Katie Marshall
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

I have been writing seriously since college where I went to the University of Maine at Farmington for my Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing and English. I have been in several publications since before I was out of school. While I was in college I interned at my local newspaper and found out that my passion was definitely in fiction. 

INTERVIEW

SP: What does your typical writing day look like? How do you work in your writing and promoting?

Katie: I don’t have a certain place to write. I like to switch it up especially in the summer so I might go write in a park or at the beach. I also keep a notebook with me throughout the day so I can take notes when I’m not home. I tend to get ideas when my imagination wanders in dreams but sometimes I get movie picture daydreams. The process itself can be chaotic and completely disorganized but somehow, after much editing, I’m able to pull all those chunks together into chapters.

 

SP: Tell me how and why you got into writing fiction? How long have you been doing it? And how do you go about creating a story? Elaborate here.

Katie: I’m not exactly sure why I started writing. It was never a conscious decision. It became the thing that I knew I was going to do. When I was a little girl, my family spent a lot of time reading to me and when I was six, my aunt helped me create my first book. I told her the story and she wrote it down while I drew the pictures. It was about a bunny lost in a field of flowers that I probably stole from some obscure children’s book. Granted, not my best work but it was my first project and I couldn’t even write it yet. Throughout school, I always earned my highest marks in writing. As I got older, I stopped doing just assignments and started writing for fun. When I was choosing majors, nothing else ever felt like an option. I’ve been seriously writing since college so about seven years. I don’t really have a process of finding a story. The stories seem to find me. I will dream something or something will flash in my mind like a movie image and I start there.

 

SP: Tell me about the protagonist and antagonist of your latest book. What are their goals in the story?

Katie: The protagonist is Aphrodite Miller. She is a kindergarten teacher spending her summer vacation helping her parents in their flower shop. Aphrodite’s goal seems to be to have a relaxing summer but is secretly looking for more adventure than she is willing to admit.

The word antagonist is so strong that I don’t think I could call anyone in the book a true antagonist. There are, however, people that are intervening on Aphrodite’s plans in ways that they believe are for “her benefit”. People like her mother, her best friend, Jessica, and the persistent Mrs. Simon go out of their way to find Aphrodite the thing they think she’s missing in her life, a man. Then there is the mysterious fairy woman who intervenes in ways that Aphrodite never knew was possible.

 

SP: Which do you prefer, character driven stories or plot driven stories and why should readers care? Which do you write?

Katie: I definitely prefer character-driven stories. Without the characters that are doing things, there is no plot. I don’t think it’s a matter of why readers should care. I think readers want to care. I think the stories that people remember the most are the ones with the most profound characters. It’s these characters that a person gets so excited about that they put themselves into that world.

 

SP: Tell me about your story point of view preferences, tense preferences, and any other thing of interest to you along these lines as we delve further into the mechanics of creating a story.

Katie: I tend to use third person limited for my characters. I find that it allows me to follow my main characters intimate thoughts closely. I have always been fascinated with the mind and emotions so my goal is to sink into them in a way that allows the reader to feel something. I also have a tendency to create more complicated, broken characters. I want characters that at one minute could repulse me and at another moment make me pity them. I think people are too complicated to put them in one box and characters should be the same. Another thing I’m fascinated with is nature vs nurture. I tend to believe more along the lines that villains aren’t born. They’re created over time in a series of unfortunate events that may have changed other people in ways that allowed them to make better choices than my character did.

 

SP: What are your all-time favorite books – top three? Why? Don’t skimp here. Explore it with us? Tell us what genre they are. Who is your favorite author, if different from your favorite book?

Katie: It is so difficult for me to pick only three. Asking a reader to pick their favorite books is like asking a woman with a thousand children to pick their favorite child. Sure this one makes me laugh but this one over here has a romantic soul.  I definitely love Jane Austen. I think she was a clever woman both in and above her time all at once. I guess the first books that come to mind for me would be The Fault in Our Stars, young adult novel by John Green. This one stands out to me because it’s beautifully written and makes me feel. The second would be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald. I love how he describes Nick Carraway as being both within and without. I think that’s how a writer thinks. They’re both active in life and outside of life, observing it. I guess my third choice would be any of The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, science fiction. Harry Dresden is such a wonderful character that I could read about him forever and still be satisfied.

 

SP: What do you find is the most difficult thing about writing fiction? The easiest thing? Elaborate.

Katie: I think the most difficult thing about writing fiction is finding the balance between imagination and realism. A writer doesn’t need to set a scene in this world but they have to create enough in their new worlds for the reader to believe they can be there too. It’s easy to think up what something looks like but to be able to take that universe in your head and put it on paper in a way that makes the reader excited is magic. The easiest part for me is the first draft writing because I am a pantser. I make no outline prior to start so I just write down whatever organically comes into my head. It is a very easy and freeing experience.

 

SP: Tell me about your travels. Where is an interesting place you’ve been? Do you travel to research your stories, or is research important to you for your stories?

Katie: I haven’t had the opportunities to travel much. It’s one of my goals in life to see more of the world. I have only been to places in New England but I really enjoyed Boston. It has so much historical significance. Since I don’t travel far, I do a lot more research, although most of my pieces have been set in Maine.

 

SP: What kind of stories do you refuse to read?

Katie: I don’t have much that I won’t try to read but it has to really pull me in or I give up after 50 pages. I don’t like long, drawn out descriptions. I think there is a fine line between painting a picture and overindulgence.

 

SP: Finally, the most important question – DC or Marvel? Or does that even matter to you? What is your favorite comic book character ever? If none, just make something up!

Katie: I prefer DC’s villains and Marvel’s heroes but if I could only pick one, it would definitely be Marvel. My favorite comic book character is definitely Captain America. He always sticks to his own moral code whether that reflects what others believe or not.

 

WOW! I don’t know about you, Mr. or Ms. Reader, but I got a LOT out of this interview myself. Very inciteful. We seem to have a lot in common, Katie, such as a mutual love for Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden. As an aside, Harry has to be the best male name of all time – have a father and brother and one of my main characters named Harry. Loved your interview, Katie. Thanks for giving us your time.

EXCERPT from The Other Half of the Moon

 

Prologue

Once upon a time, in a magical woodland called Maine, lived a fairy princess and her little woodland creatures…okay, so maybe I’m not a fairy princess and maybe my woodland creature is a fat, gray cat named Emerson, but I do live in a small house in Maine. And I have something even better than a princess name. I am Aphrodite, for the Greek goddess of love. Why they decided to pick her out of all mythology is still a mystery to me. One would think it would be pulled from our Greek heritage, but my parents seemed to forget that we aren’t the least bit Greek. My mother is Celtic so they could’ve used Aine, but they decided it was too hard to pronounce. Then my father is German. Personally, I kind of like Freya. She’s not only the goddess of love but also the goddess of war, which I find fitting for my past experience with relationships. As the fantastic Pat Benatar says, “love is a battlefield.” My mother didn’t think her daughter should be associated with war and death so Freya was vetoed. Oh sure, somewhere down the line my great to the millionth grandmother could be Greek, but Aphrodite Miller doesn’t exactly ring off the tongue. In high school the clique girls called me Phro Phro, kind of like Froufrou’s ugly sister. Mom calls me Apphie which makes me think of fluffy bunnies and kissing babies. It’s just that precious. I prefer Dite, pronounced like Die-Tee not Diddy. I really don’t want to be connected with a famous rapper. My friends call me it and I use it for social media and such, but it still doesn’t completely cancel out the fact that I have to write Aphrodite on a check.

 

My parent’s explanation was that they hoped the name brought me love and happiness, as much as they had in marrying each other, the perfect high school sweethearts. It’s a really cute story about how two band geeks who meet while playing trumpet fall in love and have that one perfect child of theirs, me. Ever since I was a child they had hoped the same would happen for me but it turns out I’m about as good with men as I am with tending the greenery at my parent’s flower shop. I’m not sure why this is such a problem but, to my mother, being single at thirty is a mortal sin. It could be that my awkward “teenage” phase never left me or my aversion to stupidity. Regardless of the cause, I am lacking in the social calendar department. My best friend Jessica says it’s all the strict rules I have for dating but I think she’s crazy. I mean is it too much to ask to find a tall, light-haired, handsome man who likes sports, poetry, and knows every book Stephen King ever wrote? Not to mention that he has to be loyal, intelligent and understand my fabulous brain. Of course, my mind is constantly changing but he’ll keep up. After all, Prince Charming could do it so why can’t other men? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then I am single, thirty, and still waiting but not desperate,

Aphrodite Miller