One of the things I love most about this blog is getting to interview authors. Nine times out of ten, I send them questions thinking I’ll know what their answers are going to be, but the authors always surprise me with their responses. Today’s W.O.W. with Kate Karyus Quinn is a perfect example. Both of her Young Adult novels take on dark and gritty themes, and I thought of course she must have some reasoning behind her ideas – but surprise, surprise that could not be further from the truth. Read question number five below to see what I mean. And huge kudos to Kate for being so honest in this interview!
Amy: At what age did you truly know you wanted to be a writer?
Kate: In second grade my best friend and I decided that we were going to live in a gigantic mansion in California when we grew up and write books for a living. I got a little distracted from that goal in high school when the theatre bug bit me. So it was only after getting a BFA in theatre and an MFA in film and television production (which I moved to California to pursue, so check on that part of my second grade goal), that I got around to realizing what I really wanted to do with my life was pretty much the thing I thought I wanted to do when I was just a dumb kid who didn’t know anything.
Amy: When did you complete your first manuscript?
Kate: In December of 2007. That was the same year my first child was born. These two events happening together is not a coincidence. I was home with my son and he was a really great napper, so I had some time on my hands. Prior to this I had many many many beginnings of novels, but never got much further than that. Taking what I knew from having completed several screenplays from start to finish, I sat down and for the first time wrote a complete book.
Amy: How many completed manuscripts did you query before one garnered agent interest?
Kate: Three. My first book was a romance novel. It wasn’t the worst thing ever written, but it was a little too derivative to stand out. Strike one. My second book was an urban fantasy. It was way more original. Unfortunately, the plot was a disaster that no amount of rewriting could fix. Finally, my third book was a young adult novel. It was weird and I struggled to keep the plot from going off the rails, but in the end it all came together. This was, ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, the book that got me an agent and a two book with HarperTeen.
Amy: Are you one of those people who has an easy time writing a query or does it take several tries before you land on the one you want to send?
Kate: I am terrible at writing queries, and even worse when it comes to the disgusting thing known as a synopsis. However, there are lots of people who are good at them and who after you struggle to write them, will help you make it better. Find those people. Make friends with those people. Bribe them if need be. And in the meantime, keep working on writing queries. It does get a bit easier over time.
Amy: You seem to have an amazing knack for writing dark, gritty stories. Where did the inspiration for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE come from?
Kate: I have no idea. I honestly don’t set out to write dark or scary stories, but somehow my stories just tend to drift in that direction. The funny thing is that I am a total weenie. I’m afraid of the dark and I don’t watch horror movies because I get too scared and I just can’t handle it. Really, the way ALP came together was I just kept asking myself, “What would be interesting to have happen here?” Then I’d think of something like, my main character telling another girl to cut her heart out of her chest. That passed ‘is it interesting’ test, so it was in.
Amy: Can you give us a short summary of your call with your agent, Alexandra Machinist? How did you know she was the right fit for you?
Kate: This is such a hard thing to know, and you really just have to go with your gut. I really felt like I clicked with Alexandra on the phone and I also really liked how she was willing to fight for her clients when necessary. Since I am a huge weenie (see above) this was something I found super appealing and reassuring.
Amy: The writing process is grueling and querying even more difficult. What one piece of advice can you impart to aspiring writers to encourage them to keep working towards their dream?
Kate: It is so grueling. I know, I have been there. And so many of my friends who have also been published, were also there. I know people who spent ten years or more writing and querying before getting an agent and a book deal. You just can’t give up. Keep working on your craft. Connect with other writers. And go forward. You’ll get there eventually.
The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series.
On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.
A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.
Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.
Welcome to Gardnerville.
A place where no one gets sick. And almost no one ever dies.
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.
Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.
After growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, Kate left her hometown for Southern California and film school. After finishing her degree, she moved with her husband to Knoxville, Tennessee. However, just recently she made the move back home, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character.
Kate is first and foremost an avid reader and unapologetic booknerd. Although, she mostly reads YA and romance, she often samples different genres in her constant search for the next great read.