Art is a gift to be received and shared and comes in many many forms. Paint, Cook, Travel, Poetry... you name it, if you're sharing creative energy, that's an Art. ~Steph

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kate Magendie, Wordy Goddess!

Kathryn Magendie is a writer, editor, and Co-editor/publisher of the Rose & Thorn. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and amateur photography have been published in online and print publications. Magendie lives tucked in a cove at Killian Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. Her debut novel Tender Graces was released April 2009; her second novel Secret Graces will be released April 2010.

 This lady is funny and full of light and color! Check her out.

Kate, before we get busy here… I found this description of you on your website. “She was born a West-by-god Virginia Hillbilly (and proud of it)” LOL. For a Southern California girl with no ‘Hillbilly Knowledge’ to speak of, what does that mean?

I’m proud of my mountain roots; proud to say I was born in the Appalachians, and even though I had to spend a lot of my life away, I’m finally Home. The mountains and its people simmer in your marrow. You can’t deny it, can’t move away without regret and longing, and mountain love can’t be scraped from your skin—you are who you are forever. There are stereotypes of Appalachian People, of course, but that is used to their advantage when necessary *grin* and really, Mountain people couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of them. Hillbilly can be a derogatory word on some people’s tongues, but only because people have decided to picture a moonshined bearded toothless no good uneducated sonufagun because they think it’s funny. 

You’ve had a book published, Tender Graces: A Virginia Kate Saga and are soon to release your second, Secret Graces. Who is Virginia Kate?

Virginia Kate is a woman who more than anything wants, needs, to find Home, Place, and a Belonging. She daydreams a little too much. She listens to spirit-voices. She worries about those she loves. She both repels and is drawn to her “Women-Kin” and their heritage, their legacy. She fights against being like her volatile and passionate momma. And she is compelled, though ghosts and spirits and her Grandma Faith, to be the storyteller.

Are the ‘Graces going to be a continuing Saga?’

Well, there is at least a planned third book that hasn’t been written yet, but I do have thoughts about books that involve Virginia Kate and/or her kin. I just don’t know how far I will go with it, or if Virginia Kate will decide the third book is enough and she’ll become quiet and reclusive, telling me, “Enough now.” I am fascinated by the characters, though.

Grandma Faith is a compelling woman I’d love to write more about. I’ve had a few readers wonder why I didn’t give enough information on her—believe me, I want to, but she’s a spirit and spirits take their time in letting loose their stories. I guess I’ll see where things go, and how far back I want to go, as well, to dig into Grandma Faith and her kin. Grandma Faith’s story won’t be easy to tell—it will hurt and hurt a lot. Maybe I’m avoiding feeling her pain.

I do have a novel written that is unrelated to VK, but no matter what or who else I write, Virginia Kate will always be special to me; I love her. 

What were you like as a child?

I think I was lonely. Thank gawd for libraries and books! I think, too, I was never comfortable in my skin, that I was lacking in some way. Of course, I say this from the distance of an adult looking back. My childhood thoughts and memories are muddled and fuzzy—my brain doesn’t retain memories that I can recall like a movie, as many people seem to be able to do.

I just had a flash of me and this is what I saw: A sepia-toned girl with big wide eyes, wearing a dress and ankle socks; her right hand is up to her mouth, and she is surrounded by gray; her feet are together, and she holds herself quite still; she hopes she is not seen but at the same time craves to be seen—a memory, a lost photo, or what? I’ll let the psychology people figure that image out *laugh* 

These books are very personal to you aren’t they? Your writing is emotional and speaks to me of a personal connection. As many Artist connect with characters and art, it appears that you connect with the entire story.

People ask if Tender Graces is autobiographical, and it really is not. Although, there are some Truths that parallel my own life. The biggest Truth is that my own biological mother gave up her three children one at a time. However, most everything else in TG is made up. It’s that intimacy in the writing, I guess (especially first person point of view)—it makes people feel a personal connection and think things could really have happened. As for Secret Graces, it is even further from my life, as are the other draft novel and my short stories. Yet, I’d imagine there’s really no way to keep out your fingerprint, no matter what you write, or paint, or sing.

How long have you been writing? Was this your Dream Career?

As a child, teachers talked to me about my creative side, but I didn’t hear them. In junior high school I won first prize for a short story, but I didn’t hear that. In high school, my creative writing teacher asked me to bring back to her my first novel; didn’t hear that, either. I ignored the voices, both tangible and inside my own head, that begged me to follow.

I didn’t start listening until my mid-to-late forties, and once I slit open that vein, the bleeding never stopped . . . it’s the most beautiful wondrous blood, thick and red and living.

Yes, this is my Dream Career, and short of death or some other malady I can’t control, no one or no thing will take it away from me.

What got you from writing to publishing? Was it the goal or were you motivated somehow by response or reception to your writing?

To get from writing to publishing is the part where most writers want to stomp and scream and even give up. You just can’t give up. Sometimes you have to alter your expectations, but never give up—that is, never give up if you are good at it, or have something marketable (those two can be, but don’t have to be, separate things in the publishing world). I lucked up with Bellebooks—once they received my query, things happened fast. I love them, and I love that they took a chance on me, especially with the publishing world all rocky and changing. They listen, they love my work (so far so good!), and they placed my words in a book (or soon to be books) that I can hold and smell and read—and that others can smell, hold, and read (unless you aren’t a book smeller- teehee).

