Interview with contemp women’s fic author Kathleen Varn

Contemporary
women’s fiction author Kathleen Varn is here today. She’s doing a virtual book
tour with Goddess Fish for her novel Ameera
Unveiled.
Kathleen
will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during
the tour. To be entered to win, leave a comment below (and a way for Kathleen
to get in touch with you). To increase your chances of winning, visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too.
Bio:
Kat Varn’s
love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to
read. 

As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. As
the oldest daughter in a transient Navy family, words fed her imagination to
embrace adventure and magical worlds. Kat was drawn to the strength of little
girls in The Little Princess
and The Secret Garden.
Eventually, Kat dove into journaling between the pages of beautiful leather
notebooks, recording her children’s infant landmarks. Journaling also helped
her find solace in the grief of a toxic relationship. Throughout her journey to
extract her family from an unhealthy relationship, she explored the idea of
freedom through allegorical short stories. In the midst of angst and soul
searching, she retained a sense of humor that gave her the resilience to pursue
the search for her true self.

Kat is now very happily married to her
soul mate. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an
adoption attorney for twenty-three years. With her two children settled in
adulthood, she is exploring a beautiful world, from scuba diving in Fiji or
photographing from Alaska’s frozen tundra.
Welcome, Kat. Please
tell us about your current release.  
Ameera Unveiled was released by Boutique of Quality
Books (BQB) Publishing on July 25, 2013. My book has been described as a creative
path to genuine inner growth. Ameera
Unveiled
explores the restricted existence of an empty nester woman who
wants to face a forbidden zone—dance. My character, Kat, discovers a newfound
freedom through belly dancing. Eventually, while traveling a week with a
glittery ensemble of zealous belly dancing women, Kat/Ameera weaves strong
friendships as she faces her fears of stage freight and vulnerability. The
bottom line was becoming part of a larger and lifelong evasive experience, the
bonding of women.
What inspired you to write this book?
I believe
in facing issues resulting from being human and trying to get through a day—with
as much humor as possible. I don’t like sticking my head in the sand or holding
back because something is intimidating or might be difficult. When I decided to
take up belly dancing, I found a journey to a real belly dance troupe. For
three years, I was embraced and bonded with an eclectic group of women from
careers and family changes. They are such a gift in my life. When we travelled
to Jamaica for a week, it was a test of respecting each other’s strengths and
weaknesses. It was a surreal experience that inspired me to share and amuse
other women joined through some commonality other than being women. Borrowing
the words of Garth Brooks: “I could’ve missed the pain, but I would have missed
the dance.” I want my life to be tested by fire to remove the dross and leave a
pure heart. I hope Ameera Unveiled
inspires others to face their forbidden zones.
Excerpt:
1
The year 2006 was my year of change.
According to the Chinese calendar, it was the Year of the Dog, the same sign
under which I was born in 1958. Specifically, it was the Year of the Red Fire
Dog—I thought of it as the Year of the Hotdog.
In 1982, I was a Pentecostal wife and
a young mother and everything I knew about the Chinese zodiac came from
discreet glances at paper placemats at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets.
On one of these placemats, I’d read,
“The Dog symbolizes responsibility, loyalty, compatibility, and kindness. Dogs
frequently offer kind words and useful advice, always listening and lending a
shoulder when necessary. Ensuring others are happy is more important to the Dog
than wealth, money, or success. Dogs can benefit by learning to relax and being
more rational.”
Pondering this description, I’d looked
at my four-year-old daughter Isabella and then-husband Chris, a Pentecostal
preacher’s son, and thought, Nothing new to me.
But that was then . . .
Now, twenty-four years and a new
husband later—we’d married in 2002 after a five-year courtship—I was standing
at the front door of a beautiful home that my husband and I had built together,
looking out at the wetlands. The sun was rising, highlighting spider webs heavy
with dew among the marsh grass. I’d no reason to be up early, since I’d retired
from running a sole practitioner’s legal practice shortly after my remarriage,
but my mind was still cluttered.
My late-stepfather’s estate had closed
and our new Italian restaurant had opened in a problematic building
downtown—part of a real estate legacy left for my soul mate, Steve, to manage
for his family.
Early in the summer, my son Aiden had
graduated high school. As we neared the end of August, I’d packed his bags for
a trip to Europe with his father—my ex—and bade him good-bye.
With parental responsibilities waning,
I had turned my focus to . . . me! Yet, even as I was preparing to send Aiden
on his adventure, I’d stumbled on a goal for myself when I pulled out the local
high school’s adult education class schedule and found a beginner’s belly
dancing class. Course description: Basic introduction to belly dancing. No
dance experience required: six weeks for $55. First class starts September 12.
Register online.
After I had found this, in no time at all, I was staring
at the registration website, stressing and resisting the urge to say a few bad
words throughout the online ordeal.
I’d toyed with the idea of enrolling
in a dance class for more than a year. I’d dreamed of dance classes for what
seemed a lifetime—ever since I completed the arduous commitment to homeschool
my son Aiden during his junior year of high school. Aiden had argued to be
homeschooled for at least a year since my retirement in 2004. I’d allowed my
daughter Isabella to do it until she enrolled in high school, but after my 1994
