Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: You have had a solid and steady journey in the writing field, and your career is still flourishing. How would you describe where you are right now as an author?
Kathryn: I was a dance critic and arts journalist for nineteen years. I stopped because that market could not bear paying me more, and I had bigger dreams—so I went from always being paid for my writing to doing thirteen years of it for free as I switched to fiction. That is a lot of writing experience, to be sure, but where I am as an author? I’d say I’m just about ready to toe up to the starting line.
Only now are all things possible. I have an agent who believes in me, two editors jazzed about my project, and my project has become a book. On January 7th the starting gun will go off—and we’ll see how far I can run! I’ve been training for a marathon, so here’s hoping…
QFTD: Amazon.com has my name on the pre-order list, and I can't wait to get your novel, The Art of Falling, in the mail. The official release is in less than six months! How excited are you, and what's your plan up until the big date?
Kathryn: As of this writing: four months and twenty-three days, but who’s counting?
QFTD: (smiling ear-to-ear)
Kathryn: When I got my agent in December 2011—Katie Shea at the Donald Maass Literary Agency—I was so over-the-moon excited. I’d sought her through eight years and 112 rejections! Check out the love in the attached picture. It took me a couple of weeks to calm down. Same rush when I got my book deal in September 2012, which amazingly, came in when I was hosting a writers retreat for women, all of whom had cameras—check out this blog post to see my joy.
From here on out, the milestones come more rapidly and in smaller steps. I’ve held my book already—in advance reader copy (ARC) form. Others have read it, for blurbs and Goodreads reviews. Orders have been placed, since pre-order links are live. So the difference between virtual book release and actual may seem small, who knows.
From here on out, my job is clear: I show the ARC to every bookstore owner, librarian, book club member, and reader I come across.
QFTD: I have been to several author meetings and writer meet-ups since June, and your name pops up every time! How have you been able to establish such enriched professional relationships since you began your writing journey?
Kathryn: One word, Uriah: volunteerism. A more spiritual person might use the word karma. I have served on almost every board and Write Stuff conference capacity for the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, including two terms as president, and am now on the board of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. I volunteer whenever I can get to the Pennwriters Conference. I’ve attended Writers Coffeehouses in Willow Grove for years, and am now a Liars Club member. I got in on the ground floor as loop moderator for the fledgling Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association and will now transition to Book Club Liaison. There’s no secret to networking: leave your writing hidey-hole every now and then, roll up your sleeves, and help keep the arts world spinning. Create or participate in the programs that will advance your career and bring others along with you. It’s worked for me!
QFTD: After reading your other interviews, I learned about some of your life struggles and emotional strife. How have you been able to stay strong through tough times and still be able to complete projects?
Kathryn: My fiction writing has never been a diversion from life for me—it’s a way to enter it more deeply. Writing the novel that would become The Art of Falling was healing for me after my first husband’s suicide. To empathize with his plight I needed to think about what creates unendurable despair—I’m an optimist—and what might change to make life worth living. While the story is about a dancer whose poor relationship with her body implodes her relationships with those who had helped her build her “dream” career, its philosophical undercurrent is the question of how our passions fortify us and keep us alive. It’s a story of great hope.
QFTD: Sounds compelling and inspiring. After I Googled you, I read the many endorsements for your book; the praise it received is impressive.
Kathryn: Thanks! That part is so exciting.
QFTD: When it comes to investing time and money in a book, here's what so many readers want to know: why should readers pick up this book in the bookstore or purchase it online? What's so special about The Art of Falling?
Kathryn: We live in a time in which it is hard to survive, economically—and with so many of our essential needs taken care of through automation and technology, it can also be difficult to thrive emotionally. Ostensibly, we can have anything we want—but it takes self-knowledge, passion, hard work, and no small amount of perseverance to discover what that is, then achieve it. When Penelope’s dream career dissolves, she has an extraordinary second chance. What would you do if the same thing happened to you?
This is being marketed as book club fiction. I hope to make readers feel deeply and discuss important subjects like how our relationship with our bodies impacts our self worth, and helps define our creativity.
QFTD: You are an expert in the field of dance, which happens to be a major element to your book's plot. How did your knowledge of professional dancing aid you in the character and plot development of your book?
Kathryn: I’ve been a dancer, a choreographer, and a dance critic—all roles inhabited by characters in my book. Add in a baker, a mother battling obesity, and a friend with end-stage cystic fibrosis, and I had enough conflicting desires and perspectives on body image to afford plenty of plot material. In my work as a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, I’ve learned that aspiring novelists often fail to give enough thought to orchestrating their characters around a premise.
QFTD: Do you have another book on the way for us to look forward to? A sneak peek would be nice.
Kathryn: I currently have projects two and three in submission—we’ll see what happens! Ultimately I suppose demand will tell me which to work on next. But I’m furthest along on The Most Beautiful Sound, about Autumn Montgomery, a woman who was caught up in traumatic events in southern Illinois when she used a family’s horse to help a mute eight-year-old unsilence himself. Ten years later, after Autumn has established a national Therapy with Horses Foundation, she must return and face what happened there when the boy, now eighteen, retreats into his silent world after being arrested for the attempted murder of his mother. Ten years ago, the boy spoke to save Autumn’s life—can she get him to speak again, to save his own?
To see more from Kathryn Craft, click below. www.kathryncraft.com