Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
This week we are featuring Katherine Reay! To win a copy of her new book, Dear Mr. Knightley (Thomas Nelson, 2013) leave a comment on this post.
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
Married. Three kids. Write and move full time. Not really . . . but we’ve moved a lot so it feels like a job. ☺
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest?
Contemporary fiction, and I love it. I love looking at how our past translates to our futures—seeking answers and pushing the emotions in our current context.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I’ve always been a writer. It’s what I write that has changed. I was injured in 2009 and many of the things that filled my mind and days were taken away during recovery. That’s when I started to write seriously. Dear Mr. Knightley came from that time. And yes, getting published was one of those big secret dreams that I never dared believe could happen.
After you started writing seriously—how long was it before you were published?
It took me about a year and a half to write Dear Mr. Knightley. It then sat on my computer for a year while we moved before I brought it out and started to peddle it.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write?
I run. My ideal day would be to work for two to three hours then go for a run to loosen up the muscles and the thoughts—then have the time to get some of those brilliant nuggets into the manuscript before the kids get home.
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Minimum three, but ideally about five.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Writers’ conferences are so important because they help you learn this business and how to navigate it—and they welcome you into a community. And that’s huge! I love all the friends and colleagues I’ve met and I am so grateful for their generosity in both time and expertise.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Yes, it really is. I’m a fairly pragmatic person so I knew it was work—and it is! But I love it. I will say all the friendships blossoming within this introverted life have delighted me and surprised me. That’s the icing on the cake.
What are your biggest distractions?
Social media, a messy house, grocery shopping, cooking, my kids, my dog, eating, errands . . .
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
I expect they are both yet to come. I’m at the beginning . . . But so far, the moment my agent called me and said “I want to work with you” ranks very high. He sounded so sure that I immediately knew a journey had started. That was great moment.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
Everything I know about it, I love . . . but that leads me to what I like least—I know so little. I am constantly surprised by what I don’t know, should have done yesterday, need to do immediately and questions I should have asked. There should be an “app” for all this. ☺
What is the role and importance of an agent?
Hmm . . . I would say an agent is your “in” to publishing houses. But that isn’t always the case. You can get your foot in the door through a conference. Now, that said, if you get a contract, I recommend having an agent read through that tome and guide you. To be honest, I rely upon mine a lot. There are so many details and so much I can muck up without someone in my corner directing me.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Don’t give up. It’s cliché sounding, but it’s true. I almost gave up—was sooo close—and I’m so thrilled that, in the eleventh hour, God brought an agent into my life who believed in the project and in me as a writer.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
You so want to read this book . . . It’s a book lover’s book. The main character, Samantha Moore, grew up in foster care and to cope with her tough childhood, she “hides” behind the personas of some of literature’s most beloved characters—Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Edmond Dantes . . . But she has to lay down these characters to find her own voice and her own story. And she gets true love too . . . Who wouldn’t want that? (All this is said while waving the fabulous orange cover in front of you.)
What’s on the book horizon for you?
Lizzy and Jane. This is my next book, which will come out next fall and I love this story. It’s got sisters, squabbles, literature, love, food . . . and some wonderful twists and turns.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?