Kat Shehata went to school with a bunch of animals—literally. Her first career involved caring for exotic, dangerous, and adorable animals as a zookeeper. As an author, Kat weaves her love of animals into her work. She is the co-author of the New York Times bestselling children’s book Animals on the Other Side written with Sylvia Browne.
She is a competitive tennis player and spends her free time playing matches in a recreational league. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, three kids, and an enthusiastic poodle-mix. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Wilmington College, a professional writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati, and a master’s degree in creative writing from Spalding University.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something?I started my career writing for a magazine. It was a daily service that was delivered via fax machine to thousands of subscribers. I had the freedom to write whatever I wanted, so I came with funny short stories and even a weekly soap opera. I had so much fun creating characters, I went back to school and earned a degree in professional writing.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? When I sit down to write, I spend hours at a time in front of the keyboard. I only stop when I have something I have to do. I get lost in my imaginary worlds and I have to set reminders on my phone or I will forget appointments, etc. Just today I was working on the second book in the Russian Tattoos trilogy and I simply “forgot” to go to tennis practice.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I rarely get writer’s block, but when I do I take it as a sign that I am going down the wrong path for the story. When this happens, I take a walk outside or read to get my creative juices flowing.
4. Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story?
A little of both. I plot out my story in three acts like a movie. Once I know the beginning, middle, and end, I am good to go. My characters always surprise me, so I don’t want to be too structured and risk hindering their mischief.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published?Both. I have four self-published children’s books including New York Times bestseller, Animals on the Other Side written with Sylvia Browne. My debut novel, Russian Tattoos, is published with Limitless Publishing.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?The path to publication was a tumultuous journey for me, but I never once doubted my story or my strengths as a writer. Even after multiple rejections, I knew the right opportunity would come along. My advice to aspiring authors: Never give up, believe in yourself, and just keep writing.
7.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
The fans. I absolutely love to hear from readers who enjoyed my work, and it is a blast to connect with readers on social media. When I am writing, I always take breaks and interact with fans.
8.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience?
Russian Tattoos: Obsession
Romance / thriller / suspense / NA
“No way. Promise you won’t rat me out to Dad.” I jumped in front of him and blocked my bedroom door, as if I could stop him. “He’ll be so ticked. Probably madder at you than me, and trust me, you don’t want to see him angry.”
Vladimir crossed his arms and studied my freaked out, arms-stretched-across-the-doorframe-stance. “You think I am afraid of your papa?”
“Of course not, but why do you want to provoke him? Everything’s fine. If he finds out, he’ll never let me see you again—please, I need you.”
Vladimir peeled my fingers off the doorframe, held my wrists, brought my arms down. He kissed my cheeks, but not in the usual way. His warm lips lingered on my skin while he massaged the nape of my neck. The closeness of our bodies and the heat emanating from his skin caused a groan to escape from my lips. Vladimir rubbed warm circles on my back and whispered Russian words in my ear to soothe me.
“What does it mean?” I whispered.
Blood rushed down there. I wanted to tackle him on my bed and run my fingers through his sexy hair and touch his chest and feel the warmth of his lean, muscular body. Lately, I’d felt The Urge. Right or wrong, Vladimir lit my sexual fire. It wasn’t his body or his incredible blue eyes, it was how he made me feel—like the important person in his universe.
“What kind of good?” I laid my hand on his chest and snuck my finger inside his shirt to touch his skin. I traced the outline of the devil tat with my fingernail. Vladimir inhaled sharply, excited by my touch. I unbuttoned the top button of his shirt—
He lowered my hand. “Your papa will be home soon.”
He left the house a minute before Dad turned into the driveway. I replayed the day’s events from his smouldering eyes, to his strong embrace, to the taunting words: “Oh, Carter is that what I am, your boss?”
What did he want to be? My friend? Boyfriend? Lover?
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)First of all, be yourself. I always say, “If you love animals and Russian mobsters, check out my fan page.” It’s so true! I post tons of cute animal picks and teasers featuring Russian bad boys. I interact with my friends and followers, which is the point of social media. I never post political views or personal opinions.
10.How long on average does it take you to write a book?I cranked out my first draft of Russian Tattoos in three months, but I ended up editing it for about two years. I had a lot of learning to do on my first novel, so I don’t think the books that follow will take as much time, but I will never rush the editing process. I am constantly learning ways to improve my work, and I hope with each book I am growing as an author.
11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. I almost fell out of my chair when my publisher revealed the cover for Russian Tattoos! It was not what I expected, but I love it. I am a detail-oriented person, and I gave my publisher a lot of information about the tattoos Vladimir has on his hands. In the Russian criminal world, each tattoo has a very specific meaning, and I could not risk having a crucial mistake on my cover. I sent the cover design team pictures, illustrations, and a placement map of where the tattoos belong on Vladimir’s skin. I am happy to report the cover team designed his tattoos perfectly.
12. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?I am on a tennis team and I play several times a week in a recreational league. I also love cheering on my son at wresting matches, going on dates with my husband, and watching football.
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Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1OpQq3t