Jul 27, 2016

A chat with Kathryn Holmes

Hi bookworms!

Today on the blog, we have a special guest! Say hi to Kathryn Holmes, author of How it Feels to Fly, a beautiful contemporary, which drowned me in tears! She's going to be one of the authors appearing at Nori's awesome book event, Bookitcon, which will be happening on the 7th of August! I'll be hosting her today to promote both her book and the event, so don't forget to check out the event details below the interview!

Interview

1. Tell me 5 random facts about you.

- My favorite color is purple.
- I'm pretty crafty — lately, I've been on a knitting streak.
- My favorite TV show of all time is The X-Files.
- I'm a coffee fiend.
- I'm addicted to the iPhone game Two Dots.

2. What's your favourite part of being a writer?

The deeply satisfying moment when the story you've been crafting from nothing finally starts to look and feel like *something* — and also, getting to work from home in my comfy pants.

3. What would be your ultimate top 5 fav books?

Oh my goodness! What a question. :)

Here are five books I adore. But I'm sure I'll think of another favorite as soon as this interview goes live...

- THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss
- I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
- THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger
- ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

4. What has been the easiest and the most challenging parts of your writing journey?

I think behind every supposedly "easy" thing about publishing there's always more to the story. For instance, the first agent who read a full manuscript of my debut, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND, made an offer of representation. Then, after only a few small edits, we sold it in first-round submission in under a month. But before that, I'd worked on another book for years (and queried TONS of agents) before reluctantly putting it aside.

Meanwhile, my second book, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, sold on proposal to my same editor at HarperCollins, nine months before DISTANCE hit shelves. But after selling pretty easily, it became by far the hardest thing I've ever written/revised. And now that both of those books are out, I have the uncertainty of...what's next?

Speaking of which: the uncertainty is the hardest part of publishing. Hands down.

5. What inspired you to write How It Feels To Fly?

I've been a dancer since I was three years old, so there was no question that I would write a dance book. It just took a while to figure out what that book would be — especially in a market that suddenly seemed crowded with ballet stories.

The biggest spark of inspiration for FLY actually came from one of my freelance jobs: writing articles for dance magazines. I used to be an editor at Dance Spirit, a national magazine for teen dancers, and I still freelance for them. There was a period a few years ago where I was writing a lot of mental/emotional health articles: how to stop feeling guilty about what you eat, how to battle negative perfectionist tendencies, how to know when you're burned out, etc. I even wrote about body dysmorphia.

But there was one article in particular that helped me realize what HOW IT FEELS TO FLY could be. To learn how dancers can benefit from sports psychology tactics, I interviewed a performance psychologist who works with artists and athletes. I loved what he had to say, and as I was starting to craft my "dancer with body image issues" book, I realized that my main character, Samantha, needed to talk to someone like him about her anxiety. My agent suggested making therapy a larger element in the book, and it just clicked.

6. How It Feels to Fly drowned me in tears. Was it as emotional to write as it was to read?

YES. Writing this book forced me to spend time in a negative headspace I thought I'd outgrown. I had to confront a lot of things I'd thought and felt as a teen, that I didn't realize were still affecting me. In high school, I was committed to dance: ballet, tap, jazz, and modern. I wanted to dance in college, and beyond. But I didn't have the ideal dancer body. As one of the few curvy girls at my studio at the time, I really struggled with my self-image. It was great to be able to use my own issues — past and present — as I crafted Sam's character, but there were times when being inside her narration was really tough and unpleasant.

That said, writing about the counseling Sam receives at Perform at Your Peak was, in a weird way, like counseling myself. I think I came out of the whole experience stronger.

7. It's awesome that you are a dancer yourself. Did your experience affect the portrayal of the dance and dancers in the book, in any way?

Absolutely! In addition to what I mentioned above, I was really committed to getting the dance details right. Everything from how it feels to do certain dance moves to the distinct dance studio odor — it had to be accurate. Luckily, that part didn't take much research.

