Celebrating Texas Writers Month with us today is Kathleen Kent (Dallas).
For a chance to win a signed copy of Kathleen’s debut historical novel, The Heretic’s Daughter, leave a comment below by Tuesday, May 10.
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Giveaway for U.S. residents only.
Kathleen Kent is a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the first women hanged as a Salem witch. Kathleen is a recipient of the David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction. Her favorite authors are Annie Dillard, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, and William Gay.
In her first novel, Kathleen paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England but also of one family’s deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution. With The Heretic’s Daughter Kathleen Kent brings to life the defiance and courage of Martha Carrier through the eyes of her surviving daughter. Kent’s debut novel is filled with rich historical research as well as the drama and terror of a very contentious time.
Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?
A. I spent most of my childhood in Texas–Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio and Austin. But when I left the University of Texas for New York, I told myself I’d never move back. After 20 years of living and working in Manhattan, that attitude quickly changed when I had my son. The quality of family life was really challenged by the expense and difficulty of raising a small child in the city, and so my husband and I moved back to Dallas in 2000. It was the best thing we could have done as it not only allowed me to reconnect with my roots, it also afforded me the opportunity to start what I had long wanted to do—write a novel based on family history.
Q. How did you end up writing historical fiction?
A. I grew up hearing wonderful stories from my maternal grandparents about my grandmother, back nine generations: a woman named Martha Carrier who was one of the 19 men and women hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692. I kept a journal of many of these family tales, and spent quite a bit of time researching the traditional sources of the witch trials through college. I always wrote fiction for my own pleasure, but, because I chose to work in a finance-based industry, I never felt I had the time or the resources to tackle writing a novel until I moved back to Texas. My favorite books have often been historical novels, and so there was never a question for me as to how I would retell Martha’s story.
Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?
A. I think working for twenty years in the commercial marketplace helped to give me a sense of discipline, and the importance of creative marketing. Fortunately, my publisher has been extraordinarily supportive and generous in the marketing and publicity campaigns for both The Heretic’s Daughter and The Wolves of Andover. But I’ve always looked at the marketing strategies as a shared responsibility. For both the hardcover and paperback releases, I’ve brought to the table my own ideas of marketing development through pursuing book clubs, locally and nationally, social media such as blogging and Facebook, library and school talks, community events and finally through internet outreach. With the competitive and transitional nature of publishing now, it’s more important than ever, I believe, for the author to be creative, tireless, and resourceful in promoting a book.
Q. Tell us about your latest release. Is it set in Texas?
A. My most recent novel, The Wolves of Andover, is set in the colonies and in England during the mid-1600’s. It chronicles the life of Thomas Carrier, husband to Martha Carrier, who family legend and local lore claimed was a soldier during the English Civil War, lived to 109, stood 7 feet tall, and who was one of the executioners of King Charles I of England. My third novel, not yet finished, is set in Texas in 1870. It is my homage to a lot of the history and lore I grew up with—I really love larger-than-life characters and stories.
Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?
A. Readers and curious historians can visit my website at www.kathleenkent.com for background and history of the Carrier family and the Salem witch trials, and also for video links to both The Heretic’s Daughter and The Wolves of Andover.