Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far and why?
The Redeemers. They’re so delightfully batshit evil. Plus they know for certain that they’re the instruments of perfect good. I’m surprised their brains don’t implode like the old Star Trek matter vs. antimatter rule.
What’s been the most memorable piece of research that you’ve turned up?
Coffee can grow anywhere. I’m not saying it would be awesome coffee, but it would be the fragrant elixir of life nonetheless. Since anything is bearable with coffee, there’s even hope for the zombie apocalypse.
What about your most recently published/upcoming work?
The Redeemers is my most recent. 200 years into the future we have a pleasant cottage industry society, but don’t turn over any rocks. Because we also have The Redeemers, who are the benevolent, awe-inspiring rulers. Suuuuure they are. Annie, my kickass hero, discovers that having her life and future destroyed creates a darkness in herself she never expected. Revenge! Hate! Betrayal! Torture! Oh, and good food. Annie likes to cook. I read a lot of manga, and the story is similar to manga’s extreme plot elements. No little girls in short skirts, though. Sorry.
Any basic writing philosophy or tips?
Screw inspiration. Get your BIC (Butt In Chair) every day. If mornings are your productive time, get up an hour early. If evenings, stay up an hour later. When you get into the daily writing habit, words start to flow better.
How do you decide where to set a story? It depends on the story, but TR has a special setting. The climax is set in Colorado Springs because a good friend once got turned down for a job there. The friend is a former nun with an MSW, one of the best and kindest people I know. But Colorado Springs was (is) the home of Focus on the Family, and my friend wasn’t Born-Again, AKA the “right kind” of Christian, so all her qualifications and experience meant nothing. Muahahaha. Do not anger the novelist, because she has many ways of literary revenge.
How do you manage world-building? Is it all thought out ahead of time, or do you make it up as you go?
I front-load my research. Research is a rabbit-hole for me. I can get lost in it, much like going onto TV Tropes. (BE WARNED! Set an alarm when you click or you’ll discover it’s somehow 9 hours later.) I also admit to half a lifetime obsessed with dystopian and fantasy. Dystopian especially. I grew up during the Reagan/Khruschev years of the superpowers playing nuclear chicken with the world. I say if you’re going to have nightmares, you might as well turn them into fiction.
How much do you structure your stories before you write them?
I started out as a pantser. Then I tried outlining and never looked back. Outlines make deadlines less stressful. Plus my outlines are organic. They change and grow as the characters surprise me.
Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?
I lurve revising. I’m a freelance copyeditor, so I’m all about the anal-retentiveness. First drafts are fun in their own way, but revising is sandblasting and polishing time.
What do you do when you get stuck writing your story? Moar research! All the research! I figure if I just can’t make the words flow, then I go through the draft where I’ve left notes and look up what I need, so at least the book is progressing somehow.
If you could instantaneously master one writing skill, what would you choose and why?
I would like to write faster. I have a Day Job and family commitments. They like to eat occasionally. So turning out a clean draft in fewer weeks would be ideal.
What is the most memorable writing comment you’ve ever gotten?
Oh, this was epic. I used to belong to an online critique group whose focus was Christian fiction. I wrote an early draft of TR while in that group. We put our first 3 chapters on the loop for everyone to critique. I got an 8-1/2 by 11 single-spaced diatribe from one member. It spewed hate at me from the screen. Parts were in red and underlined. He said my plot was bad, my MC was wrong, my book was evil. He told me that the book would “harm new Christians.” Apparently in his world new Christians can’t handle fiction or no longer possess analytical skills. Who knew? He ended by saying he prayed I would never get published and signed it “With love from your brother in Christ.” I blew him into the group moderator, who blocked him from my crits. Only then did I learn he was a strict evangelical with issues about women. Getting published, therefore, is the best revenge.
What is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over? Create a compelling character. I’ll read almost any genre if a character grabs me by the throat.
If your writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do with your success?
I’d buy a house by a lake and pay a genius inventor to create a magic bubble around it to keep out the mosquitoes and black flies.
Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Never give up. Never surrender. I wrote the first draft of TR in 2006. I rewrote it front to back three times. About 10% of it resembles the original first draft. It took years of writing time and experience to turn that first effort into something publishable. Never give up.
You can find out more about Kate Morgan at www.aliceloweecey.net/kate-morgan/
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