Observing the world with an attitude full of sass, Kate Andary is a new fiction writer who everyone should pay attention to. Andary has had a lifelong interest in becoming a professional writer but only pursued this dream after participating in a NaNoWriMo. Her first book is A Tale of Love and Zombies (published by Dark Moon Press) and it is a brilliant twist on the zombie genre. Wanting to learn more about her background and her latest novel, I was able to interview Andary for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were stories you loved? Are there any that you still revisit as an adult?
Kate Andary: As I grew up I loved to read Ann Rice, Mercedes Lackey, Kelley Armstrong and Piers Anthony. As I got older I moved into John Ringo, Jim Butcher, J.K Rowling, and Charlene Harris. To this day I will still go back and re-read my favorites from their series. I love to read The Blue Adept by Piers Anthony, Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Changes by Jim Butcher, Arrows Fall by Mercedes Lackey, The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, and Dead Until Dark by Charlene Harris. I will re-read John Ringo’s entire Islands of Rage and Hope Series again and again and never be bored by it.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was there a single moment that crystallized this goal for you?
Andary: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I would always tell my parents that I wanted to be a writer. My mother used to think that I would never be able to write, because she would read my early works and they wouldn’t make sense because sentences would be flipped around. In college I was diagnosed as having mild dyslexia and then in 2008 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, severe generalized anxiety, and executive dysfunction associated with that. But I would keep writing short stories and half-finished pieces.
The moment it started to crystalize when I did NaNoWriMo and got the idea for my novel A Tale of Love and Zombies. But I was never actually going to publish anything. Then I met my publisher, Dark Moon Press, and had a really long conversation with the owner Eric Vernor. My whole life changed when he said that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I could write if I wanted to and he knew my struggles. So I wrote my first non-fiction and when people started reading it and liking it, I decided to publish my next book.
Yanes: You live in Wayne County, Michigan. What is the writing community like in this area?
Andary: So I haven’t done much with the community to be honest. I’ve gone to a couple of writing circles and they’ve all been very supportive, as well as going to free writes for NaNoWriMo and all of those people were amazing and willing to talk about writing. Generally, I hang out with the people that write for my publishing company who are some of the most supportive people that I know.
Yanes: You recently released A Tale of Love and Zombies. What was the inspiration for this story?
Andary: Honestly, I was doing a collection of short stories for NaNoWriMo, and for people who aren’t hip to what that it because I just realized that I have mentioned it a ton and haven’t really explained it. NaNoWriMo is Nation Novel Writers Month, it takes place every November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words in a month, or 1,667 words a day.
Since I didn’t have an overall theme for the month I decided to do 1-3 day short stories. About halfway through the month I wanted to do something with Vampires and Werewolves in it, and Xavier and Scott were born. Then I wanted to do a twist on a Zombie, and Jenny and the gang was born. And there was a runaway freight train that became my book.
Yanes: On this note, are there any classic stories or movies you feel influenced your story?
Andary: I wouldn’t say classic, I would say that there are some more modern age movies and stories that influenced me. Warm Bodies was one, classic Dungeons and Dragons influenced my writing, True Blood and the Dead Until Dark series influenced me as well. I wanted to have a more cinematic style of writing so I would have to say watching a lot of movies and being able to write screenplays also helped.
Yanes: Were there any characters or subplots that took on a life of their own as you wrote this story?
Andary: The Zombies really ended up taking on a life of their own as I wrote. I think you can probably tell that. Also Scott the werewolf bodyguard started to gather my interest and develop. He tugged at my heart stings enough.
Yanes: Looking back, how do you feel you improved as a writer during this process?
Andary: I think I improved through the process because it helped me understand my creative process better. I had never fully completed a literary project from start to finish that wasn’t an academic paper for college, and that didn’t have very set guidelines for what needed to be in it. So I got to learn about how I write, how I do line by line editing, how I do rewrites, and I learned that I really need to hire an editor in the future and that I really can’t do this alone.
Yanes: What are your long term goals for this story? Do you want to work on sequels? Adapting it into another medium?
Andary: The sky is the limit. I don’t know an author that doesn’t want to see a million copies sold per year, be on the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list, have their book in every book store, and have it launch a career. Realistically, I would love to sell 100-200 copies and have people review it honestly to know what I did correctly so I can make adjustments as I work on the next book in the story line. Would I like to see it in other mediums, yes I would. I think it would be amazing to see my book on the big screen.
Yanes: When people finish reading A Tale of Love and Zombies, what do you hope that they take away from the experience?
Andary: That we are all really just people, and every group of people has their problems. When you boil it down whatever your species is, you are just another thing on this world and zero people can do this alone. If someone is cruel, pretentious, or stupid, they are going to find someone to back them. So you just kind of have to be prepared for that.
Yanes: Finally, what are some projects you are working on that people can look forward to?
Andary: I’m working on a new non-fiction book called 21st Century Viking, which is about how to be your most authentic and primal warrior self in a world where we fight about cats on mini-computers in our pocket. I am also working on A Walk Through the Rune which is a 72 week personal journey through the Elder Futhark Runes – my journey, my thoughts, and my life for 72 weeks as I add a Rune every three weeks until I reach Othalla. And the third project that is being worked on is Splitting Souls, book two in the Love and Zombies series. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me and I’m hoping to keep the pace of one book per year while alternating fiction and non-fiction.