Q&A With Katherine Reay
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Q&A With Katherine Reay
Tonight’s Q&A is with Katherine Reay the bestselling author of “Of Literature & Lattes,” “The Printed Letter Bookshop,” “Dear Mr. Knightley,” “The London House,” and coming June 13th 2023 is “A Shadow In Moscow”. They all sound like novels I will definitely read.
Q: What do you love most about writing? What do you dislike most?
A: I love creating the stories, digging deep into both history and a character’s needs, desires, motivations — her very psyche — to understand how she perceives the events around her and what she’s going to do about them. It’s an exciting journey with each and every novel.
On the flip side, that initial blank screen never gets easier. It’s hard to start with a kernel of an idea and know that it will be or can become large enough to sustain a full novel. The uncertainty in that moment (and it’s a long “moment”) never gets easier.
Q: When did you realize your calling was to be an author?
A: I realized about half-way through 2009 — I was just beginning my first story, Dear Mr. Knightley, and I loved everything about novel writing. I especially enjoyed crafting the message and themes beneath the surface storyline. It fascinated me how many layers of thought and life underscore what one might perceive to be a simple story. While I certainly didn’t know that the novel would ever be published, I did know that writing novels and striving for publication was something I wanted to pursue.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors? What advice do you give to anyone who deals with writers block?
A: To aspiring writers — Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. You cannot control the outcome, especially if you are pursuing traditional publishing, but you can control your journey. Enjoy it and keep writing. If you have a calling to write — an inability not to write — trust that.
For Writers Block — I suggest a few things. First make sure it’s writers block and not mere procrastination or distraction. If it’s either of those things, get in that chair and start writing. Start with editing what you’ve already written to get yourself into the flow, if you’d like, but start writing. If it is true writers block, do something different and quiet. Try a walk or gardening or a bike ride. Do something that will allow your story to dance around in your subconscious and let the ideas percolate to the top. I also recommend reading. I get tons of my ideas from reading books that have noting to do with what I’m trying to write. Getting immersed into another’s story often helps me see my own more clearly.
All the best to both groups!!!!
Q: What advice do you give to new and aspiring authors when dealing with negative feedback, whether it’s bad reviews, family and friends not being encouraging and/or bullying from online trolls?
A: Yikes! That’s all really tough stuff. But it’s expected too, I suppose. Writing is a creative process, so naturally we will be vulnerable about it. Writers, no matter what they write, put a bit of their heart and soul onto the page. So my advice would be to protect that. It’s hard to not read reviews, but try not to do it — good or bad. Just leave them be. I’d say that for online bullying too — avoid those conversations and don’t engage. As for family, that’s a little more challenging as those opinions matter to us and it’s hard to keep the perspective that family and friends often truly want the best for us, especially when their idea of best conflicts with our own. I guess I’d suggest having some honest conversations there or, at least, share why writing is important to you. Hmm… Those are truly difficult situations.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so can you reveal any details?
A: I am! And the manuscript due date just got moved up so I am beyond busy. I’m darn close to panic mode. That said, I am loving this story. I return again to the Cold War Era, but not to Moscow at all. This story takes place in Washington DC and East and West Berlin, and is framed by the Wall. It’s a story of a young woman discovering the truth about her past, her family, and what all that means for her future — and, of course, there is history, spies, tension, and lots of drama mixed in too. It’s scheduled to publish in March 2024 so I’ll have more details to share in the coming months.
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author who would it be with and why?
A: It would be Amor Towles, of course. That said, with great humor, I can pretty much guarantee he won’t call and ask me to collaborate on a novel. But wouldn’t that be something? I name him off the top of my head because I have thoroughly enjoyed his three books and what he accomplished within each. I’m impressed with his prose, his world-building, and the depth of his characters and… I sense it would be a ton of fun.
Q: If you were to write a totally different genre which genre would it be and why?
A: Hmmm… I’ve written contemporary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and now historical fiction. I seem to hopping around quite a bit as is… But if I could write something new and different: YA Speculative/Fantasy Fiction. That is beyond my abilities, but I love the genre. Actually can Speculative and Fantasy be one genre? I would make it so — I’d write a story that takes place somewhere at sometime within a different world that has new views, rules, and parameters, and there would be super cool stuff and crazy creative happenings. Think Lord of Rings meets Cinder.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: I’ve had some interest, but no contracts yet. So please, Hollywood, let’s talk…
Thanks, Bianca, for this interview. You asked some wonderful questions and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you. All the best, Katherine