Kathryn Craft is the award-winning author of two novels, The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy, and the author of chapters in Author in Progress and The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing from Writers Digest Books. She has been a freelance developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com for eleven years.
Pennwriters: What do you think is special about the genre you write in?
Kathryn: I write “psychological women’s fiction,” which allows a heavier emphasis on what led up to the current day events. I love trying to figure out why people do what they do, and I love the implication in women’s fiction that the female protagonist will figure things out for herself. I also love that the material can get quite dark, but that such stories always end on a note of hope.
PW: What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing? Did you ever encounter a serious roadblock and how did you overcome it?
Kathryn: I write layered stories, so I struggle most with narrowing down their definition into one succinct sound bite. I’m struggling with that now for my work-in-progress, as a matter of fact! My most serious roadblock thus far has been that I tried to please my agent by pushing more toward domestic suspense for this novel. I couldn’t do it. My stories have psychological suspense that pulls the reader through, but I just can’t find ways to keep my protagonist in constant danger. And I always want to pull forward that backstory! So I’m rewriting it as psychological women’s fiction—which is just on the other side of a very fine genre line!—yet you would not believe how much work that re-targeting is taking! There are ripple effects throughout the story, and inclusions that no longer make sense. I’m probably a nut to try it, but I love so much about this story, and would like to do my best for it.
PW: What’s individual or unique about your writing space? Do you have a memento or good luck charm on your desk?
Kathryn: I started writing fiction in a basement office with exposed stone walls. I used to say I was going down to “dig deep.” In 2009 I moved to a town home, and now I write in an airy loft office on the third floor—much closer to heaven! On my desk is an action figure of Obi-Wan Kenobi. His light saber reminds me that conflict occurs where two vectors of intention cross—vectors that begin in a character’s backstory and continue through current scene goal toward desire for the future. When such analysis still fails to help me hone a scene, I clutch the action figure and whisper, “Obi-Wan Kenobi: you’re my only hope.”
PW: What has been the most satisfying or significant project of your literary career?
Kathryn: That would have to be the writing and publication of my second novel, THE FAR END OF HAPPY, since it is based on my family’s experience during my first husband’s suicide standoff against a massive police presence. I had started it as memoir, but after my first novel was published, I started to think of its structure from the standpoint of a novelist. Somehow, the fictional aspects I added made the story even more “true.”
PW: What is your favorite tip or advice for writers?
Kathryn: Oh my, there are so many! I think the one I harp on with my editing clients the most right now, though, is to make sure every character in the scene has a goal. This enlivens your story. No one should be in a scene for the sole purpose of being at the service of the novelist.
PW: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
Kathryn: I’m pretty practical. Sunscreen, a journal, and a comfy pillow.
PW: If you had a time machine, where and when would you be right now?
Kathryn: I am writing this during the winter that won’t end in Pennsylvania. I’d only go back to last summer, when I’d be on the shore of the lake in northern New York State where we have a cottage. It would be 80 degrees, sunny, no wind. The water is a looking glass reflecting the green of the majestic white pines and the deep blue sky.
Since this is fantasy, I’ll allow another time traveler to enter the scene: my first husband. I wouldn’t want to go back to the time when we were married, but if he could come forward in time, I would love to interview him about what was going through his mind the day he shot himself. I’d also like to tell him how amazing our sons turned out.
Award-winning author of THE FAR END OF HAPPY
and THE ART OF FALLING (Sourcebooks)
Developmental Editing Services: Writing-Partner.com
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