Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author Kate Moretti

What inspired you to write your first book?
I was inspired by a friend of mine who completed her first novel. It was something I always thought about, off and on, and when she did it, I thought: I can do this too! How hard could it be? (I later laughed at that sentiment. Turns out, it's pretty darn hard to do!)

Do you have a specific writing style?
I like a more stream of consciousness style with nice mix of internal monologue and external dialogue. My first novel, Thought I Knew You, was writing in first person POV but my WIP is written in third. I'm finding that I enjoyed the first person narrative a bit more. I like getting inside a character's head in a way that only first allows you to do.

How did you come up with the title?
I originally had a title that I can't share because it literally contained the denouement of the novel. My publisher and the staff at Red Adept Publishing came up with Thought I Knew You and I loved it. To me, it applies to the main plot of Claire thinking she knows her husband, but additionally speaks to the character arc of Claire getting to know herself without a counterpart.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are a few, I think. The main one, for me, was you can never truly know another person. The best you can do is try to know yourself. Later in the book, Claire doubts her decisions, wondering if they're selfishly motivated. I think many women today are uncomfortable with selfishness - we work, we take care of our kids, we try to be good wives, good friends, daughters. I liked the fact that at the end, Claire chose herself and all the complications that followed. It was a nice parallel to the way writing a novel transformed me a bit - I am more comfortable putting myself first than I've ever been.

How much of the book is realistic?
The main character, Claire, is mirrored off of me. The peripheral characters are all amalgams of people in my life. My husband is both Greg or Drew, depending on the day. Claire's mother reminds me of my mother. Claire's friendship with Sarah is a blend of my all my best girlfriends. Claire's children, while being little girls like mine, were significantly older than mine when I wrote the book (my children were newborn and 2 when I wrote it). In a weird life imitating art thing, they've morphed into Leah and Hannah in a way I can't explain and freaks me out a little bit. This year, at Halloween, I found myself having the same conversation with them that Claire had with her kids in TIKY. They both wanted to be Rapunzel. The plot is, of course, not based on anything factual.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
This is a tough question to answer. Yes, the ending was sort of derived from a real life experience of a good friend of mine. However, I can't go into it, because it will completely give it away!

What books and authors have most influenced your life most?
This question always confounds me. As a teenager and a pre-writing adult, I read almost constantly. In small ways, I was shaped by every book I've read. I don't think I can pinpoint one single author or book that changed my life, necessarily, and say: this is the reason I decided to write. As a writer, I tend to turn to certain authors who are exceptional at certain things: Wally Lamb, for his ability to invoke emotion, Toni Morrison, for her characterizations, Dean Koontz for his ability to keep you turning pages. With Thought I Knew You, I was influenced a lot by the simple and elegant writing of Anita Shreve and Jodi Piccoult's ability to invoke mood.
What book are you reading now?
I just started Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio. So far, it's lovely.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Gillian Flynn - I've read both Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, with intentions to read Dark Places. I've been trying to keep up with the Red Adept Publishing releases - they're all great, quality reads. Collin Tobin wrote a can't-put-down thriller called Upload and because of Edward Lorn, I'm reading in the horror genre for maybe the first time in my life and enjoying the heck out of it. I needed to branch out!

What are your current projects?
I've finished my first draft on my work in progress. It's a bit darker, with a title that will surely be changed, but it's about a husband and a wife in a troubled marriage (again!) who accidentally murder someone. Instead of calling the police, they bury the body. The story is what that secret does to them, as individuals and as a couple.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have a huge support network. Not just of family, but friends - close friends, work friends, old college friends, some acquaintances from high school. Everyone has come out of the woodwork in a way that I never expected. They deal with my self-promotion in social media, tweeting and sharing and liking. If I had to call out someone, I'd probably call out Sarah DiCello, the friend that inspired me to write a book in the first place (author of the Breaking Fate series, available on Amazon), and Betsy Kirkland, who is endlessly interested, supportive, and always asks.

Do you see writing as a career?
I'd love it but it's probably fairly unrealistic. Doesn't mean I won't try though.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
In Thought I Knew You, I don't think I'd change a thing. Initially, I was resistant to many suggestions, by both beta readers and my content editor. I knew next to nothing. I eventually gave in and made the suggested changes. It's a hundred times better of a book than it would have been, if anyone had listened to me. My current work is so much in progress, that it will change drastically by the time it goes to print.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've always read. I've always scribbled things, here and there - short stories, little dumb poems. It completely abated in college, I don't think I wrote much of anything. I had one failed attempt at a novel after that, but then kids came along and who has time? Oh, wait….

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Description. I struggle with describing places, people, smells, tastes, and all those little intangibles that "transport" a reader. I've gotten better. I'm learning to love it. But it does not come naturally to me.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. Thought I Knew You took place in Clinton, NJ, a short car ride from where I live in Bethlehem, PA.

Who designed the covers?
Red Adept Publishing works with Streetlight Graphics to design their covers. I think they did a fantastic job.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
To just keep writing it.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that dishes never stop, and laundry piles never get smaller. You can spin your wheels trying to keep all the things in your life in order, but it doesn't mean you'll be happy. Do something that makes you happy.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just keep writing it.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope Thought I Knew You entertains you. If I'm really lucky, it'll make you think even after you turn the last page. If that's the case, tell me. Tell a friend. Tell a bookclub (I'll Skype in, if you'd like)! The best thing you can do for a new author is to spread the word. It means more than you'll ever realize.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The biggest challenge was psychological for me. I've never lost anyone close to me, aside from my grandparents. I had to imagine, more times than I care to think about, what my life would be like without my husband. It was a sad and scary place to go in my mind. I didn't know if my imagined grief would be believable to readers, even those who lost someone. I had no idea if I successfully navigated the emotional waters. I did meet with a grief counselor who gave me some very sound advice which I incorporated on how people universally deal with losing a spouse.