K.H. Koehler does it all—writing, editing, cover design, formatting and marketing—and she does every bit of it with expert skill. The cover design for her upcoming book, To the Devil a Daughter, (pictured below) is just one example of the outstanding work she does. In this issue, we not only got to interview Ms. Koehler, but we also have an excerpt from her upcoming release, To the Devil a Daughter, a Vivian Summers Investigation. Enjoy the interview!
Tell us about the books you’ve written.
I like to call what I write multi-genre pulp. It’s a little bit of everything—horror, SF, urban fantasy, steampunk, mystery, and action/adventure. But the one thing it all has in common is fairly tight, focused plotlines and what (I like to think of, anyway) as an interesting array of characters. Mostly, they are stories about outsiders.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Since I tend to write about rather a lot of monsters—kaiju, vampires, etc.—no, they are not usually based on anything that I believe is actually out there. But my characters are all different composites of me or other people I’ve known—sometimes both.
Tell us about the cover/s.
As a graphic designer, I normally design my own covers. I prefer a lot of bold colors and clean lines. I tend to keep things fairly simple. Most of all, I like the cover to convey a deep emotion that will prepare the reader for the story inside the pages.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important?
Sometimes they’re an inside joke. For instance, I have a scene in The Devil You Know where Nick Englebrecht’s girlfriend humorously refers to him as “Old Nick.” Believe it or not, I’d had another name picked out for Nick, but I wanted to be able to use that one line in that one place, so I changed everything for the sake of it. I can be totally erratic that way.
Are you working on another book right now? What is it about?
At the moment, I’m working on my first Nick Englebrecht Mystery spinoff novel, To the Devil a Daughter, an urban fantasy novel that will be the first Vivian Summers Investigation. Vivian, formerly tightly tied into the Nick Englebrecht universe, will be walking her own witchy path in a very dark part of Philadelphia, which is home to a multitude of different monsters and supernatural beasties. There will be ancient Aztec gods, murderous warlocks, and a body-hopping resurrectionist involved. It will be fun!
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Editing?
Good lord, I started writing so long ago—right out of kindergarten, actually—I can’t even recall why I started. As for editing, I started working as an editor around 2001, with copyediting my on and off focus. About two years ago, I decided to go fulltime copyeditor. It’s extremely rewarding work and I love to watch my clients succeed.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing or editing?
For my writing, it’s just finding the time, these days.
How would you describe your work style for writing and editing?
I’m far more organized as an editor. As a writer, I tend to lean toward being a bit of a kamikaze in my approach. I mean well, and I outline everything I want to do, but then what usually happens is the story just takes over the driver’s seat. After that, I’m just along for the ride.
Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
I’m probably the only author on Planet Earth who doesn’t collect heroes. That’s not to say I don’t admire a large number of brilliant authors, but my work has always been extremely introspective.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’m a big fan of Norvell W. Page’s lean, mean prose.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
I pretty much hate everything I write at one point or another. Sometimes this resolves itself. At other times—not.
Writing about sex – easy or difficult?
I treat it like any other aspect of writing—dialog, action sequences, etc. It should absolutely reflect the personality of the person or people involved.
When are you going to write your autobiography?
I have a timeframe for that. It’s called never! Ha! I think biographies of all types should be reserved for the truly interesting types. I’m more your garden-variety, living-under-a-rock geek.
Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?
I have had uncreative jobs in the past. And the answer to that is a hell to the no. 🙂
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
This is assuming I’m actually sane. 😉
Do you admire your own work?
Absolutely not. All I ever see are the flaws.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novels or getting it published that you would change?
I’ve actually asked myself this a few times more recently. My knee-jerk response is to say I would have loved it if it were easier. But it’s always been adversity that has inspired my ideas and workarounds. So, in many ways, I think things went pretty much exactly to plan to create the artist and author I needed to become.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I have a number of sneaky techniques—what I call my guerilla marketing style. I still sometimes employ them—mostly, they involve using file sharing as a promotional point—but more recently, with my increase in clients, I’ve been utilizing social networking more than anything else to push new books.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I once received a review from a disgruntled reader who admitted they didn’t actually read the book. I didn’t think of that as tough, but it was pretty darn hilarious. The best compliment I ever received was from a reader who admitted my book kept her up all night.
