Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meet Kathy Knowles

Good morning to you all.  Today I have Kathy Knowles here to discuss her work, including Forsaking All Others  and Awake Unto Me.

What is your story, Awake Unto Me, about?

It’s a continuation of the first novel I wrote about a couple of young women in turn of the century SF who meet and fall in love.

What traits were you looking for when you were creating the main character for this story?

Both main characters have to have a degree of resilience and goals for the future. They both have to be self confident because women weren’t expected to be independent in those days.

Your book takes place in the late 19th century and the early twentieth century (actually 1900-1901).  Why did you pick this time frame?  What about it intrigues you? 
Turn of the century is interesting to me because life is starting to become more modern but it’s still very much the 19th century.

Here is the book summary for Awake Unto Me:

At the turn of the twentieth century two women from different backgrounds live their lives in San Francisco.  Kerry grew up on the riverfront, raised by her con father.  Beth grew up in a middle class neighborhood with a controlling father.  These two are drawn to each other and it was love at first sight.  Then there is the secret that Beth holds that could jeopardize the relationship.

Before you go on, take a look at Kathy's awesome reviews for her two books:

      Forsaking All Others Review

Awake Unto Me Review

Here is an interview Kathy had on the Liz McMullen show where she talks more about Forsaking All Others; a story about two women who have different ideas about love.  They meet in California when marriage equality became a reality there.  Both are passionate about this, yet are pretty different in everything else.  As they fight Proposition 8 everything that they assumed to be right is suddenly in question.  Click below to see more:

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Can you elaborate on what has worked for you.
Reading a lot of history in general and GLBT history.  I like to imagine us in eras other than the present because we’ve always existed sort of undercover, hiding in plain sight.

      What do you like to do when you are not writing?  
I collect stamps.  I love taking walks/hikes with my dog, lots of reading and tv.

What has been your favorite part of being an author?
Googling myself and seeing my books online and talking to readers.

The least fave? Trying to come up with blurbs for marketing and marketing in general.

Where would you go for your dream vacation?

Would you ever use that location as the main location in a future story?
Possibly, but I think San Francisco is a pretty romantic location. I’m blessed to live here.

If one of your books was made into a movie, who would you like to cast for the main and supporting roles of your characters?
All the actresses I like best are too old for my characters and I don’t know any of the younger ones.

What is in the works next for you?  If you can’t share, I totally understand and respect this.
I am writing the sequel to Awake unto Me, A Spark of Heavenly Fire . We're editing right now. It will come out later this year. Check my page in Boldstrokes Books website. 

This has all been very interesting.  I read Kathy's book, Awake Unto Me and was really touched by the plot of the two main characters.  I felt their feelings and knew their thoughts.  Here is an excerpt:

