Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feature Friday: Kate Karyus Quinn

Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to  her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would build character. ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE was her debut novel.


Interview:

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

Kate:
Make time to write. This may seem obvious, but so many people talk about writing a novel, but forget to sit down and actually write the darn thing. Secondly, dream of unparallelled success, but be mentally prepare yourself for some setbacks and disappointments as you move towards that goal.

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

Kate:
I don't have a favorite book. It seems wrong to play favorites when there are so many different books that I love with all my heart, and all of them for different reasons.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for (Don't You) Forget About Me?

Kate:
I didn't really have a light bulb moment with this book. I simply started writing it with the idea of the main character, Skylar, living in this strange place and buying these odd drugs made from forget-me-not flowers. It took me a long time to figure out what Skylar's story was and what exactly she was trying so hard to forget, but once I did the book started to come together.

A.L.: 
Did you hit any snags while writing (Don't You) Forget About Me?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Kate:
Yes! This book was nothing but snags! I knew there was something there in the beginning pages of this story as I began to write it, but I didn't know exactly what that something was. I spent a lot of time staring into space and scribbling into notebooks and Googling various things - all with the purpose of trying to shake the story loose from the inside of my skull. It really came together bit by bit with little lightening bolt moments of "Oh yes!" that were quickly followed by, "Oh but then what about that other part...?" I was tempted to push this book aside several times in the early days of writing it, but something about the characters and the town of Gardnerville (almost a character in and of itself!) would not let me go - so I kept pushing on.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in (Don't You) Forget About Me is your favorite and why?

Kate:
Oh Skylar, the main character and very unreliable narrator is my favorite. I know some readers will not find her very likeable, but I was sympathetic to her from the beginning and then began to love her even more as the book progresses and she begins to sort herself out and attempt to rise to the occasion.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Kate:
I knew I wanted to write books as early as second grade. But then I got distracted when the acting bug bit me in middle school, which in turn- years later - took me towards directing and film school. Of course, I was scribbling away the entire time, beginnings of novels and bad poetry and short stories filled several notebooks over the course of those many years. And then in my late twenties, I found myself unemployed and home with a newborn and for the first time I sat down and wrote a complete novel from start to finish. It was such a great feeling - and I wanted more! So I started the journey of figuring out how to get an agent and all that other stuff. It took me two more completed novels before I was able to snag the agent and publishing deal, which would have seemed very depressing if I'd known it would take so long when I first got started, but now - looking back - it's difficult not to be happy with the way that everything worked out.

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Kate:
Something new. :) Another stand-alone. Quite dark, like my first two novels, but also with a bit more humor and also romance. I am a sucker for a good romance and I really love the one in my next book.

A.L.:
I sense a theme with how you name your novels...Will you always name them after song titles?  If so, what's the next song?

Kate:
I don't know if I'll always name my books after song titles - that seems like a difficult thing to hold oneself to... However, my third book does currently have a title taken from a song - not sure if it will stay that way or if the publisher will change it. I guess we will both have to wait and see. ;)

A.L.:
You've lived all over the United States!  What's the worst place you ever lived and why?

Kate:
The worst place was definitely Los Angeles. My husband and I rented two different apartments when we lived there. The first was a place that we ended up calling 'the cave' because it was so dark and depressing inside and almost never got the sun. The most interesting thing about this place was that after living there a few months, an anonymous letter was sent to all the residents letting us know that the apartment manager was a registered sex offender. The apartment manager then responded with a several page long letter explaining the circumstances of his pleading guilty to sex with a minor (the gist of it: he was innocent but pled guilty to spare the girl the trial. sounded like some major bs to me.).

Our next apartment was in Burbank. While living there the apartment above us was raided by the cops because it was full of drug-dealing college kids. Also, we were electrocuted several times by the outlets in the kitchen and when we had an electrician check it out - he was surprised we were still alive after living in the apartment so long!

The most upsetting thing about both of those places, though, was the rent was incredibly high!

A.L.:
What kind of weather-related character building exercises have you and the family been up to in Buffalo?

Kate:
Ha! Well this winter has definitely been the worst since we've moved back to Buffalo. Lots of cold. Lots of snow. Even a blizzard or two thrown in to keep things interesting. Really the hardest thing about it has been not going stir-crazy from being trapped indoors for so many cold and miserable months!

The Giveaway:
Kate is giving away a copy of (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME and ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE.

(Sorry, no matter what I did I couldn't get the cover image to load...)
(Don't You) Forget About Me:  Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except...
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.


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