Kathleen is a best-selling author of more than thirty books. In all, over 850,000 copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad. She has been named as a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest every year since its inception in 2003, often for more than one book.
In addition to her prolific writing career, Kathleen is also a publicist at Books & Such Literary Agency. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, the Public Relations Society of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Authors Guild and is also a degreed paralegal specializing in criminal and family law. A native Texan, Kathleen has three grown sons and a teenage daughter.
Kathleen, you have a new fiction release coming out soon. Can you begin by telling us a little about that novel?
I’m excited to announce that Anna Finch and the Hired Gun (Waterbrook/June 2010) will be on bookstore shelves soon! I’ve been a fan of all things western for as long as I can recall. However, my fascination with John Henry “Doc” Holliday began in 2007 when longtime friend and fellow Waterbrook author Tracey Bateman convinced me to slip away from the International Christian Retail Show and take a taxi down to Peachtree Street and the Margaret Mitchell House.
There, in the front parlor of the historic home, I first heard the details of the story behind the story of Gone With the Wind. The tale of Ashley and Melanie becomes all the more poignant when set against the backdrop of the truth of the real-life family members that Margaret Mitchell used as models. The character of Ashley Wilkes was inspired by Doc, her cousin by marriage, while Melanie was based on Margaret’s third cousin (and Doc’s first cousin) Mattie “Sister Melanie” Holliday.
Because the church refused marriage to first cousins, Doc and Mattie’s love was not to be. Doc went out West, some say as much to heal his heart after the loss of Mattie as to heal the lungs that had been scarred by the disease that ravaged them. Word eventually reached Doc that Mattie had joined a convent. Throughout the remainder of Doc’s life, he wrote letters to Mattie. Upon Mattie’s death, those letters were burned by a family member so no record of what Doc and Melanie shared remains.
It is in this void of information that I set Anna Finch and the Hired Gun. While I made every attempt to check every detail against the known history of the outlaw dentist, there are also gaps in time where Doc is unaccounted for. In addition, there are instances where only a second (or possibly third) man could have committed the crimes for which Doc Holliday was accused.
Like Anna Finch, I hope you find Doc Holliday unforgettable.
I see that you also write nonfiction and you have a book coming out this summer. What’s that book about?
Find yourself in a season of singleness? Need some comfort, encouragement, and advice for this transition? Look no further than Turning Points for divorced women, an inspirational roadmap to help you find new direction, power, contentment, and joy! Written by “single-again” bestselling authors Kathleen Y’Barbo and Janice Hanna, this navigational guide is packed with proven pointers, successful strategies, and faith-filled concepts, as well as stories by women who have walked a mile in your shoes. Divorce is a detour, not the end of the road. So get ready for an amazing adventure!
How did your experiences of traveling to exotic places like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Singapore play into your writing?
Not what you’d expect, actually. I learned how to avoid jet lag, which translates into being able to go without sleep for long periods while remaining relatively coherent – a skill I use often on deadlines!
If you could impart one piece of advice to a beginning writer, what wisdom would you share?
Write! It is that simple – and that HARD. In some ways I was blessed to have written two 100,000-word novels before I ever joined a writing group and learned how to write. There was something about the process of pouring words onto a page with an untrained hand that taught me to get the story down on paper first and learn how to polish the prose later. I still use that method much of the time.
Tell us about your approach to marketing and promotion.
I’m a publicist by trade and training, so this should come as second nature to me. Promoting others, however, comes much more natural than tooting my own horn. My approach, albeit reluctant at times, is to first concentrate on the most effective means of reaching my readers. Right now, that seems to mean working extensively in the realm of social media. I maintain an active Twitter and Facebook presence (as well as Linked In, ShoutLife, and others), guest on blogs, do interviews with bloggers and online media, do giveaways, and generally keep my name and the titles of my books present in those ways.
I like the hands-on approach because the marketing in me knows word of mouth is still the best way to sell books. Thus, I do book signings, respond to reader mail, attend conferences, and speak to book clubs and other events for readers. I’ve found that while some of these might not result in a huge number of books sold in the immediate, it does build relationships that send readers to stores over time for not only my current release but past and present ones as well.
What has your experience been with book giveaways? Have you found contests and giveaways to be helpful?
As I mentioned above, it is one of the tools in my publicity arsenal. I think contests are a great way of generating word-of-mouth sales as a contest recipient will often tell others about the book he or she has won. So, yes, they are helpful, but only so far as they can drive readers to your books, your website, and into a relationship with you via social media that will keep them coming back for more books.