The Barbary Coast

San Francisco, September 1888

“Kerry! Go dump that pot out and rinse it at the pump,” Rose shouted from the second floor of the Grey Dog Saloon.
Kerry knew better than to argue. If she kept quiet and did her chores, she could escape to the waterfront and no one would miss her.  Rose called her a shadow as she came and went from the house on Jackson Street.
After her chores were done, Kerry scurried out the front door of the Grey Dog and raced to the waterfront a block away. The saloon was one of the oldest in the area and, like its neighbors, was home to a whorehouse upstairs. Kerry didn’t think living there was odd; she’d lived there her whole life. Rose and Sally and the other whores had raised her after her mother died when she was born.
She shaded her eyes from the bright sun reflecting off San Francisco Bay and highlighting rocky Alcatraz Island. Rose said the Spanish explorers had named the island La Isla de los Alcatraces, “the island of the pelicans.” Kerry couldn’t see any pelicans, only the grim-looking military fort that took up most of the island and cast dark shadows on the peaceful blue waters of the San Francisco Bay, where a few small fishing boats trawled under the crystal-clear sky. The everpresent westerly breeze ruffled Kerry’s hair.
Walking north past Jackson Street to Vallejo Street, she reached a weatherworn warehouse with several barrels in front and pulled some clothes from behind one. She’d traded Teddy Black, the son of the warehouseman, some underclothes she took from one of the whores for them, although she didn’t know, or care, what he wanted with women’s clothing. If Rose found the boys’ clothes in her bedroom at the Grey Dog, she would take them away. Minny, also the daughter of one of the whores and Kerry’s bunk mate, couldn’t be trusted, not to keep a secret.
Tucking them under her arm she headed for the farthest pier. The tide was out and the smell of seaweed, dead fish, and the waste from the ships made her eyes water. She ducked under the pier, pulled off her faded cotton dress, and put on the shirt and corduroy pants with suspenders. After pulling a cap down low on her face, she walked back to the warehouse and hid the dress. She went off in search of Lucky Jack who, when he was in the right mood, sometimes behaved as her father, which he was. Otherwise he tended to ignore her.
A few hundred yards out from the docks, the cutter Defiant lay at anchor, in the day before from Boston. Jack would be looking to steal some of her hands for the Rosalind, since the captain of the Rosalind, Meeks, was always looking for men. He needed new crew every time he took Rosalind on runs up the coast, since most of his crew would either run away or jump ship. The attractions of the Barbary Coast were too hard to resist. Along with gambling, Jack had taken up crimping, the kidnapping of sailors, a couple years before because the money was good. There were so many gamblers on the coast, the competition was fierce, and Jack never seemed to get enough money from gambling alone. But there was never a shortage of ships in need of hands, nor of the unscrupulous captains who would pay for them, which was where the other part of his business came in. The big ships arriving in port would founder in the mud of the bay if they tried to make it to the docks, so the Whitehall boats, big rowboats, ferried their crews and goods back and forth. Lucky Jack was in cahoots with a couple of the boatmen from the Whitehall boats who made extra money by delivering the sailors into the hands of men like Jack, crimpers, who would get them drunk, take their money, then sell them for a good price to other ships. Other than drink and whores, it was the main industry of the Barbary Coast District of San Francisco and had greatly contributed to the area’s reputation for danger.
Everyone said Jack was the best crimper on the Barbary Coast. He could spot his marks and get them drinking and spending in the Grey Dog before sunset. Leo, the Grey Dog bartender, was his partner, and the hapless sailors would pass out from the opium-spiked booze and wake up in ropes onboard the Rosalind or one of a dozen other ships. The pretty waiter girls who served the booze were whores who entertained the sailors before they were given their doses and dumped into the cellar below. Most of them aren’t so pretty, Kerry thought, looking at the women wandering among the tables or leaning against the bar, but the sailors didn’t care. The captain Jack had a deal with that particular night would come in the early morning and haul them away.   Kerry had heard Jack and Leo laughing about the poor sailors who not only didn’t get women, but woke up on a strange ship going somewhere they didn’t want to go.
Kerry found Jack passing the time with Leo and some of the Grey Dog regulars, the way he usually did when he was waiting for a ship to release her crew to the diversions of the Barbary Coast. Kerry boldly walked up to him and pulled his sleeve.
“What do you want, boy?” he said roughly, without turning around.   “My shoes are shiny enough.”  Jack, they said, could see around corners and Kerry believed them.
