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Interview With Kathy Otten, Author of A Tarnished Knight

A Tarnished Knight, a historical western romance, by Kathy OttenWelcome, Kathy, so glad to have you here today! Tell us a little about A Tarnished Knight:

Though the title sounds medieval, it is a historical western. The medieval theme comes from the heroine’s grandmother, who filled Victoria’s head with stories about princes, dragons, and far away kingdoms. When her life becomes unbearable she naturally imagines a knight, riding in to save her. It’s also about Victoria finding her inner strength, the champion within herself.


Fleeing her abusive husband, Victoria Van der Beck is captured by down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, Ryder MacKenzie. As she comes to love this man who hides his face in shadows, she wonders if he could be the valiant knight for whom she’s been longing. Is he the champion who would save her from the evil prince, or is MacKenzie just a paid lackey determined to return her to her husband? Ryder MacKenzie never believed anyone could love him, for he was cursed the day he was born. He only wants to be left alone to live on his ranch in peace. But rustlers have stolen his cattle. He’s been ambushed and his horse killed. Now his one chance to get his life back is to simply return a society princess to her husband. Maybe his luck is about to change. At least she isn’t pretty.

What inspired this story?

I kept seeing Ryder on the periphery of my mind, silent, just lurking, with his head down. I started asking questions and began putting the pieces of his back story and together. Next he shared his goals and once I learned those, I knew Victoria would be the perfect heroine for him.  But it took a while before he would come out of the shadows and let me see his face.

What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?

No, nothing scheduled for release, except this book, which is currently available on Kindle. It is scheduled for world wide release at the end of February. Currently though, I am about 55,000 words into a Civil War rough draft about a feisty Irish nurse and a brilliant, but socially inept doctor. I’m also playing around with a few short story ideas.

What is the best thing about being an author?

Finally being able to think of myself as one. I’ve had a half a dozen short stories published. This is my third novel and I’m only just beginning to feel like I’m really an author. When it hits me that that’s what I am, it boosts my self-confidence the way a new outfit does, and it makes me feel good as though that’s who I really am inside.

Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?

I’ve always liked Johnny, the heroine in Lost Hearts. She’d had a tough life, but she didn’t let it get her down. She had an open pragmatic way about her, accepting what couldn’t be changed, including the hero. My favorite hero so far is Terrel Lee Parker from An Ordinary Angel. I love beta heroes and while Terrel Lee is quiet, polite, and shy, he has that Alpha core of strength.

What is your favorite scene from this story and why?

There are elements of each scene that I love, but one that made me chuckle when I wrote it was when Victoria had once more used a disguise to elude capture. Ryder boards the train at the last minute, thinking he knows which passenger is Victoria. When the train stops he tries to drag her from the train, but it turns out the passenger is the sister of a minister and amidst the screams and scratches, Ryder is literally thrown off the train. He has to walk all the way back to the first train station and ends up with blisters on his heels. But Ryder is a tenacious kind of guy and no matter how many rocks I threw at him, he never gave up.

How do you balance writing and everyday life?

I’ve finally gotten to the point in my life where the kids are living on their own. So I have less responsibility as far as cooking and cleaning. My job takes up my entire weekend (40 hrs in 3 days), leaving me M-Th free. I also have critique meetings and I’ve started doing a bit teaching workshops. My greater problem is balancing writing with all the marketing and promotion and social media. I haven’t gotten a handle on that aspect of it at all.

What is your favorite food to cook or eat?

I love to make Toll House Cookies. I love the smell of them, and the way they look all golden when they come out of the oven. All melty and warm is the best time to eat them, with milk, of course. But I’ll eat them raw, warm, cool, or frozen.

These are few of my favorite things:

1. Horses

2. Long walks with my dog

3. Family get-togethers, with lots of muchies and games to play. After holiday meals we play Scrabble, Clue, Pictionary, Othello, Settlers of Catan, or Trivia Pursuit. The winner of one game advances to the next so we rotate around.

And now Kathy has a question for you all: What does your family do after holiday meals? Do you have any favorite games?


The peacefulness of Ryder MacKenzie’s home settled into her soul with every breath of air she drew, soothing the restless need to run that had consumed her since she’d hit Nicholas with the whiskey bottle.

