For me, the best thing about Rachael's Writer's Platform-Building Campaign is the opportunity to meet lots and lots and lots of really awesome fellow writers, and today's interviewee is no different. Please welcome
What is your earliest writing memory? What did you write about? Did it have a title?
My brother has always been a bit of a prodigy. He was older than me and brilliant at an early age. When he was 10 years old, he already started writing very short fiction and all my family did was praise his genius. I had such a fit of jealousy that I sat at our Apple II computer and wrote a small story. It didn't have a title, quotation marks or even paragraphs. It was a story about four girls who were friends. I don't recall ever printing it out, but my first years of writing was in the attempt to write something better than my brother had. I just never stopped.
When you were 6, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. My mom had bought us a small chalkboard. Usually at the end of the school year, teachers would give out old workbooks, and sometimes textbooks, that they wouldn't be using. I would use these to pretend to be both a student and an instructor. This kept me entertained for most of the summer.
What is the best compliment your writing has ever received?
"I tried to hate this, but I couldn't." I know it's an odd compliment, but when I was in college, I took both English Literature and Creative Writing courses. In my introduction to creative writing, we had to write a short fiction. I chose to write what ended up being the first few chapters of an unfinished manuscript I have. There was one student in the class that did his very best to rip everyone's work apart. He had found something in every single student's work that was terrible. When it was my turn, I was ready -- I thought it would've been easy, since it was fantasy and featured a humanoid race of fairies -- and he looked at it and then at me, saying, "I tried to hate this, but I couldn't." He then went on to discuss what he loved about it. I was the only classmate he didn't tear to shreds.
Afterwards, we had to meet with the professor privately about it. I thought the story was done. He said to me, "This is not a short story. This is a novel. You have to make this a novel." It was the highest bit of praise between these two strangers that I could have ever asked for.
Can you tell us a little about your current WIP?
About two years ago, I was reading a lot of urban fantasy (Jim Butcher, in particular) and watching a lot of supernatural shows (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer). I was reading a lot about werewolves and vampires. I had always a fondness for ghosts; despite not enjoying horror movies, I always was drawn to ones about haunted houses. I had tried to find some urban fantasy that featured ghosts and couldn't find any. I decided I was going to write my own. Stages: A Survival Guide for Specters is a novel told by Quinn Landers, who has recently died and found herself roaming the earth with other ghosts. They surround the world of the living, but do not interact with them. Throughout the novel, Quinn speaks directly to the reader about being a ghost, showing its dangers and heartaches. There's a fair amount of action, friendships, love and a lot of betrayal that Quinn faces as she tells a ghost story from her perspective.
Do you follow a routine when it comes to writing?
I try very hard to have one, but it doesn't always work. I try to sit down, three times a week, for an hour. I find having a routine and being used to it is the only way writing works. When you step away from it, it's easy to put it all aside and forget you were even working on a novel.
What do you find hardest about writing?
Not being overwhelmed. As a novel writer, I find it's easy to see all the things you need to do and become buried in it. Since this isn't a paying job, there's lots of "what's the point?" moments or "I have better things to do." The first five minutes of writing tend to be grueling, almost impossible, but it's smooth sailing after that. You get to remember why you decided to devote your time to this in the first place.
What is your favorite book (at least currently)?
Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I know it's odd, being that I usually look down on all the vampire fiction out there, but this novel didn't really focus on the nature of a vampire. It focuses on the gothic better than I had ever seen done prior. It set the mood; the words itself engulf the reader, giving a constant sense of dread and hopelessness. I have always adored this book and will read it over and over again.
What non-writing hobbies do you like to participate in?
I'm a massive knitter. I picked up knitting about three years ago, when I was going through so hard times. Knitting became very meditative; when things go wrong, I pick up the needles and just go with it and I find it calms my nerves and clears my head. In the end, I get fun clothes to wear and I get a lot of compliments on my completed projects.
If you had $1,000,001, what would you do with the $1?
I would buy something from Office Max. I find sick joy in organization and desk equipment.
Give us one random fact about yourself.
I have a tattoo on my back that I drew myself that represents my creativity. The drawing occurred to me out of the blue, and the odd thing about it is that I can't draw at all. I grabbed a piece of computer paper and frantically drew until I got it perfect. I stared at it for days and knew I wanted this to become a part of me. I went to see a tattoo artist and had it drawn in black on my left shoulder blade. I always look at it when I'm suffering writers block or lacking creativity in some other regard and it always picks me up. This is why it is my current photo on twitter.
To read more about Kate and her writing, check out her website. She also tweets as @kllwrites.
If you would be interested in being a BTWP interviewee, send me an email at jestkeptsecret (at) gmail (dot) com.