Retired realtor Kathleen Whittam has released two books in the past two years and is on the precipice of sending her third out into the world. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Retired realtor Kathleen Whittam has released two books in the past two years and is on the precipice of sending her third out into the world. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Keizerite Kathleen Whittam got her start telling stories on her father’s lap.

“Every night I would sit on my dad’s lap and we’d make up these ridiculous stories with cowboys. I would be the hero and he would be the bad guy, and that probably kicked in my creativity,” said Whittam.

Flash forward a few decades and Whittam is now on the cusp of releasing her third book, the second in a planned trilogy that got its start in September with the release of The Earth World.

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The story is the tale of Rose Flowers who has been selected by an invading alien race to help repopulate their home planet. Rose struggles to bridge the disconnect between her own hopes and desires and the needs of her would-be captors.

“It’s kind of about where we draw the line at forcing people into situations when it serves the ultimate good. I like looking at those situations and seeing where it leads,” Whittam said. “Rose questions a lot about the right and the wrong of her situation, and there are some answers she can’t disagree with even though they are hard to accept.”

Whittam retired from an 18-year career as a realtor before ever sitting down to wrestle with those types of big questions on the page.

“When I started this, it was the result of a conversation with my ex-broker. He sat me down and we started talking to my about life after retirement and he encouraged me to write. It was almost like someone needed to give me permission. I hadn’t seriously considered it until I had that conversation,” Whittam said.

Her first novel, released in fall 2014, is titled Now and Eternity. It also tackles a big question.

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“I wanted to look at how far someone can go before they can’t be forgiven,” she said.

Now and Eternity tells the story of Kara and her love for two men: a vampire, Nate, and Fred, a mortal. The book examines issues of what family means and what purpose it generates, even for the undead.

Whittam publishes her work using Amazon’s CreateSpace, a suite of self-publishing tools and services. She knew from the outset that the publishers of Christian books likely wouldn’t touch her work because of the sexuality and mayhem they encompass, but her faith is a large presence in her work.

“With science fiction, there is something about bringing up questions concerning what reality is. Faith tackles those same questions,” Whittam said.

For a fee, CreateSpace offers her access to editors and cover designers that she would otherwise have to come up with on her own.

“You pay for everything you do, but you work with a team and they come up with cover option and layout options,” she said. “It’s a little overwhelming at first, but it’s not so bad once you’re into it.”

She made use of editorial services for the newest book and feedback from an editor has given her a lot of fodder as she’s worked on the final book in the trilogy.

“I realized in the third book that there has been no mention of one of the main characters, so I went back and added a whole section that to the second book that included him,” she said.

Writing has opened up new doors into her own views on the world, usually in the best ways.

She said, “One of the things that I really started believing as a result of writing is that none of us are perfect people and, even though we have imperfections, so does everybody else. We can’t dwell on our imperfections nor judge somebody else.”

These days, Whittam tries to spend about two hours a day on her writing, but she’s gone as long as six or eight hours in marathon sessions.

“Another thing writing has helped me with is in realizing I don’t have to have the answers immediately. I can play with different concepts or ideas in all sorts of ways in writing and in life, and find the ones that suit me,” she said.

In a way, it’s like going back to those days in her dad’s lap playing pretend.

Whittam’s books are available in e-book and dead-tree editions at amazon.com.