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Kathleen Small Interview

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

Tell me about your books

My books are fantasy for the young and young at heart. My debut novel A Dress To Remember, a middle-grade fairy tale, was released in March 2023. It’s the story of strong-willed Princess Zarina who makes a deal with a mysterious dressmaker for a unique dress. She receives a magic black ballgown. It isn’t what she wanted but what she needed, as she will come to discover.

My second novel is The Magic Carousel, Book 1 of The Brass Ring Series. It’s available for pre-order and will be released on July 25, 2023. Ten-year-old Russell is bullied by his classmates and his father. When he receives a magic brass ring from his grandfather, he embarks on a succession of time-travel adventures with horses. These escapades help him deal with the bullies in his life.

Who did your covers and illustrations?

I’m very fortunate to have Brandon Dorman create the covers and illustrations for both my books. He’s a wonderful artist and has done the art for R.L. Stine’s Goosebump series, Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories series, and Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series. I love the bright colors and energy of his artwork.

Last year, during the final section of an online writing course I was taking, I asked the instructor how to find an illustrator for my books. He said to find a book that I liked and see who illustrated it. Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull was the closest novel I reached for and discovered Brandon Dorman had illustrated it. I checked out his website and liked his gallery. I completed his contact form and was shocked that he was willing to work with me—an unknown debut writer. It is an absolute treat to work with him.

When and how did you start writing?+

I was about ten or eleven when I knew I wanted to be a writer. In high school, I was the poetry editor for the school’s literary publication. I started college as a creative writing major and was the energy editor of our science journal. Concerned that I wouldn’t find a job with a creative writing degree, I changed majors and earned a geography master’s degree. I went on to pursue a 36-year career in the electric utility industry, writing many business reports and letters. Meanwhile, I wrote fiction in the evening and completed several manuscripts. It wasn’t until I retired that I became serious about publishing my work.

What inspires your writing?

Inspiration comes in many forms. I drafted a women’s fiction based on an obituary I had saved several years ago. I keep a file of photos and images clipped from magazines over the years. If I’m looking for inspiration for a character or setting, I look through this collection. I like to ask “What if” questions to stimulate ideas.

Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

I enjoy doing research and often get lost wandering down unexpected research paths. The books in The Brass Ring Series all required extensive research. They include time travel, so I had to delve into historical research, as well as animal characteristics and behavior. In contrast, A Dress To Remember is a fairy tale. While most of it involved little research, I did read about medieval times to capture the details of life then.

What is the biggest challenge you face/have faced when you are writing?

My biggest challenge is not the actual writing. It’s the editing! I tend to write quickly; some might say my style is sparse. The word count on my first draft is typically low. I go through several rounds of edits to add more details, descriptions, and emotional reactions. I spend more time editing than drafting.

What’s the best thing someone has said about your writing?

The reviews for A Dress To Remember were heart-warming. My favorite was from a mother who wrote that her 9-year-old daughter “tore through it in two days because she didn’t want to put it down.”

What do you want your readers to feel when they have closed the last page of your book?

I hope when readers get to the last page of my book, they feel satisfied with the ending and want to read another one.

What do you consider your greatest writing accomplishment?

That’s a tough question. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made as a writer, the awards I’ve won, and the readers’ reactions to my writing. However, my greatest writing accomplishment is that I’ve been a judge for the Royal Palm Literary Awards for the Florida Writers Association over the past three years. As a judge, I review pages and provide feedback to the contest entrants. It’s a privilege to be entrusted to evaluate other writers’ books. I hope that my feedback is beneficial for the writers. I certainly learn by reading their work.

What would you do if you didn’t write?

If I didn’t write, I would do watercolor painting. Once I retired, I started taking watercolor lessons and made good progress. When I decided to publish my books, I stopped painting to devote more time to writing/editing/marketing. Maybe one day I’ll get back to painting.

What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

My childhood dream was to have a row of books I had written on a bookshelf. That still is my ultimate dream.

What are your current projects? What should we be looking out for?

I’m currently editing The Christmas Carousel (Book 2 of The Brass Ring Series) and will then edit The Haunted Carousel (Book 3). Poison Pen Friends, a women’s fiction, needs a final round of edits. I have completed a young adult (YA) fantasy that won a Royal Palm Literary Award Gold Award for unpublished YA manuscript. It’s part of a duology. The sequel and prequel are started by not finished. Finally, I have an unfinished adult fantasy novel that still needs more work. My goal is to finish all these novels before starting anything new. Although, I have had several requests to write a sequel to A Dress To Remember, so who knows what I might write next.


K. L. Small is the author of fantasy stories for the young and the young at heart, including A Dress To Remember: A Fairy Tale, the Brass Ring fantasy novels for young readers, and the Strand trilogy for young adults. She was born in Queens, New York, the oldest of nine children.

She was an avid reader as a child, and her father often told her “to get your nose out of that book and go outside.” While she did go outside, she never lost her love of reading, especially horse stories and fantasy novels. Some of her treasured possessions are several much-loved books by Marguerite Henry. She has taken one of the books, Five O’clock Charlie, into classrooms for the Great American Teach-In and shared the story with children, along with the letter she received from Ms. Henry in response to her fan letter to the author.

She attended Binghamton University, starting as a Creative Writing major. After earning a master’s degree from Syracuse University, she spent her professional career in the electric utility business in a variety of roles, ranging from environmental work, community relations, communication, and change management.

Her childhood dream was to own a horse and be an author. She is living her dream in Brooksville, Florida, with her husband, Rick, on a ranch called Carousel Acres. They own three horses: an off-the-track Thoroughbred named Rory and two American mustangs: Skylark and ShyAnne. They share the barn with three cats named after the Golden Girls: Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose. A fourth cat, Stan, has decided to join the barn crew.

You can learn more about K. L. Small and her current writing projects by following her on Facebook at, Twitter at or Instagram

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