“The Whitehall’s going out to the Defiant.”
“What? Now?” Jack jumped off the bar stool and strode out the door with Kerry after him.
“Jack,” she said, “it’s me.”
He squinted in the sunlight. “Aw, Christ, girl. What are you about?”   He looked closer. “Are you crazy? What if someone spots you?”
“No one knows but you and maybe Leo. I want to help you.”
“No. Never. You—”
“Let me, Jack. Please. I don’t want to spend all day inside with the girls. I’d rather spend it with you.”
“You want to learn the game, do you?” He smiled, seeing a little of her mother Molly in her and a lot of himself. She had a light dusting of freckles across her nose, dark brown eyes, and, like Molly, dark hair.   She was slight but tough and quick. She had grown up a wharf rat and rarely smiled, so when she did it was extra special.
The take from gambling and crimping kept Jack well dressed, comfortably fed, and took care of young Kerry and whichever whore took his fancy at that moment. Jack wasn’t sure how much Kerry knew about his work, and he usually tried to ignore her even as he made sure Rose had money to support her. Jack didn’t know what he could do to keep her out of the whore’s life as he’d promised Molly. He would never leave the Barbary Coast, not even to find a better life for Kerry, since he reckoned his skills didn’t suit him for regular employment.
            “I can’t stand being in the house all day helping Rose with chores.   And there’s always some man who—”
“Stop, enough! I know the type.” Jack furrowed his brows. She was right. Some of Rose’s customers weren’t avid for any of the pretty waiter girls because eighteen- or nineteen-year-olds were too old.  His promise to Molly came back to him as he stood there contemplating his daughter. Kerry was reaching the age to be noticed and to start whoring.   He shuddered.
“Right, then. Here’s the drill. You bring me five boys off the Defiant and you’ll get your cut, but look sharp. Old Tom’s girl, Maggie, will be about and after the same marks. Don’t let on who you are.”   Jack meant the owner of the boarding house down the street, a wily old drunk named Tom Harlin. He laughed. “She’d be better looking and more useful if she had any teeth.”
“I won’t.  Maggie’s not too smart that way. She only knows how to draw a dumb sailor in to get his head cracked.”
Jack laughed again. “True. Old Tom makes the poor shanghaied sailors suffer knocks on their heads as well as the hangovers from whiskey and laudanum. At least I don’t give them that.”
Kerry shot from the saloon, intent on showing Jack she could do her part. Holding her cap to her head, she ran full tilt to the dock and waited, bouncing on her toes in anticipation.
The sailor boys of the Defiant tumbled off the Whitehall, shouting and laughing. They’d been round the Horn and mostly at sea for six months as they sailed from the East Coast to the West Coast. They had half their pay and were ready to taste the famous pleasures of the Barbary Coast. It had been forty years since the Gold Rush, but the legends of San Francisco’s seafront had only grown. Sure enough, Kerry saw Maggie Harlin pull up alongside the youngest looking of the Defiant sailors and smile. She stayed back and watched.
“Howdy, sailor!” Maggie crowed with her toothless lisp. “I can show you a good time.”
“Is that a fact?” the sailor said, suspiciously. “How do I know you won’t rob me when I’m asleep?”
“Well, I never!” Maggie said primly. “I’ll give you an honest fuck, I will, and send you on your way whistling.”
“No, thanks, sister. I prefer women with teeth in their heads, not gap-toothed hags.”
Maggie grinned wider. “You don’t know what it feels like to get a suck from my mouth.”
Kerry saw the sailor hesitate and she was at his side. “Mister, that whore’s lying. They rob you blind, drug you, and next thing you know you’re are on a whaler going back to the North Sea for a year.”
The sailor looked hard at her, then back into the horrible toothless grin of the whore.   “Oh?” he said, raising an eyebrow. “What would you offer instead?”
Kerry smiled then. “I can show you to a good saloon with honest drinks and pretty waiter girls, if you want that. A good cheap bed for the night and breakfast to send you off in style the next morning.” Kerry was surprised that lying came so easy to her.
“Sorry, girl. I believe the lad here, not you.”
Maggie frowned and peered at Kerry, who had taken care to black her face here and there and put a cut above her nose. She tugged at the sailor’s sleeve so he’d follow her.
“Hey, boys,” the sailor called to his mates. “I have a guide here to take us to paradise. Or some version of it.”
Kerry walked into the Grey Dog with all six of them—one over her quota. Her father and Leo looked on from the bar. Then Jack tossed her a silver dollar. “Be gone with you, lad. This is no place for a youngster.”
Kerry stared at the silver coin in her palm.
“Gentlemen,” Lucky Jack said, “welcome to San Francisco. Can I interest you in some card-playing along with your refreshment?”

