Who Are You?
Karen Katchur, author, based in eastern Pennsylvania.
What Do You Write?
I write mysteries and thrillers and describe my stories as mashups. They’re part character-driven crime fiction and part police procedural. Each book is a little different, but if I had to describe my brand it would be that they all have an atmospheric small-town setting with multiple POV characters.
I started writing about sixteen years ago after watching an episode of Oprah’s book club. They were discussing the book While I Was Gone by Sue Miller. The audience was divided over the main character’s actions and the discussion erupted into a heated argument. I remember thinking that I wanted to write characters that readers talked about like they were real people. I should mention that I’ve always been interested in writing prior to this, but I was derailed from pursuing an English degree early on while I was in college. I graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice instead. It all worked out though since my CRJ degree has provided me with a solid foundation to write in my preferred genre. It took me eight years before I signed with my agent. Since signing, I’ve had six books published. Of course, I love what I do. I couldn’t do it otherwise. There are so many highs and lows and uncertainties in this business that if I didn’t love it, I would’ve quit a long time ago.
Where Do You Write?
I write at a small desk in the spare bedroom of my home. I sit in the corner of the room and face a blank, white wall. There are no distractions this way, and I can stay inside myself for longer stretches of time. When I’m at my desk everything else becomes white noise. I have a Mac and write using Word. No frills or fancy writing apps. I also have a notebook for each book where I write dialogue, scenes, parts of scenes, character descriptions or whatever comes to me when I’m away from my desk. It’s a pretty simple routine. Butt in chair.
When Do You Write?
When I’m writing a first draft, I try to write 1000 to 1500 words a day, five days a week. I take weekends off. Once I have that first draft finished then I take my time with editing. If I’m working off a developmental edit letter with a deadline, then I work as much as needed to meet that goal. Sometimes that means working days, nights, weekends, or holidays. I’ve always been self-motivated, and I think my best writing comes when I’m not under pressure to satisfy either a self-imposed or contractual deadline. However, it is a business and I try my best to work within those confines.
Why Do You Write?
I wish I had a clever answer here. I’m not sure why I write. It certainly doesn’t come easy for me. All I know is that something may spark an idea or character and my mind is off and running. I’ve been telling myself stories ever since I was a little girl. Maybe it’s a way to escape the world. Maybe it’s the way I figure out the world around me.
How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block. There are plenty of times where I’ve had to step away from a project to figure out a character or a plot problem or how to rewrite a scene, but I find that time away always helps. I go for a walk or a drive, clean or do laundry. What I find is that when I’m doing something else, the solution seems to present itself. Sometimes it takes hours and other times it takes days, but eventually it gets sorted out. If it takes longer than a couple days and I’m on deadline, I work on other edits and come back to it.
Another trick that helps is that I allow myself to quit writing and walk away. Sometimes I even do online searches for a completely different career. By doing this, I take myself off the hook so to speak. Eventually though, I’m back at my desk a few days later unable to stay away.
Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?
Playing tennis! If I could go back in time, I would be a professional tennis player. Well, that and if I had the skills.
My thanks to Karen Katchur for today’s interview.