…20 years later…of any of them.
Not so much because, as a few of my books, it took so long to write or publish, but because in 1993 it was contracted, edited and the final galleys had been proofed by me for a 5th paperback book release from Zebra (Kensington Publishing) after 3 earlier novels with Leisure Books. I even had a stack of the full-color, printed and embossed covers; it was only weeks before it was to go to the bookshelves (in those days the brick & mortar stores were still king, no Internet or ebooks). I strongly believed it’d be my breakout book. You know, the book that’d make my career and launch me into the stratosphere with Stephen King and Anne Rice? How wrong I’d be. But, hey, I thought who wouldn’t love a tale of a cunning but malevolent rampaging prehistoric dinosaur living in Crater Lake, Oregon, and the Park Ranger who, along with a ragtag gang of heroes who’d try to stop it? I mean, I’d always loved anything about dinosaurs…dinosaur books, playing with those little plastic figurines and watching old stop-action dinosaur movies of the 1950’s and 60’s…who hadn’t? Apparently someone. My new editor at Zebra.
By 1994, after four novels with them, I’d lost my sweet editor there and a new one took her place...and over the next year he didn’t like anything I wrote for him and later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my book (Predator…which never came out but still lingers to this very day like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves. When we were editing the book and deciding on the title and the cover, I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator (his choice as they hadn’t liked my American Loch Ness Monster title), bad title since there was a popular movie out of that name and the movie, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was nothing about a dinosaur; and the cover was awful, an empty boat on a lake…what!!! Having that book–my first ever–dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and my final edits were done! But nothing my agent or I could say or do would change their minds. They said they were cutting their horror lines and setting adrift a lot of their mid-list horror authors because horror (in 1994) was on the decline. The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “And no one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.” Yeah, sure.
And six months later Jurassic Park the book came out! We all know how that story ended, don’t we? People loved the book, the movies; they loved dinosaurs. I’ll never know the real reason they cut the book but that male editor never bought another book from me…which was another weird thing because when I’d met him in New York (I went for a Horror Convention) in the summer of 1993 he’d taken my husband and I out to lunch and gushed over me and said how much he’d loved my last release Witches. Hmmm.
Anyway, I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead. It never came out. I grieved.
I was so disgusted I stashed it in a drawer somewhere and tried to forget it.
Until now. After I’d finished revising and rereleasing all my new/old 15 books (and besides paperbacks they’re in ebooks for the first time ever) from Eternal Press/Damnation Books in June of 2012 I remembered about my American Loch Ness Monster novel, took it out and reread it.
Whoa, like a lot of my older novels now years later I could see what was wrong with it and how to fix it. Back then I hadn’t seen the head-hopping I did or the awkward phrasing, stiff or overly dramatic dialogue, repetitive words and other things I’ve learned since to recognize and stay away from. Of course, computers help make the editing so much easier. I think I’d done the original book on my electric typewriter.
Anyway, telling myself the dumping of that book had been a turning point in my writing life–sending me in the wrong direction for a long time apparently…I couldn’t sell a book for over eight long years after that until 2003 when my eighth novel finally came out–I decided to rewrite and finally release it. In fact, I was going to do something that twenty years ago would have been unheard of and frowned on…self-publish the book myself. With Kindle Direct. For the first time in forty years I was walking away from the traditional publishers and going on my own. Thank you J.A. Konrath’s blog. I figured I could sell the Kindle ebook a lot cheaper and, thus, use it to introduce (as enticement) more readers to my writing and perhaps, if they liked it, they’d buy more of my other fifteen novels, novellas and various short stories. It could work, right? So that’s the story behind Dinosaur Lake. Oh, and it has an amazing new cover I love by Dawne Dominque. I hope my readers will like it.
2. Where do you gain your inspiration/ideas from in general?
Anywhere, everywhere. A dream, a thought, a wisp of a memory, a newspaper blurb or article, something someone says or does or in the rustle of autumn leaves on a tangy fall day…who knows? Most of the time my book ideas just seem to come into the world in a way I have no control over. Poof. There’re just there.
3. How do your family feel about you being a writer/author?
Funny story, that. And I’m sure many other writers have the same one. Most of my family could care less if I’m a writer. In fact, most don’t read my books, never have and probably never will. And a lot of my family are readers. Some of them say it’s because they can hear ‘my voice’ and ‘see me’ behind the words and it’s too uncomfortable. They know me too well. Perhaps that’s true, but it still hurts at times to know that the people I care most about won’t read my stories. And I gave up years ago trying to persuade them. I don’t want anyone to read my tales who don’t really want to.
