1. Why did you start writing?
"I am a huge daydreamer, especially when I get bored—I wish I had a more impressive origin story than that! I wrote my first book (and the novel that landed me my agent) during breaks while I was working as a lifeguard at a community pool. I would sit next to the (usually empty) pool for entire shifts at a time, and the only way I could keep myself from going insane with boredom was by getting really into these stories inside my head, and eventually I started writing them down on my breaks. I’ve always been someone who staved off boredom by telling myself stories; there’s just something so alluring about that elite level of daydreaming where you get this whole plot and characters in your head. At least, I find it super addictive (and here we are, with me trying for a writing career)."
2. Where do you draw inspiration?
"I feel like the thing that jolts the best story ideas loose from my brain is always some very stupid or fantastical ‘what if’ question. I love urban fantasy and speculative fiction, anything that takes real life and makes it weirder. I feel like I’m just wandering around and I’ll have these oddball thoughts, like ‘what if this gas station was haunted’ or ‘what if the ghost in my apartment was nice, actually’ or ‘what if the back door to this diner led to another dimension.’ For me, when I can take a scenario that’s really fun and weird and combine it with a character who would hate to be in that situation, that’s when I know I’ve got a story going. I love combining something normal with something weird and kind of twisting them together – and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t (but you’ll never see those drafts 😉). "
3. What is your method of writing? Notebooks, computer?
“Oh, laptop all the way. Between you and me, I have pretty scraggly handwriting. Back before the pandemic, I commuted by bus and would do most of my writing on the bus ride, which is funny because I definitely get carsick. Just imagine me, 22 and in my first city on my own, trying to write a story at 7 am while also trying not to puke on the pristine shoes of the businessman sitting next to me. But I am definitely a digital writing girl – I change my mind too often to put words down in ink!”
4. You’ve published a novel this year, congrats! How did The Follower come about? When did you realize you had material for a novel?
"Thank you! The Follower is actually a bit of an atypical publishing story. Although it is technically my debut novel, The Follower actually isn’t an original novel of mine, but a commissioned book that I wrote for the publisher, Amulet Books. (Basically how that works is that sometimes, publishers will want to publish a book with a certain plot—in this case, they wanted a social-media-based thriller—so they hire an outside writer to make the novel happen).
At this point in my writing career, I had just sent my first novel—the lifeguarding novel, from question #1, actually—on submission to editors, and it had failed to sell, which was… rough, honestly. But because I was still with my agent, she let me know that Amulet was looking to hire someone to write this book, so I was able to successfully audition for the project. From there, the publishers gave me an outline and I pieced the book together. It was definitely a huge learning experience for me – both in terms of the book writing and in terms of just existing in the publishing industry (so many firsts – first time being on deadline, first time writing to plot points that weren’t mine, first time navigating a relationship with contracts and an editor). While I’m glad that The Follower is finished and definitely learned a lot from it, I would still love to publish an original novel one day—that’s the ultimate dream."
5. Talk to me about AuthorTok! What got you interested in joining, and how do you come up with topics for videos?
"Truly, nothing makes me internally panic like someone from other parts of my life learning that I have a TikTok, lol. Publishing The Follower made me get on writer social media for the first time – I joined twitter to be able to promote the book, but after getting inundated with everything ‘business’ about the twitter part of writing, I was looking for a spot online where I could exist as a writer and also just… be myself. And, I mean, I was already spending too much time on the app, so why not? I am hardly an influencer – I have, like, 12 followers, haha – but I think the key to having fun online is just embracing the fact that sometimes the only person who is going to think that a video is funny is me, and that’s perfectly fine."
6. On your author page, you link a Spotify playlist called “New Book Jams.” Can you say a little on what you’re working on now? Also, how did you pick those songs?
“I am the kind of person who can’t do a anything without making a themed Spotify playlist about it first. The playlist is for my latest novel, which will (hopefully!) be going on submission sometime this fall. It’s an urban fantasy set in Washington, DC (where I work! – hence all that writing on the metrobus), and my elevator pitch is ‘It’s march madness for wizards and someone is rigging the tournament.’
I absolutely adore this playlist, and writing playlists in general. I always make one, they help me get in the mood for writing on the days when I wake up and simply don’t want to do it. The fun thing for me is that these playlists become timestamps of all my favorite songs from the years that I was writing and editing that manuscript. I actually finished editing my current WIP while listening to the playlist from that first book I wrote while lifeguarding, which was a cool, full-circle moment for me. I hope it brings some good vibes 😊
In terms of song selection, I feel like I have three general categories – 1) songs that I think capture a mood I want to tap into (usually angst, lol) 2) songs that describe relationships between characters (this is also usually angst) and 3) songs that make me happy or make me just want to nod my head to the beat while I’m writing, because sometimes that’s all that keeps me going haha.”
7. What other project(s) do you hope to take on someday?
"Of course, I would love to get an original book out there someday! And I have absolutely been falling in love with the short story community on twitter – it’s been such a great way to grow as a writer and make some writer friends. I would say that one of my goals is definitely to get out there and build community, so if you’re reading this, feel free to DM & say hi 😊"
8. What do you hope people take away from your work?
"This might sound lame, but I kinda just hope it’s fun. I always write for some sense of escapism, and that’s one of the main reasons that I read, too. I do find that, inevitably, some real world things that I feel strongly about manage to worm their way into my stories, but hopefully in a way that manages to keep that element of the fantastic alive and interesting."
9. What’s the best writing advice you’ve been told or happened to overhear? Or, what writing advice would you offer?
"I’m always looking for tips on how to balance writing with school, jobs, life! The best advice I’ve gotten is to try and strike a balance that is sustainable. Treat it like working out – by which I mean, make sure you schedule days of rest and prioritize having a social life and existing as a person who isn’t just a writer. When I asked him about work-life balance, author Jimmy Cajoleas (paraphrased here, of course!) was kind enough to tell me to ‘make sure it’s fun, because otherwise, I mean, what’s the point?’
I’m really trying to focus on sustainability as I prepare to dive into more writing projects. But it can be hard! And if you haven’t struck the balance, that’s OK too – you’re in good company. Every time I meet another author, I like to ask them how the heck they manage their work-life balance, and every single one of them says something different, followed by ‘but I haven’t figured it out yet.’"
10. And finally, what do you enjoy doing that you don’t talk about enough. Tell me all about it!
"Lately, I’ve been trying to embrace having hobbies that I am… not good at. I like to boulder, make beer, and attempt to play musical instruments (all with varying degrees of success). I’ve also been getting more into graphic design and art lately, and I’ve been having a TON of fun with it.
But, most importantly, now that it’s the fall, I’m SO excited to get back into bread baking and start making every soup recipe that I can get my hands on 😊 If you are a soup person and want a recipe to start, here is one of my favorites – and if you have a soup recipe, well, my DMs are open."
Hear Kate read her flash fiction piece "Dentata Non Grata."
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