8. I loved your authentic and raw portrayal of anxiety. How did you manage to bring about such an honest execution?

I tried to focus on two things in particular: the way it feels, physically, to have a panic attack, and the way anxiety can make your thoughts spiral out of your control. For the former, I tried to describe the pounding pulse, the difficulty breathing, etc, so that Sam's struggles felt really visceral on the page. For the latter, it became really important to insert Sam's negative inner voice, so you could see her internal battle.

9. What are you working on right now? Any future projects you're allowed to share?

I'm revising two projects with my agent at the moment: a YA ghost story set in Venice, Italy, and a magical middle-grade set in NYC. Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. And read like a writer! When you read something that really hits you in the gut, take a moment to figure out what worked. When you read something that confuses you or rubs you the wrong way, do the same thing — what did the author do that didn't ring true? There are always lessons from published books that you can apply to your own craft.


Also: get to the end. When you're just starting out as a writer, it can be really tempting to make every word perfect, and that can get in the way of finishing a project. But you can't revise a blank page, and you can't look at things like story arc and character development as a whole without a *whole* there, so...push yourself to get to the end. Then revise. :)

About the Author


Kathryn Holmes grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was an avid reader and an aspiring writer from an early age. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and piles upon piles of books. A graduate of The New School's MFA in Creative Writing program, Kathryn works as a freelance dance journalist, among other writing gigs. She's the author of The Distance Between Lost and Found (out now) and How It Feels to Fly

Website | Twitter | Goodreads




So what's Bookitcon???


Bookitcon: Chapter Two is a charity book event. There are currently have 30 incredible authors in our lineup. The book event will include meet-n-greets with the authors, along with two panels and the opportunity to get all of your books signed by all of the authors!

If you purchase the VIP ticket, you will also be invited to a VIP dinner/after party with the authors, along with getting an extra hour to get your books signed!

Schedule:

2:30- 3:30pm VIP signing! (open to VIP ticket holders only)
3:30- 6:00pm Regular signing! (open to all attendees)
3:30- 4:15pm Surprises in Publishing Panel!
4:30- 5:45pm Facts + Fiction Panel!  
6:00- 8:00pm VIP Afterparty! (open to VIP ticket holders only)

Panels:

Surprises in Publishing

Moderator: S Usher Evans
Panelists: Anna Breslaw
Kathryn Holmes
Lee Kelly
Jodi Meadows
Julie Eshbaugh

Facts vs Fiction

Moderator: Claire Legrand
Panelists: Beth Fantaskey
Sandy Hall
Kendall Kulper
Mia Siegert
Eric Smith

Where?

16 East Main Street Moorestown, NJ 08057

When?

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Why? ( Explained by Nori )

I decided to start UBUbiz because I wanted a way to combine my passions for reading, business, and charity/community service. After wracking my brain for months, the idea of Bookitcon suddenly appeared! This is my second year hosting Bookitcon, and I can’t wait.

Bookitcon: Chapter Two isn’t just your ordinary book event. I’m working with the nonprofit Grace in the Mud and two K-8 schools in Camden, NJ to help them grow their outdated libraries. The proceeds from this event will be benefiting them.

You can find more information on Grace in the Mud by going to their website (http://www.graceinthemud.org/home.html), facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GraceintheMud), or gofundme (https://www.gofundme.com/justforgirls).

Other Info:

Interested in attending? Great! You can buy a ticket through the website: www.UBUbiz.com or just click here! (http://bit.ly/BC2tickets)

Are you dying of jealousy because you’d love to be able to attend and get books signed by the attending authors? Don’t fear, because virtual signings are here! You can purchase books by any of the attending authors and get it shipped to your house, easy peasy!

Are you currently unsure but want to stay up to date with all of the latest news? Make sure to subscribe to the UBUbiz newsletter!  http://bit.ly/1O4vM5O

Social Media Links:
Website: www.UBUbiz.com
Twitter: @UBUbiz
Insta: @ububiz_

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