Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kitty Sutton, Author

Welcome Kitty!
A wonderful author and talented performer, Kitty writes about America's Native History...

Where are you in the world?
I live in Cape Fair, Missouri.  For those that have no idea where that is, we are west of Branson, Live Music Show Capital of the World, about thirty-five miles.  And Springfield, Missouri is north and east of us about the same amount of miles.  We are right on Tablerock Lake which is one of the better bass fishing lakes in the country.

This entire area advertises a connection with the country folk who were known to inhabit many of our rural areas here, however this area has a wonderful Native American history as well.  It was the Native Americans, i.e. Osage & Delaware [Native American Indian Tribes], who taught the early settlers how to live here.

Tell me about your writing, book releases and genre...
At the moment I am writing a series of Native American historical fiction mysteries, beginning in 1839 immediately after the last group of Cherokee were dropped off in Indian Territory.  I also write poetry, short stories and main stream fiction.  I prefer, by far, historical fiction.

Why historical fiction?

I am Cherokee as is my husband.  I read any book I can find based on Native American themes.  One day it popped into my head that I would like to know what the average Cherokee family or person did after they were left in Indian Territory.  I was surprised to find nothing at all.  I found several books related to the political struggles as a nation, but nothing to answer my question.  It seemed impossible to me that an entire segment of our nation could go without a written history.  So I embarked on a search of momentous proportion.  I started with a historian in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  Tahlequah is the actually the capitol of the Western Cherokee Nation and I assumed that there would be lots of information for me there.  Alas, the historian was only able to find one paragraph that related to the fate of the general populace of the Cherokee in 1839.  The one paragraph, though, spoke volumes and gave me a will to look further.  It addressed the loss of life the first year after the Trail of Tears caused by starvation.  How could that be when the government promised to feed them.

I then made a trip to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Fort Smith is actually named after the army post that were given the responsibility of helping to keep the peace between whites and Native Americans in the area.  Plus, they kept a supply of grain, seeds, farm implements that both white and Indian could buy.  It was on that trip that I discovered why there is almost nothing written about those years.  It seems that the newspapers of those times had printed many articles about the Trail of Tears while it was happening, and the reading public were aghast and wrote their newspaper editors to say so.  The newspapers were afraid of losing their readership so they pulled all of their news men out of Indian Territory.  This action was partly to blame for what came next, because if the news men had been reporting news from that territory, the great conspiracy to steal the food allotments would not have happened.  That first year over one thousand Cherokee, six thousand Choctaw and half of the Osage nation died of starvation because of this conspiracy and you will be hard pressed to find anything written about it.

The series I am writing now is dedicated to bringing this lost history out so that it won't be lost.  The first book is Wheezer and the Painted Frog, the second is Wheezer and the Shy Coyote, and I am now working on the third in the series.  We call the series, Mysteries from the Trail of Tears.

Where do you like to write?
I feel better writing at my desk in my office.  I have a recliner that sits behind my desk chair in which Wheezer, my Jack Russell Terrier, sits to encourage me in my writing.

Any tips for fellow authors?
The publishing industry is still in flux. I expect to see even further changes with the advent of the ereader and self-publishing.  I am published by a small press out of California.  Inknbeans Press is not a vanity press, which means that I don't pay them to handle me.  They are like a large publishing house, but more intimate in helping each author.  

I weighed the choices I could have made.  They were: 1. To self-publish, in which case I was in for a huge learning curve and it meant that I would be ultimately responsible for all PR and distribution.  2. Hire a vanity press, of which there are many.  They will gladly let you pay them thousands of dollars to print your book and make you feel like you are an author.  It is very expensive and you still have to do your own PR and distribution. 3. Try to submit my book to a traditional publisher who may or may not even read the book.  Even if they do and sign you, it can take two to five years for them to get around to releasing it.  Plus, anything they pay you as a retainer may have to be given back if your book does not sell as expected.  4. Not bother published at all.  I almost did this choice.  Or 5. Find a small press that fits my writing style and gets the reasons why I write.

I did not have to choose, as it turned out.  A small press saw some posts I made on Facebook, about my book and contacted me. I was pleasantly surprised by the generous contract and have been a happy writer ever since.

How did you come up with your book covers?
I have been an artist for some time and my publisher encouraged me to do my own art for the covers.  I know it is not like the more commercial covers people are used to seeing, but my publisher said that was the exact reason why I should do it.  So far I have had many good comments on the art.  The second book also have artwork on the inside of various characters in the book.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
I read other peoples work every day.  I watch how they introduce their characters or I analyze their word choices.  I try to take away from my reading anything that can make me a better writer.  Plus, I continue with my research which spurs me on.  I am not able to write everyday though, I can't try to write when I am too tired.  Also, I try to write when I can give my undivided attention to my characters.  Some days I will have a great idea, but maybe not for the particular chapter I am on at the moment, so I will write the scene at the end to be placed later in an appropriate place.

What are you currently writing?
I am writing the third book of my series.  It is called Wheezer and the Golden Serpent.  This story is about something that actually happened in the mid 1800's.  Mexico had lost Texas and was searching for ways to get it back.  In my research, I found out that Mexico had sent agents into Indian Territory to foment a civil war there so that they could slip in and take Texas back.  It was through the quick thinking of the Chiefs of all the Indian nations within Indian Territory that averted this catastrophe.  And they did it without the help of white men or the United States Government.  It will have the same characters as the first two.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
I found that joining an online writing group help me greatly.  I joined  Once you join various groups on that site you will be challenged with various contests to write every day.  I believe that I developed into the writer I am on that site.  Or you may have a writers club near you.  The only drawback to that is that most clubs only meet once a month.  To get better at your craft, you need to be challenged to push out of your comfort zone and possibly write in genres that you are not familiar with.  It is a great learning experience.

What did you do before you became a writer?
I was an entertainer in Branson, Missouri.  I had my own show there for twelve years.  I have three music albums, one with all my own songs.  I suffered a health problem and had to close my show.  I am still available for short tours and single events.  I jut cannot do the six days a week, then hours a day thing anymore.  However, being a creative person, I used writing to fill the gap.

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1 comment:

James M.Copeland jamesmcopelandbooks said...

Dear Miss Kitty:
I've always wanted to say that...
Remember Gunsmoke?
No one else may know where Cape Fair is...but I do! I lived there for 16 years, was a member of the chamber of commerce and did some of the cooking and serving of the foods at the annual fund raiser. I just talked to my wife, J. Kathryn Copeland and she reminded me that she had met you at the Branson Craft show. She said she was intrigued by the subject matter you were writing about. My neighbor Don Peterson had a booth there as well. He was selling T-Shirts and Denim designer clothes. He and his wife Carolyn still live in Cape Fair in the curve at the community center. We lived down on Melton's Peninsula in the little blue house right on the waters edge next door to Larry and Janice Cloud. Jim NIckles was the house at the top of the road. I suppose you know Nell Howard over at the Edgewater village. Her husband (deceased) Glen was a great friend and the best chiropractor I have ever known.
Did I say enough to prove I did live there, if not how about the cape fair boat docks. I parked my boat there for several years during the fishing season. Remember when the two had it that he had a cancer operation and he was in such a destitute condition financially that the community went in and donated ten thousand dollars toward payment of his expenses...He and his black headed wife went to los vages (Loss Wages) and spent the entire amount.
I enjoyed your interview. My e-mail address is
I'm a writer and have written 11 books already and getting ready to travel the world to do the PR work.
Let me hear from you.
Best regards,
James M. Copeland