Sure, I wrote before I thought I could be published, and I’ll write if I’m not published, but I won’t be coy and say I don’t care if I’m published—dang tootin’ I want to be published! And read! And loved! And admired! *laughing* . . . But, I will say, a big push to my rear-end to start submitting my work was response to my writing. Yeah, I guess I just finally listened. 

I know you live literally ‘off the beaten path’ what’s that like?

The day I moved back to the mountains after so many many years away (I’m not in WVA, but in the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina), was the day I sighed a big ole sigh of relief. Home. I literally felt as if I’d been holding my breath and tensing every muscle in my body until I moved here, then my body released the tension—ahhhhh.

My life in this little log house in the cove at Killian Knob in Maggie Valley is serene and beautiful. It suits me, the calm of it, because maybe I’m still that girl standing in the shadows watching everyone and both wanting to be seen and wanting to stay hidden. This natural world, nature, is an important part of my life and what keeps my brain quiet . . . quiet brain being relative to many things. Imagine hearing the creek sing, the critters rustle, the actual sound of bird’s wings in the air, no traffic sounds, and the humming of the mountain. There’s more—but I will go on and on and bore everyone. I’m already blabbervating (as VK says) too much! 

Does living there inspire your writing?

Yes, it does. And my life. I’ll never leave, even when I die. My ashes will be spread here. I hope the other spirits don’t mind if I stay with them. 

People describe your writing as Poetic. And you write poetry?

I am not a poet. Some people say, “Oh quit saying that,” because they think I’m being coy or expecting a compliment that I am indeed a poet. However, I really am not. But, every so often, I have words/scenes that must come out that aren’t ready or will never be ready to be anything other than this snippet, this scene, this dot in time and I need to release the pressure in my head—those are what become my poems. Some do say Tender Graces is one big-arse poem. 

Where can our readers read some of your poetry?

I’ve had some published here and there. One can go to my website to the page “published works” and some of the poems are available online, and some, like in OCEAN Magazine, are only available by purchasing the print publication. I encourage everyone to support online journals/zines and their writers and editors, and support print publications by purchasing a subscription and/or issue—and I don’t mean ones I am in, just in general.

I am also a Co-Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn, an online lit journal, and I understand the importance of readers—these writers need our support, some are brand new to being published and how exciting for them! They’d love to hear from readers. 

Where can we find your book?

In all the usual places—from the publishers Bellebooks, from the usual places online, and in brick and mortar bookstores, and in the library. Although, if you don’t see it, you may have to ask for it—either it sold out (I hope!), or they haven’t heard of me. Support your local libraries and independent bookstores, too—they need us to remember them. I won’t tell you never to go into a Big Chain Store, or never to order from Big Ole Online Place, but the little guys and the libraries need our love, too. 

I’ve also seen some of your beautiful photography. Is this something we can look forward to seeing more of?

I put a lot of stuff out there “for free” on my blog, but I’ve had a few photos published in OCEAN magazine—the only magazine I’ve ever sent photography to, and Diane Buccheri, the editor, has honored me by publishing some of my photos. I do consider submitting more other places, but I don’t know . . . it’s sort of like the poetry thing . . . *she trails off* 

Kate, what inspiration can you offer to readers who have stories in their heart they want to share?

First – take a chance! Don’t be afraid of rejection, for you WILL be rejected. Every one of us has been rejected, and more than once. We all have to work hard at this. There are very very few real “Overnight Successes” out there. Don’t take rejection personally. I know from being on both sides—as an editor at R&T I know how close some people come to being published and are just edged out by someone else. As a writer, I’ve been rejected and have learned to shrug it off and try again, and again, and again (which doesn’t mean I don’t tweak and fiddle with the work in between the submitting).

However, you don’t have to write with publishing in mind—that’s the beauty of blogs, or journals, or whatever forum is comfortable to you. Be fearless. Have fun. Enjoy. Be Real. Tell Truths—and write what you know doesn’t have to be taken literally if you don’t want it to.

You are a Wordy goddess! If you guys get a chance and like to read books that 'take you there' check Kate out. You can find more about her at her Blog Kates Blog! And her Website at
Kates Website.

Thank you so much Kate.
You are welcome. I so much enjoyed this and your insightful, and fun, questions—you are good at this *smiling*.  So Are you!


The Unbreakable Child said...

:raises hand: I'm a book smeller. teehee. Awesome interview and awesome writer. Can't wait for SG.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Yeah, what Kimmi (The Unbeakable) said!

Great blog, great interview. I'll be back. (Also adding you to my Rockin' Blog list.)

Diane said...

Wonderful review. I enjoy following her blog very much. :O)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Hi Kimmi, Angie, and Diane! *smiling* thank you SO much for stopping by here...isn't this the coolest place ever?

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Fabulous interview, loved it! Thanks Steph and Kat!

Steph Jordan said...

Thank you all! It's apparent this lady makes me smile as much as you too! Another one of those reasons I say... Life is Good!


Jessica said...

What a beautiful interview! It's time for me to go ahead and buy TG. I've wanted to, just am lazy when it comes to buying things. Heh.
I loved your line about slitting your writing vein open and how the blood looked. That was so beautiful and strong!
Thanks for the interview!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Hi Deb! thankee! :)

Jessica- thank you for the kind words *smiling*

Karen said...

I enjoyed TG so much. Virginia Kate and the others kept me company during an ice-storm here in the NC mountains. (Mee Maw tripped my third nerve, but that's just that way she is.) Waiting patiently for the next book...

Kathryn Magendie said...

Karen - Love "Tripped my third nerve" *laughing!* So glad you liked TG, thank you *smiling*


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