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.
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*
Cover Art: Kate Wrath