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A Book Lover's Library Interview With Kristen Houghton

 Interview with Author Kristen Houghton by Rebecca Graf for A book Lover's Library. ABLL would like to welcome author Kristen Houghton. Sit back and enjoy the interview.

Describe yourself as a writer.

Surprisingly, since I am not this way in some other areas of my life, I am a very organized writer. I like to write beginnings, middles, and endings in my stories in that order. This gives me a story timeline and lets me get inside the minds of my characters as if I am going through what is happening to them. Let's say that everything is going along smoothly in the beginning of the story and then something unexpected or traumatic happens, how does that impact one or more characters and how do they react? But I do sometimes write endings or future parts of a story if an idea comes to me.  My filing system on my computer is well-labeled with stories, story ideas, and articles.

Is laughter important to have in your writing?

 Very much so; laughter can help to heal so many things in life and I try to incorporate it in my humor stories. For instance my book No Woman Diets Alone – There’s Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut is all about humor in relationships. The stories in the book depict issues that can be fraught with stress, such as dieting, buying a house, planning a vacation, friends who can drive you crazy,etc We all relate to those. I insert a healthy dose of humor that makes it believably funny.

You are a journalist. How did you get into that business?

 I began writing articles, with my byline, for free for an online magazine. It was a good experience because my name and work did get noticed and I learned a great deal from the editor-in-chief. While I was there, a paying magazine contacted me and asked if I’d like to write a weekly column for them. That was the San Francisco Examiner.  My column covered everything from politics, to issues affecting women, to healthy, successful lifestyle. I’ve done work for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, the Style Channel, and HBO documentaries.

Did you always want to write?

 Well, I was always a story-teller and that’s what writers do; we tell stories. I was the little girl who could keep her friends interested for a couple of hours by telling all different types of stories. My imagination was, and is, very fertile and active. In high school I created a sort of soap opera and each day during study hall I would hand out the next part of the story. I made sure to always leave a cliffhanger of sorts with each new part to stir up anticipation.

How do you stand out against other writers?

 Relating to other people is a plus for me as a writer. People, even complete strangers, talk to me and tell me things about their lives.  I can take something they tell me that may seem simplistic and embellish it to make it a more interesting and readable story. I did that with an incident that happened to a couple on their way to my friend’s wedding. I turned what I was told into a horror story which is in the just released anthology book, The HorrorZine.   The couple was pleasantly surprised and the story received rave reviews.

You’re driving in the car. What do you see on a daily basis that could inspire your writing?

 Houses; they are treasure troves. Every house you see has stories hidden within them. I am a bit of a voyeur when it comes to looking into open windows as I drive by.

 Stopping at a light or stop sign, I’d sometimes see a lighted room and maybe people sitting there and I’d imagine a story. Or I might pass a side street and see a kitchen with someone cooking; another story.

Describe the books on your bookshelf.

 My reading tastes are eclectic, I just love reading. Everything is there, from the classics by Shakespeare, Austin, Dickens to Victorian English dramas such as John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, to the classic horror of Stephen King and Anne Rice. I also love The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series and anything written by Amy Tan especially The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Reading is my escape and my pleasure.

How are you as a traveler?

 I am ecstatically happy when I travel! From the moment I am on the way to my destination, I am in a new world with endless possibilities. From the things I see to the people I meet, all contribute to my life as a writer. I am what I call a lifelong learner; there’s always something new to learn and to explore and that adds to my writing.

What is the one spot in the world that you would love to travel to and just spend the time writing?

 There are actually two places where I’d like to live for a year each. One is the Kona coast on the Island of Hawaii. There’s a peace and serenity there, just perfect for writing in an outdoor “office”. The stories written there would be mystical and mysterious.

The other place  is Paris, a haven for many creative artists and writers. Imagine an apartment overlooking the beauty of the city and imagine all the stories just waiting to pop out of my head!

What are you working on now?

 The first book in my new Catherine Harlow, Private Investigator mystery series; it’s due out in 2013.  The book is already copyrighted and in pre-publication now with edits. I love my characters and truthfully the story seemed to tell itself. It was a very satisfying writing experience.

 I’m also working on a book of short horror stories guaranteed to make you lock your doors and check under the bed before going to sleep. It's very much in the tradition of the early Twilight Zone TV series, the old black and white ones. You were psychologically scared and that is my aim with these stories.

