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Author Interview: Kate Wrath

Kate Wrath lives in the desert Southwest and writes science fiction and fantasy novels. I’m pleased to welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Kate WrathI’m Kate Wrath. I’m a writer and an artist. I live in the Southwest with my husband, my two girls, and my big dog (he would be upset if I left him out).

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing fan fiction with my friends when I was twelve. It quickly became an obsession, and before I knew it, I was writing my own stories. I had written thousands of pages by the time I started high school, and it just kept adding up from there.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a difficult question. I know a lot of writers who have different milestones they feel they need to reach to be considered a writer—paying the rent with their writing, getting an agent…. I think I’m more in the camp that I just am a writer, because that’s who I am. It defines me. People who don’t know I write don’t know me at all. I’ve felt that way for so long that I couldn’t tell you when I first thought of myself that way.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Yes! I have just released E, a dystopian novel about a girl who has been “erased”. She’s lost her memories, her family, her whole identity, and she is thrown into this harsh world where everything is set against her. It would be really easy for her to just give up and die, but she won’t. She does what she has to, and she manages to scrape a life together, but that’s only the beginning. Everything she loves is endangered by conflicts that are happening around her, and if that’s not enough, her unknown past is also calling to her. There’s a lot of action, but the story is character-driven, so prepare to get attached to the cast. E is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride through danger, romance, friendship, despair, and love in its purest form. I am continuing the story in a second book that I hope to have out by the end of the year.

What inspired you to write this book?

E was entirely subliminal, at least to start with. Most of the time I work off of inspiration. An idea strikes and I run with it. With E, I wasn’t planning to write a novel. I’d been working on another long-term project, and was feeling a bit burnt out on it. One night, I just felt like writing. For me. I had no idea what I wanted to write or what it would be about. Just that it was something new. I sat down with a pen and notebook and began writing, literally not knowing a single thing that would come out on the page. Needless to say, I was a little surprised. For a few days I just went with it, and let the story take me where it wanted. Several days in, I sat down to type it up and thought, Wow, I’d really better figure out where this is going. So I approached the rest of it in a more organized fashion, though I wanted to keep the spontaneity of it, so I allowed myself a lot of freedom, and wrote with a lot of unknowns.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write a broad range of things, but the one thing that is common in all my writing is that it is character-focused. When I read a book, I want to know the people in it, and if I finish the book and I don’t, I feel unsatisfied. Plot is important, yes, but I feel like the most intriguing plots are born out of the intricacies of the characters and how those all play together. I really know my characters—sometimes too well—and I think that my readers will walk away feeling like they are real people. They are complex and they have reasons for what they do, and they’re not the canned stereotypes you find everywhere. I mean, seriously, there is nothing I hate more than the villain who wants to bring misery to the world “just because”, or the hero who cannot be corrupted. I’ve never met anyone that flat, and you won’t meet anyone like that in my novels either.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

E was my working title, meaning it came to me quickly and out of the blue. Several people have commented on it. Peculiar. One letter for a title. Shouldn’t I give the audience more? The answer is: no. I like its ambiguity. It’s a very important letter in my novel—it’s almost too obvious what it stands for. But the truth is it means a lot of things. And I like things that mean a lot of things. J

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is not so much a message, but there are some important themes. As a writer, I put a lot of thought into the decisions I make in my writing, and it is always exciting when someone really “gets” what it’s all about. But often readers aren’t looking for that stuff. Maybe it makes it through subliminally. But I think that’s the thing about a good story—you can enjoy it on a lot of different levels. With E, I think there is an entertaining read and a moving story on the surface, but for readers who want more, there is definitely more to find.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, not directly. But it would be impossible to write a novel that doesn’t draw on my own life journey, so in a way, yes.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I have to say, recently I read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and I was just blown away by all the depths of it, and the poetry of the language. I also adore Suzanne Collins for wrapping up The Hunger Games trilogy the way she did. She didn’t take the easy route, or even the most sellable story, but she said what she had to say, and she did it without preaching. I think the books were so much more powerful and profound for that decision. I really respect that.

