We’re getting close to the launch of Dublin’s Fierce City at Octocon. This interview is with one of the authors who will be helping launch the book: Kat Dodd!
1. What genre do you like to write in most?
I tend to hang out mostly in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. In both, it tends more towards “like real life but a little bit different. Part of it is that there’s no proof that fantasy elements aren’t real so therefore it doesn’t actually break the world rules to include them, but people tend to look at you funny when you write a story about someone falling in love with their ghostly roommate and say that it could happen in real life. I like to play around with things that are familiar but different. That being said, almost all my stories have a thread of romance going through them, and most of my characters wind up with their Happily Ever Afters or their Happily Ever (For Now)s. Well. Those that don’t die. Because some of them die. It can happen. -shifty eyes-
2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?
Oh golly, this is so hard for me to answer because the truth is that a lot of them did. In some ways, authors like Rachel Caine (she wrote the Morganville Vampires) because way back when I was a wee baby Kat, Baby Kat and Rachel Caine both wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic. I knew her through that before I found her books on the shelf at Hastings and proceeded to freak the freak out. So she inspired me because we got started in similar ways (fanfiction), and showed me that it was possible to break into traditional publishing (which I haven’t done because I actually prefer Indie).
Along the same lines – those lines being “authors that I know in some way or another” – I actually have a story about being told that I Was A Writer. I was about eleven or twelve, and had moved to a small town in Arkansas earlier that year, and my brother and I would go hang out at one of his friends’ houses a lot because our moms had become good friends, we all went to the same tiny church, and I got along pretty well with the younger sister despite a pretty hefty age gap. My mom asked Ms Charlaine (“Miz” if you’re from the South) if she’d mind taking a look at some of the things I’d written and giving basic feedback, and Ms Charlaine told me that my mom had told her that I liked to write and would I mind showing her something? So I started digging through all my notebooks because my notebook hoarding started early, finding little scraps of things that I’d written all through out during school, but I was desperate to find something good enough to show Miz Charlaine. Ms Charlaine stopped me and said (paraphrased because I’m horrible at remembering verbatem) “I can tell you something right now: you’re already a writer. It remains to be seen if you’re a good writer, but you can learn that. You are a writer, and that can’t be taught.” That stuck with me for years, and flash forward to seventeen year old Kat reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book, and reading the About the Author section in the back and realizing Miz Charlaine was Charlaine Harris. I called my mom, freaking out that the author I’d been reading for literal years was Miz Charlaine and she’d told me that I was a writer.
Whenever I get down on myself, I remember that.
3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?
I plan and then I decide to do something else.
In seriousness, I do a little bit of both. I do a bastardized version of the Snowflake Method, and have a loose “map” of what I want to write, goals to hit, etc, and I write at least 100 words for each thing, and then if I get bogged down but I’ve hit word count, I mark it and move on to the next. I come back later, possibly during editing but equally possibly during writer’s block, and finish it, polish it up, smooth over any clunky transitions. It helps me keep moving forwards, and because I know what things I want to hit on, I know to not do something in a spur of the moment that will ruin something I have planned for later. But there’s still plenty of spontaneity, too.
4. What are you working on now?
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. At any given time, I’m working to some extent or another on anywhere from three to eight projects because I don’t know how to focus on one thing at a time. At the moment, I think I’m actually at four, with two of them taking up more of my brain than others. One project is a novel in the Fairy Lights world, Fairy Lights being my contribution to the Dublin’s Fierce City anthology. One is actually getting wrapped up an I’m just figuring out the best way to do things, and that’s a Sci-Fi with humans fighting off an alien invasion over the course of decades. One is a biker romance (not Sci-Fi? not Fantasy? what’s going on, Kat? are you feeling okay?) that has a woman trying to figure out what’s more important to her, keeping her promises and staying in an abusive marriage, or her own emotional health. The fourth project… I’m going to keep that a secret, actually. But it’s churning over in my head. For NaNoWriMo in November, I plan on tackling the three I’ve already talked about, and a story that I’ve been calling “Campy Space Disaster” in my head, because it was honestly inspired by me watching a music video and going “this video looks like it’s the theme song of a campy space disaster movie and I would watch the hell out of that movie and now I’m actively mad that no such movie exists I guess I’m going to write that story”.
5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?
Don’t give up. Just keep writing. If you write ten words a day, that’s ten more than you had yesterday. Write every day, even if it’s only a sentence. Don’t let anyone talk you out of writing. Keep a notebook with you at all times – seriously, I do so much of my writing in the bathroom, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, just write. A first draft doesn’t have to be good, it just has to exist.
It’s okay if the basic story has already been told. Your version of it hasn’t been told yet. Nobody’s told the story in the way that you’re going to, with the characters that you have. (There are some plot archetypes that I will read every single time that I come across them, and they’re all different because the characters are different.) On that note: characters are more important than plot. It can be the best plot in the world, and if I’m not engaged in the characters, I’m not going to care about how the plot affects them.
This is a lot more than one piece of advice, I’m so sorry. So if there’s only one thing that I could give, it would be this: Believe in yourself and just keep writing. It’s okay to get discouraged, just keep writing. No matter what, just keep writing. There’s a story in you, I know it. And if it’s a little zany, a little weird, so what? As the Cheshire Cat said, we’re all mad here. So you’re in good company.
Kat Dodd is an American transplant that escaped from a small town in Arkansas right between Toad Suck, Pickles Gap, and Wooster. The first story she ever wrote was in a purple crayon in her journal, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her typical genres are a conglomeration of fantasy/sci-fi, LGBTQI+, and YA, with a thread of romance going through them. She lives with her Spouse-Type-Creature, though she frequently forgets to feed him.
About Dublin’s Fierce City
In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.
Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.