Herman’s life is a myriad of suspense
stories, fishing trips with her husband, and spending time with her
grandchildren enjoying God’s creation. Though she began her writing
career later in life, Kathy has enjoyed much success. Striving to
follow where God leads, Kathy balances her writing career with a busy,
close-knit family that supports her effort to keep her writing
suspenseful, successful, and a showcase of God’s love and mercy.
associated with the Christian book market for years
in jobs ranging from buyer to human resource management.When did you
recognize that you were called to write stories for this market? Have
you always loved to write?
I wasn’t published until I was
fifty-one. I never aspired to be a
writer. I loved writing poetry from an early age and always knew I had
a flair for writing. It served me well in every job I had. But it
wasn’t until I was the buyer/manager for the children’s department in
our family-owned Christian retail store that the thought ever hit me
that I might have something to offer this market. Since I had read
every book in the children’s department and had helped hundreds of
parents find just the right book for their kids, surely I could write
one. I had even contacted a children’s author and suggested a more
meaningful ending for her book. She had the publisher change it in the
It wasn’t until I retired from
the bookstore that I began writing
children’s books. I was overflowing with confidence and anticipation as
I sat at my laptop, my fingers itching with creativity. Much to my
chagrin, I spent the next two weeks staring at a blank screen! All my
book knowledge didn’t equate to anything creative. Finally my husband,
Paul, sensed that I was getting depressed and said, “Honey, write
something—anything—it doesn’t have to be a kid’s book.”
So I wrote a detailed and
mysterious scene that involved a detective
sitting on a park bench, staring out at a beautiful lake, intently
waiting for something to come up to the surface. I had no idea what it
was, but the thought intrigued me. The next day, after being confronted
again with a blank screen, I focused on this scene and completely
reworked it, finally writing what later became the prologue to my first
novel, Tested by Fire. I’ve been writing suspense novels ever since.
novel, Tested by Fire, was a CBA national best
seller. Did this surprise you? How did it affect the stories that
followed in the wake of its success?
It was surreal just being
published—not to mention having a best
seller right off the bat. The significance didn’t really hit me until
later. It was exciting and humbling to have achieved three months of
best-seller status on my first effort, but it was also a hard act to
follow. I didn’t let that affect my writing. Each story got the same
attention to detail. Not all of my books have made the CBA best-seller
list, but they’ve all done well.
that challenge my thinking” is a quote from
your Website that seems to encapsulate the heart of your stories. Which
of your stories best exemplifies this goal? Why is it your favorite?
That’s hard to answer because
each of my books challenged my
thinking, and my favorite is always the one I’m currently working on. I
think my two most recent series, the Sophie Trace Trilogy and Secrets
of Roux River Bayou, are far superior from a writing standpoint. But
the story that impacted me most and will be forever engraved on my
heart is my second in the Baxter Series, Day of Reckoning.
is a story of a young man, Wayne Purdy, whose father was laid off five
years earlier. The hardship the family endured as a result was so
severe that he became bitter and sought revenge on his father’s former
boss by kidnapping his sixteen-year-old daughter and her best friend.
One of the girls who didn’t cower in fear and refused to hate
him—because she knew she was going to die and didn’t want to face Jesus
with hate in her heart—confronted Wayne spiritually.
Numerous adult readers found the
message in this story
life-changing. I also heard from a fourteen-year-old girl who said she
had hated someone who had hurt her, but decided that if Sherry
Kennsington (my character) could forgive Wayne for all he had done, she
could forgive too!
find the words suspense and Christian fiction
mutually exclusive. You capture the essence of this very popular genre
in this statement: “Stories can present the application of biblical
truth through the actions of believable characters facing true-to-life,
even gut-wrenching, dilemmas yet provide safe boundaries in which to
consider what we would or wouldn’t do given the same situations. In a
very real sense, a well-crafted story is a means to gain life
experience without suffering loss.” How has this philosophy become the
bedrock of your stories?
one of the temperaments that thinks a lot about “worst case scenarios”
and then tries to improve upon them so if I’m ever faced with a crisis,
I know what I’ll do. When I write, I want to provide a true-to-life
crisis that will cause the reader consider what he or she would do
given the same circumstances. For example, in my newest book, False
(March 2011), my main character has a dark secret she has withheld from
everyone, even her husband. That dark secret required many lies to keep
it intact. When circumstances force her to finally admit the truth, she
stands to lose everything she holds dear. Through a series of painful
and terrifying experiences, she learns that it took a lot more energy
to hide the truth than to confront it. That’s a lesson we probably all
need to remember. Secrecy is never positive when it’s done to cover our
tracks. The truth will always catch up eventually and confrontation is
inevitable, if not in this life, then in the next. The truth really
does set us free, and after we experience that freedom, we often wonder
why we worked so hard to conceal it. The consequences of telling the
truth is often less painful than the consequences of withholding it.
