I’m excited to welcome Katie Kingman to BookEnds! Katie’s manuscript delivered a geeky heroine I wanted to root for (and not just because of her cute cat, I promise), a deftly handled love triangle, all with a snarky voice that kept me eagerly turning the pages. Until you can read it yourself, get to know more about Katie below! ~Rachel
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
When I draft I write every day—usually late at night when the kids are in bed, during the summer weeks, and in between family activities. I write every day not because you need to write every day to be successful, but because I have to write every day or I get anxious. I’ve learned to write in stolen moments—when boiling a pot of water, or during a 20 minute cartoon. Sneaking in time with a busy working mom schedule is key for me—and sometimes that means only little bits, and that’s okay.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes! Candles are a must. Something that smells like fall (in Arizona we cherish those!). I have to listen to my Bear McCreary Pandora channel to let my imagination soar. In the summer I head to a coffee bar so that I don’t focus on the pile of laundry instead of my draft.
What do you love about writing contemporary?
Voice! I love writing a snarky main character and sprinkling little bits of their life throughout their inner monologue. In the story that Rachel signed me for, that includes lots of fandom elements.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. I ADORE her writing. She can make a sentence sing and I think her characters are stellar. They fall in those pesky shades of grey when it comes to morality, and I gobbled up the series. In fact, it inspired me to start writing in the first place!
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Teaching! I teach high school Creative Writing, British Literature, and a film class, so I’m super busy when not writing. If I’m not at work, I’m with my family—usually at the zoo, the library, or looking for bugs in our backyard while we garden. Sometimes I’m just staring at the clouds and brainstorming too.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
What’s the last book you read?
Last read: SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young — definitely recommend it!
Current read: COMICS WILL BREAK YOUR HEART by Faith Erin Hicks — super cute and geeky!
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
A cabin in the Maine woods, not too far from the beach, and not too far from town.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
More and more I find the most useful advice to be about cutting darlings, but even before that it’s about having a messy first draft. It’s okay for it to be awful. It can’t be good unless it’s awful first. That advice gets me through a draft with less pressure, and therefore less anxiety.
Plotter or pantster?
A little of both! I have to loosely plan out the acts before I start drafting so I know what direction I’m going in. I didn’t become a plotter until I read TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS! by Libbie Hawker and now I’ve got a system that works for me—by the time I’m done, I’ve got a 10 page (or so) detailed outline. Hawker’s book taught me the framework to start, and then I let the voice and the characters come to me as I write. Come revision, I know them well enough to sprinkle in their character traits.
Synopses, love them or hate ‘em?
LOVE! Starting with this and/or the query before I start drafting helps me stay focused (I tend to stray from major plot points). By starting with them, my plot is focused and my characters are essential.
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
Both! My playlist features Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica and Outlander songs primarily), James Horner (BRAVEHEART FTW), Skyrim music, and the Pirates of the Caribbean scores (At World’s End is fantastic!). I only write to classic music—words get in the way for me—and my favorite song is Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, as seen in Platoon. Can you tell I’m a movie person? My vision boards are on pinterest, and they’re incredibly useful for brainstorming in the early stages of an idea.
Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies? If so, which ones?
So. Many. It’s hard for me to limit this—fandom is so imbedded in who I am that I don’t know what would be left of me without it. For this manuscript, I was inspired by The 100, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica primarily. My main character is a fangirl who lives and breathes her show—a space opera—so my knowledge of those fandoms, worlds, and conventions really came into play when writing this story.
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
BookEnds reps excellent authors—I’m so excited to be on their list and know that my work is in good hands! Rachel brings her A game to agenting, I can already tell! And she loves cats (I have 5!). She plays World of Warcraft! (She doesn’t know this yet, but I played for a good decade!) We’re a great match.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Let the rejections roll off your back. Keep a spreadsheet with dates, agents, and pass/request information for each manuscript. If your first manuscript doesn’t pan out, those relationships will be built for the next go around. Always be gracious and remember that as long as you listen to feedback, find honest critique partners, and work on your craft, it’s only a matter of time!
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
George Orwell and Mary Shelley. I’ve been teaching 1984 and FRANKENSTEIN for 8 years! After crying embarrassingly for a good ten minutes, I’d just want them to talk at me rather than ask them questions. They astonish me. Every single time I read them, learn something more from them, and from the students that are reading them for the first time.