Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Q&A with author Katrina Kittle

Katrina was born in Illinois but has lived in the Dayton area since first grade, (except for her Year as a Gypsy). She attended Ohio University and was Outstanding Graduating Senior for both the English and Education departments. She taught high school English and theatre at Centerville High School for five years, and she taught middle school English and theatre at the Miami Valley School for six. She has also worked as a house cleaner, a veterinary assistant, a children’s theatre director, a costumer, and as case management support for the AIDS Resource Center (formerly AIDS Foundation Miami Valley).

Katrina is the author of Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, and The Kindness of Strangers, and The Blessings of the Animals, all with HarperPerennial. The Kindness of Strangers was a BookSense pick and the winner of the 2006 Great Lakes Book Award for Fiction. Early chapters from that novel earned her grants from both the Ohio Arts Council and Culture Works. The Blessings of the Animals was an Indie Next pick (August 2010), a Midwest Connections pick (September 2010), and chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as one of ten Great Group Reads for National Book Group Month (October 2010).

She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University in Louisville. Katrina is thrilled to announce that her first tween novel, Reasons to Be Happy, was published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in October 2011.

When not writing, Katrina enjoys gardening, cooking, traveling, acting, and time spent in the presence of animals (especially horses and a particular goat named Humphrey). She is at work on another novel and very excited to be a part of the Puddingstone Project—collaborating with other artists on a children’s play. She is the proud aunt of Amy and Nathan, and lives with her cat and a kickass, overflowing garden. She loves teaching creative writing classes and has a new Craft of Fiction class starting March 21, 2012 for Word’s Worth Writing Connections—registration now open!

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A.  All my books start with a social issue I care deeply about. When I realize I'm obsessing over something, I try to channel that energy and emotional investment into a book. The first step is figuring out the cast of characters who would inhabit the world of whatever issue I've chosen.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?

A.  Thing singular? There are so many! I guess I love most that every single thing I learn, hear, see, experience is all story material. Writers get to use everything that happens to them. It makes the world the most fascinating, endlessly interesting place.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?

A.  Rejection is part of the game, and even if you know that and have a thick skin, it can sometimes be so discouraging. For that reason, it's important to remember why we do this—because we love words, because we love stories.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

A. I can't pick just one! Maybe that's what I should've said was my favorite thing about being an author—that I get to experience, in a secondhand sort of way, all the different, varied careers and lives I give my characters. I'd love to be a reporter...or a costume designer...or a veterinarian...or a guide dog trainer...or a park get the idea!

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  Hmm...Work in Progress. Hopefully I get to keep revising my life and making it better and better.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A.  Impossible to pick just one! But I absolutely adore Barbara Kingsolver. Her Prodigal Summer is a book I reread often and every time I do I learn something new about the craft of well as get lost in a beautiful, moving story.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A.  Well, perhaps I'm flattering myself, but since I just mentioned Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, I can say that I really related to Deeana in that book. I thrive on long periods of solitude, love to be outside, can be stubborn and get in my own way, just like her.

Q.  What character from all of your book(s) are you most like?

A. There's part of me in all of them—it's hard to avoid that. Cami in The Blessings of the Animals is probably the closest to me in attitudes, beliefs, and life experiences.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A. I adore all four seasons but autumn is hands down my favorite. Not too hot, crisp clean air with no bugs, perfect horse riding weather. That bright blue sky of a sunny autumn day showing off all the foliage—that's divine.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).

A. For The Blessings of the Animals, a lot of my signings were fundraisers for local animal shelters for whatever city I was in. Often, the shelter volunteers would bring some animals with them, which I loved. But once, a beagle puppy wanted to “participate” in my reading and discussion. She had the uncanny ability to bark or whine at the perfect moments—when the dog in the story barked, she barked, as if to illustrate. And when Cami was sad, she whined. When I made a strong point in an answer to someone's question, she barked as if to say, “Amen, sister!” It was so funny, and so perfect it was like she was being prompted. The audience loved it and we all got such a fun laugh out of it.

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A.  Always, always. I usually have more than one project going on, in very different stages. I'm looking for a publishing home for a young adult novel called Strange Katy about a girl whose unwanted psychic ability to receive visual images from nonhuman animals causes her to be the principal suspect in the murder of her best friend. And I'm in the baby stages/research immersion stage of the next adult novel, tentatively titled The Shelter of Each Other, which deals with the changing face of homelessness in this economy.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  Huge thanks and deepest gratitude for caring about books and supporting others who do, as well! And if you love to write, be tenacious and stubborn and don't let anything stop you! Happy reading!


Want autographed copies of any of Katrina's books? Saturn Booksellers is THE place to get any title any time! It is her very favorite indie bookstore on the planet! They make it easy, no matter where you live—check them out!

The Blessings of the Animals


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