Today, I have the pleasure of showcasing another good friend from Authonomy. To me, Kat R. Slifer was the writer with the gift of description. She always took her time to relay how things felt, smelled, tasted, etc. in unique, sensory ways. In some ways, I owe the development of that aspect of my own writing to her.
As you’ll see, Kat is a bubbly, refreshing woman, full of energy and honesty. Join us and you’ll see for yourself what makes her so special.
Kat! I’m so excited to interview you today. How about you start things off by telling us a little about yourself?
Well, I’m a born and raised New Yorker. I grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. My parents are both Economists, so having a child with a creative mind over a mathematical mind was hard for them to deal with sometimes. I’d rather write stories in my notebook than work on my math homework, that’s for sure!! It still takes me ages to figure out the correct tip to leave at a restaurant!
I studied Creative Writing at Ithaca College in Upstate New York. It was an amazing place and my writing grew leaps and bounds. My favorite teacher, Gigi, actually helped me hone my style. I never knew I had a style until I took her classes!
Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?
Not a lot of people know this, but I’m actually an artist as well. I work with charcoal and pencil mainly, but I love oil pastels and water color as well. Once my life settles down a bit, I plan on picking that back up. It’s a skill I’ve had since I was little—I had my first art show at 8 since, you know, in the city you don’t have a normal childhood and do the things normal 8 year olds do—and it’s something I still enjoy immensely. I also dance and sing a lot, but I wouldn’t quit my day job to do either. I’m about as graceful as a giraffe.
Um…giraffes can be graceful, can’t they…?
Writing is just something I have always done. I would tell my mom stories when I was little and then 3rd or 4th grade, I started writing them down. I’d subject my classmates to poetry readings during homeroom and make up stories to act out with my dolls at home. Simply, storytelling is something I was pretty much born doing.
Ha! I can just picture you directing your dolls in some convoluted hijinks!
This might sound cliché, but life keeps me inspired. Some of my best poetry in college was during some tough periods in my life. Writing is always emotional for me, even if I’m writing fiction. Inspiration comes from those around me, my surrounds, and the music I’m listening to, anything and everything really.
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
Short stories, poetry, novels, essay—Yup, all of those. I started out writing short stories and poetry when I was in grade school. Putting short, simple thoughts down on paper came easiest to me. My emotions have always manifested best as poetry. I know I’m a little loony, but I loved writing essays in school. Sitting down and analyzing books, art, history, etc. was thought provoking and forced me to learn. I’ve always enjoyed reading. I’ve only written one novel, but I’m currently writing the sequel, and I can say that while I love writing a novel, it is one of the hardest things I’ve done!
I am not a journalist. There is nothing I dislike more than writing articles for a magazine or a newspaper. I don’t mind doing research for a school paper, but for some reason I have never enjoyed interviewing people or digging up their business. I’m also a terrible speech writer—probably because I’m a terrible public speaker!
I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
Oh, my gosh, I have been there!! I love books. I devour them. It started with my mom and dad reading to me every night as a child. When I read a bad book, I get so angry!
Recently, a terrible book reiterated the importance of not giving away everything to the reader by handing out all the information. A third of the way through the book, one of the main characters just flat out said who the villain was and I lost all interest. Why should I continue to read something I know the outcome of? You have to keep the reader guessing.
Good point. As a writer, it’s important to use good judgement when it comes to knowing when to reveal and when to infer or foreshadow, for example.
What elements do you think are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Good character development is huge. What has always kept me reading a book and especially re-reading a book is character development. If I feel no connection with a character or find their development forced and superficial, I won’t want to continue reading. I always strive for my characters to grow like people do in real life.
My strengths certainly lie in the details. That was what my teacher Gigi taught me. I added more and more detail until the reader could feel, see, smell everything. My weakness is in dialogue sometimes (it’s hard speaking like a man when I’m a woman!) and in writing action scenes. Those fighting scenes always play out more epically in my mind than on paper.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence you?
Garth Nix has always been a huge influence in my writing. His Abhorsen series started my love for fantasy. I love the first novel, Sabriel, so much that I own two paperback copies and have it on audio tape–read by Tim Curry, which is amazing. I have also always been a huge fan of Madeleine L’Engle. The worlds she created astounded me. I strive to create that depth in my novel just as she did. Both writers created worlds within our own that suspended our ideas of reality and made it real. The detail in Sabriel and A Wrinkle in Time brought me so deeply into the worlds that I almost forgot that there was no tesseract or Abhorsen in real life.
What draws you to write in the fantasy genre? Why do you think it’s so popular?
I found an escape in writing about fantasy. I think looking for an escape, a suspension of reality, is why fantasy is so popular.
Can you tell us about your book? What other projects are you working on?
The Darkness of Gold is a book I originally wrote by hand on 50 pages of loose leaf when I was 16. I found it again in college and decided to rewrite it. It follows Vanora. She is a Healer and is thrust into this position of power on her 18th birthday. But evil has been unleashed on the kingdom, on the world, and she has no time to be a child anymore. Vanora is forced to venture out into the world to find the origin of this evil, the Darkness, and eliminate it. The story is about knowing your own limits, overcoming fear, and learning how strong you can be.
Currently I’m working on the sequel. I haven’t written a novel from scratch in 11 years, so needless to say it is a challenge.
(Note to interested parties, the book is being updated at the moment, but will soon be ready again for purchase. Please contact Kat at the links below for details)
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
The most difficult aspect is working through the slow parts. Every scene can’t be guns blazing, bad guys dying, blood spurting, and sexually charged encounters. Sometimes, there needs to be slower parts that set the stage for the action. It’s just about being patient and trying to find ways to make the slower parts more enjoyable. I usually work on it in small bits. I try to find the write music, maybe light a candle, take breaks where I just walk around and think about nothing.
I like that you said that. I think some writers shy away from those parts because they think they are boring or that the reader might think so. But like you say, those set up scenes are key so it’s important to include them but as well-written and interesting as possible.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
Besides the two I already mentioned, I love Diana Gabaldon, Terry Goodkin, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Louise Rennison, and S.J. Pajonas. While each of these writers wrote different stories, but I love most about them is that I feel like I’m transported into the story. I’m one of the characters. I become invested in the story and I can’t put it down until I’m finished and it’s 2am and I’m exhausted… but happy.
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?
Be different. Right now, everyone seems to be writing something with Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, or BDSM. I know it’s hard to be original when there have been thousands of years of storytelling. Just because we are currently in a Young Adult Vampire craze doesn’t mean that should be what you write. Write what you love, be different, and write from the heart.
How can readers get into contact with you?
Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org I’m always open to feedback, questions, anything. I have a goodreads.com author page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7271289.K_R_Slifer
and a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/authorkrslifer
Kat, I loved having you with us today. Thanks for sharing about your book and what writing means to you–clearly, you were meant to write. Good luck with Darkness and with your future writing projects. Readers, please drop Kat a line below or at one of her links. I know she’d love to hear from you.
See you next week!