Thank you for joining me for this exciting Author Spotlight!
And now, introducing…
Katie, tell us about your writing journey…
Even though the love affair began in elementary school, when my third grade teacher read my story about Mr. and Mrs. Leaf out loud to the class, the journey didn’t start until I traveled to Kenya to do HIV/AIDS outreach in 2006. The places and people I encountered haunted my soul. They would not leave, even after I came home. My only relief came through the keys of my computer. So over the summer, I sat at my desk and wrote my first full-length novel.
When I finished, I thought I’d see about publication. Only I had no idea what I was getting myself into. After doing a very small amount of research, I sent out queries, received one request for a full and a quick rejection. Still in college and newly married, I put the novel in a drawer. I graduated with a teaching degree, moved to Iowa, got a wonderful job teaching 5th graders, and let life have its way. Until 2008, Valentine’s Day in New York City, when hubby and I found out we were expecting.
While pregnant, my stomach wasn’t the only thing expanding. The writing itch returned. Stronger this time. So I wrote my second novel and decided I didn’t want to stop. This writing thing felt like more than a hobby. So I dived into the world of publishing, researching agents and editors and filling my bookshelves with books about writing. I revised my first two novels and wrote two more. I paid for some professional critiques, joined the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, found some critique partners, and attended my first writing conference in September of 2009.
It was there, in Denver, that I pitched my third novel to my dream agent, Rachelle Gardner. Two months later, I got a phone call I’ll never forget. It was Rachelle, calling to offer representation (to read more about this exciting and slightly chaotic evening, check out my post about getting the call).
My book went on submission in January. While I waited (and waited and waited) I wrote two more books and continued to immerse myself in the industry. Then, on October 29th, 2010, one of my biggest dreams came true. Rachelle called and said, “Katie, this is the phone call you’ve been waiting for.”
My book had passed the frightening land of Pub Board. And Waterbrook Multnomah, a division of Random House, offered me a two-book deal (to read more about this exciting and slightly chaotic day, check out this post).
I signed the lovely contract three months later.
That’s really exciting… before we get to the questions, I know my readers would love to hear about your faith journey, too…
Faith, I’m certain, is a journey.
I may have given my life to Christ as a freshman in college, but God was nowhere (and is nowhere) close to finishing the good work he started that day in my dorm room. Nowhere close.
I grew up in a semi-religious home. We went to church on Sundays. My brother and I went to religion class on Wednesdays. I used to think that as long as my good outweighed the bad, I was pretty much fine. And as far as the Bible? It was just a bunch of rules and disjointed stories and tips for moral living that pastors and priests and reverends would read to help them teach on Sundays.
Then my parents got divorced and we stopped going to church.
A couple years later, my dad gave his life to Christ. My mom got baptized Mormon. And I pretty much stayed out of it.
Until my freshman year of college. Madison, WI. Witte Hall. Tenth floor.
I opened the Bible my dad gave me for my graduation and read the book of Matthew. Then Mark. Then Luke. Then John. And when I was finished, I got down on my knees and told God I didn’t want to do this life-thing on my own anymore.
It was the first time I realized Christianity is not about religion. It’s not some man-made effort to reach a far-away God. It’s not about a list of rules. It’s not about being good. And the Bible is so much more than a bunch of old, disjointed stories that pastors and priests and reverends read to help them teach on Sundays.
It was the first time I realized Christianity is about a relationship. It’s about a merciful Father reaching down into a broken world to rescue His beloved creation. It’s about freedom and joy. It’s about undeserved, amazing grace. And despite having sixty-six books, forty-something authors, and a time span that reaches past a thousand years, the Bible weaves itself together to form one single metanarrative. One single overarching story. And that story is a message of redemption.
Since that moment on my dorm room floor, God continues to woo me, to draw me in, to lovingly peel my fingers away from the things I hold so tightly and whisper, “Let go, Katie. I’ve got this.”
Since that moment on my dorm room floor, I’ve discovered that God’s love language is obedience and when I step out in faith, He shows up in amazing, amazing ways.
Since that moment on my dorm room floor, I’ve seen a world that is hurting. A world that is broken. And people are digging through the mire of that hurt and brokenness, hoping to find satisfaction for a longing this place was never meant to satisfy.
Which is ultimately why I write inspirational fiction. I want my words to point to the hope we’re all searching for. I want my words to point to the truth.
That while we were battered, bruised, and broken. Marred with scars. Covered in filth. Jesus laid down His life to rescue us. Writing these stories reminds me that He is the answer to our longing. I hope it reminds others too.
WOW! What an awesome message to share with everyone. OK, now for just a few questions…
What was your favorite book growing up?
Hands down, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It was the first book that swept me up and transported me into a different world. I absolutely could not put it down. I have so much nostalgia for this book that when I taught 5th grade, I read it to my students each year. The story has so much word play and symbolism that went over my head as a kid, but I can appreciate now as an adult. Plus, the message is beautiful. Don’t let the old-fashioned cover scare you off. It’s such a fun book.
Why do you write under two names?
Because I write two different genres of fiction–young adult for the secular market and inspirational fiction for the Christian market. While I believe (and hope) that readers of my inspirational fiction will also enjoy my young adult, and vice versa, I want to be clear that readers should expect different things from both.
What made you decide to write young adult fiction?
I love reading young adult fiction. And I had this idea come into my head that would not leave. Even though industry advice says not to deviate from your author brand, I couldn’t help myself. I had to write this story. So I sat down and started writing. I didn’t intend to share it. I was writing for me, for the fun of it. And man, was it ever fun! It brought my creativity back to life. After I finished, I was itching to share it. So I did. With a few close friends and family members. They enjoyed the stories so much, and I enjoyed sharing them so much, that I decided I should make them available to the public.
Why do you write inspirational fiction?
This is the genre I started reading voraciously in college. I was obsessed with Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers. And my faith is such an integral part of who I am. So when I opened up a Word document one day to write a novel of my own, faith naturally became a big element of the story.
Why did you decide to go indie with your young adult?
I’ve loved every second of traditional publication. There are definitely a lot of great benefits that come with working with a publishing house, and I’ve had a wonderful experience with mine. But there’s also some fun benefits that come with indie publishing–namely, speed and control. I’m all finished writing The Gifting trilogy. I didn’t want to wait years and years to make them available. I also love that as an indie author, I’ll be able to control the price point. If I want to put one or two or three on sale, I can. It’s been a very fun adventure so far!
Thank you, Katie… and God bless you!
Don’t miss my interview/spotlight with the amazing KATIE GANSHERT…today on Donna’s BookShelf. – Tweet this!
Interview © 2015 DJ Mynatt