Kindle Author Interview: Kate Thornton

Kate Thornton, author of Inhuman Condition, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Inhuman Condition?

KATE THORNTON: Inhuman Condition is a collection of 21 of my favorite short stories, 19 of them previously published and two new ones. I write primarily mystery and science fiction, so both genres are represented. Several of the stories were nominated for prestigious awards, and the collection includes the first mystery story I ever had published. The common thread tying all the stories together is our perception of humanity and what makes a monster, whether it be a murderer or something else entirely. 

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

KATE THORNTON: Each story has a main character who is fully explored—I get inside the skin—or scales—of each character in order to write from that perspective. I think a good writer can write as a man, woman, child, or alien being with verisimilitude and sympathy, using any setting or time period to give the reader a taste of that world.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
KATE THORNTON: My ideal reader is anyone who enjoys an exciting story with an unexpected ending.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

KATE THORNTON: I started writing in the mid 1990s, intending to write novels. I did, in fact, collaborate on several romances, and even churned out a couple of obligatory mysteries which, unlike the romances, mercifully never saw the light of day. But it wasn't until I wrote my first mystery short story, "Just Like in the Movies," and sold it to David Firks' Blue Murder Magazine that I realized I am really a short story writer. That story—which is in the book, by the way—got me a Derringer Award Nomination as well as my first writing paycheck.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

KATE THORNTON: I usually play the "what if" game or listen to conversations in public places to get ideas, then just start writing until a story develops. Several revisions later, and about one third of the original words edited out, and I'm usually satisfied with the result and look for an appropriate market.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

KATE THORNTON: I'm a big fan of Lee Child, Leighton Gage, and H. H. Munro.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

KATE THORNTON: Duma Key by Stephen King
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

KATE THORNTON: I am a member of Sisters in Crime, where I participate as much as possible, giving workshops and readings and participating in short story panels. I also have 2 Facebook pages—one for the book itself—and am active on at least six major literary lists, including Short Mystery Fiction Society, Murder Must Advertise, DorothyL, and Crime & Suspense. I also advertise online through my website and blog, and send out review copies to everyone I think might review the book—this has garnered me many reviews. Fortunately, they all liked the book. I also participate in online writers' fora like Absolute Write and many of the online publications which first published stories by me are willing to plug the book, too. I try not to miss an opportunity—I leave my bookmarks everywhere, offer free bookmarks to anyone buying the book on Kindle and basically do everything I can to get the book out there in front of people.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

KATE THORNTON: Although my book is available in other formats as well, it is the Kindle format that is the most exciting and successful. I am a Kindle owner, and find I read on it voraciously. Every day someone new discovers my book on Kindle and often I receive email or a Facebook poke when this happens. I think the Kindle has revolutionized the way we read—reading is now easier, cheaper and more exciting. I can read anytime, anyplace with my Kindle—without hauling around a boatload of heavy books and without spending a king's ransom.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

KATE THORNTON: Make sure your book is ready for publication. Even if you are not agented and with a major New York publisher, make sure your book is good enough, polished enough, and perfect enough to be in the company of such books. After all, your book says a lot about you, both as a writer and as a person. If that book is not absolutely the best you can do, then it doesn't belong out there with your name on it.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Kate Thornton was born in Great Lakes, IL, and enjoyed traveling the world as a child with her family. Opting for even more world travel, this time with an edge to it, she served 22 years in the US Army, retiring right after 9/11. With a rich background of exotic locales and an insatiable appetite for reading in all genres, she began writing short stories. Her first short, "Just Like In The Movies," was published in David Firks' legendary Blue Murder and nominated for a Derringer award. With over a hundred stories in print, she enjoys teaching short story workshops in Southern California.

Visit her website.

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