When she wandered back to the cabin, she expected Ryder to be in bed, but he was still in the tub, his knees drawn up, pale and knobby, his head resting on the rim.

She grabbed Beau by the scruff of his neck and shoved him outside closing the door with a sharp bang.

Ryder jerked upright, sloshing water over the sides.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll come back.”

“No.” He leaned back and closed his eyes. “I’m done. I just want to wash my hair.”

“I can do it for you.” Before the words were out of her mouth, she questioned what part of her brain they’d
come from. Maybe it was because Ryder was safe, and this was a chance to physically connect with a man on her own terms, without fear.

Maybe she needed to satisfy the curiosity that had taunted her all week, urging her to explore the body of
this man she desired.

But maybe it was simply because he was Ryder MacKenzie, and in his own determined, unassuming way, he’d touched her heart and become her hero, and there would never again be a man she so ached to know.

You can find A Tarnished Knight at:

Bio: I live in the open farm country of western NY with my husband of thirty-one years. We have three grown children who all fortunately live fairly close by. Since I was a kid, I’ve been filling notebooks with stories, but it wasn’t until seven years ago that I began to seriously pursue the craft of writing. Historical westerns are my favorite genre, though I have also written some contemporary. My short stories have been published by New Love Story Magazine, The Western Online, and The Wild Rose Press, who also published three holiday novellas. A Tarnished Knight is my third full-length novel with The Wild Rose Press.

I enjoy taking long walks with my German Shepherd who usually drags me along behind him while he roots through the tall grass and underbrush of the woods and fields we trek. In the winter I like to curl up with a good book and one or two of our five cats while the snow blows outside. In between the family, work and animals I sit at my computer and weave stories of laughter, heartache and love for the crazy cast of characters swirling around in my head.

You can find Kathy at:





12 thoughts on “Interview With Kathy Otten, Author of A Tarnished Knight”

  1. Good morning, Babette. Thank you so much for having me here today. You have a wonderful blog, very sunny and inviting. Great interview questions, too. I had fun answering them. 🙂

  2. We were always card people…for years I played canasta with my grandmother till the wee hours every time we stayed there. My dad’s side of the family were all bridge and pinochle nuts. We taught all the kids. It was the highlight of most holiday get-togethers.

  3. Our family was always into cards. For years, I’d play canasta with my grandmother, up till the wee hours of the mornings…and my dad’s family was into bridge and pinochle. Always a high point of the holiday get-togethers.

    1. Hi Lyndi,
      Some friends of mine when I was a kid used to play Cribbage. They taught me to play and when we couldn’t go outside, we’d play in their living room. I haven’t played in years, but when I think of Cribbage I think of them.

  4. HI Babette and Kathy! Great interview. Kathy, you know I love your books and have Tarnished Knight on my kindle. And the characters sound like the unique type you write. Looking forward to reading it. After holiday meals we usually play cards. Whatever game our son-in-law is into at the time. He loves to win!

    1. Hi Paty,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. I can understand playing with someone who loves to win. My daughter’s boyfriend is a real shark when we play Monopoly. He shows no mercy and doesn’t like it when we feel sorry for the loser and give them money so they can keep playing.

  5. My family likes to play board games. Sometimes it’s Monopoly and Tripoly or Clue and Candy Land if the young ones are playing:) We also love to try new games!

    1. Hi Diane,
      I’ve never played Tripoly. I’ll have to look for it. I remember playing Candy Land when I was a kid. I like games. They create some great memories of family. 🙂

  6. Babette, Your blog is easy to navigate through, bright and sunny! Great interview questions…
    Kathy, you have done a lot in seven years! I enjoy seeing your characters unfold on the written page…
    We don’t have any games after our holiday meals. My sister’s family loves dominoes and sometimes tries to get a game going. But I prefer to watch the babies play or visit. Other than that, I like to find a well-lit corner and retire with a book!

    1. Hi Amy,
      Thanks for stopping and taking the time to leave a comment. I haven’t played dominoes in years. One of the guys got out a set at the group home where I work, and we had a nice game. I too, love sitting down in a corner of the couch when everyone has gone home and the house is quiet and reading a good book.

  7. Hi Babette,
    Thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I had fun hearing about the fun times people had playing games with their families. Congratulations on your new contract for Summertime Dream. Wishing you lots of sales.

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