Interview with Artemis Grey, YA author of Catskin
Author Interview Questions:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Where to start? I’m a twin, and no, my sister doesn’t write. We were the sort of girls who were raised wearing pinafores (bonus points if you know what a pinafore is) and smocked dresses, and yet we were also allowed to run rampant through the woods. Growing up in the Appalachians legends, folktales, and superstitions were things we heard all of the time. Ghost tales and stories of warnings about haints in the hollows, or clinging to buildings and places. These legends and superstitions opened a world of ‘what ifs’ for me. A world that was expanded by horseback riding lessons and endless adventures in the forests, and in and around abandoned buildings. While my twin sister got married and had a daughter, I remained a confirmed bachelorette, hoarding my free time for writing. I also have pretty extreme social anxiety, which makes for very unique challenges when it comes to putting yourself out there as an author, and participating in public functions. But I’m figuring things out as I go, and I’m having the time of my life!
When did you decide to pursue a writing career?
I never actually ‘decided’ to pursue a writing career. I literally can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. It’s all I want to do with my life, so I’ve been working to make it my career, right from the beginning.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey from that first draft to publication?
My path to publication can be summed up in one short word: Almost. I was lucky in many ways, from the standpoint that I’d been writing for years before I ever tried to get an agent. Therefore my writing was better, perhaps, than some who start trying to get an agent. But I still screwed things up and sent too early. The very first stuff I sent out (which will never see daylight) wasn’t good enough to even garner rejections, most of the time. However, I learned from that, and it was the last time I sent anything out without receiving interest in return. That said, approximately 100% of the interest (sooner or later, I did get requests for full) went like this: ‘It’s almost good enough, but not quite.’
“Almost” became the most loathed word in the dictionary for me. It’s still on the hate list. Yes and no are just fine. But “almost” makes me feel like Drew Barrymore sitting on the front porch in Never Been Kissed waiting on her ill-fated prom date. During the marathon of “almosts” (close to the beginning) I met my main critique partner, Christi Corbett, and she’s made all the difference in succeeding or not succeeding. I have a second critique partner, Margo, who is also amazing, but Christi is the one I message in the middle of the night with weird ideas, and Christi is the one who pushed me to, eventually, submit Catskin to Clean Reads, where Christi’s books have been published. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to submit without an agent, if Christi hadn’t been behind me 100% assuring me that I was smart enough to do this on my own. So, after countless “almost” rejections, I submitted Catskin to Clean Reads, and went on vacation. While camping in a canyon in Utah, I got an email with a contract. And the rest, as they say, is history. It’s been pointed out to me that now that I’ve got a book out (and presuming that it sells well) I can probably get an agent, and subsequently publish through a larger house. That might be true, and it might happen, but no matter how many “not clean” books I write and get published, I’ll always be writing clean books and submitting them to, and publishing them with Clean Reads.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in everything. It sounds corny, but it’s true. Catskin was inspired part by the fairytale of the same name, partly by Arthur Rackham’s artwork, partly from my visits to Alaska, and by dreams. Other stories have literally grown from the seed of just a single dream, and some have been inspired by people I’ve seen in public, and by quotes I’ve found scrawled on walls. I even have a story outlined which is based off of a super creepy story my niece, Scarlett, told me when she was just around two years old.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Panster. Usually, I’ll come up with an idea (or dream of one) and just cogitate on it for a few days. If something *really* screams to be written down, I’ll make a document and just write a sentence or two. Stuff will stew and simmer inside me until it coagulates into a firm enough entity that I sort of have a feel for what it is. Then, I start writing. I don’t outline (not more than a bullet list, and sometimes not even that much) and I don’t plot things out in detail. Most of the time, I know where things start, what the final outcome will be, and a few interesting things that happen along the way, and I always get my opening line down. It might be tweaked over time, but I always have the gist of it before I start writing. I’ll also know my main character, and their name. Sometimes, I’ll have a title, but not always.
Once I’ve got the entire first draft written longhand, I’ll transcribe it into my computer. That’s my first big overhaul edit. By then, I’ll know the character intimately, and know their personalities, and I can fill in places where in the original writing of it, I didn’t know them well enough to portray them fully. I’ll also be able to add foreshadowing for things that will happen in the future within the book. Once I’ve transcribed the manuscript, I’ll put it away and not look at it for a couple of weeks. This is the hardest part, not touching it. Then I’ll read through it, editing lightly, changing anything that just doesn’t jive. Then, it’s off to my first critique partner, Christi Corbett. And that’s where the critique partner rounds come in.
Can you name any authors who might have influenced your writing?
I think it’s easier to name authors who have inspired me, as each author has such a distinct voice. But Stephen King, Tamora Pierce, Sherwood Smith, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, Kristin Cashore, are just a few authors who have inspired me, and there are dozens more.
Do you make playlists for your books?
Not always, but sometimes. Because a great deal of my writing for Catskin happened at the farm where I worked until 2013, I would just be on break, or at lunch sitting out by the crick. I do have three different playlists for projects I’m working on right now, which I use more because now I’m often writing where blocking outside sounds is a handy thing to do.
Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
I often have multiple WIPs going at a time. I’m currently working on several. One is the prequel to Catskin, which is under the working title of ‘Astray’. It will show the events that led to Catskin ending up in Ansel’s shed, where we meet her in Catskin the book. At the same time, I’m working on a contemporary young adult titled ‘A Place to Land’ which follows a girl coming to grips with loss, and tragedy. Then there’s ‘Blooded’ a contemporary young adult with magical elements that involve the Wild Hunt, and, finally, the odd man out, ‘Grimalkin’ an adult fantasy, which was actually conceived at the 2015 Sirens Conference, a conference for women in fantasy literature that I attend yearly.
If you could invite four authors to dinner, dead or alive, who would they be?
Ooooh, that’s difficult one. *wallows around in indecision*. Poe is on the list, obviously. Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and Alfred Tennyson would round out the lot. I know, all poets and also all men, but their poetry is something I reread to this day, and something that inspires me constantly.
About the Author:
Artemis Grey was raised on fairytales and the folklore of Appalachia. She’s been devouring books and regurgitating her daydreams into written words since childhood. She can most often be found writing by a crackling fire or rambling barefooted through the woods and mountains, napping (yes, napping) on horseback, searching the depths of random wardrobes and wriggling into hollow tree trunks. In her downtime, she herds cats, which is just as entertaining as it sounds. She hopes to make her readers look at the world they’ve always seen, and see the world they’ve always envisioned.
Social Media Links:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Artemis-