In addition Kathy is putting the final touches on the sequel,  A Spark of Heavenly Fire.  I can't wait until this book comes out and I know you too are going to love it.

     They sat on the train as it wound its way around the northern border of the city. The trip took awhile, since they had to go downtown to catch the train first. It would be easier Beth knew, if they could have had a carriage to drive themselves. Then she realized that if she were a doctor, they most certainly would have to have one. That thought gave her pause. This was a conundrum. She would have to make a decision about it either way, and she didn’t like to put off so she knew it must be soon.
     Beth wore a capacious shawl, both to keep warm in San Francisco’s chilly ocean air and so that she and Kerry could hold hands underneath it as they sat on the train. Beth would squeeze Kerry’s hand so that Kerry would smile at her when they were able to do this. Sometimes those smiles would make Beth want to faint from love and gratitude and sometimes they made her limbs tingle and her body warm.
Today, though instead of just happy togetherness, they needed to speak seriously.
     “Kerry dearest?” Kerry turned from gazing out the window at the passing scenery, and looked back at her gravely. She was alert and sensitive and Beth knew she would have picked up the tone of her voice.
     “Yes love?”
    “These recent weeks I’ve begun to think again on the question of whether or not I should study to become a doctor, go to medical school.”
     “Yes? And what conclusion have you reached?”
   “That’s the trouble, I still don’t know.” Beth then told her of Marjorie’s and Addison’s conflicting opinions. She listened without interruption but when Beth stopped speaking, she said,
     “That’s all very well for each of them to say but what about you?
    “Well. That’s the question, isn’t it? I don’t know. It would mean great sacrifice for us both, you know that. I may have to cease working at least for a time so I could study to pass the entrance exams and then we would have to think how to pay for it, oh just a thousand things.”
     “Beth, that’s not what I asked. I asked what you think. What do you want?”
     “I would like to try to become a doctor. Addison is convinced it would be good for me. I know it would mean that I would be able to use my brain and I would also make a higher wage and we could buy that house we’ve talked about.”
     “But, I don’t know. I’m frightened.”
   “Bethy, you’re practically the bravest person I know. Nothing scares you.” Kerry spoke with such conviction, it amused Beth.
     “Oh you think so. You/re scarcely the most impartial of judges.”
    “I know what I know. But I also know, you don’t what other people think you should do. You told me about how you decided to take nurses’ training when your ma and pa thought you ought to stay with them and run their store.”
    “Yes that was a difficult decision but it was the right one.” Beth thought of her parents and their narrow, stultifying lives. Their rigid conformity and their betrayal. She shook her head.
Kerry noticed and patted her shoulder.
     “My love, no matter what you do, I’m with you. You’ll make the right choice. You always do. Look. You chose me!” Kerry beamed.
     Beth gave her a little shove but she was amused and charmed as always.
    “I’m not sure if choice entered into it. But here we are. Let’s leave off this serious talk, we’re on holiday after all.”
    “To be sure and I think I see the Seal rocks, we’re almost there!” Kerry pointed out the window and Beth followed her direction. They turned and grinned at one another. The train pulled up at the top of hill where there was a jumbled collection of food stands, souveneir shops. They alit from the train with the rest of the throngs for it was Sunday and many citizens were out for amusement. As they walked down the slope they could see the great Cliff House Hotel, perched on the cliff above the sea. Since it was near noon the sun was high in the sky and the waves glittered as they crashed on the rocks named for the many marine creatures who perched there. The Sutro Baths were to their right and down in a bowl made from the cliffs. The great windows reflected both the sun and the ocean. They paused to take in the sight.
     “Let us walk down a bit and see how many people are out at Ocean Beach.” Kerry said.
     “Oh yes. It’s a wonder isn’t it that people chose to bathe in the Sutro Baths when the ocean itself is right here?”
     Kerry laughed and said, “Yes it is, but I think Mayor Sutro up there was on to something. It’s much warmer inside his baths, even the cold water pool! And theres the warm pool and no wind!” They strolled past the Cliff Hotel and around the curve of Point Lobos avenue and there spread out below them was Ocean Beach and there were hundreds of people out, flying kites, picnicking, playing badminton. They turned to look again at one another. It was a moment of perfect undiluted happiness Beth felt and she saw her own feelings reflected back to her in Kerry’s eyes.
     Inside the Sutro Baths, they made their way to a changing room and removed their street clothes to don a couple of the worn out, chlorine stained bathing costumes that bathers were required to rent and wear. The suits were distasteful, Beth thought but one could do nothing about it and it saved having to buy and bring ones own suit. They locked up their belonging and pinned the key to Kerry’s strap, took their towels and made their way upstairs to the pools.
