I’ve had the immense pleasure of getting to know Katherine through SCBWI and through following her (and her critique group) through their blog at the YA Muses. Here today, we get some questions answered about her upcoming debut novel, GILT, due out in May from Viking/Penguin.
BH: Welcome, Katy!
KL: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Beth! It’s a pleasure to be here.
BH: Tell us a little about GILT. (To our studio audience, click here to read about Katy’s agonizing title-selection process.)
KL: I came up with the idea to write “something” about Catherine Howard several years ago. She is often depicted as an air-headed little tramp, and I just felt there was something else about her that needed to be told. And then the voice of her best friend came to me, to do the telling.
BH: What were some of the joys of writing this book?
KL: I love being able to reach deeply into history, to live and breathe it. I love that I can find a connection to historical characters, and hopefully create that connection for my readers as well.
BH: If you had a daughter, which of Kitty’s attributes do you wish she shared? Which ones would you never want to see her display?
KL: I love Kitty’s loyalty. She has strong convictions and believes that friendship is sacred. But it’s that same loyalty – a misguided loyalty – that gets her into trouble. So I would wish for my daughter to value friendship, and to be loyal to it, but to have the insight to apply it to worthy people.
BH: The other day we were discussing a writing slump you’d been in with the second book in this series. What do you do to get yourself out of a slump? Or do you wait for it to pass?
KL: I think it depends on how deep the slump is. Sometimes, I can get over a block by just continuing to keep my bum in the chair, my fingers on the keyboard, and my mind spinning. Sometimes I have to write a kissing scene. If it gets really bad, I bake. If it gets worse, I clean. But the one we were talking about the other day is the worst I’ve ever experienced, and I cried. A lot. It helped to be able to talk about it with a good, close writing friend. But the only thing I could do was wait it out. My house was pretty clean that week.
BH: What does your workspace look like?
KL: No matter how hard I try to keep it tidy, my workspace is always a mess. It’s a little desk in the window bay of my bedroom, looking out into the back garden, where I can watch the hummingbirds and scrub jays. I’m surrounded by books, and a giant poster on the wall with the entire genealogical heritage of the British royal family on it. Plus my storyboard.
BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?
KL: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She is so honest. I suppose the ultimate appeal isn’t her description of craft, though her take on character, dialogue, and setting is spot on. For me, it’s the fact that she gives me permission to write a shitty a first draft, she acknowledges the radio station that plays constantly in my head, and she understands the pain and joy of it all.
BH: Any words or advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?
KL: Love what you do. Don’t try to write to trends or stay ahead of them. Don’t second-guess whether or not your concept will sell. If a story and character come to you, write them down. That passion will come through in your writing, and it won’t matter if it’s another vampire book, or that mermaids were so last year or that historical novels don’t sell. Good writing sells. Passion sells. And in the long run, writing what you love is the ultimate reward.
BH: The end. Seriously, just read Katherine’s response above, over and over again. Thanks, Katy!
ETA: Today through Tuesday, December 12, you can enter to win an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) of GILT. See this post at the YA Muses for details!