Author Interview: Katy McKay
About the author:
Border Girl is my first novel, although I’ve had articles published in newspapers and magazines. I was told from an early age that I’d be a writer, but I switched my major from journalism to geology. No regrets; it led to adventures in Canada and the US and then to many happy years teaching science in Arizona. As a Navy brat I’ve always loved being near the ocean, so I retired to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula where I wake up to a water view.
I volunteer at an animal rescue where I work with everything from alpacas to emus, but I especially love the horses. My sister and I had horses in California so a barn feels like home to me. I kayak, fix up dollhouses, and I’m always on the lookout for old quilts.
What inspires you to write romantic fiction?
My favorite books include a love story, even though that may not be the entire focus of the novel. Falling in love is a unique time in our lives, and I think people are their truest selves then; vulnerable, hopeful, despairing…
Tell us about how you write.
I write on my laptop, usually with a fat old cat next to me. My story outline is in my head and I follow it pretty closely. The initial writing is the drudgery part for me; I love to revise and rewrite. I think about the story and characters all the time, which makes me frequently miss my turn while driving. On the positive side, I always looked thoughtful and attentive during faculty meetings, even though my mind was in the 1890s Arizona Territory.
I'm an expert procrastinator; Border Girl would never have been finished without my editor frequently asking "So how's the book coming along?" I just got my first tattoo — it's a book on my wrist to remind me to sit down and write.
For me, whatever I'm writing plays like a movie in my head. My friends and family have learned to leave me alone when my mind is occupied with my "imaginary friends." My sons say I snarl when disturbed; this may be true.
Do you listen to or talk to to your characters?
My characters tend to evolve during writing. They don't hesitate to let me know if I have them doing or saying something that doesn't ring true.
I didn't intend to write a sequel to Border Girl, but Nattie is still rattling around in my head so maybe I'll have to.
What advice would you give other romance writers?
Writing is writing, regardless of the genre. Make your characters real people, and don't have them behave out of character to advance the plot.
Revise, revise, revise! Nothing takes a reader out of the moment like a typo or error. When you rewrite, focus on taking words out. Your sentences will get better as you pare them down. I love to see the word count go down!
If you self-publish, if you can possibly afford it, hire an editor and a formatter.
Try not to be disappointed if your friends don’t race to buy your book. My editor is a successful, long-established author and she says she has to hound her friends to read and/or review her books.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
As a first-time author, I figured I had little to no chance of being picked up by a publishing house, and I've been appalled to see numerous typos and grammatical errors in best-sellers. And I know several established authors who tired of dealing with the hassles of traditional publishing and switched to self-publishing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think many writers, especially first-time authors, are turning to self-publishing because traditional publishing offers so little in terms of service. Readers want exposure to new voices, but publishing houses keep churning out poorly-edited books by the same short list of authors.
Which romance sub-genere(s) fit your stories best?
My books are available in the following formats: