Local author brings real life to sci-fi

Local author Kathrin Hutson poses with her newest book, “Sleepwater Beat”. On her bookshelf sits a wood-carved dragon, a gift from one of her readers. (Courtesy Photo)

Kathrin Hutson’s career as an author began with a recurring nightmare when she was ten years old. When she realized she could rewrite the ending, the nightmares stopped.

Now Colchester resident Hutson is a best-selling author on Amazon, having written two fantasy series with a third on the horizon. Her newest book is titled Sleepwater Beat, and follows Leo, a somewhat battered young woman running from the demons of her past as she explores a superpower that allows her to control people with words. Sleepwater Beat is on the Amazon LGBT Science Fiction Best Seller list, despite the book being her first fore into writing sci-fi.

While fantasy remains her comfort genre, Hutson’s characters are flawed in a searingly realistic way. “I tend to go with seriously messed up characters,” Hutson recently told the Sun. “A story shouldn’t need to be happy for it to be real.”

Leo is slightly different from other characters Hutson has written. “I wrote more of myself into Leo than I ever have in a book,” said Hutson. “It’s sort of reflective of myself over the last 15 years. Sometimes it was cathartic, and sometimes I was afraid to keep going.”

According to Hutson, her characters pull themselves together and decide where to go with very little say on her part. “I can’t do outlines or plotting,” said Hutson. “They have a will of their own.”

For example, part of Leo’s backstory involves her using her powers on her girlfriend, but Hutson said she didn’t set out to write an LGBTQ character. While she thinks it’s important to represent queer characters in science fiction, considering the lack of representation against their straight, white counterparts, her goal wasn’t to check a box. “That’s just who Leo is,” said Hutson. “It’s important to have diverse characters, and not just happy go lucky representations, but messed up, flawed, real people.”

Rather than cowering at the massive question she faces when writing a book, Hutson embraces the fear. “Eighty percent of the fun is figuring out what kind of story I’m writing,” she said. “It’s like putting together a puzzle but you don’t know what the picture looks like yet.”

Sleepwater Beat started out as a short story inspired in part by the movie Memento. Hutson was interested in writing vignette scenes and playing with time, similar to the backwards timeframe in Memento. She made a list of the story scenes, cut them into strips, and moved them around in different orders.

“It was a failed experiment,” said Hutson laughing. When her peers in a writer’s workshop told her the story needed to be a novel, she got to work. Nine months later, she had a book and a newborn baby.

“I finished writing it when I was pregnant with my daughter,” said Hutson, whose daughter, Ruari Skywalker, is now three years old. Hutson noted that the reason she’s taken so long to publish Sleepwater Beat, is that she initially queried the manuscript with traditional publishers. This is the second book she has queried with a publisher, and while both times she has ended up independently publishing, both books have become best-sellers on Amazon. “So I think I’m on the right track,” she said.

As an indie publisher, Hutson handles almost every step in the publishing process. “It’s nonstop,” she said. “I love being in control of all of those things. But it’s all on you. If I need help, I have to ask for it—nobody’s just going to reach out a hand. It’s so important for me to realize that I have a select pool of superpowers at my disposal and that other people do too.”

Hutson traced her love for dark, twisty tales back to age ten, when she first read It by Stephen King. This sparked a love for King and a life-long interest in anti-heroes.

While Hutson’s passion lies in dark fantasy and troubled characters, she is much more easygoing and kind in person.

Originally from Colorado, Hutson often visited Vermont as a child and felt at home in the State’s quiet nature. The longest she’s lived in one place since a kid growing up around the Rockies is one year and nine months, said Hutson. But her Colchester home, which she shares with her husband, daughter and two dogs—Sadie and Brucewillis—is fast approaching that record.

Hutson is currently working on a novel in a new series, Vessel Broken; she hopes to publish before the end of the year. She also has a story coming out this October in a box set with other sci-fi and fantasy authors, featuring the theme, “forbidden love.”

Hutson recalled once reading a negative review that gave her novel two stars; the reader’s main complaint was that the book wasn’t happy enough. “Yes!” Hutson recalled with a laugh, thrusting a small victory fist into the air.

“I’m not trying to write happy stories,” she said, but rather to write truthful stories in a fantasy setting. “Rarely does real life hand you a happy ending.”