Contemporary Women's Fiction
After years of struggle and harsh criticism, happily married rock star wife Claire Martin has finally achieved the career success of her dreams. As the featured artist in an international traveling exhibit, she looks forward to her best year ever, while her husband, singer Robert Silver of the legendary band Deep Blue, contemplates a return to touring.
Things are also looking up for Claire’s best friend, Denise Hrivnak, who’s planning her wedding to Robert’s musical partner, Art Hoffman. However, what should have been most joyful day of Denise’s life turns to tragedy when an unexpected event forces both woman to contemplate the terrifying possibility of life without the men they love.
Besieged by the paparazzi and sick with worry, Claire waits for answers in a Las Vegas hotel room, thinking over her improbable relationship with Rob and praying that love alone is strong enough to bring her beloved husband back from the brink.
As we entered the room, Artie handed Rob a non-alcoholic beer and asked me, “What do you think?”
His pool table and pinball machines were gone. The area we were standing in, formerly known as Artie’s “toy room,” had been transformed into a dining space furnished with a sleek new table and seating for eight. A contemporary chandelier in a brushed silver finish hung overhead. A row of flickering votive candles marched down the length of the table, which was set for a party of four.
The only reminder of the room’s previous function was a display of seven vintage electric guitars hung on an exposed brick wall. Its centerpiece was a rare 1954 Fender Stratocaster with a sunburst finish. I was the one who suggested that Artie turn his collection into an art installation, now the apartment’s focal point.
“I think the room looks great,” I told him. “And I’m glad you kept the guitars on the wall. They say so much about who lives here.”
Artie ran one forefinger along the Strat’s distinctive curves.
“Well, I couldn’t bear to put the old girl back in her case,” he said.
Old girl? Uh-oh. Denise strolled into the kitchen, retrieved the unlit kitchen torch, returned, and pointed it in Artie’s direction, while struggling to keep a serious face.
“You realize 1954 was the year Claire and I were born, don’t you? Are you calling us old?”
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Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Although I grew up in Texas, I’ve spent most of my adult life in my adopted home of Colorado. I wrote and illustrated my first short story-a tale of baby sparrows leaving the nest-at the age of eight, and I’ve considered myself a writer for most of my life. My love of the written word continued throughout a varied career as a newspaper journalist and editor, public relations executive, freelance travel writer, and owner/operator of two small businesses. I live in the Denver area with my husband, a geriatric standard poodle, and a spoiled cat.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy getting together with friends, hanging out at home, and reading whenever I can. I’m a big fan of the Outlander books and television series.
Do you have a day job as well?
I work part-time at a non-writing job to support my book marketing, and I also do freelance children’s writing. I try to carve out at least two hours a day for fiction writing and marketing activities, and I also write on the weekends.
When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I began writing my first novel, Deep Blue, in 2013. It was published two years later. I was extremely fortunate to get a publishing contract on my first book, which seldom happens. It also had a downslide, since I had no fans or author platform to speak of. Marketing has been a huge challenge, and I still struggle with it, as many authors do.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I think it chose me! I’d always loved fiction with strong, independent female characters, so it was a natural outgrowth of my own interests. I was determined that my heroines would not be rescued by their men. In fact, it’s usually my flawed-yet-redeemable male characters who are able to resolve some of their issues with the help of loyal, loving women.
Where do you get your ideas?
Many of them come either my own or my friends’ experiences. I enjoy writing older characters because there’s so much rich subject matter in mid-life and beyond: meddling exes, children and grandchildren, aging parents, career pressures, life-threatening illness, and death of a spouse, to name a few. I also want to emphasize that love and sex are not only for the young.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would have started a blog and website long before the first book was published. It would have helped tremendously with building awareness and establishing a fan base.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Like my heroine, Claire, I am a cancer survivor. Living through a serious illness gave her an inner resiliency that served her well throughout the Deep Blue Trilogy and caused her to live each day to the fullest. We share a favorite quote from Goethe: Nothing is worth more than this day.
Claire’s best friend, Denise, is based on my own BFF and her career as a social worker, although I’ve taken certain liberties with her character. All my characters, even the men, have a bit of me in them.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
My work in progress, Fed Up, is the story of a small-town chef and a semi-successful television actor who meet while he’s on location in Virginia. They both have serious personal issues that are standing in the way of a relationship. The sequel, Recipe for Disaster, will focus on how they more forward together. I’m planning to have them meet and clash with a couple of the characters in the Deep Blue Trilogy.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t worry about trivial things like chapter length and word count. Don’t give up because the first draft is awful. It usually is. Write the story you want to read, keep editing and polishing it, and don’t concern yourself over whether it fits in one genre. Good storytelling will always be appreciated.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?
A character burdened by the mistakes of his past is guitarist and songwriter Artie Hoffman, half of the legendary rock and soul duo, Deep Blue. Although he began life as a minor character in an early draft of the book, he wasted no time in making his voice heard. He’s a brilliant musician, but Artie is also relentlessly sarcastic and unfiltered. He says the things no one else dares to utter. He’s also probably the funniest character in the series, as well as the most transformed by events in Deep End (Book 3).
What sort of writing environment do you create? I.e. music or not? Pen and paper or laptop/PC?
I require a quiet place where I can be alone with my thoughts, so no music or background noise. I write on a basic laptop using Word. No fancy writing software of any kind. I also keep a notebook handy for writing down dialog or notes on a particular setting.
Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than other? Racy? Love? Action?
Writing believable love scenes is difficult, so I sometimes leave them until last, when I’ve gotten most comfortable with the characters. Since all my writing is character-driven, I view my job as setting up a plausible situation and letting them run with it. When I fully understand their needs and desires, I’ll have a good idea of what will and won’t work in the bedroom (or elsewhere)!
Kathleen Duhamel is a contemporary women’s fiction writer and the author of the Deep Blue Trilogy (Deep Blue, Deeper, and Deep End) as well as the novella At Home With Andre. She wrote and illustrated her first short story at the age of eight, and has been a writer for most of her life. Her love of the written word continued throughout her varied career as a newspaper journalist and editor, public relations executive, freelance travel writer, and owner/operator of two small businesses. A native of Texas, she has spent most of her adult life in Colorado. She lives in the Denver area with her husband, a geriatric standard poodle, and a spoiled cat. She is a lifelong devotee of rock and soul music, contemporary art, and popular culture.