Thursday, September 25, 2014

Author Interview with Katrina Archer

I love interviewing authors! Katrina Archer author is Untalented was wonderful enough to answer a few questions for me! 

1. How did the idea for this story come to you?

I was talking to a senior colleague one day at work, and he advised me that I should seriously consider specializing if I didn't want my career to founder, because the company needed people with depth more than it needed people with breadth. And while I seriously considered it, because I respected that person, ultimately, it just didn't feel right. I like being good at what I do, but I don't like being locked in to doing just one thing. I'm a fairly confident person though, and can stand up for what I want and not let myself get boxed in. But I started to wonder: what would have happened if I simply didn't have a choice? What would happen to someone in a society that didn't offer them that choice, that forced them to specialize? That society turned into Veyle, and that person my main character, Saroya.

2. Have you always loved to write?

Yes. I've always told myself stories in my head, or daydreamed them, to help me fall asleep. I've got notebooks from elementary school stashed away somewhere, with old stories and zany ideas. I wrote my first novel at the age of 14 when I made a deal with the English teacher at my French high school: I'd work on the novel in the library during class, instead of taking Beginner English. Since I was already bilingual, this saved me from the boredom of being taught how to count to ten again.

3. What books/authors influence you the most?

I'm a big Roger Zelazny fan (Nine Princes in Amber). I also grew up loving Anne McCaffrey, who wrote Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Recently, I greatly enjoyed Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, who also happens to be a Vancouver-based writer, though I haven't met her. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series blew my mind when I read it. Erin Bow's Plain Kate is probably the book I've read most recently that has the most heart.

4. What's the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you overcome it?

Finishing a story properly. I have a tendency to forget that all first drafts are crap, so when a story bogs down or I bog down while writing it, I have a tendency to want to simply chuck it, instead of seeing beyond its initial roughness to something that can be polished. Not finishing is the lazy way out of a story. Being able to distance myself from my work, look at it with a critical eye and then put in the work to edit it and make it better is hard. The actual writing of a first draft is actually quite easy for me, because I get that high from the act of creating something new. But going over it again and again to correct its flaws is something I really have to chivvy myself to do.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Learn how to distance yourself from your work. While a big part of you is in your stories—and has to be for them to be any good—you are not your stories. If you can't separate yourself from your art, you can't accept criticism and thus can't learn how to improve. If you find yourself feeling incredibly insulted when someone doesn't like your story, but is genuinely trying to tell you help you make it better, you're wasting an opportunity to become a better writer. Now, granted, not every piece of critical feedback is valid. But readers are very good at figuring out when a story's not working. Their proffered solutions often don't fit with a writer's vision, but if they tell you when they got bored, or what they didn't like, then pay close attention to the what. It's then up to you to figure out HOW to fix it, but fix it, you need to willing to do.
About the Author:
Katrina Archer lives and writes on her sailboat in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She has worked in aerospace, video games and film, and has been known to copy edit for fun.