     The Sutro Baths were so large, a thousand people at a time could easily enjoy them and not feel crowded. A series of small and large pools, separated by walkways and gates were spread out in the enormous, cavernous, glass enclosed interior. They could hear over the sound of the people yelling and splashing the crash of waves outside and the hum of the giant steam boilers underneath the Baths that heated one of the pools salt water to a pleasant temperature.
     Kerry and Beth had their own routine they followed. They went to the biggest cold pool first- the one with the deep water. They could avoid the raft of rowdy children that way.
     They stood on the pool’s edge, shivering a bit from the cold rinse they went through for sanitation and turned so their eyes could meet. Kerry took Beth’s hand and said, “Ready? One, two, three!” They jumped into the pool. Beth had taken a deep breath but she always had that tiny moment of panick as the chilly water closed over her head. She was anchored by Kerry’s firm hold on her hand, though and it passed quickly. They plunged down from the momentum of their jump and then rose to the surface. Their heads broke the surface and Beth loved the look in Kerry’s eyes at that moment, wild and exhilarated. She shook the water out of her eyes and spit a little.
     “Let’s swim!” she called and she was off. Beth followed right behind her. Kerry had taught Beth to swim the year before and she was not quite as good in the water as Kerry but she was close. They raced to the other side of the pool and turned around and swam back, They repeated this a couple more times until Beth called out she wanted to stop.
     Hanging onto the pools edge, panting and smiling at one another, Beth said, “When may get another lesson?”
     “Oh? You don’t think you’re good enough yet?” Kerry’s brown eyes glittered mischievously. This was one of their jokes. Beth liked to beg a swimming lesson from Kerry even though she was quite proficient in the water. It was for reasons other than instruction and Kerry knew that.
     "No, indeed. I want you to show me again.”
     “Very well then.” They went to another shallow pool and there in waist high water, Kerry could stand and support Beth as she ‘practiced’ her strokes. It was an acceptable way to embrace publicly. Beth loved to feel Kerry’s arms holding her up. She felt safe and loved. She also liked remembering their first few visits together and the early swimming lessons. She’d been so na├»ve then, she’d not understood why she felt the way she did when Kerry was holding her in the water. She knew well enough now and it made her turn her dreamy smile on Kerry, who looked down at her with the same expression.
     “I don’t know how I ever learned to swim, the way you used to hold me and look at me like that, I could barely concentrate.” Beth told her.
    “Ah you didn’t have the least idea what was going through my mind. You were safe enough” Kerry replied.
      “Am I no longer safe? Beth asked, laughter in her voice
     In one way, you most certainly are. If you mean are capable of disporting yourself in water and swimming with out fear, then yes.”
     Beth turned over on her back and stared up at Kerry. She languidly moved her limbs in a back stroke motion. She knew how this made her upper torso come up out of the water and Kerry could get an unobstructed look at the wet bathing suit clinging to her breasts. She knew their shape was obvious to Kerry and she knew what exactly the effect was as Kerry’s dark eyes darkened further and she inhaled sharply. Beth knew what she was thinking at that moment.
     “Shall we get warm or would you like to play about a little?” Beth asked, smiling as she watched her beloved struggle to keep a straight face.
     “I um would like to make some jumps if you wouldn’t mind waiting to go to the warm pool.”
Beth nodded and said, “Certainly that would be fine. I adore watching you play.” It was true. Kerry was a sight to behold as she dove off the highest diving platforms and swung out over the pools on ropes or rings. She was the only young woman who would do so. Only young boys seemed to play the same. Beth loved watching her enjoy herself so thoroughly.
     Beth sat on the side of the pool, wrapped in one of the Sutro Baths’s tattered towels and applauded each daring feat Kerry took on. They finally sat in the warm salty water for a half so, their heads leaning back as the steam wafted around them and they became drowsy.
     “Are you ready to leave, my dear? Beth asked. Kerry’s eyes were closed and she didn’t answer right away. She opened her eyes, gazed at Beth for a long moment and said, ”Yes.  I believe I am.”
In the tiny dank cubicle where they struggled out of their wet suits, Beth felt Kerry looking at her. She was no longer ashamed but aroused when they could be like this together. She was tired but in that pleasant, sensual fashion that seemed to happen only when they’d been bathing. The cement floor was cold on her feet though and she wanted to be dressed and done with being wet. Kerry stoked her back and her hand stole around to her breast, her palm brushing her nipple lighly. It made her shiver but not from cold.
     “No. Kerry dearest, not here. We musn’t…” She faltered, then moaned as she felt Kerry’s lips on her shoulder blade.
     “Ah but love, you are so beautiful right now. The cold water does things to your body that it would take a saint to resist you. I’m no saint.” Kerry gently squeezed Beth’s breast. “But I know it isn’t the time or the place.” She moved a strand of Beth’s wet hair away from her face and then kissed her neck one last time.

I want to thank Kathy for stopping by.  Stay tuned as in the upcoming weeks as I will be posting a review for Awake Unto Me.  Until next time.

Before you go take a look at her links:

Kathy's Facebook page

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