Author Interview: Kate Pawson Studer
Each Sunday, I'll be interviewing a different author about their writing journey. If you are an author and would like to be interviewed for this series, please complete this application form. If you have any questions, or if you want to recommend an author, please get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Kate Pawson Studer
Kate decided that writing would be a big part of her life early on, when she “wrote” her first “book” about a unicorn who eats rainbows. She went on to write many more stories (most of them lacking in unicorns) at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, where she graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Professional Writing.
After a brief stint working in youth magazine publishing, it became clear the charmed world of fiction is where her heart is most happy, so she embarked on her journey into the book-publishing world, first as an assistant editor for a major publisher, and then as a freelance editor and author, writing about magic, adventure, and all things swoonworthy.
Kate makes her home in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two children, a cat, a dog, and an ever-rising pile of cherished books. It Falls Apart is her first novel.
Do you plan out your novels or just start writing?
I am definitely a planner! I use electronic cue cards to map out my plot, character arcs, timelines—everything I need to keep track of. I find the writing process goes much faster when I have an idea of where I'm going, even if it's only a rough idea.
Description or dialogue?
Dialogue. I looooooove writing dialogue. I will often write pages and pages of it and then go back and insert the dialogue tags and other details. My characters are constantly having conversations inside my head.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes, but I think writer's block is just a sign you've been inside your own head for too long. I find taking a long walk or a long shower are both really good ways to get your internal narrator moving again. Fresh air and water are renewing.
What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to face as a writer?
Finding a home for my books.
I've been on the submission train for six years now with so many "close, but no cigar" responses I could shingle a roof with them. Thankfully, I have a very supportive and all-around wonderful agent who has stood by me and continued to advocate for my work.
My decision to self-publish It Falls Apart came from a desire to finally get one of my books out there, on my terms, to see how it's received, and so far, it's been a wonderful experience, but I'm still eagerly pursuing traditional publication. Publishing is a combination of luck and timing. For some people, it happens very quickly. For others, it takes much longer, but hard work and persistence usually pay off in the end.
What does literary success mean to you?
Hearing that readers—be they family, friends, my agent, or complete strangers—love my stories is probably the biggest marker of success for me. But I also think literary success is more like a ladder than a milestone. I celebrated the day I finished writing my first novel. I celebrated the day I finished writing my fifth novel. I celebrated the day I landed my agent, the day I decided to self-publish one of my books, the day I hit 14,000 readers, and I hope to celebrate one of my books being traditionally published one day.
What’s your favourite self-editing technique?
Reading out loud. Usually VERY dramatically.
Are you working on a novel right now? If yes, can you tell us a little about it?
Yes! I'm always working on something. My current WIP is tentatively titled The Bone Harvest and it's a YA Sci-Fi about a girl who, eager to escape the passenger spacecraft she grew up on, joins a return mission to Earth only to discover the devastating reason they left the planet's got nothing on what's waiting for them now...
Where is your favourite place to write?
Outside, ideally near the water. I LOVE being near the water. Something about it gets my imagination going. This is also why I'm convinced I was a mermaid in a past life. :)
Of all the books you've written, do you have a personal favourite? If yes, which book, and why?
Yes, I have a book that was previously titled Unnatural, currently titled Shimmer and Shade, which is the book that landed me my agent AND is the one that's come closest to being picked up by a publisher:
'November "Ember" Edwards is not a witch. She can't successfully perform a single spell, which would be a total non-issue except that everyone else can. Ember is what The Ravendale Finishing School for Young Sorcerers labels a "dud", a weak link in the gene pool, and if she wants to graduate, get a job, have a life, she’ll first have to face the ultimate final exam—the culling.
For generations, young, non-magical students have been banished to the woods, left to survive a series of trials that will force them to either summon their latent magical abilities…or die trying. Thankfully, Ember isn’t alone in facing this fate. Her boyfriend, Ren Hargrove, is also a dud, and Ember thinks they have a decent shot at survival if they stick together. But that's easier said than done when she meets Caden Rowley, an outsider who curiously appears in the woods.
Ember's not sure if she can trust him, but she also can't stop thinking about him, especially when he causes her to feel the first sparks of magic she's ever known—something she's learning she can't live without.'
What is the coolest experience you've ever had as a writer?
The first time a reader—a stranger—tweeted at me about my book, I was absolutely floored. As a writer, nothing feels better than knowing someone read your story and was able to connect to your words in a way that moved them to reach out and say, "Yes to all of this."
Do you write full-time, part-time, or just as a hobby? If full-time or part-time, how long did it take you to get to this stage in your writing career?
I write part-time, and work as a freelance editor part-time. I've been writing with the goal of being published for 10 years now. I should probably eat an entire cake or something to mark the occasion. ;)
Is there any part of the writing process that you really hate?
No. I really, truly love it all. Maybe it's because I work as a freelance editor for my day job, but I even love revisions.
Do you prefer to write series or standalone novels?
I prefer to write series. I've written several standalone novels and I enjoy that more-contained process too, but I always miss the characters too intensely when I'm finished and wish I could spend more time with them.
Do you weave personal experience into your writing?
Absolutely. I think the old adage that people should write what they know is an important one. It doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to retellings of personal stories, but it does mean you should draw from your experiences and the emotions you felt when you were faced with major life events. If all stories are some form of the classic tale of "the quest", the best way to make characters and plots unique is to draw on details from within.
Have you ever worked with an editor?
I worked with an editor on revisions for one of my books as part of the submission process. Ultimately, they didn't offer on my book, but the experience was fantastic, even if the rejection broke my heart. Any feedback you can get from a professional who knows what they're doing is worth its weight in gold.
What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Force yourself to write. Even if it's not the book you're currently working on. Write something. Anything. Let an idea bloom into an essay or a poem or a piece of writing nobody else needs to see. Every time you write, no matter what you write, you are exercising the creative part of your brain and that will forever benefit you.
Enjoyed the interview? Connect with Kate!
Facebook: Kate Pawson Studer
Goodreads: Kate Pawson Studer
If you are an author and would like to be interviewed for this series, please complete this application form. If you have any questions, or if you want to recommend an author, please get in touch by emailing me at email@example.com.