It’s a privilege to interview Kathy Cretsinger on my blog today. My debut novel was published by her company, Mantle Rock Publishing, LLC,. Since then, she and I have become good friends.
Kathy wears many hats besides author and publisher—wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Until recently, her Friday nights have been spent watching her grandsons play football and granddaughters in the marching bands. Her life is full of church and her family.
She and her husband Jerry live in western Kentucky, but their roots are in eastern Tennessee. As a result, Kathy’s writing career began with her stories of the Melungeon people from east Tennessee. She now writes about people in a small community in the northeastern corner of Tennessee, Shady Valley. According to Kathy, “Colorful people are everywhere, even in your mind.”
- Kathy, most of us know you as the owner of Mantle Rock Publishing. Would you briefly tell us what led you to start your own publishing company?
In the beginning of my writing career, I realized most authors had a very hard time getting their first book published. My first book was Callie’s Mountain, a historical romance set in 1795 in Eastern Tennessee. Callie’s Mountain told the story of the Melungeon race. One editor with a large publishing house told me she would be interested if the Melungeons was a religion. No, it wasn’t. They were a race of people. This was pivotal to me starting the publishing company. After talking to other authors, I found they were having the same problems.
- Tell us more about your series of books on the Melungeon Race. How did you choose the subject of your series, and what special research did they require?
The real story about the Melungeons is my heritage. I have Melungeon blood running through my veins, or at least a little of it. Melungeons were not well treated. They were neither black or white, but were treated more like a black person. They were not trusted as being dependable, honest, or hard working. I wanted to show the world that they are good people.
I researched through people contacts, books, and the internet has a lot of good information. There is a website from the University of North Carolina, and I read a lot of how they speculate the Melungeons or Spanish came to America. Most of the Melungeons settled in Hancock County, Tennessee in a little community called Newman’s Ridge. They were isolated from most of the world.
- Recently, you decided to sell most of your authors to another publishing company. As a result, the extra time has allowed you to complete Bogged Down by Murder, a romantic suspense set in Shady Valley, TN. Were you always drawn to romantic suspense books? As a young girl, who were some of your favorite authors? What influence did they have on your writing career?
I loved reading anything as a child. I loved Nancy Drew Mysteries and the biographies of historical personalities you found in the libraries in elementary school. In high school, I loved Victoria Holt books and think I have read all of them. I loved Rebecca. I seemed to like romantic suspense at an early age.
- Let’s talk more about Bogged Down in Murder. Why did you choose Shady Valley as your setting?
They say to write what you know. My husband, Jerry, is from Shady Valley, and we had lived there twice. I feel comfortable there. It is beautiful. We have family still living in Shady Valley. I am at peace when I go there. Can’t wait to attend the Cranberry Festival on October 10, 2020.
- How many books can we look forward to in the series, Nothing Shady Ever Happens in Shady Valley? I love that name! Will Daisy McQueen be in all of them?
To some people, Shady Valley is a boring place, and nothing ever happens in Shady Valley. At this moment, there will be four more books. Yes, Daisy will be in all of them in some way. She won’t be the main character, but she will have a part in the story.
- Readers seem to love pets in books. Do you have any pets in your books? If so, are they fashioned after your own pets?
I do have pets in my books. Oliver is Daisy’s dog in this book. Oliver is an English Shepherd. We had English Shepherds when our children were small. They were the best protection for the children and me. If a stranger came up, they stood between the stranger and me. If the stranger moved his hand toward me, he growled.
Book number three or four, I can’t decide when to release it, will have goats in it. Goat yoga anyone?
- Any additional thoughts or advice you would like to share with my readers and other writers?
Most people want to know what I am working on now. I am working on the next book in the series, Death by Doubloons.
Also, several years ago, Pam Watts Harris and I had an idea about a Christmas bride book around the Great Smoky Mountains. We have since separated the book, and we are both working on improving Smoky Mountain Brides into two books. Mine will be Keeper of the Stars. My plans are to have it ready in October.
Death by Doubloons should be out in the spring.
I love writing, and I love hearing from my readers. My website is http://kathycretsinger.com.
Join Kathy on Facebook at facebook.com/kathycretsinger/, facebook.com/kathycretsingerauthor/, and on her website http://kathycretsinger.com. Kathy is active in KenTen Writers Group and KenTen Writers Retreat. She also speaks at several conferences in the South.