Debut Author Interview: Kate Norris and When You and I Collide Giveaway and IWSG Post
Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Kate Norris here to share about her YA historical/time travel When You and I Collide. The story line sounds fascinating, and it’s set in WWII. I’m looking forward to reading it this summer.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
A race against time, war, and the very fabric of the universe itself, perfect for fans of Sliding Doors and 11/22/63 .
Sixteen-year-old Winnie Schulde has always seen splits--the moment when two possible outcomes diverge, one in her universe and one in another. Multiverse theory, Winnie knows, is all too real, though she has never been anything but an observer of its implications--a secret she keeps hidden from just about everyone, as she knows the uses to which it might be put in the midst of a raging WWII. But her physicist father, wrapped up in his research and made cruel by his grief after the loss of Winnie's mother, believes that if he pushes her hard enough, she can choose one split over another and maybe, just maybe, change their future and their past.
Winnie is certain that her father's theories are just that, so she plays along in an effort to placate him. Until one day, when her father's experiment goes wrong and Scott, the kind and handsome lab assistant Winnie loves from afar, is seriously injured. Without meaning to, Winnie chooses the split where Scott is unharmed. And in doing so, finds herself pulled into another universe, an alternate reality. One that already has a Winnie.
In this darkly thrilling novel that blends science and war with love and loss, some actions just can't be undone.
Before I get to my interview with Kate, I have my IWSG Post.
Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Optional Question: What would make you quit writing?
To be honest, the heartbreak of losing my husband and all the other life changes that happened soon after that almost made me stop writing. I came very close to hitting delete on everything I’d written.
Thankfully, I only threw away a few newspaper clippings and did come back to my writing last year. I’m enjoying the process, and my writing is much stronger. But I’m just not as excited about being published anymore after everything I’ve gone through and watching so many authors go through the ups and downs of publishing.
It’s a lot of work to write a novel, and I’m a slow writer. Plus, so much of the process other than writing is out of our control, which has also been the challenge I’ve gone through as I’ve navigated life since my husband died.
Right now, I’m enjoying the creative process, so I will continue to write. But if it becomes too much of a struggle or there are other important things, like family, taking up my time, I could see myself not writing.
What about you? What would stop you from writing?
Interview With Kate Norris
Hi Kate! Thanks so much for joining us!
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I’ve always loved writing—my parents still have the ‘books’ I wrote when I was around 5 years old. But for whatever reason, I didn’t think writing was something I could realistically pursue as a career. When I was in my mid-twenties, working a job I hated, I realized I still dreamed of being a novelist, and decided to go for it. I knew I had no control over whether or not I would be successful, but I had control over whether or not I tried. I started writing again, eventually entered the MFA program at Ohio State, wrote a couple books that didn’t sell, and then, finally, one that did.
2. That’s awesome that you decided to go for it. Where did you get the idea for When You and I Collide?
I don’t have any sisters, so I’ve always found the dynamics of sisterhood really fascinating and wondered what it would be like to have one, especially a twin (we have many sets of twins and triplets in my extended family). That lead me to think about what it would be like to meet your own double. What if they were doing better than you by every metric?
I’ve also often had the feeling when things are such close calls that oh, that must have actually happened, just somewhere else in the multiverse. Like there’s another version of myself who did X or who avoided Y. And just more widely, I became interested in the idea of regret, and this character who was so plagued by regret that she wanted to try to make things un-happen.
So all of that ended up coalescing into the story of this girl whose life is pretty miserable, who happens to be able to see when alternative realities splinter off from her own. The boy she loves is killed in an accident, and she’s so unable to cope with that reality that she wills herself into another world. A better world, that already has another better (or so she thinks) version of herself in it.
3. It’s fascinating how your “what ifs” developed into this story. Your story is set in WWII. What research did you have to do to get the details of this time period right?
Thank god for the internet. I did a lot of googling, particularly about what NYC was like during the 40s. There is luckily a ton of material out there, including lots of photos, which helped bring the time to life for me, as well as watching lots of movies produced around the same time. But most of the worldbuilding focused on layering in historically-accurate scientific detail because that was what was most interesting to me about the period (that’s the “why” of the setting—I wanted the backdrop of the quantum revolution, and there is a particular story about Erwin Schrödinger that cemented the novel being set in 1942). My undergrad degree covered a ton of history and philosophy of science, so for that stuff it was more a process of re-learning things I vaguely remembered.
4. That’s great that you could re-learn what you’d already learned in college. You received your MFA from Ohio University and taught creative writing. You were also a fiction editor for The Journal. How have these experiences helped you in writing this story?
I’ve been told that one of my greatest strengths as a writer is how willing I am to radically revise, which is absolutely the result of years of workshopping as a student, as well as trying to help students revise and working as an editor. As a writer, it’s tempting to convince yourself that you can get away with revising minimally. As an editor and teacher, you see how false this is.
