A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received. (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.) I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted. My friends and fellow-bloggers, Kate and Britt, had some very fascinating responses which I’m sure you will find as captivating as I did. (I love their answer to #15!) When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to their blog and make sure you follow them for more entertaining tales. And now, I present to you, Kate and Britt…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
Kate: I’ve been “officially” writing and “publishing” my own books since I was eight years old…and I’m pretty sure my mom still has that first construction-paper bound mini-novel to prove it! I’m married to a wonderful chef, have a very lazy Jack Russell, and love photography, knitting, and reading. I write Vivian’s POV in the Pistils series.
Britt: From filling notebooks with poems as a child (which are sadly long-gone) to writing some of the best ‘N Sync fiction known to man in my teenage years (which thank GOD are long-gone), writing has been a passion that I’ve never been able to shake. I have an amazing boyfriend who plays with trains for a living, and a little min-pin named Ruby that is my entire world. When I’m not writing Parker’s POV in the Pistils series, you can find me nose-deep in my Kindle, or spending time with my friends and family.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
Twitter: @kate_and_britt https://twitter.com/Kate_and_Britt
3 .How many books have you written?
Between the two of us, we’ve written seven, although only two were actually written together, as co-authors. We are definitely each other’s sounding boards, pre-readers, etc. for individual work, though.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
Yes! Pistils is available in e-book and paperback format!
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
We mutually decided to self-publish, because when it comes to our work, we’re pretty particular about certain things. I think if we had a traditional publisher giving us ultimatums and deadlines on our first published work, plus having two authors, we’d have self-destructed before we got this far. We do take it seriously, though, and formed Twintype Books LLC to reflect the business side of what we’re doing. We’re aware that some people look down at “self-published” or “vanity press” authors, and that’s their prerogative. We take our business seriously, though, from writing to publishing.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Kate: I was writing stories in kindergarten, honestly! Granted there were more illustrations than words in those, but I promise I’ve grown as a writer since then! I think I had a concrete realization that I wanted to be “An Author” at some point in high school…I remember getting one of those huge books that lists agents and publishers and bookmarking ones that I could contact. Oh how naïve (but hopeful!) I was!
Britt: I’ve had an interest in writing from very early on in childhood. I think I was in fourth grade when I decided I no longer wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up, but an author instead. I first started out writing a lot of poems, mainly as an outlet to deal with that pesky elementary school angst, but as I moved into my teenage years, I really started writing full-on stories. That is where the obsession began.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
Kate: I’m a very creative person, and I always have to have an outlet for it. My favorite hobbies (photography, knitting, sewing, writing) reflect that…if I didn’t have a way to express myself creatively, I would probably explode. Plus, going back later and having that amazing moment of realizing you created something meaningful…it’s incredibly gratifying.
Britt: For me, I write with a lot of emotion. I love being able to make words flow and swing together into sentences that you are completely in charge of molding until they turn into this entity…your story, your baby. My passion for the written word is what keeps me motivated to write, but when others start loving the work too, that is the greatest kind of motivation.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
Kate: I really don’t have favorite authors, per se, since I’ve loved and hated some books by the same author. That said, the older Dorothy Garlock books are like my warm fuzzy blankie. She was the first romance author I really ever got into, and I’ll still pick up and read any of her books, especially if I’ve just read or written something heavy or depressing and need to just feel better. Christopher Pike is a holdover from my teenage years too. Other than that, I will try just about anything from any genre, old or new. I just finished reading The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn, I’m currently reading Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George and I’m slowly making my way through the Outlander series.
Britt: My favorite authors range anywhere from J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Austen and Stephen King, to J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Christopher Paolini. I’ve most recently been turned on to Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children books by Ransom Riggs, as well as anything written by Rainbow Rowell. Currently, time permitting, I will be starting the Maze Runner books by James Dashner. Whew, I think that covered them all!
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
Kate: I genuinely don’t have a preference…hard copies are wonderful because of the history and connection (or as Carrie Bradshaw said, the smell of library books), but Kindles are great because of the portability. Since Kindles do require charging, though, I think hard copies win out for me just in case we lose power worldwide.
Britt: See, this is a tricky question for me because I literally have equal love for both my Kindle and a plain old book (paperback or hardback, I don’t judge). The truth is that I read more on my Kindle because of the convenience and the size, but nothing will ever, ever compare to the smell of a bound, paper book. So even though the majority of my reading gets done on the Kindle, paper and hardback books will always hold a special place in my heart.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
Kate: Almost exclusively first person, past tense, although I find when I write in the third person, it’s almost like another writing personality comes out in me. Which is definitely refreshing when I’m stuck with writer’s block. A little creepy, though.
Britt: I definitely prefer to write in first person, past tense. I’ve tried the third person route in the past, only to feel a bit of a disconnect from my character. In that fashion I’m telling the readers about their story, but in first person I can be right there in the character’s head, feeling what they’re feeling and experiencing what they are experiencing. I have dabbled with first person, present tense writing in the past, and while it took a beat to switch to, I did enjoy it. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll give it another shot. J
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
Kate: I’m always reading something, taking a break from reading would drive me crazy!
