This week I’m welcoming Katrina Jack to the author interview, you can find Katrina on her blog, website, twitter, Facebook. If you would like to buy her books you can find them all on her author page on amazon.
What are you currently writing/working on?
My current work in progress is a follow up to the original trilogy, The Silver Flute Trilogy, called Elawyn’s Song. I’ve taken two of the characters from book III, Dawn Horizon, and made them the main protagonists. As in the original books, music plays a major part in the story. I hope to develop this into a new trio of books, under the banner heading of, The Songstress Trilogy.
When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?
Hah! I have some very strange ideas, usually in the wee hours of the morning. I develop my characters from people I see around me, using characteristics and traits I observe, and developing them into a “new” person.
There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, is there any part of you in any of your characters?
Yes, there are traits of my personality in my main protagonist from The Silver Flute Trilogy, Jeremiah Tully. He is a shadow of my younger self, facing challenges and experiences similar to mine, except I can’t play the flute. Of course, they’re enhanced and expanded, but he is very much a part of me.
How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?
I used to create character sheets, listing appearance, traits, and so on. However, I found it tedious having to constantly consult them, especially as the characters would change and develop during the course of the story, and ended up having very little resemblance to their profiles. I’m a kind of write- by- the seat of my pants gal, and using the character sheets slowed me down.
Are you a planner, or free writer?
I’d say I was a free writer. I do make a rough draft of the story, but if something new occurs to me, I don’t slavishly follow my notes.
When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, mood boards, character interviews, scraps of notes?
I like to use various pictures, usually fantasy art, to inspire locations and situations for my characters. I’m lucky to live in an area rich in public gardens, mansion houses, and cemeteries; all these have featured in my books. I also use real buildings, tweeking them a little to make them my own. For example, Liverpool, where I live, has some fantastic buildings in the city centre. Some of these locations are St Luke’s Church, which was bombed during the Second World War, leaving just the shell of the building standing, and there’s the Anglican Cathedral, a beautiful building
Has your technique changed over time?
Oh, Lord yes. I shudder to think of the overwritten, adverb ridden stuff I used to churn out.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?
I never look for inspiration; I let it come to me. I like spontaneity and ideas can arrive at anytime, anyplace, when I’m in the supermarket, work, or even the bath.
What kind of an environment do you write in? Day/night/silence/music/desk/sofa etc
I write in my own room. I like peace and quiet, when the muse strikes. I used to listen to music, whilst I was typing, but found it too distracting.
Half way into writing my first novel, it’s taking over my brain! What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?
Try writing a little each day, even if it’s only a few paragraphs. That way, you won’t feel as if you’re shirking. Writers are renowned for procrastinating; they’d rather do anything – brush the cat, scrub the floor – anything to avoid having to sit down and start writing. If you write a little each day, you’ll get into a routine and you’ll surprise yourself with your progress. What do I wish I’d known about writing a book before I started? Well, apart from punctuation, how to spell, and avoiding adverbs, I wish I’d known what my writing niche was. I flitted from genre to genre, wasting thousands of words on subjects I really didn’t like. I was told fantasy was “childish” and I should write about “real” things, all advice I really wish I’d ignored.
The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets?
I think the written word is alive and well, it’s just that our reading habits have changed. I own hundreds of books, none of which I’d ever part with. That said, I do own a Kindle, and I use it all the time, simply because it’s convenient. I do think the advent of self publishing has caused a rebellion amongst writers, in that it gives them the freedom to get their work out there, without the need of endless submissions to publishers who are wary of taking on new, fresh talent, and tend to stick with what they (think) they know. As a result of self publishing, readers now have a wider range of choice.
50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?
I’ve never read the book, so can’t comment on the quality of the writing. I have, however, heard some of the criticism concerning its contents, and have to say it’s a shame that it’s become a best seller, simply because it’s about abusive sex.
If a fascist regime was burning the worlds libraries, what books would you save?
Well most of the classics, such as Dickens, Shakespeare, and Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, because they always make me laugh, Stephen King and Dean Koontz and many, many more, too many to list here.
Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why?
I went the conventional route, submitting to various publishers, but, as most of us know all too well, it’s a frustrating process. With the advent of self publishing, I was prepared to go down that path, having had enough of rejections. Before I could, a friend told me about my current publisher, Ecanus Publishing, a small, independent, multi-genre publisher, who does great book covers!
What do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?
How frustrating and fruitless it can be. Publishers, as I said before, tend to stick to what they think they know will sell, and celebrities’ attempts at writing a best seller.
What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?
Write what you love and love what you write – and this is vital – never, ever give up.
Is fanfic to be welcomed as it broadens interaction and the readers experience or a scourge that devalues the ability of an author?
I think fanfic is fine, as it does promote discussion and encourages people to read, and perhaps take the first steps to creating an original work of their own.
I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?
‘fraid not. Can’t sing, dance, or create a work of art. I wish I could.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Not sure, never really thought about it. Hmm, maybe I should, in case this writing lark doesn’t work out.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I learned to read.
What authors do you admire, and why?
Sir Terry Pratchett, as he continued to write, despite almost insurmountable odds. Shakespeare for the beauty of his work. Robin Hobb for her superb world building abilities, and Jim Butcher, for his highly original Harry Dresden series.
To find out more about Katrina, read her Author Bio below:
I was born, and still live in, the great city of Liverpool. I began writing at the age of fourteen, when some kind person gave me an old, out of date, diary. I wrote short stories, attempted some poetry, and from then on I was hooked. Later on I invested part of a windfall in obtaining an MA degree in creative writing, which encouraged me to embark on writing full length novels. I still write short stories and articles on my blog. I wrote in many genres, until someone gave me the first of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels, and I at last found my niche: urban fantasy.