Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Airship Ambassador: What kind of attention has Equus generated?
Kate Story: Well, it’s not the story that all the excellent and well-deserved reviews of Clockwork Canada pick out. One review actually picked the story out as one that didn’t work (the mingling of steampunk with folklore/horror didn’t work for that reviewer). Another reviewer loved just that thing about the story! And the rest have more or less ignored it in the collection. That’s okay. I am honoured to be in the anthology, and thrilled that it is getting the notice it has been.
I am also a theatre artist, so I am aware that sometimes being part of an excellent ensemble means you yourself don’t get noticed. I believe the story is doing its job in the bigger picture of the anthology. And Dominik wouldn’t have included it in the book if he hadn’t thought so. In any case, my work often sits uneasily in terms of genre. Literary critics have often disliked the so-called fantasy elements in my work (or magical realism, whatever you want to call it). I don’t really work very well inside boundaries. My brain doesn’t work that way; I tend to make disparate connections. That’s the way I experience the world. I hope readers like the story and are moved by it.
AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?
KS: For this work, a pleasure from beginning to end. I learned about a new genre, met some wonderful writers, had one of the best editing experiences of my writing life, and have the honour of being in an anthology that is getting terrific critical notice. Waiting for the award nominations for the book to start rolling in! I also enjoyed being at the launch as part of Ad Astra. Speculative fiction writers and readers tend to be smart, social, and connective. HOW REFRESHING.
AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
KS: I really don’t know. I am terrible at social media. I am a nice person and um, I like cats?
Okay, I do have a website: www.katestory.com. I promise I will update it. Soon. Real soon.
AA: I’m looking forward to that update. In fact, I’m clicking on it now. And now. And now… For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?
KS: I have never had an agent. I hear they are harder to find than lucrative publishing contracts.
My experience has been that it really is through people that you get published. For me, it’s been all about talking with people and sharing what you have, and then finding out about opportunities. Dominik was an excellent editor. I’ve also been edited by Marnie Parsons (she worked on my two Killick Press novels, Blasted and Wrecked Upon This Shore) – she’s lovely, kind, incisive, determined, and you get your manuscript back with tea and wine stains on it. She’s the real deal, one of my favourite people in the world.
I’ve never really had a bad editing experience. I’ve heard of writers that have. I think if someone is trying to get you to write a different book than the one you want to write, then that might be bad. I’ve not experienced that, however.
I say to all aspiring writers: get thee to a writing group! Not your lover, not your mother, not your mean friend who puts down everything you do. Other writers who write, who know writing is a verb. Writers who read your work and want you to make it better, and want you to MAKE IT. And you read their work too. It’s the best. You set deadlines for yourselves and well, then the magic happens.
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
KS: When my first novel Blasted came out, I organized my own tour with musicians. We animated the reading with music, because frankly I find readings really boring most of the time. It was a hell of a lot of work, organizing the tour (Ontario east to Newfoundland with many stops in every province between). I got help from a few key people who organize reading series, etc., and hooked me up with other people and venues. My publisher threw me a few bones – there is EXTREMELY inadequate funding for writers’ tours in Canada. And gave me permission to sell books on my own – a lot of publishers won’t let writers do this, which I think is extremely silly. People let us stay in their homes. It’s remarkable. If you’ve published a novel, people just trust you. I am not sure why. Many very unpleasant people have published novels. But there you go.
I am glad I did that tour. I couldn’t get it together for the second novel. Not being so strongly Newfoundland based, it didn’t have quite the same direct sales appeal. It’s the sad second child. I love that novel (Wrecked) but it’s never sold quite as well as Blasted.
For the anthologies I’ve been in, the editors and/or publishers have organized book launches and appearances at cons. I’ve tried to get to as many of these as I can, because I want to help out any way I can to sell those books. I like reading. I am also an actor, so I think that helps. I’m lively.
AA: At least it got you out and about to meet readers. What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
KS: I don’t. It’s completely hopeless. When I’m focused on performing I just wish all the time I was writing and feel anxious and miserable about not writing, and when I am writing I miss performing, and get anxious about all the work I am not doing to organize the next performance project. I neglect my friends and my cats and my partner. I don’t cook and stop exercising and the house is a tip. Okay, it’s not currently all that bad but sometimes it feels that way.
For money (because, oddly enough, novel writing and fringe indie theatre don’t really pay all that much) I write arts grants for other people. Yes, the irony is not lost on me. I guess this is one of the reasons I am bad a self-promotion and social media: something has to give. I always have a vague sense of guilt that I am not working hard enough. I sometimes turn to the demon booze in order to switch off. What’s that quotation? If you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning.
AA: LOL, I’m going to have to use that quote at work! Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
KS: Yes indeed. It keeps me alive!
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
KS: I no longer think I have to cram everything into every work. At the beginning I think I sort of tried to do that. Although, thinking about it, Equus maybe suffers a bit from that… but I digress. I have a sense now that there are lots of other works inside of me, and if an idea or theme feels like one too many I let it go. I also am a little more confident about demanding the time to write and create performance. I don’t worry so much about whether I will make it or am I worthy – although I certainly am not free of that, not by any means.
But I value the work I do and that my peers do. I see this kind of artmaking as a bulwark against the insanity that passes for mainstream life. On some level – I hesitate to say “spiritual” but let’s use the dread word “energetic” – I think this work really matters. I am one small part of that work, and it’s an honour.
Let’s pause in our chat with Kate, Join us next time when she talks about her other interests.
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