I'm thrilled to introduce bestselling author, Kate O'Hearn! Kate writes the Pegasus series, the Valkyrie series, and The Shadow of the Dragon series. Born in Canada, raised mostly in New York city, and currently residing in England, Kate draws on her travels and love of powerful female characters and animals to write her books.
The following questions were developed by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez's WINGBEATS BOOK CLUB members (free to join!). Please enjoy Kate's personal photos (she loves to dance and wear costumes!) and her exclusive interview and then visit WINGBEATS to join the discussion (link button below)!
What inspired you to write the Pegasus series?
I have always loved Greek mythology. When I was very young, my mom bought me a picture book of the myths and the first time I saw Pegasus, it was LOVE! But there really weren’t many stories with him in it, so I figured, he deserved his own story.
When did you first discover your love for writing and Greek mythology?
I always loved making up my own stories – but I never imagined I would be a writer. I studied fashion at school. It was when I was an adult and had made a bad career choice that my mom told me to get off my butt and write something! It wasn’t long after that, that I wrote my first short story for a writing competition. I didn’t win and my story was awful... but it was a way of getting started! After that, I was hooked and wrote whenever I had a spare moment. Again, with Greek mythology, it was when I was a kid – again, it was because of my mother. I owe my whole career to her and miss her so much.
Do you like other kinds of mythology as well? Have you heard about Kelpies?
I have always loved all kinds of mythologies – fairy tales too. My very best favourite when I was growing up was “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen. NOT the Disney version, the real one with the bitter sweet ending. So I know the Kelpies, Selkies and even Pooka. I am from Canada and there are some amazing myths for the Native Americans. I love the story of the Windigo!
Why did you end the series the way you did?
That’s a great question because I thought long and hard about the ending. So, here’s the thing. By the very end of the series, Emily had changed so much and a lot of it wasn’t her choice. The powers were inside her, but she didn’t ask for them. She was forced into being a hero because she had the power to help.
Then I got thinking, where is her free will? Her decision? So at the very end when the danger had finally gone, I gave Emily the choice. She could stay in New York and live the life she would have had if Pegasus hadn’t found her, or go on to live an amazing life with Pegasus. It just seemed fair to let her decide.
How did you come up with the idea for the Pegasus series?
I grew up in New York. In fact my apartment building was what I used in the book – On 29th street and Broadway. And we were near the top floor. There were gardens on the roof too! So we used to get some amazing thunder storms and from my bedroom window, I could see the Empire State Building and watch it get struck by lightning. And in the canyons of the city, the thunder would rumble on and on... So I used to imagine Pegasus flying out there in the storm. And the rumbling of thunder was him crashing on the roof. I’m just thrilled that so many years later I could write the story and have wonderful people like you reading them!
Who inspired your characters?
That’s a very complicated question. Sometimes it’s people I know and like. Sometimes it’s people who I don’t like or who have hurt me, who are usually my villains – which is what is so great about defeating them in the end! And just sometimes, my characters are the people I would have liked to be.
Do you have any writing tips for young and beginning writers?
Well, this may sound simple, but – write! Yep, that’s it. Just write and write some more. They say practice makes perfect, and it really does help. Some writers say, “Write every day!” That sounds good on paper, but isn’t always practical. For me, I do write almost every day, but that’s because I love it and its now my full time job. Oh – and read a lot. Sometimes I read a book and see a great sentence. Then I wonder how the author thought of that. Which I hope makes me write better – don’t know for sure, but I hope.
Finally – and this is the really hard bit. PLEASE don’t let anyone EVER discourage you – including your own self doubt. If you want to write, do it. I’m sure there are days when we all say, “What am I doing, I can’t write...” that nagging voice is wicked. You must ignore it.
So my advice is, simply – write! And have fun!!!!!!
Emily is 13 when the series begins. How old is she at the end?
What a challenging question. Here’s the thing. When JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she had the characters age a year in each book – so over 7 books the characters were in their late teens. I didn’t want to do that – so that if someone started reading the 3 or 4th book first, they would still see Emily as a young girl. So for me, over the series, Emily and the gang aged very little. At most, she’d be 14 or 15 at the end. Besides, time moves differently in Olympus – that’s how I reasoned it.
Who are your favorite characters?
I think you already know the answer. It will always be Pegs! But I think I really love the non-human characters most. Like the Sphinx or Chrysaor or even Chiron the Centaur. To me they are so much more interesting and fun to write. I mean, I had so much fun having Alexis in Las Vegas. She’s such a majestic figure in mythology; I found it hysterical her wanting to see Elvis! Or Chiron in Hawaii.
What inspired you to be an author?
As I said above, my mom was the one who really got me started writing. But I think the first time I saw my words in print and people commenting on them, it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. The first story was in a fanzine and I didn’t make a penny. But just seeing my story there was amazing. After that, I really wanted to be an author and see my name on the cover of a book.
How long have you been writing?
Tough question. I’ve only been published for 10 years. But I’ve been writing short stories much longer than that. Yes, my mom really got me started, but that was because she knew when I was around ten years old, I started writing stories. So she knew I liked to do it. I still have some of my original work and when I read it, I smile because it brings back memories of when I wrote them.
If you could ride Pegasus, where would you go?
If I could ride Pegs (and I have because when I write, I AM Emily and I do ride on Pegasus) –
But if we’re talking reality, I would ride him to the silver beach on Olympus and we could walk together in the warm water. After that, it would be Xanadu – and then after that, we would soar into the Solar Stream and discover new worlds together...
Let's all give Kate a round of applause! I love her answers, don't you? There is such great advice here as well as inspiration. I recently finished book one of the Pegasus series, The Flame of Olympus and absolutely loved it. Kate's heart for her story and characters shines through. If you haven't read it yet, you can get a copy at your local library, bookstore, or at an online retailer.
Now let's continue our discussion of THE FLAME OF OLYMPUS in the comments below! We'll be discussing this until September 15, 2018, so you still have time to read the book!
Thank you Kate O'Hearn for visiting Wingbeats Book Club!