AUTHOR INTERVIEW 38

Kathleen Bachus

Lake Champlain in Vermont, USA

Age 60

Originally from Chicago, K. A. Bachus has lived in England, Lithuania, and Japan and has visited several other countries, some during lengthy stays. Within the United States, she has lived in or visited all regions with the exception of Alaska. She is an Air Force veteran and retired criminal defense lawyer and once worked briefly as a newspaper reporter. She lives and writes in Vermont, where she adores the snow until March, at which time she wishes it gone, for God’s sake.
Frank Cardova never brings his work home with him, because his job entails support for a highly effective team of deadly operatives known as Charlemagne. The last thing he wants to see is a team member anywhere near his home, let alone sitting at the kitchen table drinking the martini meant for him. Frank had tried to designate Steve Donovan as the team’s new babysitter, but Steve is under threat from another source, and the team shows up in support with a new job offer. Labor Day weekend becomes the probationary period of Steve’s candidacy as the newest member of Charlemagne. Frank watches as Steve turns into a killer and as his own wife and daughter discover what his thirty year career has been all about. In this unauthorized, off the books op, it becomes a matter of saving the lives of Steve’s wife and young son without endangering Frank’s family.

Romelia: WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE AN ACTIVIST, AND WHAT KIND?

K.A. Bachus: In the series as a whole, women figure frequently and all are activists in one way or another, some defiantly, others with more subtlety. In Brevet Wedge, Theresa Vilseck vehemently stands up for the life of a friend, but I think the real activist is her mother, Maryann. She is an utterly typical middle class American housewife and mother of seven, but her wisdom, strength, sacrifice, and no-nonsense approach to the powerful, dangerous men who surround her has made her a hero to many readers, and rightly so.

Romelia: DO YOU PLAY MUSIC WHILE YOU WRITE – AND, IF SO, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

K.A. Bachus: Absolutely. Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto is a favorite, and becomes part of the story in my second book, Cetus Wedge. AC/DC and Metallica are two of my favorite bands. Metallica’s song Nothing Else Matters is my anthem and would make an appropriate theme for Charlemagne, the team name of my characters.

Romelia: HAVE PETS EVER GOTTEN IN THE WAY OF YOUR WRITING?

K.A. Bachus: No. Everybody else does: friends, family, telemarketers, the [expletive] telephone, but not my pets. They curl up and enjoy the peace as I tap the keyboard.

Romelia: IF YOUR BOOK WERE MADE INTO A MOVIE, WHICH ACTORS WOULD PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS?

K.A. Bachus: I don’t know that many actors, especially modern ones. I do know Charlie most resembles Sting when he was younger. Benedict Cumberbatch would make a good Louis. Misha resembles, in personality, the director of the chorus I sing with. He is not a film actor, but he is an opera singer. He sings bass.

Romelia: HAVE YOU EVER KILLED OFF A CHARACTER YOUR READERS LOVED?

K.A. Bachus: My daughter was very upset with me when Louis died. After that I wrote Lion Tamer, which occurs earlier in the team’s history. He figures prominently in the story. She loved him so much in this book she moaned at me again that he inevitably dies in another story.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT WRITING?

K.A. Bachus: Don’t fall in love with your words such that you cannot cut them when necessary.

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE WRITING SKILLS?

K.A. Bachus: Write. Constantly. Spend hours at it. The rest of your time, read.

Romelia: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO HELP OTHERS CREATE PLOT LINES?

K.A. Bachus: Start with the characters. What are they doing? Why? Picture how they interact with others. Then, keep asking yourself, what happens next?

Romelia: WHAT HAS HELPED OR HINDERED YOU MOST WHEN WRITING A BOOK?

K.A. Bachus: Interruptions and my own laziness are my main enemies. What helps is first of all, the discipline to start tapping the keyboard and keep at it even when I don’t think anything good will come of it. The best help, and the most fun, is just allowing my imagination free rein whenever I’m away from the keyboard, e.g., while driving or even just washing dishes.

Romelia: DOES WRITING ENERGIZE OR EXHAUST YOU? OR BOTH?

K.A. Bachus: It energizes me. I have to wind down after a successful day before I can sleep.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE BEST MONEY YOU’VE EVER SPENT WITH REGARD TO YOUR WRITING?

K.A. Bachus: I hired a couple of affordable beta readers for Brevet Wedge. One loved it, the other wanted to see more action in it. Both had wonderful criticisms and suggestions. I had always used friends before, but having somebody who does not know you is much more valuable. Even the suggestions I did not agree with made me more aware of the reader and sparked important changes. Best money I ever spent and was not a huge amount compared to so many other expenses in this field.

