Greetings fellow readers! Allow me to introduce this year’s Writers of the Future Published Finalist, the very lovely, Kate Julicher.
Stuart: Hi Kate! It was great meeting you at Superstars earlier this month, tell my readers a bit about yourself.
Kate: I’m actually only half of the KD Julicher team. My husband and I collaborate closely – you might say intimately – on everything I write. My role is to be the “hands on keyboard”. We toss ideas around through emails during the work day or on weekend expeditions into the mountains around our home or over dinner. Then I sit down and write a draft, then we edit it together with a fine-tooth comb, lots of wine, and hopefully no need for marital counseling.
Oh, and I keep trains from crashing into each other.
Stuart: Wow! Any talents or hobbies, aside from the train thing?
Kate: I sing a lot. Not professionally, but it seems like once a month someone comes up after church and says “you should join the choir!”. I don’t think it’s because I’m that good, I think it’s just that I’m loud and enthusiastic.
Stuart: Enthusiasm definitely counts! So how’d you get into writing?
Kate: I’ve always been a writer. I wrote on that “story paper” you get in kindergarten, the stuff with the big lines and space at the top for art. I spent three years in fanfiction as a teenager and then discovered NaNoWriMo, which I’ve done every year since 2002 and only failed once. About four years ago we decided to get serious and went from NaNovelists to working at the craft year-round.
Stuart: Ha ha! I remember “story paper.” How long have you been entering WotF?
Kate: Two years ago I decided to enter every quarter of WotF until I won or pro’d out. I’ve racked up 4 HMs, 3 finalists. One of those won the Baen Fantasy Adventure contest in 2014.
Stuart: All right! Way to go, Kate! Okay, Star Trek or Star Wars?
Kate. Yes? I grew up on Star Trek. For a while it was the only thing my parents would let us watch. I saw the whole Star Wars trilogy at one sitting when I was 13 and it really fired my imagination. Right now I am enjoying the new Star Wars movie more than the new Trek movies but I would love to be won back over by Trek.
Stuart: Fair enough. Hey…what’s that…who’s shining that light in my eyes?
Stuart: Pantser or Plotter?
Kate: Definite plotter. If I have a detailed scene-by-scene outline when I sit down I can whip out a first draft in no time flat. That said I leave enough room for my characters to surprise me.
Stuart: Very impressive. How do you come up with the outline?
Kate: My husband and I throw ideas back and forth at each other for a while. Then I sit down and start plotting in Scrivener. I set up a new project, break things into three acts, and start dumping in the events I know will happen as separate scenes. I use the notecard function to jot down some notes for each scene. I’ll put in placeholders in between the scenes I know about, and start filling in. Usually at this point my writing brain is active and things just start to click. I also like to put in a word count estimate on each scene. If I’ve got multiple POVs, I color-code the scenes. Then I look and say, ok, this part needs to be longer, I need another Lord Evilpants chapter here, etc.
After that we’ll ideally go over the outline and make sure it makes sense. Then I sit down to write. If I’ve done this outline right, the writing part is pretty darn fast. I wrote a 120,000-word draft last November for NaNoWriMo, thanks to this system. It’s got some flaws and the pre-writing part can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months, but I feel like the resulting product is strong.
I’m looking to upgrade this process to the next level by incorporating scene/sequel plotting as described in Deborah Chester’s “The Fantasy Fiction Formula” but I only just got that book so I haven’t actually tried yet.
Stuart: What’s the nuttiest thing that ever happened to you?
Kate: My boss wouldn’t let me quit my job.
No, seriously, I went in saying, “Sorry, love you guys, but my husband got a job offer a thousand miles away, here’s my two weeks’ notice” and they said “Wait wait, how about you work for us remotely?” Eight years and three moves since, I have either the longest or the shortest commute of anyone I know. It only takes me thirty seconds to stroll down the hall to the living room, but if I have to actually go to the office, that’s an all-day flight…
Stuart: Hola! If you had a superpower other than enrapturing employers, what would it be?
Kate: Can I have Hermione’s Time-Turner instead? I work full time, raise my daughter, and try to put in 3-4 hours a day on writing related stuff. As a result I often feel like Bilbo: “Butter that’s been scraped over too much bread”.
Stuart: Done! Now where did I put that thing….oh well, here’s a bagel. Er…next question. What was your favorite toy growing up?
Kate: The woods out back. We had a narrow lot that stretched out for what felt like miles, all wooded and hilly, with a four-foot ravine along one edge to play in and fallen trees to turn into forts. We’d go out after lunch and just be gone all day.>
Stuart: Ha ha! Me too. That tree made it into my upcoming Analog story, in fact. My sister and I were always secret agents looking for missing isotopes–whatever those were. If you adopted a unique wardrobe tag (ala Dr. Who’s scarf/bowtie etc.), what might it be?
Kate: My husband and I had custom-fitting hats made recently by a local hatmaker. He used this steampunk tophat device to measure our heads, and then shaped the hats to our heads. I love my fedora, I wear it every time I go out.
Stuart: Tell us about your winning story.
Kate: I’ve had three finalists at WotF now and they’re actually all in the same world, though that is not obvious at first glance. Swords Like Lightning, Hooves like Thunder is one of my favorites. It starts with the heroine running desperately from the enemies that have captured her brother. She meets a mysterious stranger and goes on a journey into a strange, exciting new world. This story actually sprang from an offhand reference to a legend that I wrote into an as yet unpublished novel. I started wondering just what that story had looked like to the people who lived it…. Interestingly, my other published story, The Golden Knight, was the second legend referenced in that same novel, and I wrote it for the same reason.
Stuart: Do you prefer fantasy or scifi?
Kate: You’d think as a software engineer who was reading hard SF at twelve ,that would be my passion, but I’ve been drawn to traditional fantasy. I like stories about duty and honor and sacrifice. I also really like using family, marriage, and relationships as plot motivators, and that tends to work better in fantasy.
Stuart: Well awesome, Kate. Enjoy the WotF workhop, it’s definitely a bit of fairytale come true.
Follow Kate at www.kdjulicher.com, and check out The Golden Knight at http://www.baen.com/the_golden_knight.