Interview with Kathy Czepiel, author of A VIOLET SEASON for The Maiden’s Court
I have to say that my attention was immediately caught by the mention of the violet industry – I didn’t even know there was such a thing! How did you come to writing about this subject?
I didn’t know there was such a thing either until I returned to my hometown after college to work for the local newspaper. My editor was a local history buff, and she told me that the area where I grew up—New York’s mid-Hudson Valley—had once been known as The Violet Capital of the World. Many years later, when I was ready to write a novel, a violet farm was the obvious choice of setting. It was something I knew I would be interested in researching.
Mother-Daughter themes can be such powerful reading. Did you draw on any of your own experiences with your mother or with your daughter?
Not directly. But I think there is always some emotional truth behind the fiction, whether it’s our own or something we’ve observed. My mother and I have a great relationship, though it took the usual bumpy road through my adolescence. My daughters are 10 and 13, so we’re just entering that phase together. The “truth” behind the fiction for me, in this case, is probably the fear we have as mothers that we will let our children down or hurt them without even realizing or understanding that we’re doing it, that we will make mistakes that can’t entirely be repaired. I say “we” because I know I’m not the only mother who thinks about this.
What has been the most difficult part of the process for your debut novel? What has been the most surprising or interesting?
The most difficult part was writing it without knowing whether anyone but my writing friends would ever read it. For fiction, you have to have a complete, polished manuscript before you can begin pitching it to agents. Some of my short stories had been published in various literary journals, so I knew it was possible that I could sell a novel. But there is never a guarantee. The most interesting part has been learning how the publishing process works. There’s a steep learning curve in terms of marketing and publicity.
Read the rest on The Maiden’s Court.