Interview With Author Kathryn White

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hi! My name is Kathryn White, and I am a writer from Adelaide, South Australia. I was first published at age seventeen, and, a bit over twenty years later I am still here and still writing. I am the author of several indie novels, my most popular novels are Cats, Scarves and Liars which is about a young widow and her cat, who can talk to her and has some very sinister intentions, and Being Abigail, which is about a woman in her late twenties who is trying to sort her life out after a suicide attempt went, well, a little awry. My most recently published novel is About a Girl, which is about an author with a form of agoraphobia. Although my books all tackle serious subjects, I use a lot of humour in the narrative. 

What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Well, I hope everyone is pleased to know that I have never attempted suicide, I don’t have agoraphobia and my cat only ever meows at me. (Usually when she wants to be fed.) 

I have always been a fairly imaginative person, and I nearly always have something to say about the way people treat each another. 

None of my novels are based on my life, though little bits of my life do tend to pop up from time to time—I’m fairly familiar with the different neighbourhoods where Being Abigail, About a Girl and Cats, Scarves and Liars are set.

Of all of my characters, the one I share the most quirks and personality traits with is Abigail. She’s never afraid to say what she thinks, and her imagination can often get the better of her. 

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I like to write stories about people who do not quite fit in or who are misunderstood in one way or another, and I’m passionate about getting their stories down on paper. 

Humour plays a big part in my stories—humans are complex and while there can be a dark side of humanity that my work explores, there is also a lighter and quirkier side to humanity that is there to be explored. 

How do you deal with creative block?

Most of the time I just write anyway. People fuss too much trying to make their first drafts perfect, when the reality is, many things in a first draft are going to be changed and edited down the track. I also only ever write a very short outline (if I write one at all,) before I begin a first draft, and I give myself permission to stray away from that outline if it just isn’t working out, or if I come up with a better idea.

That said, creative block is a very real thing, and it can be quite gruelling. Sometimes the best thing to do is to simply leave the manuscript for a couple of days and to come back to it when you’re feeling refreshed. 

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

The first one is expecting a first draft to be perfect. First drafts are a great place to experiment and to discover what works well for your story and what doesn’t. That said, don’t be so easy on yourself that you fall into the second trap—believing that your first draft is so good that you should send it off to a publisher or agent immediately, or that you should upload it to Amazon immediately. Even the best first draft will need a lot of editing before it is ready for publication.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

This is a difficult one. All writers need to be willing to listen to constructive criticism, and learn from it, especially when that constructive criticism is detailed and fair in its assessment. On the other hand, writing is an intensely person experience and it can be heartbreaking to read reviews that are scathing in their criticism.

I think writers need to be careful about when they read negative reviews and what they take from them. I’ve learned that it is best not to read the one and two star reviews of my books in the weeks leading up to and following its launch. The time to read them is when I’m starting work on my next book—the point when I’m more open to criticism and ways to improve. 

That said, I’ve had some heartbreaking experiences. In 2013 I released a book titled Behind the Scenes which is about a young, working actor who gets a spot on her favourite television programme. I loved the book and so did my beta readers. I allowed a couple of negative reviews of the book to really get under my skin—I can still remember lying on my bed for two hours and crying my eyes out after another author gave my book a particularly scathing assessment. I remember thinking, ‘That’s it, I’m just not a writer. I’m not good enough, I’ll never be good enough, I’ve wasted years and years of my life, and I’ve made a complete and utter fool of myself.’

Afterward, I made what I still consider to be the biggest mistake of my career. I withdrew the book from sale, in spite of the fact that it was actually selling quite well and it had received more positive reviews that negative ones. It took me a long time, far longer than it should have, to realise that I had given far too much weight to one person and their opinion. 

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

That the often touted advice, “Write what you know” doesn’t always get it quite right.   What you know can sometimes be too boring to put in a work of fiction. What you don’t know can be researched. And if someone knows just how to travel through time without a TARDIS please get in touch. I’d love to know more.

What are your plans for future books?

I am currently working on a novel about a teenager whose life is turned upside down after she discovers that her favourite school teacher isn’t the exactly the honourable person she believed them to be. 

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

As most of my readers have probably guessed, I am a bit of a cat person. I also have a huge appreciation for the daily comics, Garfield is a favourite. As for quirky things that readers might not know about me, well …

…One of my brothers is also a published author and twice now we have stories published in the same anthology. 

…My middle name is the alias of a DC Comics superhero. 

…I own nearly every V.C. Andrews novel.

…I cannot stand eating bananas.

…I really, really don’t know how to finish this interview. 


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