I present to you all my interview with the most amazing debut author of 2019, Katharyn Blair!
So excited for all of you to read this fun interview with Katharyn Blair! I read an ARC of her debut in November, and I can’t explain to you all how AMAZING it was no matter how many words I use. So do yourselves a favor and add the book to your TBR.
- The Beckoning Shadow is your debut novel and will be released in July 2019. I absolutely loved it and thought it was one of the most unique books that I’ve read. What inspired you to write this special book?
First off – thank you! 🙂 Honestly, all my stories are born of questions. Over the past few years, there have been several heartbreaking things that have happened to me and people I love. I held hands in hospital beds and watched caskets being lowered in the ground and witnessed love fall apart and the constant refrain was… that’s life. There’s nothing you can do.
So the question that popped up was… what if there was? What if we could do something about it? What lengths would people go to for that kind of power? And then Vesper appeared.
- Can you give a brief summary on what The Beckoning Shadow is about?
The Beckoning Shadow is about a girl named Vesper who is born with the ability to pull fear out of people – she can literally make your worst fears come true. That power is hard to control, and she almost rips her family apart with one slip. So she runs away to keep them safe. She’s fine being all on her own until she gets wind of a tournament where the prize is the ability to reverse a tragedy. She meets an MMA fighter named Sam who also has a tragedy he is trying to undo. Together, they uncover the world of underground magical fights and, because I am a sucker for forbidden love – start to fall for each other.
(Noura’s note: And it’s going to be one of the best books you’ll read this year.)
- Do you have any advice on writing for all those aspiring authors?
The age-old answer is – WRITE. I know that’s boring, because it’s been said so many times. But really – write. Write when the words feel really, really bad. Write when you don’t feel like it. Make time for it. Little by little, the words will turn into pages and then chapters and then you will have a book! But the other advice I have is a little less popular: take care of yourself. Fill up your tank, loves. See movies. Watch Netflix. Paint. Read books inside and outside your preferred genre. Go on walks, stay in community. Get non-writing hobbies and commit to them. You can’t create if you are draining yourself constantly.
- Was becoming an author always a dream of yours or did you dream of being something else before that?
Being an author was always my dream, but I didn’t realize it. I just thought it was something I loved doing but wasn’t a real career option. I never thought writing was a possibility, so it was there the whole time like hey hi your dreams are right here! and I still went through high school and college like… what am I going to do? I don’t want to do anything other than spend time with these characters I’ve invented, and that’s not viable!
I fell so hard into that “real job” trap. When I started writing for real right after I got married at twenty-two, I was still looking in to law school. Finally, my husband bought me a desk, sat me down, and said, “you have what it takes. And you would hate being a lawyer. Write. That’s what you really want to do.”
- Are there any authors that have inspired you?
Oh, so many, and only a handful that are published, as of yet. (But I can’t wait for the book world to meet some of these incredible people who are putting in the work just off stage.) As for published authors – have much time do you have?
I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak when I was in high school, and it completely changed my life. I had an anxiety disorder that was so severe that I couldn’t finish middle school. I lost all my friends and my sense of self. I fell deeply into self-harm, and I had no idea how to express myself. Then, I found Speak and I realized that I could come back from the darkness that surrounded me. Also, I had never read stream of consciousness writing like that, before. I was thirteen, and I didn’t know books could be that raw and real. From that moment on, I felt like she had my back. And in reality, she did. When I was still writing a couple years ago and not sure I would ever make it, my husband reached out to Laurie on Facebook, asking if she could send me some encouragement for my birthday. She sent me a huge letter with advice and encouragement, and I broke down and cried.
I finally met her at the LA Festival of Books at USC. She was knitting under a tree, and my best friends shoved me toward her. I introduced myself and she gave me the biggest hug. Now, we’re represented by the same agency, and I’m so thankful that people like her exist.
Roxane Gay’s writing always makes me want to be a better writer and person. Her prose is absolutely gorgeous, even while her subject matter is hard.
I love Leigh Bardugo. Her originality is stunning. Stephanie Perkins’s books turned me on to contemporary after a lifetime of only fantasy, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. (Étienne wrecked me forever). Roshani Chokshi’s prose blows me away. Kat Howard’s worldbuilding, Mindy McGinnis’s razor-like story sense. I could keep going, but I’d never send this off.
- What are some of your favorite reads this year?
I have several that stand out. Power by Naomi Alderman was a game-changer. I love speculative fiction, and it was one of those books I thought about long after I put it down. A Court of Wings and Ruin, because I’ll follow Sarah J. Maas basically anywhere. Hunger by Roxane Gay, and Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough.
(Noura’s note: All books to consider if you havent read them yet. Hunger is definitely on my TBR for this year.)
- If you could swap places with a fictional character (whether your own or otherwise) who would you be?
I am currently reading the Throne of Glass series (I know I am SO late to this game) and I am irrevocably in love with Manon Blackbeak. If I could drop my kids off at school on Abraxos, I really would.
(Noura’s note: Yup. Same here.)
- So, let’s say you’re stranded on an island and you only have three books with you. What would those three books be?
Because I could read it a thousand times and still get new things out of it every time – The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins, to keep my spirits up while I built the raft that I’d sail to safety, and Dracula, because reading that in a café in Heidelberg, Germany is how my now-husband and I struck up one of our first real conversations. I’d need to remember who I was building that raft for. Also, if there was anyone else on that island, they wouldn’t mess with the girl whose favorite book is Dracula.
- If you could have a super power what would it be?
Telekinesis. I already pretend I have it when I walk through automatic sliding doors at the grocery store.
(Noura’s note: Okay, I’ll admit I have done this at least once.)
- What inspired the name Vesper? I loved it and was just wondering how choosing it came about.
I’m a preacher’s kid, and while protestants don’t tend to call prayers “vespers”, I always loved the term. It sounded secret, somehow. Hopeful. To me, the name sounds sacred, and I love it. And honestly? It’s a little too weird a name to give my actual children, so I wanted to give it to a character.
- Any future projects that we should look forward to?
So many! I am currently drafting my second standalone with Harper, but I can’t really talk about that one in detail, yet. I also have a duology from Penguin coming out, the first of which releases in Winter 2020. It’s called The Breath of Bones, and I’m so stoked for people to read it.
(Noura’s note: Please add both on Goodreads!)
There you have it folks!
Special thanks to Katharyn Blair for agreeing to do this interview with me. If you liked what you read (and I’m pretty sure you did) make sure to check out her soon to be released books.
Find Katharyn Blair here:
Click on the book cover to be directed to Goodreads: