Neo-Pro Interview: Kat Otis
Who are you? What’s your genre/history/etc?
Kat: I’m Kat Otis and my genre is speculative fiction – everything from historical fantasy to urban fantasy, with the occasional bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure.
What’s your Race score? (1 pt for every short story out to market, 3 points for every novel query (1 per novel only), 8 points for every full (once per novel only also) )
Kat: Alas, only 2! I’m currently revising a novel, so I haven’t had as much time to devote to short stories, recently. I expect that number to shoot up again once I’ve started querying and have time to revise a few shorts that are almost-there-but-not-quite.
When did you “get serious” about being a writer?
Kat: I started submitting to Writers of the Future on a semi-regular basis in 2005, but I think I really “got serious” in 2009. That’s when I decided to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, and attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. In an usual-but-awesome series of events, that’s also where I sold my first story.
What are your goals with your writing?
Kat: Get as many stories as possible out of my head and onto paper. Or e-ink.
I’m one of those people for whom the ideas never stop flowing, and if I don’t write them down then my characters follow me around and whine. There are a lot of those characters who really do deserve a novel of their own (but don’t tell them I admitted it!) so my long-term writing goal is to someday have published a whole bookshelf’s worth of my novels.
Where do you see your career in 5 years?
Kat: I would love to have a novel (or three, hey, a gal can dream) out within the next five years.
Do you have a particular story or idea you are dying to write? Or, if you could write a tie-in to any established universe/franchise, what would it be?
Kat: I really want to write an historical fantasy about Juana La Loca. I’ve got most of the plot figured out, I just need to do scads and scads of research on the milieu. Now if only I could figure out how to survive on no sleep….
What are your hobbies outside writing?
Kat: And outside of reading, too, right? 🙂 Singing, hiking, photography, Girl Scouts and whatever else happens to catch my fancy.
What’s your writing process like?
Kat: I’m definitely a “pantster.” My process generally goes along these lines:
1) Something sparks my interest
2) so I jot down a note and generally forget about it
3) except for when I start daydreaming about a character and all the trouble they could get into
4) so I open up a Microsoft Word file and start writing
5) until I get stuck
6) so I wander off and sometimes forget about it
7) but more often I daydream some more and eventually figure out what happens next
8) so I repeat steps 4-7 until I finish
Then, of course, we get to the editing process, in which I analyze the story to discover what I was *really* writing about and just didn’t realize until afterwards.
What’s been toughest about your journey so far as a writer? How do you keep yourself going?
Kat: Balancing my writing and my day job, both of which draw on the same mental circuits. Though a close runner-up is Shiny New Project Syndrome. 🙂 I cope by making myself to-do lists and schedules, most of which I promptly ignore but at least the process of making them helps me figure out where my current priorities need to be. Also, it’s so much easier to feel like I’m making progress, especially on a big project, if there’s lots of tiny “to-do” steps I can cross off a list.
Any tips or tricks you’ve figured out for improving your writing?
Kat: Retro-outlining! Because I’m a pantster, I don’t outline before I write, but I do outline after I’ve got my first draft written. I find it extremely helpful to go through the manuscript and find all the key plot developments, character arcs, etc. Once I’ve retrospectively figured out my structure, then I can revise to bring out the strengths in the story.
And finally, got anything you want to pimp?
Kat: I’ve got a story in Sword & Sorceress 26, which is coming out in November. You can see the list of contributors and the cover art at http://www.mzbworks.com/S26.htm