It’s never too late to do the right thing.
quoting from your Website: “My
stories rarely come to me until I actually sit down and begin typing.
In fact, what intrigues me most (and sometimes plays havoc with my
deadlines) is that I don’t outline the stories.” Tell us a little about
this very writing style!
I’m what is known as a
seat-of-the-pants writer (aka “pantser”),
which means I don’t follow an outline or know the storyline in its
entirety before I begin. Every writer is different, and even pantsers
are different in how we approach a story.
I start with a Scripture verse.
Then I choose the setting. For example, False Pretenses,
the first book in the Secrets of Roux River Bayou Series, is based on
Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we
must give account” (NIV). The story is set in the bayou country of
Louisiana. Before I started writing, my husband and I drove to
Louisiana and wandered around the region, taking notes, meeting people,
and noting the unique architecture, customs, and manner of speech. Then
I found a physical location and mentally inserted my fictional town.
That picture will be in my mind and imagination while I’m writing the
Roux River books.
Once I had researched the
location, I began writing the prologue. I
never know what is going to flow from my fingertips. Then I created a
cast of characters and brainstormed the storyline. The plot ALWAYS
deepens as the story comes together, and there will be twists and turns
I have no idea about at this stage.
Once I have a barebones idea of
the story line, I start typing and the characters take the story where
it needs to go.
What does a
typical writing day look like in your life?
My usual routine is to answer
e-mail and take care of business so
that by 9:00 a.m. I’m writing something in my WIP. And I usually do
that six days a week until about 6:00 p.m.—sometimes longer. Before I
start writing new material, I reread my work from the previous day and
edit it. I have found that I prefer closure, so getting the editing
done before moving on helps me to let it go. As I make changes to the
story, I often have to go back and add something to previous chapters
for consistency. But for the most part, when I’m finished there is
little to no shuffling of paragraphs or chapters. The book is ready for
my final editorial changes before sending it to my line editor. Writing
is a full-time job for me. I’m committed to taking Sundays off, but I
haven’t been able to justify relaxing on Saturdays when I know a
deadline is out there.
Roux River Bayou is the beginning of your latest
writing project. Can you tell give us a sneak peek into this exciting
series? What are you most excited about in this series?
The first book, False
Pretenses, features Ethan and Vanessa
Langley from the Sophie Trace Trilogy, along with a new main character,
Zoe Broussard. Each story will deal with someone’s insidious secret. As
I mentioned earlier, this is a story about the importance of honesty
and accountability and how we will eventually reap what we sow, but it
also demonstrates the beauty of grace being extended in the most
unworthy of circumstances. A fun aspect of this series for me is
creating a town with authentic Cajun roots—street names, surnames,
cuisine, customs, history. It’s a suspense story, first and foremost,
but it’s got a strong element of historical too.
In addition to
your writing, your hobbies include fishing,
hummingbirds, travel, and photography. Can you tell us about your most
memorable fishing trip? Your favorite travel location?
can’t remember any place on earth where I’ve been more touched by
natural beauty than in the rainforest of Costa Rica or the glaciers of
Alaska. Those are my two favorite travel locations.
But my husband, Paul, and I have
also enjoyed deep-sea fishing in
Florida, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. One
adventure I’ll never forget was a five-day trip to Panama, where Paul
and I shared a chartered yacht with twelve male anglers and full crew.
I was the only female except for the maid. I was used to that. What I
wasn’t used to was the attitude of a couple of the anglers. There were
ten who thought it was great my husband and I fish together—and two who
didn’t take me seriously at all.
What is the
most exciting thing that God has shown/taught you lately?
Something the Lord seems to be
making clearer to me is the sense of
how quickly time is racing by, and how so much of what I once waited
for has now come to pass. In the same way, we are moving toward a time
when all His promises will be fulfilled. I have a wondrous sense of it.
That doesn’t sound terribly profound, but it feels profound. I long for
the new earth Randy Alcorn describes in his book Heaven.
time when things around the world are getting more unsettled, the world
economy is teetering, and safety is uncertain, it’s exciting to embrace
the fact that there really will be a new heaven and a new earth. And
believers really are going to reign with Christ for eternity.
What would you
most like to share with your readers about your passion for writing?
It thrills me to write stories
that inspire and challenge as well as
entertain, and I never take for granted the gift the Lord has entrusted
to me. What I love about writing fiction is that I’m able create
exciting stories where my characters live out the practical (and often
times difficult) application of biblical truth.
Ford has been a resident of
Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a
Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent
the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of
Christian Fiction for more than 20 years.
A mother of two teen sons and married to a technical writer and Army
veteran, Kim’s life is full and blessed. She and her husband also
volunteer as teachers for a resident rehab program for women with
life-controlling issues. She uses her fiction to encourage the ladies
she teaches. She blogs at: Window
To My World