4. Is there anything that annoys you connected to writing or being a writer?
The lack of money? Over 40 years of writing and 30 of publishing not being able to live off all my hard work. That’s the worst part of being an author for me. I, like a lot of writers, don’t make much. Over the years my publishers have always taken such a huge chunk of my royalties. Over my career, I’ve made 4%, 7% and now…18% (after all is said and done with the sellers taking their cut right off the top and me sharing the left overs with my publishers). The other thing that annoys me about being a writer is that I have to always make the choice: should I spend the day making up fictional characters alone on my laptop…or go out and live among real, people, enjoy my life, today? It gets to be a bigger issue the older I get and as time, my life, becomes shorter.
5. Have you ever based a character on a friend or family member?
Of course. What writer hasn’t? People, character traits, events that happen around you and to people you know or have known always seems to bleed into a writer’s works. Well, one writes what one knows. Truthfully, my favourite characters have sometimes been based on myself and my singer/songwriter/musician brother. On all my siblings, really. Heck, my books always have some of my family and friends in them, either heavily or thinly cloaked. Ha, ha. Bad me.
6. Who is your favourite character/s you’ve created?
That would have to be the brother and sister singing duo, Cassandra and Johnny, who are my main characters in my end-of-days saga A Time of Demons. Kinda patterned after me and my brother Jim. Grin.
7. If you could hang out with one of your characters, what would you do together?
Just talk. I’d like to see if they know anything I don’t. Hmmm.
8. Is there anything you particularly like to write about? Is there anything you don’t?
I love to write about spooky stuff. Ghosts. The supernatural. About everyday people dealing with the supernatural.
I don’t like to write about human monsters…serial killers or people that torture other people. Hate that. (Though I did write a murder mystery once – All things Slip Away – which is now out again from Amazon Publishing, where the antagonist was a killer, but I portrayed him, in the end, as insane. And kept all scenes in good taste.) Or sadistic people. Or too much gratuitous sex and gore. I like a good story with sympathetic characters that the reader can care about. Otherwise, why would anyone care what happens to them?
9. What’s your next project? What do you look forward to in the future?
I’m polishing a vampire novel I wrote right before I started rewriting and rereleasing all my older (and two new) books for Damnation Books/Eternal Press in 2010. The future? I don’t know how long I’ll keep writing. I have been making up stories since 1971 and these days I know my time is limited. I think when my husband retires in 3 years we want to travel more. Live more. Maybe I’ll keep writing, maybe I won’t or maybe I’ll just slow down.
10. If one day you are world famous what would you entitle your auto-biography? And would you tell the whole truth?
I’d call it: The Story of an Almost Successful Author. Because though I’ve had 16 books, 2 novellas and 12 short stories published since 1984…I’ve never made the money I thought I should have/could have made on them. And I have no idea if I’m well known or not. Weird, huh?
11. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Right now (after the presidential race) I’d love to trade places with the President and see just what a president does. Really. Or, second best, I’d love to change places with a really wealthy person and see what it’s like not having to worry about money.
12. You’re about to walk the green mile, what do you have for your last meal?
Red Lobster shrimp dinner, hot fudge sundae and the best cup of coffee in the world.
13. What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday?
Spend the day at home with my husband, Russell. Have a sumptuous breakfast out together at IHop and afterwards come home to read the newspaper and then watch my favourite programs (Once Upon a Time, Good Wife and 666 Park Avenue) that night. Ah, heaven. I’m so easy to please.
14. You find a genies lamp and are granted three wishes. What would you wish for? (note: you cannot wish for more wishes, it’s cheating. )
(1)Peace in the world – with women ruling in all the top positions on the planet. The only way we’d ever have peace. Ha! As men’s nature is to war. (2) The temperature where I live to always be between 50-70 degrees (I hate the extreme sizzling heat lately of our summers). (3) I wish I’d have a runaway best seller…for once. Ha, ha.
15. If you could secretly observe one person for a day who would it be?
16. If you were offered a free ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If they could transport me by magic, as I’m terrified of flying over oceans, I’d want my husband and I to go to England and Ireland. Drive around for two weeks. Always wanted to go there. I think I was an English woman in another life.
An ancient predator has been reborn in the caves beneath Crater Lake …and it’s hungry.
And it’s decided it likes human beings. To eat.
And it can come up onto land.
So Henry, with the help of his wife, Ann; a young paleontologist named Justin; and a band of brave men, must not only protect his park and his people from the monster but somehow find where it lives and destroy it…before it can kill again.
About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
...In her own wordsSince childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)