I have this split personality thing going on. Kay Charles, she’s the nice one (Doesn’t use the f-word. At least not in her books). As for that Patricia Lillie, she’s the evil twin. They had an argument over which name to use. They both think they won.
What kind of books/stories do you write?
As Patricia Lillie, I write quiet horror or weird fiction and in the past wrote picture books. As Kay Charles, I write cozy-ish mysteries.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure. Writers have always been vaunted, wonderful beings to me, and I have been both envious of them and worshipped them for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure when I got up the nerve to admit I wanted to attempt to become one.
What do you consider the most influential book you've ever read?
I think every book I’ve ever read has influenced me some how. I can still recite Ludwig Bemelmans’s MADELINE, the first book I ever checked out of a library, as well as many of the Dr. Seuss books with which I learned to read. I’ve read and re-read Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE about fifteen times since it was first published and it gets me every time. Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is probably responsible for my taste in horror. I was around eleven when I first read a collection of Harlan Ellison short stories (and the therapy bills are still arriving.) I discovered Agatha Christie around the same age. And then there’s Kate Wilhelm’s short, “The Funeral,” which still terrifies me when I revisit it. I think I need to stop now, because I can go on and on!
What other authors are you friends with, and how have they helped you become a better writer?
Most of the writers I know I met through grad school—Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction Program, either as classmates or faculty: V.M. Burns, Michelle Lane, Lana Hectman Ayers, Jessica Barlow, some guy named Cody Langille, Chris Shearer, Scott A. Johnson, Victoria Thompson—once again, I could go on, and I know I’m forgetting people and will feel bad about it later. All have helped by encouraging the good and pointing out the bad or sharing their knowledge and experience or being guinea pigs—I mean beta readers. I never would have finished my first novel, let alone had the nerve to send it out into the world without their support. Even if I somehow had, it would be a far lesser book.
What’s the best way you've found to market your books?
I am still fumbling around on this, and I think it depends a lot on genre. For the cozy-ish mystery, there are *a lot* of Facebook groups where authors interact with readers. Cozy readers appreciate the accessibility and love looking for new series, so reaching out to them online has been fun and productive. The quiet horror crowd doesn’t congregate on social media the same way. Since I haven’t done any genre related cons, I’m a total unknown to them. Finding ways to reach out is harder, but I keep trying. Word of mouth really seems to be the best marketing, but getting that started is tough! Right now, I think the best marketing would be to get the next books finished!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Although I sometimes research before beginning a book, since I’m a pantser I do most of my research while writing. I do Google searches and most important, take advantage of library resources. I’m lucky enough to have one dear friend who is a Reference Librarian at a public library and another who is Interim Director at an academic library. Between the two of them, they can find ANYTHING. The best research advice I can give any writer is befriend your local librarians. Take them cookies. And don’t say “but my local library is so small.” Doesn’t matter. Reference Librarians are WIZARDS. They can find anything and will go to the ends of the earth to do so.
Any last thoughts for our readers?
Readers are wonderful beings. Keep reading.
Links/promotional things (include any photos you would like)
Patricia Lillie’s website: patricialillie.com
Patricia Lillie’s Amazon page: amazon.com/author/patricialillie
Kay Charles’s website: kaycharles.com
Kay Charles’s Amazon page: amazon.com/author/kaycharles
Kay Charles on Facebook: facebook.com/KayCharlesMysteries