Every writer has their own path to publication. Some are long and winding. Others are a straight shot. No matter the tale, the journey always involves ups and downs, caution signs, and for some, serious roundabouts, but what always remains is the writer’s commitment to their craft and their enduring dream to see their work on bookshelves one day.
In bringing you the W.O.W. series, I hope as a writer you will learn that no dream is unfounded. That with time, patience, perseverance, and commitment to your craft, it is possible to cross that finish line and share your story with the world.
Today I am pleased to share Kathryn Purdie’s writing journey…
Amy: When did you first know you wanted to write Young Adult fiction?
Kathryn: I decided to write YA in pursuit of publication after reading Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. I’d been on a young adult reading kick for about five years prior to that, but when I read this vivid, beautiful, and horrifying book, I knew I had to start writing YA, as well.
Amy: BURNING GLASS sounds like such a lush fantasy. How did the idea come to you?
Kathryn: The seeds of the idea grew over five years until the basic plot, main characters, and setting popped into mind fully formed in the spring of 2014. What influenced me to write this story is how I felt like an empath during the months of recovery following donating a kidney to my brother and how emotionally painful that empathy was. The Russian-inspired world came from my love of Imperial Russia and my fascination with its fall. I’d sustained that love for many years after learning the last Tsarevich of Russia, Alexei, had hemophilia like my son, three brothers, and grandfather.
Amy: In your bio I read that you studied acting in London. Do you find that being able to take on a role and build a character helps translate to your writing?
Kathryn: I actually studied in Oxford, England. Close! 🙂 My acting experience has hugely impacted how I approach characters, and even plot. My stories are very character-driven for that reason. I need to know everyone’s objectives, tactics, how they’ll grow, how they’ll fail. I imagine myself acting out each person on the page.
Amy: From beginning (first draft) to end (book deal) how long was your journey with BURNING GLASS?
Kathryn: Okay, not counting research and plotting time (three months for this book), I wrote the first draft of BURNING GLASS (originally entitled AURASEER) in four months. It was a very rare draft for me in that I never had any beta readers (long story, but there wasn’t time for that when my agent wanted to sell it), and my agent didn’t suggest any revisions either, so the initial revisions were done by only me (until those several rounds I did later with my editor). So from when I began writing that first draft to when the trilogy sold to HarperCollins, it was about 5 ½ months. But I’ve had a long journey to becoming a published author. I’ve had two agents and four books on submissions to publishing houses to get here. Moral of the story: don’t give up!
Amy: How many agents did you query for BURNING GLASS?
Kathryn: I’d already obtained an agent from querying a previous manuscript, so this question doesn’t really apply, but I did send out about 45 query letters before securing that agent, although he got back to me very quickly because of a client referral. (Like I said earlier, he is my second agent.)
Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for the requests/rejections?
Kathryn: I’ve had an easier time getting agents than selling a manuscript. I obtained my first agent by pitching my query in person to her at a writing conference. That was before I’d queried anyone else, and it was for the first story I’d ever written. But she quit the business while we were on submissions. I queried that same manuscript to about 50 other agents, but none offered because that story had already been seen by editors and publishing houses. So I wrote my second story, queried 45 more agents, and my agent, Josh Adams, got back to me within a couple weeks and offered. He was my dream agent, so I declined interest from the other ten or so agents who had requested full manuscripts at that point.
Amy: What was your call like with your agent, Josh Adams? How did you know he was the right fit for you?
Kathryn: Josh is my bestie Sara B. Larson’s agent, so I knew all about him through her before he became my agent. He is Sara’s second agent, as well, so she had been through tough times like me and wanted a much better agent/author relationship. Josh is incredibly savvy about the business, brilliant with contracts, offers great advice about my writing (I always run my plots by him, and he steers me away from unnecessary points that would otherwise make it difficult to sell the manuscript). He’s an excellent communicator (we chat on the phone often and he responds to my emails almost always within minutes), and he has a very good heart and maintains a fierce belief in me, my writing, and my career. All those things about Josh were grounded into me after that initial phone call. I’m honored to be his client.
Amy: What one piece of advice can you impart to aspiring writers to encourage them to keep working towards their publishing dream?
Kathryn: Find a set schedule of time to write, whether it’s an hour a day or more, and hold that time sacred. That is YOUR time, the time for your dreams. You need to make a sacrifice to honor your dreams, and often that sacrifice comes in the form of giving up some sleep in order to write, until writing becomes so habitual you can find time to do so during the day. When I made a huge effort to pursue publishing—and when doors started to open for me—was when I decided to wake up an hour earlier each morning to begin my daily writing routine.
Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.
Kathryn Purdie is the author of Burning Glass (HarperCollins). Her love of storytelling began as a young girl when her dad told her about Boo Radley while they listened to the film score of To Kill a Mockingbird. Kathryn lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and three children. Kathryn is a trained classical actress who studied at the Oxford School of Drama and was inspired to write this debut trilogy while recovering from donating a kidney to her older brother.
For more on Kathryn, you can connect with her on her website or via the following social media sites: