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Full of surprises

By on June 26, 2021 in Arts with 2 Comments
K.K. Weakley has plenty to smile about on this sunny morning under an umbrella at Weeds Cafe in Cashmere (a favorite work spot): her newest fiction trilogy has been published and readers are clambering for more. Photos by Mike Irwin

This Irish-born, Cashmere writer of horror is seeing bright publishing success

By Susan Lagsdin

How in the world do you write a whole fiction novel that is fantastically out-of-this-world?

Cashmere author K.K. Weakley (a nickname derived from her two given K names) has no problem explaining. 

First, a caveat — though her books are considered a form of fantasy fiction, some so creepy they’ve lost their Young Adult shelf designation. They are always about real, universal emotions: love, fear, anger, yearning… and all the rest. There’s a very human connection.

With that a given, here’s her short answer to plotting: “I start with the last line of the book, just an incident in few sentences. And the rest of the novel, no matter what genre, is really what leads up to that — then I can start writing toward it.”

Easy. Maybe.

We tried a sample right there. “She looked deep into the water,” this interviewer extemporized, “And watched as the box drifted first down through waves, then into darkness, to eventually rest on the endless silt of the sea floor.” 

K.K. was quick to respond to the challenge. “It’s all his belongings,” she said. “And she’s letting them go at last.” 

She thought a second. “And, they met when she was only a girl… and maybe the next line is … ‘her water broke….’ Yes! She’s pregnant with his child!” 

K.K. not only has only expanded an idea for a 300-page novel from one quickly-composed sentence, she has the lead-in to a sequel.

Not just full of ideas, K.K. is also full of surprises. 

Her writing hours are often focused on grim, nightmarish themes, but one of her early books was co-written with her son when he was seven. “He told me the story, I wrote it down, he did the pictures,” she said.

Her foray into nonfiction, Eternal Spring, was a memoir of a heart-wrenching life event. Not hers, her husband’s. And between chapters of her big sellers, she enjoys refinishing old furniture, puttering in the garden, maybe rereading a favorite Bronte novel.

Also, you might think any tattoo on a popular author of occult gothic horror books would feature death’s heads and dragons. Not so for K.K. She doesn’t so much wear her heart on her sleeve, but her “sleeve” does reflect her heart. 

The rectangular designs that curl up her right forearm represent the books she’s written, anchored by a languorous literary feather pen that appears to have written “Finn,” her son’s name.

County Wexford, Ireland is K.K.‘s birthplace, and you’ll read references in her books as well as hear the lilt in her voice. (She’s heard it’s “charming” but realizes it’s sometimes tough to understand.)

While traveling in the U.S., she met her future husband, a singer-guitarist-songwriter who now also works for Washington Department of Transportation. 

K.K.’s college degree lead to work in human services, but when she and Nate moved to Cashmere five years ago, K.K., who wrote her first novel, Daughter of Arella, while hospitalized in Ireland, found herself very publishable and kept on writing.

A subtle measure of her productive career features a cell phone. During this interview on Weeds Café’s shady Cashmere patio, K.K. deflected a call with a swift “Hello… OK… Can I call you back?” 

Turning again to our conversation, she said, “That was my editor.” We laughed at the improbability of that casual a response years ago with book number 1 in the pipeline.

Another measure is anywhere she travels there’s a bookstore wanting her to sign copies of her award-winning novels. But K.K. says, “I don’t want to be famous.” 

What does she want? “I want people to keep enjoying my books, to want to read more of them. And I want my mind to not stop working.”

The last is not a typical unease with aging. 

K.K. was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 16 years ago, and though her periodic chemotherapy treatments at Swedish Hospital in Seattle keep the worst symptoms at bay, she says she can feel them building up again about every four years. There’s a little double vision, a drag in one leg, and an occasional noun lost to the ethers. She’s assiduous about continuing therapies. “I am determined not to relapse,” she said. 

She needs her strength for these busy months ahead. 

Her second trilogy, the Sekhet series, is two-thirds done — the second book is just now in print and the third will be available in the fall; her readers are asking for more. 

And a play she wrote and staged in her native Ireland, Brotherhood of the Celt, is headed to Broadway next year. 

K.K. is mom to three active kids — step, relative and foster — and assistant manager at Apple Annie’s Antiques, so she needs to carve out concentrated writing time. 

Her accustomed corner table at Weeds, about halfway between her house and her day job, has served well as a morning office where amidst the buzz and hum she’s written three of her books.

The books she writes aren’t all gloom and grim — they have touches of humanity and humor, with relatable characters. 

K.K. said she’s had fun incorporating real places like Seattle, Cashmere and Twisp, as well as real people, into her novels. Some characters are thinly disguised; some friends’ names are right there, generally not villains, for the world to read.

And the world seems to be reading them. Recent publishing industry accolades like Horror Novel of 2020 and a Reader’s Choice Award mean a lot to her, but she’s also eager to read reviews. “I love to know people’s thoughts — who their favorite characters were, what shocked them, what they disliked. Criticism helps you grow.”

Five partial drafts are tucked away in her files, all good enough to rehabilitate, and she has newly started two other books of two different genre. 

“They may or may not become something. Who knows?” she said. If the ideas keep coming, K.K. will keep crafting them into her special brew of fantastical fiction.

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  1. Patricia Kelly says:

    My first time reading KK Weakleys work was Eternally Spring. I laughed out loud and cried with equal measure. Her characters come alive on the page so you really feel you are there in the moment. I have just taken delivery of Sekhet and Hellbound and I can’t wait to get reading. Thank you KK.

  2. Laura says:

    AWESOME WRITER!!! I have all of her books to date. Hopefully one day I will make it to Cashmere and fingers crossed come across her.

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