5. Share about your plotting process for When You and I Collide. Have you changed how you plot your stories from this experience?
I had the same experience I’ve seen other writers share: I did very minimal plotting for Collide. This led to an agonizing, several-year revision process. Now, I do much more planning before just diving into writing a draft. I’m still not a heavy outliner though. Basically, I try to have a strong sense of who the main characters are as human beings and know the major events that are going to happen, but a lot of the “how” I figure out along the way, which keeps things feeling alive for me while I’m writing. I wrote a book last year and this planning took the shape of a hybrid query-style summary/synopsis (longer and more detailed than a typical query, shorter and less fleshed out than a typical synopsis), as well as a sort of mental outline of the major plot points and twists. That book and the one I’m working on now are both thrillers, so I felt like I needed to know the solution to the puzzle I was writing from the beginning.
6. Yes, I’ve had to learn to plot more too after not plotting my first one and having to revise extensively. Winnie sounds like a fascinating character who is faced with tough choices. Did you have a good sense of her as a character before you started writing her story or did that change through drafting your manuscript? What are your three favorite things about her?
I need to feel like I know the main character to be able to start writing, but I also learned more about Winnie as I wrote, and her character shifted a bit over the course of revisions too. Probably my favorite thing about her is the tension between how logical and scientifically minded she is, and how much she relies on her daydreams about her love interest Scott to cope with her unpleasant life. She’s outwardly very rational and cold, but inside very fanciful. I also love how insecure she is and how much she really doesn’t know herself very well at all, because that gives her the space to really learn and grow over the course of the book.
7. Your agent is Lara Perkins. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?
When You and I Collide was represented by both Lara Perkins and Laura Rennert. I originally queried Laura with the book I wrote before Collide (a sci-fi dystopian that we never ended up going on submission with), and back then Laura was taking on some clients in conjunction with Lara, who was an Assistant Agent at the time. Long story short, I cold-queried with a different project, was offered representation from Lara and Laura as co-agents, that book didn’t pan out and I wrote Collide, Laura and Lara offered editorial guidance over several rounds of revisions, then once it was ready we went on submission. It was on submission for one very long round, and sold after about 10 months. Of course, now Lara is a full Agent, and we transitioned to her representing me on her own. (Incidentally, for anyone who is looking for representation, Laura and Lara are both extremely gifted editorial agents who are a dream to work with, although I believe Lara is closed to queries at the moment.)
8. That’s great that you had the benefit of being represented by Lara and Laura. What is something that surprised you about the process of becoming a published author? Why?
I was warned that at every stage of publishing you don’t feel accomplished, just anxious about the next thing, but I still felt like “Oh, if I ever publish a novel, I’ll just be thrilled for forever.” I was wrong! And I’m still wrong! Because even now I think, “Oh, if I sell another novel, then I’ll never worry again!” It always feels like the next benchmark is the thing that will bring an end to all anxiety, but the benchmarks just shift.
9. What have you done to promote When You and I Collide and what are your future marketing plans? What advice do you have for other writers hoping to become a debut author?
About six months before the release of Collide, I started to panic about book promotion. It was becoming obvious that Collide wasn’t going to be a “big” book, and I so desperately want it to do well because it’s my baby and I love it, but mostly I just really, really want to be able to keep publishing books. Then I read a few extremely helpful blog posts like this one, whose advice basically summed up to “self-promotion isn’t going to make or break your book, so relax”. I’ve done some guest blogging, regularly participate in the #debutauthorchat on Twitter, have signed stock at local bookstores, and am hoping to participate in some festivals and conferences. I would love to do school and library visits too. But instead of spending time and money doing a pre-order campaign and trying to somehow teach myself how to be a marketing professional, I focused on finishing another book. So I think my advice would be “know yourself and work to your strengths”.
10. You’re making me feel much better about marketing. What are you working on now?
I never know how coy I’m supposed to be about these things. Sometimes it seems like you’re supposed to keep everything a secret in publishing! But I’m currently working on a YA mystery with Twin Peaks vibes, set during a summer theater festival on an island off the coast of Maine.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kate. You can find Kate at https://linktr.ee/KateNorris
Kate has generously offered a hardback of When You and I Collide for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 24th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The giveaway is international.
Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways
Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family
Wednesday, July 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Analieze Cervantes and a query critique giveaway
Friday, July 16th I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop
Monday, July 19th I have an interview with debut author Alysa Wishingrad and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Verdigris Pawn
Wednesday, July 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Mary Cummings and a query critique giveaway
Monday, July 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Allison Hellegers and a query critique giveaway
Hope to see you on Monday!