Drunk on Ink Q & A with Kathy Wilson Florence and ‘Three of Cups’
Kathy Wilson Florence is the author of three books: Her newest, Three of Cups is the story of three women and how fate connects them and a long-kept secret threatens them, Jaybird’s Song, a southern novel set in 1960s Atlanta, and You’ve Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha, a light-hearted look at life in short little doses — favorite columns from “Over the Picket Fence.” In her spare time she works as an Atlanta Realtor, a graphic designer, commercial copywriter and former columnist.
About Three of Cups
When classmates were groaning at the sight of “term paper” on a syllabus, Kathy Wilson Florence was secretly cheering. Where multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank tests alluded, she knew she could kill it with the term paper and bring up the grade. In high school, a freshman English teacher took note and bestowed the Creative Writing Award to her at Honor’s Day — perhaps her first and only academic award — but a tone-setting validation, to be sure. In the business arena, she can be found penning corporate copy, magazine and newspaper features and pitch-perfect sales copy for the real estate world she shares with husband Tom. In the creative world, she cut her chops on the “Johnny Journal,” a tongue-in-cheek, oddly humorous newsletter distributed via the bathrooms in Midtown Atlanta’s Colony Square —long before Midtown was hipster cool— and a 16-year stint as a weekly columnist for Dunwoody, Georgia’s Crier Newspapers.
SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with?
KATHY WILSON FLORENCE: Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides
To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?
A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?
I think anything by Pat Conroy can turn a non-reader into a reader. I’m passionate about fiction, but whether it’s self-help or poetry or non-fiction and memoir, I’d love to see more passion for reading, especially in lieu of technology.
Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?
Favorite quote from your book
“Whatever I’ve done here, it’s completely out of character and I’m horrified with embarrassment. I can only imagine what you think of me and my bra strewn across your floor, but Mandy, I could really use a friend.”
Favorite quote from Winnie the Pooh:
“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
Favorite book to film?
Favorite Indie Book Store/s?
All, especially those in beach towns!
The one think you wish you’d known about the writing life?
I waited way too late to start writing fiction. I never realized how much fun it is to make stuff up!
Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?
In my limited experience, it definitely gets faster. My first novel took 10 years; my second too 10 months.
A foodie town full of culture and rich history, sunny weather and another foodie to enjoy it with.
Favorite book cover?
Not sure, but I very much dislike books that get a new cover once it’s been make into a movie. I generally don’t care for photography on a book cover unless it’s artsy and not individual specific, and I always want the original cover design vs. the movie scene.
I’m a country music fan, but my current favorite song is “Sunday Morning” by Maroon Five, and old Chicago songs always make me feel good.
Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?
I was about 90 percent finished with my first novel, “Jaybird’s Song” when I attended my first literary conference. I was anxious for the novel-writing segment and the very first advice the speaker gave was to never write your first novel in first person. His reason: It’’s too hard for your reader to relate to your protagonist. His second advice: Write chronologically when you are beginning. Complicating with time changes doesn’t serve new authors well. I was crushed as I had written in first person and my story’s chapters alternate between time periods of when protagonist is a teenager and when she’s about to turn 50. I had a one-on-one meeting with him later in the day and sheepishly attended and admitted that I’d already blown his first two suggestions. After reading my short sample pages that were permitted at the meeting, he asked if he could read another 30 or so pages and meet again. We met again the next day and he told me to keep going and ignore his suggestions. “You have a great handle on this craft,” he said.
Last impulse book buy and why?
A romance novel by my friend KG Fletcher because I love to support other fledgling authors.
Soniah Kamal is an award winning essayist and fiction writer. Her novel Unmarriageable: Pride & Prejudice in Pakistan, a parallel retelling of Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan, has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. NPR calls it ‘thought provoking and deliciously readable’ and People Magazine says “This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms.” Unmarriageable is an Amazon Best Books pick, a People Magazine’s Pick, a New York Post Best Book pick, a Library Reads pick and more. Soniah’s debut novel An Isolated Incident was a finalist for the Townsend Award for Fiction, the KLF French Fiction Prize, and is an Amazon Rising Star pick. Soniah’s short story ‘Jelly Beans’ was selected for the Best South Asian Short Stories Anthology 2017. Her TEDx talk is about regrets and redemption. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Catapult, The Normal School, Literary Hub, and has been widely anthologized. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia State University where she was a Paul Bowles Fellow in Fiction. She currently teaches creative writing at Rhineheart University and reviews books for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Soniah will be giving a keynote address at the Jane Austen Summer Program Conference (2019) and she is a Jane Austen Literacy Ambassador. She was born in Pakistan, grew up in England and Saudi Arabia, and currently resides in Georgia.
More Drunk on Ink Interviews:
Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel
Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography
Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel
Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography
Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir
Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel
Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction
Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction
Kristen Miller Zohn: The Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book
Vanessa Hua, A River of Stars, novel
Chaitli Sen, The Pathless Sky, novel
Sonya Huber, Pain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir
Kathy Wilson Florence, Three of Cups, a novel
Sara Luce Look, Charis Books and More, independent book store
S J Sindu, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel
Rosalie Morales Kearns, Kingdom of Men, a novel
Saadia Faruqi, Meet Yasmin, children’s literature
Rene Denfeld: The Child Finder, a novel
Jamie Brenner, The Husband Hour, a novel
Sara Marchant, The Driveway has Two Sides, memoir
Kirsten Imani Kasai, The House of Erzulie, a novel
Thrity Umrigar, The Secrets Between Us, novel
John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel
Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss
Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery
Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel
Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood
Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel
Tanaz Bathena, A Girl Like That, YA novel