Britt: I do tend to take breaks, especially when I’m in heavy-duty, hardcore writing mode. I tend to become so engrossed in my characters and their story that I just can’t let myself get invested in another world during the writing process.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
Kate: In the past year, I’ve recorded reading eighty-eight books. I read super-fast, though, and normally 2-3 at a time.
Britt: This past year….It’s pretty safe to say I hit the twenty mark. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve read two books at once, and I don’t like to do it. When I read a book, I am all about that book, and I feel like if I get wrapped up in another tale, I’m not giving it the attention it deserves.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
Pistils, which is the first book in what will be a trilogy. But the great thing about our book is that it can stand alone as well.
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
Our novel’s main genre would probably be Mystery, with Private Investigation and Romance as sub-genres. What might set it apart from others is that there’s a very deep element of family and friendship throughout the book, along with a few darker twists that readers might not see coming.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
We were chatting one day and the topic of how ridiculously easy it is to find out information on people these days came up. One thing led to another and we gave ourselves a challenge…we picked a random person that we followed on Twitter, and based on her Tweets, pictures, and details she’d shared across the internet, managed to track down and Google Map her address. We would like to emphasize that we DID NOT DO ANYTHING WITH IT, we were just stunned at how easy it was to find her HOME with very innocent details…a sign in the background of a picture she’d posted, a mention of the mall she’d just visited…it was creepy. But it got us thinking that if we could do that in twenty minutes with nothing but Google, what could real private investigators do? The snowball started rolling from there.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
Really, anyone who enjoys a good mystery and a dash of humor without going overboard into slapstick. Females are probably our target audience, but there is actually quite a bit that the gents might enjoy too…this isn’t a light fluffy chick-lit book.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
The overall tone of our book is really centered on the unshakeable friendship of our two main characters, and just how strong their bond really is. The strongest themes in our novel are friendship, family, and mystery, with the main plot centering around two best friends going into private investigation while also running a flower shop.
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
Kate: Probably 1-2 times per week, unless I’m really on a roll, in which case I’ll write every day.
Britt: I write whenever the plot bunny strikes. Currently, with writing the Pistils series with Kate, we definitely seem to take on a back-and-forth approach since we each write every other chapter. This process has really worked well for us in the past. When working on something independently, I’ll write whenever and wherever I can, even on printer paper while hiding out at work.
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
Kate: It depends on what I was working on, how much time I have, etc…if I’m in the zone, I always aim for 8k words.
Britt: For Pistils I averaged around 1-3k words per sitting, but in my earlier writing, when each of my chapters would be around 10k, I could easily hit 8-10k, given the right environment (good music, a quiet house, dull lighting, etc.)
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
We initially tried working with an editor, but parted ways when we discovered we were a lot pickier about details than she was. We do have official and unofficial prereaders, and then we both separately do line, content, etc. editing in three different formats each: Word, Kindle, and hard copy. We may hook up with another editor in the future, it all depends.
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
We’ve found that when we really latch onto an idea, we tend to hit the ground running and our first few chapters are more of a quick-and-dirty outline, so we always go back and fill those in. As we go along and the story starts growing organically (even with research and plots/goals in mind) the chapters become more full-length and polished. And we definitely re-read as we go along…continuity errors are EVIL! Then when we hit the end, we start from the beginning and edit edit edit!
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
Kate: I actually get a LOT of my inspiration from my dreams…I have very vivid dreams, with sound, smell, color, etc. They’re very detailed, so sometimes it’s like being inside of a movie that I end up writing a story about. I can’t count how many stories have started when I’m asleep. So I guess my muse visits me in my dreams!
Britt: I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a muse, just a constant niggling inside of me to create the characters and worlds that my brain conjures up. Like I said before, I write with a lot of emotion, and there is nothing like expressing the emotions I’ve given my characters through writing. I’ve typed maniacally away with tears streaming down my face because I could physically feel my character’s pain, or smiled like a fool when the love interests I’m writing are being ridiculously cute. I love feeling the life I’ve given them, and the knowledge that others might be able to feel it too is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
As long as it takes. From conception to publishing, Pistils took about a year and a half. We both have jobs and real lives, and sometimes we’d go weeks or a month without even touching it. Plus, as Beth Ann Fennelly recently wrote, when you have two authors, it’s twice the work, not half!
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
Kate: Limits tend to slam the door on spontaneity and creativity, so I avoid them whenever possible (yet another reason we decided to self-publish, deadlines kill my mojo). We do have a general timeline of when we’d like to accomplish things by, of course, but we try and keep it as flexible as possible.