divorce I wasn’t able to homeschool while working full time and heading a
single-parent household.
So I’d agreed to his request. Not only
had I taken on a teaching role that had put my new life on hold, I had to teach
chemistry, which was anything but fun. Before and after his instruction time,
I’d spent hours studying elements and stoichiometry. Together with extra
knowledge, I’d gained extra pounds as a deskbound parent. As a fortyish mom who
was only five-foot-three, I didn’t distribute those twelve extra pounds well.
They attached to “the sisters” and found residence in the love handles that
were not so fashionably referred to as “muffin tops.” That added smidgen to my
waistline made my love handles scream, “Surrender to the idea of wearing
elastic waistbands!”
I wanted to return to my
fighting—excuse me—dancing weight. I’d always wanted to find my Red Shoes and
dance, dance, dance. Instead, adult education and the realities of being in my
forties were leading me to consider bare feet, a hip scarf, and a choli. All I
had to do was click on “Register Now” and I’d be on my way to instant
shimmyness.
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’ve toyed
with several scenarios that had marinated before I conceived Ameera Unveiled. I’m researching some
historical facts of the 1960s and 1970s from the perspective of military baby
boomers. I’ve been asked if there is a sequel to Ameera Unveiled. I may be collaborating with one of our troupe
member’s battle with breast cancer. There are so many stories just from having
travelled through five decades of amazing American history.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I grew up
in the days of snail mail and diaries. Writing was a natural extension of
communication. Even telephone communication had limitations and to some degree
considered a luxury. As I left friends behind on the next move, we stayed in
touch with a two cent postal stamp.
After high
school, I worked for an attorney for twenty-three years and edited his
correspondence while transcribing his dictation. I journaled and wrote long
descriptive letters to my one hundred year old aunt for her amusement. As I
explained above, retired and with more free time, I consulted with a book
coach. I met Shari Stauch of WhereWritersWin and she saw a glittery seed in my book
pitch. She pushed me to find my writing cadence and pushed me when I tried to
soften my character’s journey. It was Shari’s faith in my words that made me
dare to call myself a writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I feel like
I write full-time! I spend a lot of time in my media room with computer in my
lap while listening to television shows. If I remember to grab something to
eat, it is usually Ramen noodles with hot sauce. When I hit a tough spot, I’ll
spend time researching or scouring my photo files to assist in rounding out the
scene or character. I don’t usually find time to formally write if my husband
and I are travelling. But, I do try and file away something someone said or
capture a beautiful building with my camera.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I embrace spinning
a humorous twist in the midst of a conflict or relationship. Growing up with an
Irish twin with the same sense of humor, we’ve poked fun and made positive spins
on some very hard situations and losses. I love when I hear someone tell me: “I
felt and saw what so-and-so was doing in chapter…”
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
I grew up
in a transient military lifestyle that exposed me to many States and types of
communities. The social climate of women breaking into professional
male-dominated careers was in its infancy stage. For many reasons, including
financial restrictions, I did not have a college option. Because of Hollywood’s
influence, I assumed I would find work in some type of clerical office but I was
attracted to a counselor type job.
Inadvertently,
I accepted a job with a private adoption attorney which honed my natural
propensity for social work. I feel blessed to have found a niche that suited me
in spite of not having a lot of guidance or education while women’s rights
tried to progress.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I hope Ameera Unveiled inspires readers who may
be holding back from jumping through their own rings of fire. I respect anyone
who will at least try, struggle and even have to re-group—and try again. Surround
yourself with respectful, good natured friends who know when to step in and
give you a big warm hug and willing to get a little dirty in the trenches.
Ways to
connect:
Thanks, Kat. Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win the gift card! 

12 thoughts on “Interview with contemp women’s fic author Kathleen Varn

  1. Kathleen Varn says:

    Thanks Emily… I think some of the interview shows my age! I'm thinking of adding a coin scarf to the card as well!

  2. Kathleen Varn says:

    I hope readers will enjoy how Ameera gets her groove back!! Her new friends have very eclectic personalities and backgrounds joined at the hip by a coin scarf!

  3. Kathleen Varn says:

    Thanks. It was a lot of fun to answer Lisa's questions. Last week someone asked me, "what about the hard questions?" I didn't even pause: There is no such thing as a hard question. All I can do is tell them how I feel or felt.

  4. Catherine Lee says:

    Charleston is a great setting for a book. Have you used it? I live up the coast a bit–just over the border into NC.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  5. Unknown says:

    The interview was awesome! This book looks like a wonderful read. I love belly dancers and always wanted to be one when I was little. kbinmich[at]yahoo.com

  6. Kathleen Varn says:

    Thanks to each of you. As my character expresses throughout the book as she faces her 'forbidden zone' (dancing)– I no longer press my nose on the window pane and watch. I love Lisa's questions and her website made me think about my reading in the room at Green Apple Bookstore in San Francisco last week. Very vintage and Indie!

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