Friday, June 15, 2012

Feature Friday: Katherine Longshore

Katherine Longshore grew up on the northern California coast. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. She now lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshiping dog.

 Interview:
A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Katherine: 
That is one of the hardest questions in the world for me to answer, because my favorites change according to mood and desire. Today I would have to say WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, because I'm dying to read the sequel, and I won't let myself until I finished Book 3 of my own series. Mantel writes historical fiction with absolute immersion, it's so rich and textured and the characters so believable.  A very close second is THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green.  I wish I could be half as smart, articulate and funny as his characters.

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to budding authors?

Katherine:
Can I give two? The first would be to write what you love, not what you think will sell. Writing for the market can diminish freshness and takes away part of the joy. The second would be to finish the book. Sounds simple, but it is one of the hardest parts of the process.

A.L.:
You've done a huge amount of traveling throughout your life, how much of that factored into your writing?

Katherine:
Good question! My travels throughout England have added a great deal of sensory and visual inspiration to my writing. My world travels, like all my life experiences, have probably helped me to write with more emotional depth. Having seen the good and the bad, the beautiful and the grotesque, my imagination has a wider and more layered scope than it would have had I stayed at home.

A.L.:
When, after everything you've done, did you decide to write for young adults?

Katherine:
About four years ago, I was writing for younger children when I attended a conference and participated in a workshop on voice run by Lynda Sandoval. She had us write a few sentences inspired by photographs pulled from magazines, and then had us read aloud. Sydney Salter, author of MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, came up to me at the end of the workshop and said, “You know, you have a great voice for YA.” And it was like a door opened, and I stepped through. I think sometimes we all need a little push to find where we belong.

A.L.:
Will you always write historic novels or do you think you venture into contemporary?

Katherine:
I have a slew of historical stories that I'm dying to tell. But I also have some contemporary stories demanding to be heard. I'd love to write both.

A.L.:
Can you explain your path to getting published?

Katherine:
To me, it looks like a series of happy coincidences and extreme good fortune.  But in reality, I followed the path laid out by the hundreds of books and articles about “How to Get Published”.  I wrote a book, revised, revised and revised again. I queried agents, got a good number of rejections and ultimately found the best agent for me and my book in Catherine Drayton. It was Catherine who first suggested GILT could be part of a series of companion novels set in the court of Henry VIII, and sold it that way. And it was Catherine who placed it in the hands of Kendra Levin, who “got” what I was trying to do, right from the beginning.

A.L.: 
Who is your favorite character in GILT and why?

Katherine:
I used to be a teacher, so I try my best not to pick favorites. But I will admit to having a soft spot for William. He reminds me of my husband.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags when writing GILT? What were they and how did you overcome them?

Katherine:
I took several wrong turns at the beginning. I tried to force my story to fit into a concept that didn't work for it. I tried to cover too great an expanse of history. And I couldn't write a first chapter that satisfied me. I overcame all of these problems by finishing the book. Once I finished, I knew how to begin. (Though I did go through at least seven first chapters before settling on one I liked.)

A.L.:
Where haven’t you been yet that you're dying to see? Likewise, what would you most like to see again?

Katherine:
The whole world is full of places I'm dying to see! Nepal, Vietnam, South America, Iceland. I'd love to visit the Loire Valley in France, Uluru in Australia, Mount Fuji in Japan, because I missed those places on my visits to those countries. But of the places I would most like to see again, Zimbabwe tops the list. Unfortunately, it is no longer the same country I visited, and I think going there now would break my heart.

A.L.:
Do you think that Kitty was an easy character to write? Is she a little like you, your complete opposite, someone you'd enjoy being friends with, or someone you’d avoid entirely in real life?

Katherine:
Kitty was both an easy and a difficult character to write, because she is a little like me as I once was. It's hard to admit to being someone so easily influenced by someone else and so shamefully ignorant of that person's faults and manipulations. And it's hard to put someone in that situation, even if she's only fictional. But because I understand how easily that can happen, writing Kitty’s outer weakness and her inner turmoil came easily. However, that didn’t stop me from being mad at her when she made bad choices.

The Giveaway:
I'll be sending a copy of Katherine's debut novel, GILT, to one lucky winner.

Gilt:In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free—
and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

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How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter.  Hit the green "Do It" buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the green enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.

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