Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Interview with Nikki Katz

Hello, my wonderful followers. I'm running on four hours of sleep, so please excuse me if I make any mistakes or start to ramble. Why four hours? Let's just say I was caught in a battle to save my computer from evil viruses. *swings a sword* Ugh.

But at least I was victorious ... at 3 in the morning. Double ugh.

On a happier note, I've got a great interview for you! Let's all welcome Nikki Katz.

Nice to have you here Nikki. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a freelance writer, blogger, rocket scientist, and work-at-home mom of 3. I’ve been an avid reader since I can remember, and have always dabbled in writing. I can fondly remember sitting on the playground in elementary school during recess, writing plays with my friends. Of course, that was mostly to avoid any sort of physical activity – I’ve never been good at sports or hand-eye coordination. I have written one YA novel that will never see the light of day, have started (and stopped) several young reader books and a chick lit novel, and last year I wrote two YA novels – Shoreline and SoulCatcher. I have representation for Shoreline and am currently editing SoulCatcher.

Let's hear about Shoreline. What's the story about?

When sixteen-year-old Maya Georgiou moves with her family back to Bar Harbor, Maine she expects to easily remedy the sickly marine life developing offshore. After all, she is an ocean nymph and this is her territory. But nothing goes as planned. The poor creatures continue to die, rain falls whenever she’s upset, and her cousins whisper cryptic comments behind her back.

After her family nearly drowns her boyfriend, Nate, Maya demands to know the truth. Of course, when she hears their response, she wishes she never confronted them. Because the truth is that Maya is also a Siren and must sacrifice Nate to appease the Goddess Persephone. Until she does, the marine life will continue to die, and ultimately Maya will too.

Maya has only days to make her decision. Does she spare Nate by succumbing to the sickness that is literally drowning her alive? Or does she convince him to plunge into the ocean abyss to fulfill her ancestral obligations?

I love it! Can I read it RIGHT now? LOL. How did the idea for the story come to you?

I’ve always been a fan of Greek mythology and I got it in my head that I wanted to write a story about ocean nymphs ... NOT mermaids. In fact, Maya alludes to this misconception in the book. Her family does not have fins! From there I began researching different myths and merged three together to come up with my own little world. I took a few months to mull this idea in my head, and made it a New Year’s Resolution to start writing a page a day starting January 1, 2009. Instead, I ended up writing several pages a day and finished my first draft in May.

If you were Maya from your story, would you make the same choices she did?

I’d like to say yes, but honestly – I don’t know if I’m that strong!

Before you landed your agent, did you have a long and grueling querying process? And what tips can you give those of us still querying?

It’s been an interesting process. I’m the first to admit that I’m extremely impatient, the kind of girl you see tapping her toes, arms crossed over her chest, glaring at the people slowing her down. So I made the major mistake of querying too soon. For the most part I received immediate rejections, and when I did get a request for a partial, that was rejected too. So, I immediately went in search of beta readers, joined a critique group with two girls from my local SCBWI chapter, joined YALitChat, polished, revised, polished, and revised some more. Throughout the process, with every change, I would query a couple more agents. Because, did I mention I’m impatient? I received a little bit more interest, even a couple requests for full manuscripts, but ultimately all were rejected.

Then in April I did a major edit. I took out part of a storyline (Maya working at the resort and Nate leaving town), rewrote the entire beginning of their relationship, and really worked on the characters and voice. I queried Bree, she immediately asked for a two week exclusive read, and then offered representation a few days later!

So my biggest tip is ... Make sure your book is exactly where it needs to be. As a writer, we hear it time and time again, but I’ll be another person to drive that nail through someone’s thick skull. You WILL get representation when your book is where it needs to be, and not before.

Excellent tip, and great motivation for those of us still trying to make it. Tell us about Bree Ogden.

Bree is a sweetheart! She was very open to talking with me on the phone before I made my final decision, and as an agent she’s very flexible. She is as hands-on or hands-off as you want her to be. I prefer hands-on, so I’ve already run ideas past her for future ideas for novels, and she’s helped narrow my next WIP to what she thinks is going to work best in the upcoming marketplace (although she did like all 3 ideas!)

Bree is also great at dealing with my frequent emails (did I mention I’m impatient) nudging her for details on submissions and the process!

She sounds perfect! Let's talk about your writing process. What's the most difficult aspect for you?

I am not a plotter, which is odd because I’m an organizational freak by nature. But if I plot, I find that it strips all of the creativity out of me and I don’t want to sit down and actually write the book!

I don’t start writing from the beginning. With Shoreline I began about 2/3 through the book because I knew that scene the clearest in my head (although it completely changed through revisions). I knew where the characters were, so I didn’t have to do all of that “first chapter” writing. You know, the chapter of backstory that gets tossed because it’s all telling, not showing!

When I’m writing, I do it every day. I skip around so that I don’t really get writer’s block. If I’m fumbling on a scene, I jump to a new one.

The most difficult aspect for me is revising. I don’t mind the rewrite and ripping apart the manuscript to piece it back together again – because that’s all still creative to me. What I don’t like is the line-by-line editing. The word choice, looking for duplicate words on a page, grammar check. It bores me to no end, and makes it tough for me to read!

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: parachute, theater, and kangaroo.

I grabbed my stuffed kangaroo and sent a silent prayer that the parachute would open; whose idea was it to jump out of a Cessna and land on the theater red carpet anyway?

Awesome, hehehe. Here's the part where you thank the people who've supported you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

Oh gosh, is this my Academy Award speech? I’d like to thank my parents, my husband, and my children, my director and producers and all my fellow actors. Oh wait, I never did become an actress, did I? Well, I’d still like to thank my family for allowing me to lock myself in a quiet room for hours on end! And I have to give fairy dust and buckets of thanks to my writing group and anyone and everyone who has given me feedback (and reread and reread and reread the manuscript). There are too many names to name, but you know who you are!

And finally, where can we find you online?

Personal Blog:
YA Know:
Oasis for YA:

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Nikki. Give us a heads up when Shoreline is out, and good luck with your future books!

Click here to see the book trailer for Shoreline.


Christina Lee said...

YAY Nikki--I was so happy to hear about Shoreline!!!

Tahereh said...

wow you are an interview MACHINE! hehe love this! thanks so much to you both!!

Unknown said...

This book sounds fantastic and Bree seems like an awesome agent--thanks for the interview!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nikki. Wonderful Interview. Can wait to read the book.

Renae said...

Great interview! Can't wait to read Nikki's book!

Larissa said...

Great interview, Dorothy! Hi Nikki! :)

D.M.Cunningham said...

Don't be selfish Nate! Help the lady out! :) Wonderful interview Nikki and Dorothy. Shoreline is going to be an ocean of awesomesauce.

Donna Hosie said...

Great interview, thank you ladies. I'm a big fan of the Greek myths as well and love it when it is incorporated into modern literature.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Sounds like a good book! I love hearing success stories like this :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone. Nikki is great, and I can't wait to read Shoreline! :)

Anonymous said...

I just joined and read some past interviews. Wow, you are an interview queen. They were very informative. I like reading about how other writers work.

Shoreline's description and trailer are amazing.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks, Medeia! Thanks for joining! :)