What is the easiest thing about writing and editing?
I know it sounds crazy, but I find beginnings easy to craft. I usually have a clear and fairly splashy idea of how I want to launch a story.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It can vary, depending on time allowances. I only wrote a 120K book in less than a month, and yet it took me about three years to write Devil Dog Days, which is only 85K, because of a combination of work and fatigue.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and be sure to walk your own path. What works for your friend will likely not work the same for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment and create your own techniques for building and marketing your work. There is no “one size fits all.”
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
In my experience, reviews have had very little impact on my sales, either positively or negatively. (Though, sometimes, a negative review will get me a bit more visibility, so they are good for that.) I see them as ego-boosters for the author, but not true marketing points. They exist. But I don’t visit them very often or worry about them much at all.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
I don’t feel they do. In fact, I feel they can have a negative impact your career. As much as an author may feel that “free is good,” the reality is that “free” really just sends a message of desperation along. It can also negative impact a potential reader’s decision to drop coin on your work: “This book is free so, obviously, it’s not as important or well-produced as a professionally published book.” To that end, I frequently push professionalism above all else. There is also the added issue of “free book overload.” More often than not, readers have dozens—if not hundreds—of free books already residing on their ebook reading device. There is nothing to say your free book won’t go into a TBR void, never to emerge again.
You have struggled with depression. Can you share your experience?
It goes in cycles. I can be fine for months on end, and then take a sudden plunge. It’s actually surprisingly sudden. And, despite the often commonly misunderstood “depressed writer” mythos, depression does not actually help creativity in any way. Instead, it’s like being stuck at a way station for an indeterminate amount of time while you wait for “you” to return and make you a whole person once more. Once that happens, you can pick yourself up and continue on your life journey. But until that happens, you are stuck absolutely nowhere. It’s just a bleak landscape of nothing stretching on and on.
Besides writing, what are your interests?
I love collecting books, comics, and manga. And I’m a pretty good poultry farmer on the side. I often advise other beginning farmers and have written articles on micro-backyard farming.
Who are your heroes?
I’m a huge fan of can-do women: Mary Shelley, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr and all the other fierce females, many of whom are half-forgotten now for their contributions.
What is your greatest fear?
I’m not a huge fan of fear, to be honest. I’ve nearly died several times and it’s all worked out all right for me. Once you get past death, fear is just not the biggest of the big deals in the world. It’s somewhat numbing.
Your proudest achievement?
I’ll let you know when I experience it.
What is your biggest regret and why?
Like fear, I don’t do regret. I find it’s a useless emotion. It changes nothing. I like to keep moving forward at all times.
What were you like at school?
I was a Brian Johnson/Allison Reynolds/John Bender (from The Breakfast Club) hybrid of a monster. I liked being a geek, but I wouldn’t tell anyone that. Gotta protect yourself. I was probably the ultimate outsider like Allison, but I’d learned very well to blend in. In that way, I managed to become fairly invisible. At the same time, I did tend to get in all kinds of trouble regardless of how I conducted myself. I seemed to attract it at every end. I remember cliques of boys who would follow me around, wanting to bash my face in. Later on, I learned how to defend myself. High school, am I right?
Were you good at English?
Yes. But I hid that. Only you guys know!
Thank you very much for taking part in this interview!
K.H. Koehler is the author of various novels and novellas in the genres of horror, SF, dark fantasy, steampunk and young and new adult. She is the owner of KH Koehler Books and KH Koehler Design, which specializes in graphic design and professional copyediting. Her books are widely available at all major online distributors and her covers have appeared on numerous books in many different genres. Her short work has appeared in various anthologies, and her novel series include The Kaiju Hunter, The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries, Anti-Heroes, Planet of Dinosaurs, The Nick Englebrecht Mysteries, and The Archaeologists. She is the author of multiple Amazon bestsellers, and was one of the founders and chief editors of KHP Publishers, which published genre fiction from 2001 to 2015. She has over fifteen years experience in the publishing industry as a writer, ghostwriter, copyeditor, commercial book cover designer, formatter and marketer. Visit her website at https://khkoehler.net
Read an excerpt from To The Devil A Daughter here.
Interested in checking out K.H.’s Koehler’s titles? Visit her Amazon Page.
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