Monday, 23 November 2015

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Soulless Creatures, Falling For Your Madness, and Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. She understands what it means to make the most of her time. She blogs at She lives in Massachusetts with her family.

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About the Book

Working-class future leader Roy Castleberry and pampered over-thinker Jonathan Campbell are 18-year-old freshmen at the University of Oklahoma who think they know everything. Roy thinks Jonathan could succeed in wooing Abby if he stopped obsessing over Walden. Jonathan thinks Roy could learn to be self-actualized if he’d stop flirting with every girl he meets. They make a wager: if Roy can prove that he has some poetic thought, some inner life, A SOUL, then Jonathan will give him the car he got for graduation. Roy takes the bet because he thinks this is the easiest game he’s ever played. Roy spends the rest of the school year proving the existence of his soul, competing against Jonathan for Abby's attention, dodging RAs who are curious about the fake ID ring in his room and dealing with his past. For Roy and Jonathan, college life in 1986 is richer, (both experientially and financially) than either of them expected.

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Keep reading for an interview with Kathrine!

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I remember being four years old and holding a pencil and piece of paper and my first thought was not “let’s draw a picture” but “let’s tell a story” and then I probably cried because I didn’t know how to write. If only I would have known that someday I would be able to type 100 words a minute, and this skill would serve me when I wrote in ten minute increments. As I grew up I was Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder fan girl. And I wanted to be them. They were girls! They were writers! They wore Holly Hobbie bonnets!

What authors/books have most influenced you?

Back in 2006, when I decided that I probably wouldn’t, as a stay-at-home mom of five kids under 8, be called by Fox to write for The Simpsons, that I would, instead, learn how to write a novel. I read everything I could get my hands on. But the best resources were How To Grow A Novel by Sol Stein, STORY by Robert McKee, the books and blog by Victoria Mixon, and I would NOT have the confidence for any of this without The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. That showed me the how of writing. And every time I read a book and the characters wow me or the setting fascinates me or the plot intrigues me, I think "I SO WANT TO DO THAT!" There are far too many authors and books out there to mention.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

The biggest challenge I face is fear. I found out, at age 45, that I’ve suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder my whole life I’ve spent most of my life a breath or two away from an anxiety attack. My fear is a vague, paralyzing kind of fear that shuts me down and isolates me. (Ironically, one of God’s solutions to this fear was to bless me with a LOT of loud, obnoxious, confident kids.) I realized that if I didn’t do something about my fear, that I would never have my dreams come true. I’ve learned how to manage my time and my fear in small steps. Can I make this phone call? Can I contact this agent? Can I rewrite this paragraph? Like every other writer, I’ve faced rejection and disappointment, but that pain of that was not nearly as bad as the pain of thinking my children were watching me. Would they see me be paralyzed by my fear or be successful in spite of it?

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?

From the summer of 2006, when I decided to get serious, my husband and five children were ALWAYS my biggest cheer section. They think that I deserve the Pulitzer. They’d hack into Amazon and leave my books dozens of five star reviews simply saying “This book is awesome!” if they knew how. But from a practical side, that’s a bit of a different story. I call myself the ten minute writer because, in theory, I write for ten minutes and then go do Mom stuff for ten minutes and, in theory, they were supposed to leave me alone. This worked. Sometimes. But woe to the kid that wants apple juice during the wrong ten minutes. Now that they’re older, and I’m working more, they are doing their best, emotionally and practically to support every venture I have.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

One of the best pieces of advice I was given in college was this: The Single Piece of Best Writing Advice Never compare yourself to others. If you do, you’ll compare their strengths to your weaknesses, and you’ll always be the loser. When I compare myself to other writers, it doesn’t do me a bit of good. I either pick up some frothy bonnet romance and throw it across the room, puffing myself up with thoughts of superiority. My books will have more meaning! I will be more literarily significant! I won’t have any ripped bodices! Or, I will read something breathtakingly good, like The Elegance of the Hedgehog or Someone Else’s Love Story and moan in despair that I can never achieve what that author has done, so I might as well give up. 

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, A Collection of Short Stories by Flannery O'Connor, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and How to Escape A Deserted Island by some well known expert. 

What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?

All of Jane Austen's books, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings Series

How many books do you have on your "to read" list? What are some of them?

Oh Golly! My local library allows for digital downloads and I have over 200 on my wishlist. They fall into four categories: marketing, like Seth Godin; sociological nonfiction, like "How To Deal with Difficult People"; memoirs, like right now I'm reading Amy Poehler's "Yes, Please" and critically acclaimed novels, like "All The Light We Cannot See". I'll get to the bottom of this pile in 2021 or so. 

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I’ve learned that plotting is the best way for me. THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SKY, my first novel, was a pantser book and it took me five years. FALLING FOR YOUR MADNESS kind of struck me like a lightning bolt, so it didn’t really count as either. And my latest novel SOULLESS CREATURES was far more organized and I was most comfortable with that method. And earlier this year I release WRITE A NOVEL IN 10 MINUTES A DAY, which preaches the whole plotting Gospel. I do see the value in learning how to free write, which is just self-controlled pantsing, in the beginning stages of writing a draft. So the answer to the question, obviously, is YES.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm in between projects, which is a nice way of saying, "Hey MUSE! A little help???" I'd like to write a nonfiction book about marketing for self-publishers and I'd also like to write another novel, but my fiction ideas are not playing nicely together. So I'll do my research and plod through the proposal.

I would also like to add that in 2014 I created the Facebook group 10 Minute Novelists for time-crunched writers everywhere. Now at nearly 1400 members worldwide, we are active, lively had three goals: tips, encouragement and community. We accomplished these goals through weekly chats on Facebook and Twitter, daily memes like #MondayBlogs, Buddy Tuesday and #AuthorHappiness. Group members are encouraged to engage with each other to solve problems in any of these areas, offer advice, critique each others’ work and build relationships. 10 Minute Novelists became far bigger than a blog and far better than a fan club. 

All writers are welcome to join us!

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