Today I’m chatting with Katie Rose Guest Pryal. She might secretly be a bionic woman. I am still investigating this possibility.
Why do I think she might be hiding super natural abilities? Because this is a woman who writes novels and textbooks, zillions of articles and columns, and works as a writing teacher and writing tutor. She has also been a law professor. Plus she has two kids.
When I think of her schedule I want to lay down, eat chocolate, and read a good book. Like, say, one of Katie’s. So here we go…
Katie, I love the tagline for your new novel, Chasing Chaos: “Love, friendship and betrayal in glamorous, yet often vicious, Hollywood.” Whew! I’m there with ya, already. Tell us about your latest book.
Chasing Chaos is about a woman in her late twenties, Daphne Saito, who believes she isn’t worthy of love. She realizes over five life-changing days, filled with surprises, betrayal, and tragedy, that she is wrong.
You’ve obviously researched Hollywood. Give us some of the scoop. Let us live vicariously through you. I need it. What have you learned?
I lived in Hollywood after college for a very brief time, and it had a very powerful effect on me. It’s not a perfect place, not at all, but it is unique, and its ugliness is as appealing as the glitz. I take that back. Its ugliness is more appealing.
The cheap bars, the thrift stores, everything you need to live there on twenty thousand a year like I did. I loved all of that. I still have people I can reach out to to help me fact-check details about neighborhoods and locations, which helps, and one of them reads each book in the Entanglement Series before my publisher sees it.
Tell us about your main character Daphne Saito. You always create really strong female characters. How did you develop that character? Is she based on anyone? Based on a part of your personality?
Do you think it’s true that authors put a bit of themselves, consciously or sub consciously, into each of their characters?
I wrote a piece on how I develop characters, in which I explained that every character should be half of you, and the other half should contain things you wish were you. Daphne, for example, has many qualities of mine, but she has other qualities that I wish I had, qualities that I admire in other people.
Note: I always write very detailed character sketches before I start a book, per Elizabeth George’s instructions.
Revenge and a vendetta play a part in this book. Can I say I love those topics without sounding too evil? Implementing those elements must have been fun to write. What appeals to you about both?
I believe humans desire revenge more than we think we do. We just don’t act on it. In a book, you get to turn people loose to act in ways we would never act in real life. It can be very satisfying both to write and to read.
I agree. When I watch my characters doing all sorts of things while I’m writing a book, it’s like I’m watching a movie. I have little control over them.
Did you know how the book was going to end before you started writing it? What is your writing process for a book?
Naturally I moved to Los Angeles because I thought I was going to write screenplays. Learning to write screenplays taught me to think in scenes, which has been immensely helpful in planning novels. I don’t write a typical outline, but I do outline by scenes. I block out the major scenes that will happen in each chapter before I start writing, or, at least, I get far enough in that I can start. I do expect things to shift as I go, though.
Everyone is always curious about authors’ lives. Tell us about yours. Where do you live, with who, your day job, your writing life. How do you juggle all of your work and your family? (Even though I do know you’re a secret bionic woman. Just admit it.)
Do you separate your day into times where you work on one project, then move to the next?
My day job is writer. I’m very lucky. I write other things that are not nearly as glamorous as novels, such as textbooks, but they are fun to write, and I’m good at it, and they pay the bills. I’m also a journalist, and I teach creative writing. I also work as a private editor. Between all of these different jobs, I manage to put together a living.
I do have two small children, and I struggle with balancing time with them and balancing time for my work, just like every other working mom. For me, the solution has been to figure out how to work in small chunks of time. Ten minutes here, while waiting for swim practice to finish. Another twenty minutes there, while waiting for the school bus. I have a tiny laptop, and I bring it with me everywhere. I’m not multi-tasking—I believe multi-tasking is terrible for my brain. Instead, I’ve trained myself to find focus quickly. And so, those pockets of time add up to a day’s work for me.
What are you working on now? What do you love about it and what challenges are you facing with this new book as an author?
I just finished revising my next novel, and it is out to my final set of readers. When I get it back, I will revise it once more and out it will go. I also have two more novels after that already in different stages. I feel lucky—at this point, I’m not running out of ideas for novels.
I cannot imagine you EVER running out of ideas.
Thank you, Katie, for joining us today!
Bio: Katie is a novelist, freelance journalist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, NC. She is the author of the Entanglement Series, which includes ENTANGLEMENT, LOVE AND ENTROPY, and CHASING CHAOS, all from Velvet Morning Press. As a journalist, Katie contributes regularly to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE (late, lamented) TOAST, DAME MAGAZINE, and more. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. When not writing books, she teaches creative writing through Duke University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and works as a writing coach and editor.
Chat with Katie!
Purchase CHASING CHAOS: http://amzn.to/29eUP92
Subscribe to Katie’s Monthly Letter: http://bit.ly/pryalnews (free books!)
Katie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/krgpryal
Katie on Facebook: http://facebook.com/katieroseguestpryal
Katie’s Blog: http://krgp.ink
Katie on Instagram: http://novelist_katie
Katie on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/krgpryal
Katie on GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/krgpryal
Katie on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/katiepryal
Katie on Medium: https://medium.com/@krgpryal