Posted in Member Profile

Kathy Sutphin

Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Whatever comes into my head

What kind of research goes into writing your novels and how much time does it take?

Tons of research go into writing my children’s stories.  If it’s about butterflies, I study where they live, what they eat, their life cycle.  Even though I may alter the facts to fit the fantasy, I always like to know what’s real. Recently I purchased three different books on mountain climbing, the excitement and dangers, for a fictional story set on a snow-capped mountain. Does it make sense that knowing the reality helps make the fantasy more believable?  Does, for me.

If you could offer one piece of writing advice to a novice author, what would it be?

I am a novice myself, but I believe one should write what gives you joy.  Feel the characters, feel the place, imagine yourself within the story.  Sometimes I’m a talking rabbit with lots to say.

Have you ever based characters on real people? Give us a couple of examples.

Real people, especially my daughters and their families, give me a basis for my human characters. As for animals in my fiction, some are based on actual critters, but their personalities are totally what’s going on in my own head. As a kid I was very focused on academics.  Now I’m making up for that missed playtime. Some examples:

  • In Hattie and Whisper, Hattie is a caterpillar and Whisper is fashioned after my granddaughter and her love of bugs. 
  • In a work-in-progress, there is another young girl whose best friend is a talking rabbit with an attitude – definitely me.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading and how often do you read?

I love biographies, real people, real places and true adventures. Not much for fiction except what’s in my head.  Here are a few books scattered about our house:

  • Denali’s Howl by Andy Hall
  • Explore My World Rain Forests by Marfa Delano
  • Pueblo Nations by Joe S. Sando
  • The Girl Explorers by Jayne Zanglein

Does the idea of writing energize you or exhaust you? Or both?

This is a great question. Definitely both. Some days with my coffee cooling on the desk and my little dog on my lap, I can easily put fingers on the keyboard.   However, there are days when all I do is jot ideas on scratches of paper and hope they will gel into something worth writing.

Did your formal education or upbringing/background prepare you in any way to write?

Chemistry, mathematics, computers – that’s my background.  Hard science. All fact-driven by if-then-else thinking. Funny to me as I answer this question that the if-then-else of computer programming is the perfect thought stream for writing.  IF this happens, THEN what’s next?  Is there an ELSE that changes the story. Back to IF this happens…


I’ve been an educator, a researcher, a chemist, software engineer and a technical manager. After 25 years with IBM, I decided to retire from the computer world and go ‘smell the roses.’ I tried planting fragrant roses, but the neighborhood deer ate them.  So, I turned to golf, walking and writing.  I love wordplay and found that writing children’s stories satisfied the make-believe part of my brain that had been overshadowed by a life in hard science.  My husband and I live in Georgetown and share four children and seven grandchildren who are scattered across four states.

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