When I was growing up, I read a lot of different things. My mom read us a lot of the classics, and those were very happy times. I love Shakespeare, for the language, and the many layers, and the great switcheroos. I could talk a lot about all the books I love, and how they have influenced my life, but I can’t say I ever thought much about authors or truly appreciated the craft of their works until I became one myself.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

If I had to choose… I’d say Wendy and Richard Pini (even though I don’t know much about them), because I got my start and found my passion writing Elfquest fan fiction… ah so many years ago. So in a way they are responsible for me becoming a writer.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Me! It took days on end, lots of coffee, and it is a wonder my computer survived. I really think graphic designers must be the saints of all saints. They must have endless patience. Or maybe they just know what they’re doing.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing! Haha, that’s actually a joke because when you go to a writer’s conference you hear that so many times you just want to choke on it. But yeah, really, keep writing. The more you write, the better you get. Also, don’t worry too much about taking advice from other authors (like me), or trying to fit yourself into a box that someone else has contrived. One thing I’ve learned from talking to other authors is that the author experience is different for all of us. Do what you’ve gotta do. Do it why you’ve got to do it. And do it in your own timeframe. Oh yeah, and develop a thick skin, and be as dogmatic as a rabid pitbull, because there is no one else out there (no matter how much they love you) who is going to believe in you as a writer as much as you do. So yeah. Keep writing! Rawr!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Authors are not authors without readers. *Big hugs*

E Book CoverKate Wrath
Southwest, USA

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksMy meanderings through the blogosphere has yielded interesting fruit this week. There are plenty of articles on the craft of writing, an article featuring one of my favorite authors Robert A. Heinlein and, of course, another tutorial article about Scrivener. I hope you enjoy them.

The 8 laws of Foreshadowing

The Myth of the Alpha Male

On Heinlein and Expectations

ENTITLEMENT IN WRITER CULTURE

YOUTUBE: Creative Spark: Dustin Lance Black

Building a Character Sketch of your Favorite/Not-so-Favorite Person

App Review: How I Use Scrivener

How to use print-on-demand book services

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

PODCAST & ARTICLE: What is Meditative Writing?

Book Review: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Book Name: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Author: Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
First Published: 1889

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Missouri, two weeks after Halley’s Comet appeared in 1835. After his father died of pneumonia, young Clemens apprenticed at the age of 12 as a typesetter for his brother’s newspaper, the Hannibal Journal. It is there that he gained his first writing experiences by creating articles and funny sketches for the newspaper. Instead of attending school, he learned by reading at the public libraries. He claimed that he found more information at the library than he ever would at a traditional school.

When he was 18, he left Hannibal and went to work as a printer in New York City among other places. He joined the newly formed International Typographical Union. He moved around a great deal, traveling on the packet Keokuk in 1854 and lived in Muscatine during 1855. The Muscatine newspaper published eight of his travelogues.

During a journey to New Orleans down the Mississippi river, steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby talked Clemens into becoming a pilot himself. Clemens studied for two years before he received his steamboat pilot license in 1859. A steamboat pilot eclipsed the prestige and authority of the captain of the vessel due to the extensive knowledge that was needed to guide the boat down the ever-changing river and knowing the hundreds of ports to access. A pilot also earned a rewarding salary for his efforts. It was during this time when Clemens developed the pen name of Mark Twain, taken from the cry “mark twain” for a measured river depth of two fathoms. He might have remained a riverboat pilot but for the start of the American Civil War. When war broke out in 1861, all traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed.

At the start of the war, Clemens enlisted briefly in the Confederate military, but soon left for Nevada to work for his brother Orion, the Secretary to James W. Nye, the Governor of Nevada Territory. Eventually, Clemens settled in Nevada as a miner on the Comstock Lode. He did not make a good living as a miner and soon returned to writing. He wrote under his new pen name, Mark Twain, for the first time at a Virginia City newspaper called The Territorial Enterprise. Later, his experiences on the American frontier would inspire his famous short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County which was published in The Saturday Press, a New York weekly. Twain continued to write and travel all across American and even to the Hawaiian Islands, as a reporter for the Sacramento Union. His travelogues were popular and would become the basis for his future lecture series.

During a trip to the Holy Land, Clemens met Charles Langdon and the man happened to show Clemens the picture of his sister. Later, Clemens would admit that he had fallen in love with Olivia Langdon that day solely on viewing her image. He later met and pursued Olivia until she agreed to be his wife. They moved to Hartfort, Connecticut and lived there for almost two decades. It is at the home in Hartford where Clemens wrote most of his popular novels including: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. His novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, features a time traveler from his contemporary American, using the knowledge of science to introduce modern technology to Arthurian England. This type of storyline would later become a common feature of the science fiction sub-genre, alternate history. It also reads as a good fantasy novel.

Clemens grew wealthy from his writing, but due to several poor investments, such as the Paige typesetting machine and by buying into a publishing house that picked poor performers, his gains all but disappeared. In 1895, Clemens organized a world tour with the help of his friend, Henry Rogers, where he gave lectures about his travels and of his famous stories. It was a five year journey, but would prove to be a hit. He was able to repay his debts and to continue to support his family.