Romelia: WHAT ARE COMMON TRAPS FOR NEW AUTHORS?

K.A. Bachus: Giving up, for the moment, for an hour, for a day, for a year, for a lifetime.

Romelia: HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU WRITE?

K.A. Bachus: Maybe three at the keyboard, putting words on a page. An hour or more on the business that is the books. I spend most of my other waking time thinking about the current or next story, when it is not mandatory to give my attention elsewhere. I do not take any days off.

Romelia: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BLOGS OR WEBSITES FOR WRITERS?

K.A. Bachus: I have joined Writers Unite!, Indie Writers Unite!, and Indie Writer Book and Self Promotion on Facebook. All have been valuable. I also follow several authors and critics on Twitter and Goodreads.

Romelia: AT WHAT TIME OF THE DAY DO YOU DO MOST OF YOUR WRITING?

K.A. Bachus: In the early afternoon and then again in the early evening.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH CHARACTER NAMES FOR YOUR STORIES?

K.A. Bachus: I made up Misha when I was ten. His name is Michael. Vasily was the next character I made up. He called Michael Misha in an early short story and it stuck. Louis got his name because I needed a generic character type to fill a particular role and decided he should be French. He began as a rather generic character overall but developed a distinct personality almost without my knowing it. Mostly, I use common American names. If I need a foreign name, like when I named a Bulgarian bomber in Brevet Wedge, I look for the more common names within that culture.

Romelia: DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN WRITING CHALLENGES ON SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU RECOMMEND ANY?

K.A. Bachus: I have never done any and so have no recommendation one way or the other.

Romelia: IF YOU HAD THE POWER TO CURE A DISEASE OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

K.A. Bachus: COVID 19. (angry sarcasm alert) It’s the first disease with a fan base, at least in this country, who don’t believe it’s deadly and if it is, people die of something anyway, and besides, anything done to protect other people from illness and death constitutes government overreach.

Romelia: WHEN YOU’RE WRITING AN EMOTIONAL OR DIFFICULT SCENE, HOW DO YOU SET THE MOOD?

K.A. Bachus: I put myself there, but stay outside the action to report it accurately.

Romelia: WHOM DO YOU TRUST FOR OBJECTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF YOUR WORK?

K.A. Bachus: One of the beta readers I used on Brevet Wedge is especially good. I will hire her again. I also have a friend, a fellow lawyer and veteran, who is my number one critic of the marketing videos I make for each book. She convinced me to use more strings in the music.

Romelia: WHAT BOOKS DO YOU ENJOY READING?

K.A. Bachus: I am currently enjoying John Le Carré’s memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel. I also enjoy rereading Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series, beginning with Master and Commander. I like multiple volumes with strong, believable characters, well researched, thoughtful, and plenty of humor. That would be O’Brien, and also Shakespeare, by the way.

Romelia: ARE THERE ANY BOOKS OR AUTHORS THAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?

K.A. Bachus: John Le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I loved everything I read before that, but that book made me want to write it.

Romelia: NAME AN UNDERAPPRECIATED NOVEL THAT YOU LOVE.

K.A. Bachus: Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It has become more popular among younger geeks like me these days, but people looked at me strangely when I enthused about this really great book being dramatized by the BBC in 1979. The meaning of life is, of course, 42.

Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

K.A. Bachus: I practiced criminal defense law in south Texas, primarily in a rural county west of San Antonio. Everybody had horses, and those of us who haunted the courthouse were no exception. I rode dressage but also enjoyed trail riding. The County Prosecutor and several defense counsels were team ropers. The men all wore Western hats, boots, and string ties. I once borrowed a horse trailer from the court bailiff. At the end of the court’s pretrial docket he and I went down to the parking lot and swapped the trailer from his truck to mine. I hitched a horse trailer in the county courthouse parking lot wearing a nice suit, with skirt, nylons, and heels. At the time, it was unremarkable. Since then, it has become one of my fonder memories of Texas.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

K.A. Bachus: I like watching people and wondering what their lives are like. I especially love people who are different from me, who come from other cultures, who have a different cadence to their words, and a different outlook on life, the universe, and everything. (see #23)

What I hate about the world, and what makes it prime real estate for destruction by the Vogons (#23) to make way for a hyperspace bypass, is that we, the apex species, don’t think, don’t listen, don’t read, and consider illness and death of other people to be inconsequential against the inconvenience of wearing a mask or foregoing a party while the scientists work their asses off trying to find a solution. My characters, who are essentially assassins, have more respect for their targets than we do for the people living down the street from us. And don’t get me started about climate change.

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