Saturday, November 21, 2015

10 Questions with Legendary Writer Kathe Koja (@KatheKoja)

This Author Spotlight

Kathe Koja

author of

Bastards' Paradise

Kathe Koja’s novels span several genres - historical, YA, horror - and have won numerous awards, including the Bram Stoker Award and the Parents’ Choice Award, and have been optioned for film and performance. Her 16th novel, THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE, the final in the UNDER THE POPPY trilogy, is out this fall from Roadswell Editions. She adapts and directs performative fiction with her ensemble "nerve".

I distinctly recall purchasing a paperback copy of SKIN from Waldenbooks when I was in high school. Kathe Koja is big-time.

Author photo: Copyright Rick Lieder

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I’ve been a writer since I was a very small child: since I knew what a story was.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

It’s very serious, very nourishing play: the initial blossom of the idea, the research, “feathering the nest” as Anthony Lane once called it: and the patient, wild, daily work at the desk  . . . I love it. 

I used to detest going through copyedits until I worked with a brilliant copyeditor, Paul Witcover. Then I learned to love that part of the process, too. So now it’s all good.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I don’t outline, ever – the way I work requires discovery as I go along, and the freedom to throw stuff away, make hairpin turns, follow the story. Which doesn’t suggest that outlining isn’t a valid or useful process, it just doesn’t work for me. (I did try it once: disaster.)

I’m religious about working every day, every morning, once I’ve begun a project – the energy and momentum, the feel of the story, all of that is buttressed and enhanced by sitting down in the same place at the same time, picking up the thread where the last day left it, and going on.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

A few of my great loves are Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Christopher Marlowe . . . I learned a ton from Shirley Jackson. Angela Carter is wonderfully sly. Anthony Burgess’ wordplay is a continuing revelation.

And a new writer whose work I adore is Maryse Mejier: her collection Heartbreaker comes out next year.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?


6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Long may it function!

7.What is your book The Bastards’ Paradise about and how did it come to fruition?

The Bastards’ Paradise is the final book in the trilogy that includes Under the Poppy and The Mercury Waltz, the lifelong story of Istvan and Rupert, comrades and lovers and performers, whose puppet plays lead them through glittering high society and down some very dark roads, but always together.

I never dreamed I would write a trilogy, but the story of these men kept expanding and flowering as I wrote, along with the stories of their friends and enemies . . . It’s been an amazing pleasure and a total labor of love to bring these fin de siècle gentlemen of the road to life.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I just finished a new YA novel, The Ballrooms of Mars. I’m in the research phase for a novel about Christopher Marlowe. And I’ve adapted Stoker’s Dracula for my ensemble, nerve, for January performance.

9.What are you currently reading?

At this moment, The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe, edited by Patrick Cheney, and a friend’s screenplay for a thriller film.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

It sounds simple, but – life. And people. The endlessly fascinating, terrible, passionate rock tumbler combination of the two.

Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

The Bastards’ Paradise and The Mercury Waltz are available here:

Signed copies of my books are available here:

And my books are available in print and ebook editions online from the usual retail sources like Amazon, B&N, Apple iBooks etc.    

Thank you, Kathe, for sharing your experience and insight into the writing life. Please feel free to visit with us in the future in order to share new books.

There you have it, gang. Insight and wisdom from a serious writer. Be sure to visit Kathe's website and purchase a signed copy of one of her books, or look her up wherever books are sold.

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