Britt: I don’t like to set up limits at all. Of course I set goals, because they’re important, but if I don’t reach the goal I set on a certain day, I don’t beat myself up about it. There are so many ways to be stressed out in day to day life, and writing is my release…it’s my happy. I don’t ever want it to become a chore, so I will always take a step back or call it quits for the day if I’m not feeling it, or the pressure to finish becomes too much.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
Kate: For characters and businesses, sometimes it’s a name that just pops into my head, or if I hear a unique name I’ll make a note of it for future use. The name does have to fit the character, though, or it’s painfully awkward. Geographic locations need to fit the general plot we’re writing, and we LOVE doing research on the locales. One of the best compliments we ever got was when someone asked if we were from the city we had written about, because it was spot-on.
Britt: As far as co-writing with Kate, everything we do is a result of our brainstorming. Since we live so far away, we kind of live in our Gchat (when it’s working), and we have hours upon hours of chat transcripts where we’re just talking everything out until it’s perfected and we both have a deep gut instinct that it’s right. It’s also a lot of fun to look back on our conversations from two years ago to see how our characters were brought to life.
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
Kate: I do a LOT of research about the locations, customs, traditions, etc. that I write about. I sometimes spend more hours doing research and putting together notes than actually writing. But I enjoy it, and I think it makes the difference between caring about the details or just doing a quick Google search and phoning it in.
Britt: Notes and planning ahead is something that I will really be working on in the future. As it stands, when I feel like I need to write something, I need to do it NOW, end of story. I tend to worry about the details later because I will drive myself crazy if what’s in my head isn’t written down immediately. With my future projects, I’ve vowed to use the tools I’ve been given, and plan out as much as I can ahead of time.
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
Kate: I’m very much a desk and ergonomic chair kind of writer. It puts me in my writing frame of mind. And I really need quiet, or at the very most classical music turned down to almost white-noise levels.
Britt: Definitely. I need a comfy place to write, the absolute perfect music to match the tone of the story, and a dimly lit room. Basically I need to feel relaxed in order to be focused. So far it has worked pretty well.
28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
Kate: I try not to write too late at night because I’m enough of an insomniac as it is. I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated home office as my space, and I do make myself stop every hour on the hour, normally, to get up and stretch, walk around, refill my water bottle, etc.
Britt: Life has been incredibly busy lately, so I’ve really been writing whenever I find a spare moment or an empty house. Ideally though, I do my best work from 8pm to 3 or 4am.
29. Is your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
Kate: My husband would say that’s an unequivocal YES. And I do feel guilty about not going out and seeing my friends more…I need to work on that.
Britt: It’s definitely happened in the past. I’ve cancelled plans with friends if I’m too wrapped up, procrastinated real life obligations for my chair and laptop, and the amount of housework I’ve put off is rather astonishing. But I don’t have any qualms about it. The gratification I feel at the end of a writing session like that is totally worth the socializing I missed, or the stack of dishes piling up in the sink.
30.What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
Kate: I don’t think of it as quirky, but practical…I ALWAYS save my work when I reach the end of a page. I know Microsoft Word could retrieve it if the computer crashed, but it’s a holdover habit from when it couldn’t. And Britt and I do have chat going in the background while we’re writing sometimes, we both automatically multi-task when it comes to chat!
Britt: I can’t think of anything quirky per se, but one of my fondest memories will always be the night when both Kate and I were both feeling a little burnt out on our current projects and the serious subject matter we were writing, so we decided to put away the angst and just write something totally ridiculous. We each shared snippets as we went that had us rolling with laughter. We have never shared our two silly stories that we wrote that night with anyone else, but they are definitely something we’ll never forget, and a fond memory with one of my best friends.
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
I think we can safely say Pistils is our favorite right now…we put an obscene amount of time, energy, and love into it, and to see it pay off means more than we can express.
32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
Kate: I’d want to be Gran! She’s the bomb!
Britt: Oh my, I would absolutely love to be Parker! Not just for the blonde, gorgeous, pink tips/tat thing, but just the fact that she’s so different from me, and I absolutely love her! Plus I think being a PI would be a ton of fun, and hanging out with Carter would surely be a…very good time as well. Ahem.
33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
Wow, that’s a tough one! We do have a certain image in our heads when it comes to our characters, but whoever would be featured in our “perfect cast,” we’d hope that they would stay as true to the characters as written, since they are what tie the book together and make it work.
34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
Kate: The porn industry. And no, I wasn’t writing porn, but it was definitely the oddest thing I had to research for a character. Oh, and I’ve learned that Bulgarians are probably the most creative at cursing.
Britt: The oddest thing I’ve ever researched would probably have to be the age of consent laws in Washington State.
35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Kate: For this book (and the future ones), hands down, Russian culture and language, and especially the importance of names. I really didn’t want to screw that up and be disrespectful. Researching the CIA culture wasn’t difficult, but it was something else that I didn’t want to screw up, so more hours there. Did I mention I do a lot of research?
Britt: It was really interesting to see just how much wording, phrases, and names of certain institutions vary from state to state and region to region. Let’s just say Wisconsin and Georgia are like night and day. But it was great to get out of my bubble and learn so much!
Thank you, ladies, for allowing me to interview you. Congratulations on the recent publishing success! I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you both and your work as much as I have.