Kathryn OHalloran

The following is the first ever interview ever presented on the In My Backpack web site. Back in those days, things were a bit shorter... seven questions and some quick links. It is my pleasure to bring this one back to the site...

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Welcome to the first “Lucky Seven” interview here at the In My Backpack web site. I’ve got a real treat for the debut of this piece.

The “Lucky Seven” process is simple… I e-mail a set of seven questions to a person and ask them to answer them. From the responses, and subsequent e-mail exchanges, I build the article you’ll find here. The final article might include a biography, links to the person’s web site or a method to contact them, and even more than seven questions if some point seems to develop into a separate idea.

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Kathryn O’Halloran is a woman I met because of my efforts in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). Although she didn’t participate in 2004, her author profile was still posted there. I was looking around the NaNo site, ended up connecting to her web site, and we began exchanging some information. Ultimately that led to this interview. (Note: the web site she ran back when originally posted is different. This link leads to her current web site.)

Kathryn lives in Australia, which means that much of her work won’t be familiar to many of you in the United States. She maintains her own web site, prepares her writing for submission in several markets, and also publishes her own online magazine of erotic literature, Lustre Magazine.

In late October and early November of 2004, she and I exchanged the following information. She has some tremendous thoughts on the subject of writing. There are some fantastic tips for writers in her answers, and some great comments on the classic advice to writers as well. But even if you aren’t a writer, Kathryn is a very interesting, very funny woman.


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I’ve always appreciated the way Kathryn has of presenting things… whether her fictional writing or a brief passage in her bio. So let’s just use some of her thoughts…

Kathryn is part couch potato, part femme fatale. Any day she doesn’t have to get out of her pyjamas is a good day for her. She was once told to write what she knows; despite that, she started writing erotica. Her first effort saw her winning a booty of sex toys and set her on a seedy literary journey. She finds the research grueling but she goes at it with guts and determination.

After having several short stories published, she is now concentrating on her first novel – a spicy chick lit novel. In her spare time she edits an online magazine of Australian erotic fiction.

How long have you been writing? And when did you start marketing your material?

I started writing as a child, like most people but stopped in my teens when I realised that anything committed to paper would end up in my mum’s hands no matter how carefully I hide it. It took me a long time to feel comfortable after that. I actually start writing again online, keeping journals in various forms for about five years now, because I felt that was safer. I think a lot of the process is going with things, feeling safe then branching out of the comfort zone until that feels safe.

With the marketing, again I started online, sending things to different web sites. In the past twelve months or so I’ve become more serious and now create monthly schedules for writing and submitting work. I used to hold on to things, waiting until I was “good enough” to be published but then I realised it was no good just hording stories on my computer. I needed to release them and create new things in their place.

What were (and are) some of the biggest problems you’ve encountered in trying to sell your work?

That no one wants to buy it! Seriously, the main problem is getting over the self doubts and fears. I think a lot of people judge their own work too harshly. Now I send things off and leave it to the editors to judge whether it is good enough or not. It is also important not to anguish too much. If a story is rejected it could be for many reasons – not the right market or the personal preferences of the editor. When my stories are rejected, I do a re-read and polish then send them out again.

You launched an on-line magazine… Lustre. What brought you to the decision to do that and how has it been received?

I was writing erotica and found that no one was publishing it in Australia. I thought that was a real shame and so ended up creating Lustre. I wanted to do something online because I didn’t want to take on a huge project that would dominate my time – and a print magazine would have all the extra work of distribution and printing. So far, it has been received well with lots of positive feedback.

I hate to use the word taboo, but it is about as close as I can get to describing the feeling that some may associate with erotic literature. That’s one of the primary genre’s you work in, and the dominant one for Lustre. What have been your experiences working in this field… both in producing it and in marketing it?

I haven’t encountered any problems. There is a huge market for erotic writing that goes from the straight out pornography to literary work and I’d like to think my work is more on the literary side. I’ve always published under my own name and not kept it a secret but, on the other hand, don’t exactly broadcast it around the workplace or tell my nanna.

As far as producing work goes, sometimes you can get a bit jaded. If I’ve just had a bad dating experience or something like that then it is hard to put a positive angle on sex. Sometimes I’ve wanted to change lines from something like – ‘He crushed her tight against his hard body’ to ‘He crushed her tight against his hard body because he was a lying bastard who was going to use her then afterwards crush her like a discarded cigarette butt…’ You get the point!

What is the difference between publishing material on the internet and submitting it to more traditional publishers?

I think it varies. Some internet publishers are very professional while some sites let you upload anything you write. If you are working with an edited online journal I don’t think there is much difference to a print publisher. As far as writing erotica goes, I guess you are more anonymous if you are published in a print journal – even if you use your real name you are only identified if someone buys and reads that publication, whereas on the net your name will come up in a Google search!

How do you approach your writing? Do you use a schedule? Do you wait for inspiration to strike and run with it? Do you procrastinate until a deadline looms nearby and then hope for divine intervention?

I’m a great procrastinator but try to write to a schedule. I work on a monthly schedule – not so much a schedule of doing say 2 hours writing a day or whatever, but more a prioritised list of the things I want to achieve each month. I set this monthly because I do casual work and don’t know what my workload is going to be like from one week to the next. If I tried to schedule things on a weekly basis I’d go mad. Also, I’m working on a novel and have a mentor that helps me with this and we meet monthly so my schedule is organised around that. Basically two weeks a month working on the novel and two weeks on other projects.

I find it much easier to work to a list of priorities because I used to sit down to write and have a bunch of different projects buzzing in my head and not be able to settle down to just one thing. Now I know exactly what I’m doing, mostly.

I do write everyday even if it is just in my journal.

Depending on how you view the terms, there’s a big difference between being a “selling” writer and being a “professional” writer. How do you view the terms? And, what are some of the things you’d pass along to newer authors trying to get started?

I don’t know if there is that much difference. I’ve met a lot of people recently who talk about writing for the “love” and seem to be more into the bohemian lifestyle of being a writer than actually writing. To me, if you are only writing for the love of it then it’s a hobby. Sure writing is a great thing to do but to me, you have to prepared to work at the marketing side as much as the actual craft of writing. I mean, a doctor or a plumber or a gardener might (hopefully) do their work for the love of it also, but that doesn’t mean they do it for free.

I guess the main difference is that a “professional” has that professional attitude. Even as a beginner, they go about things in a business-like manner which doesn’t exclude creativity. For example, if you are submitting work to an editor even if you have never published before, you want to look like a professional, someone who takes their work seriously.

I don’t know that I have any sage advice to pass on but there is a great quote in one of my favourite novels, Hotel New Hampshire, that I can’t quote verbatim but is something about not wasting opportunities because you never know when there will be no more opportunities.

I looked it up – “You take every opportunity given you in this world, even if you have too many opportunities. One day the opportunities will stop, you know?”

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I want to thank Kathryn for participating in this interview. It was a thrill to work with her on it, and a pleasure to include it in the release of Time Just Drifts Away.

She has been busy since we first connected years ago, and I would be grateful if you took some time to check her out (and her work).

To visit Kathryn’s web site...

Kathryn O’Halloran


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com