When one of the most talented writers you know recommends that you meet a new writer, you do it. That’s just what happened when Amanda Callendrier suggested I get to know Katie Hayoz. Since the introduction, I have thoroughly enjoyed Katie’s blog, and her young adult novel Untethered is wonderful. So without further ado, I introduce you to Katie Hayoz.
1. Tell me about your latest project.
I’m laughing already because I just got home from a weekend pitching workshop where I crashed and burned. As a finalist in the Mslexia children’s/YA novel competition, I was invited to learn to “pitch” my novels to people in the business. *Ahem.* Let’s just say that this is not my best skill. But I will give it a go:
Right now, I am nearly finished with a YA/NA novel involving a girl from WI, a boy from NC, the devil, some seriously creepy masks, the mystery of the Roanoke colonists, and a bit of romance. It is a novel that is part myth, part fantasy, and part adventure.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
I’m the youngest of six kids. My mom worked non-stop around the house all day. But every evening, she would sit in her recliner with a bowl of popcorn and a book. No matter what kind of chaos we’d create, she was lost to the world in her novel. She always looked so interested – enraptured even – that I needed to try out reading novels for myself. The reading right away took me into writing. Authors were (and still are) my rock stars.
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
My practice is complete chaos. I write from the gut rather than an outline (though believe me, I’ve tried outlines), and it involves countless major rewrites. It also involves writing spurts and dry spells. I don’t suggest my method unless you are like me and are either too stupid or stubborn to do it any other way.
4. Who are you reading now?
As a new indie author, I’ve discovered how insanely difficult it can be to get reviews and readers if you are not traditionally published or aren’t writing genre fiction. So I’ve decided that my next few books would be by indie authors who are just getting started. As luck has it, the other runner up in the Mslexia children’s novel contest has two books out – meaning right now Wendy Storer is my favorite new indie author.
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
To be completely honest, my favorite book changes with every new read. But I will play along and list three books that have stuck with me somehow: 1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Atwood = Awesome. She has so many books that dig right into your soul. I love this one for the superb writing and Atwood’s skill at revealing a dystopian society so much closer to reality than we’d like to admit. 2. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. The best vampire novel ever. It sucks you into Lestat’s world and grips you with its fangs. Dark and eerie and moving and so well executed. 3. Love that Dog by Sharon Creech. I just read this with my 10-year old daughter. It’s gorgeous. The kind of book you want to hug and cuddle with. And then go pull out all the poetry on your shelf to reread over and over again.
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I have a blog, am active on social media, and have been on the steering committee for the Geneva Writers’ Group. I find that being out there in the world and on social media is interesting and rewarding — I’ve met some fabulous people. However, it is also a huge time suck. I’ve realized I need to spend more time writing, get books out there, and hope that my platform comes organically.
7. What is a typical day like for you?
(Let me just say that I admire authors who have the energy and drive to get up at the crack of dawn to fit in writing time. I wish I were more like that. But, alas, no.) A typical day for me involves a lot of grumbling because I want to either have more time to write, or be able to write better, faster. I have two girls who are in school. Here in Geneva, the kids have no school on weekends or Wednesdays and come home for lunch every day from 11:30-1:30. Talk about a chopped up week. Throw in the duties of daily life, and you’ve got a very frustrated writer. But I do my best to get in at least two hours of writing four days a week. On good days, I get in closer to four hours.
8. Describe your dream writing space?
I’m a simple girl. Instead of the kitchen table, I would love an actual room, with a door that closes (locks, even!) and a window to look out onto the world. We’d need a bigger apartment for that, though. *Sigh* One day.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
Ha. About ten years ago a woman told me, “If I ever wrote like this, I’d kill myself.” Kind of tough to digest. But the thing is, I swallowed my pride (and pain) and got specifics out of her in order to know what it was that totally turned her off. Then I reworked what seemed valid. Her critique was like a punch to the gut. But, luckily, when I’m still in the drafting process, I’ve got a strong stomach.
10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?
Get into a good critiquing group. Find other writers who are honest and like your work, but aren’t afraid to tell you when they think you’re doing it wrong. Because we are steeped in our own thoughts and words, other sets of eyes are vital to making our work the best it can be. That said, despite how much you rewrite and get critiqued, you and others will end up thinking of the perfect way to fix something in the novel only AFTER it’s published. But by then it’s time to move on.
Katie Hayoz was born in Racine, WI, the youngest of six kids. Originally, she wanted to become pope (for the awesome hat and fancy robes), but quickly realized reading was her true religion. Writing was always a hobby and she only decided to try her hand at it seriously when she ended up in Geneva, Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a very fuzzy cat. Katie’s debut YA novel Untethered, was runner-up for the Mslexia children’s/YA novel competition. It is a coming of age novel about obsession, jealousy and astral projection.