Thank you, Kristen, for stopping by. It was great having you.

Readers, if you want to read some terrific articles by Kristen Houghton work check out these links:

Huffington Post




01/01/2013 9:51am

Great interview and nice to meet you Kristen.

 Teddy Rose link

01/01/2013 12:05pm

" Every house you see has stories hidden within them.", I've always thought that too. Great interview!

01/02/2013 1:26pm

 Great interview! I love the part were she tells about the soap opera she wrote in high school. I admire people who know what they want so early in life!


Author Interview by Betsy Ashton of Write Now, Right Now

I sat down recently with Kristen Houghton after I read her novella, Welcome to Hell. I followed her columns in the Huffington Post and www.twodaymag.com and relate to many of the women's issues that are her favorite topic. Some of you may not know that Kristen writes wicked satire, although if you read my book review of Welcome to Hell, you'd know she is a wickedly funny satirist, albeit with a streak of dark humor. I asked Kristen to introduce herself.

I'm a teller of stories with a vivid imagaination. I like living in my head with the characters I create. Writing brings the people and situations in my imagination to life. I just completed the  first book in my new A Cate Harlow Private Investigation mystery series.  The book is already copyrighted and in pre-publication. I love my characters and truthfully the story seemed to tell itself. It was a very satisfying writing experience and I will be continuing the series. Even when I wrote articles there was more an element of a story than just facts.

Before we learn about your latest work, can you tell us the last two exciting places you visited? Why did you pick these destinations?

Ah, exciting places! Yes, I would love to tell you about those. My husband and I are scuba divers so we try to go on a dive once a year. Last year we dove in the Bahamas from the island of Exuma. This dive was especially beautiful and serene. 

My second exciting destination was in Miami. I was there for a magazine meeting; I had never been to Miami. Everything was fast-paced but there was a feeling of being laid-back too. So different from my home in NYC!

Now, let’s get to your novella. It’s not your first book, so please let our readers know about your others. 

My very first book, published by GPP Life Press, a self-help book for women called  And Then I'll Be Happy! It was launched in December 2009 and its success was a nice Christmas present. My second book is No Woman Diets Alone-There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut. There were twenty-six essays on relationship humor and it did very well. I've also written short horror stories that have appeared in the print anthology books, The Horror Zine.

Welcome to Hell is part black humor, part satire, part morality play. What gave you the idea to put a skeptic in hell and have him deny his new reality?  

Teddy likes to deal in reality and his idea of Hell was the fire and brimstone version. Arriving in a place that looks like a Caribbean resort and with a host who looks nothing like his idea of the Devil, makes him deny the truth of what they say is really Hell. Plus, I think there are times when, even though we know something is true, our fear makes us deny it. That's Teddy's dilemma.


How in the world did you get from writing about women’s issues for The Huffington Post to writing about a man in hell? Is there a secret message for men here?

Well, I love writing about women's issues but those issues are real, current, and what women experience. 
The fiction I love to write  gives me more leeway and creative freedom. There really wasn't a message for men there. I related to Teddy and writing about a man in this type of situation just seemed more comfortable for me. The author Anne Rice  often writes in the voice of her male characters and it seems natural and works well.



What are the last three books you read and why did you choose them?  

I love reading and don't get to read as much as I would like. I read Inferno by Dan Brown, because I enjoy his character Robert Langdon and because it references Dante's Divine Comedy, which I have always loved. I also read Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshowski novel, Breakdown. Currently I am reading The Associate by John Grisham, an author whose work I've loved since his first novel, A Time to Kill.


What haven’t I covered that you’d like to add?

Relating to other people is a plus for me as a writer. People, even complete strangers, talk to me and tell me things about their lives.  I can take something they tell me that may seem simplistic to them and embellish it to make it an interesting and readable story. I did that with an incident that happened to a couple on their way to my friend’s wedding. I turned what I was told into a horror story which is in the just released anthology book, The HorrorZine. The couple was pleasantly surprised and the story received rave reviews.

Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your time and insights with us. And for the shout-out for Mad Max Unintended Consequences. I don't know about the rest of you out there in Social Media Land, but I can't wait to read Catherine Harlow, Private Investigator.

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