Disaster struck the Clemens’ household in 1910, a decade after his successful world tour. One by one, his wife, two of their daughters and his friend Rogers all died within a short time span. This put the author into a spiral of depression that he never quite recovered from. All his life he had told of having visions of the future. Clemens predicted that he would die on the return of Halley’s Comet and he was right – he died on April 21, 1910, a day after the comet reappeared.

My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. – Mark Twain

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court begins with Hank Morgan, a 19th century gunsmith from Connecticut, gets hit on the head during a fight and wakes up in Camelot. He thinks that he should run things since he is the most advanced man in the world, but instead he is ridiculed for his odd appearance and is sentenced to be burned at the stake. Hank knows from his study of history that his execution date coincides with a famous solar eclipse. He threatens the king that he will make the sun disappear if he executes him. When the eclipse occurs, the people are convinced of Hank’s power and the King appoints him as chief minister.

Hank observes the medieval ways of the people and sees the rampant ignorance and suffering of the poor. He clashes with Merlin, the king’s previous chief adviser and top sorcerer in the land. In a fit of jealousy, Merlin spreads rumors that Hank is a fraud. To combat this, Hank rigs Merlin’s tower with explosives and a lightning rod, causing a fire that Merlin fails to prevent with his magic. In another incident, Merlin declares that a fountain has dried up and will never work again because of a demon haunting it. Hank fixes the leak and gets the fountain flowing again.

Hank also uses his knowledge and his authority as the king’s minister to modernize the country and contradict medieval teachings. Assisted by a young boy named Clarence, he sets up secret schools and factories of tools. Hank only allows his hand-picked open-minded people to enter. He goes on to construct modern infrastructure and goes on an adventure with a girl named Sandy. One day, Hank and King Arthur disguise themselves as peasants in order to see how the poor people really live. They get arrested and sold to slavery, and are about to be hanged. Sir Lancelot and the other knights rescue them but the king, horrified by his experience, promises to abolish slavery, which delights Hank.

Sir Sagramore, challenges Hank to a duel to the death upon his return from his Holy Grail quest. Hank wins the day by enlisting the help of a dozen other knights, a lasso, and a revolver. He then reveals the modern infrastructure he has created. He later marries Sandy and they have a child together.

Strangely enough, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is the first Mark Twain novel that I ever read. I was inspired to pick up the book after seeing the movie by the same name starring Bing Crosby. Later, due to prodding from English teachers, I would go on to read his more famous works, but this novel has always stuck with me. The satire about the politics of his day reminded me of other classic authors such as Lewis Carrol, Charles Dickens and others of that time period. It is an early novel of alternate history and a true child of the speculative fiction genre. I fully believe that by reading the classics in a genre, you learn the conventions and gain a stronger understanding of it as a writer. That is why I would recommend this novel to be on a must-read list, in addition to his other more well known titles.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Book CoverMark Twain was more than an author, he was an inventor, an adventurer, a steamboat pilot and more. His writing and wit inspires me as an author, but his life inspires me as well. Samuel Clemens did not succeed at everything he attempted, but he never gave up and continued to search for what worked for him. Now he is remembered for being one of the best American authors in history.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is available for free download at Project Gutenberg.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWriting tips, the future of reading and books, and a little pinterest love were on my mind this week. I hope you enjoy this latest batch of writer’s links here on No Wasted Ink.

Six Provocative Ways To Become A ‘Real’ Writer

Write Faster (and Better, Too)

10 Tips for Writing a Book

My Inspiration Pinterest Board

How to Blog: Essential Do’s and Don’ts for Author-Bloggers

Are you optimistic about the future of books?

7 (Bad) Habits of Highly Successful Authors

The death of the….Kindle?

MINING THE DATA: GENRE AND GENDER

Turning Screenplays into Graphic Novels

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksI thought it was time for a link’s day of simple, general purpose writing articles here on No Wasted Ink. So here we go! Enjoy.

Scrivener: Why I Love It!

The Rules of Writing #RomFantasy

Playwriting vs Novel writing

OneNote vs. Evernote: A personal take on two great note-taking apps

How Reading Literature Cultivates Empathy

How to Absorb a Book into Your Bloodstream

The Writer’s Resume – It’s About Getting an Interview

Sherman Alexie’s Top 10 Tips for Writers

When Writing Looks Different: Navigating a New Season in Your Writing Life

Borrowing, Stealing, and Building Upon Other People’s Writing Ideas