In which I pester Kate Moretti, New York Times-bestselling author of Thought I Knew You, Binds That Tie, and While You Were Gone, with nosy questions about her writing career.
Hi Kate! Welcome back to Zigzag Timeline. Since the last time you were here (in June 2014), you’ve taken the leap from small press author to Big 5 author. What’s that been like?
Well so far, it’s not that different than small press J. I’m still writing, revising, editing, repeat, repeat, repeat. I think things will pick up next summer, with the release of THE VANISHING YEAR in September 2016, but I have no idea what to expect. I’m nervous and excited, though! I can’t wait to see what happens.
Your latest book, While You Were Gone, is a companion novella to your first book, New York Times bestseller Thought I Knew You. What inspired you to write WYWG and tell part of TIKY’s story from a different perspective?
I love the idea that there’s always two sides to any story. I’ll admit the idea to write it was a bit strategic, I wanted a novella out between my novels. But I really don’t know any writers who can write something from strategy alone. You still have to get into the plot and characters and feel the story. For me, it was a natural progression. Greg was never an evil person in my mind. He made morally suspect choices, but he had reasons. Karen was always kind of victim of circumstance. Once I thought of them like that it seemed so possible for them to get together. I wanted to know their details.
What was it like revisiting the character of Greg, who first made his appearance in TIKY and is depicted from an entirely different perspective in WYWG?
It was fun. I like Greg. I’m probably the only one? I just like that how a person is viewed has everything to do with perspective, right? To Karen, he was this laid back, kind of fun guy who saw her for who she felt she was, deep down. Something that most people never bothered to do. Then to Claire, he was stressed out and miserable. Some of that is projection, too. You see people based on what you need them to be in that moment. Then who is the real person? I think the answer is “all of them”.
I’m a total sucker for classical music, so I love that Karen’s a violinist! What inspired you to make her a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and what was it like writing about a musician?
Well you can only write so much if you only write “what you know”. I know nothing about classical music, symphonies, orchestras. Nothing. I played the piano for a lot of my life but I struggled so much with timing because I didn’t have a lot of patience. I would have been a terrible musician! In short, it was scary because I never knew if I was saying the right things, doing the right things. I worry about the things you can’t find on Google, the minor details. I have good beta readers!
You’re a member of Tall Poppy Writers, a group of women’s fiction authors. What’s your work with them been like?
I love the Tall Poppies. We write similar fiction, or at least share an audience. Collectively, we must have a hundred years of publishing experience. I can ask them any question I have and someone will know the answer. We read each other’s work, promote each other, support each other, and commiserate when required. I love having a small tribe. We’re meeting for a summit in New York City at the end of October. If I say summit, I can write it off. If I say pajama party with wine, I can’t.
Every writing journey has its ups and downs. What’s the most terrifying, awful, OMG-why-am-I-doing-this moment you’ve had to face as an author?
So, I can’t be sure, but I think my agent is kind of a renegade. Our first round of submissions was huge. Like 40 editors. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s pretty unusual (most others I’ve heard are 10-20 subs at a time). I was at Walt Disney World with my family, the happiest place on earth and within that week, we got back about 30 rejections. I know rejections suck for everyone. But, I do think most people don’t get back 30 rejections in the span of four days. I just kept reading these rejection emails, one after the other, set to It’s a Small World. Just a little maddening.
Though you’re primarily a women’s fiction author, you stepped outside your comfort zone to write a YA sci-fi short for Brave New Girls (and it is amazeballs). What was it like shifting gears like that?
It was HARD. My story was by far the weakest story in the book. I couldn’t write aliens or futuristic or dystopia or whatever. I don’t even read that! I had to set it on earth, in the real world, today. And it still took me forever. I just love the cause, I had to be part of it! I’m so lucky to be included. I love Meg, I love her character but sometimes I don’t think I did her justice.
How is 2015 Kate—bestselling author of three books who’s signed with a power agent and has a contract with a Big Cat Publisher—different from 2011 Kate—aspiring author seeking advice on writer’s forums? If you could tell 2011 Kate one thing, what would it be?
This question is embarrassing, Mary. For God’s sake. I’m the same person. I might even tell 2011 Kate to enjoy all her ego and bluster because it’s the most confident she’ll ever feel. She was so stupid, she didn’t know enough to doubt every sentence.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer aiming to be a bestseller like you someday?
Just keep writing and if someone tells you you can’t do something, find another way to do it. There are a million ways to keep going in this industry. Keep an open mind and do your homework, research, and make the best decisions you can. And keep writing.
What’s next for you? Can you tell us a bit about the book you have coming out next year?
The Vanishing Year (Atria Books, Sep 2016) is about a woman who runs from her past. She seeks out her birth mother only to discover that someone will stop at nothing to keep them apart. It’s a redemption story, really. I can’t wait to see the final book!
Kate Moretti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.
She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.
Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.
Goodreads page: http://bit.ly/1W4cgMS
Blog: A Beaker’s Reflection
Red Adept Publishing Page: http://bit.ly/RAPWhileGone