We’ve been interviewing each other here at AO&R so you can get to know us a bit better. The final instalment in this series, I get to interview Kat Calmer.
You write across a few categories, tell us a bit about what it’s like to shift between them.
I never set out to write across several categories. I simply wrote the stories that wanted to be written at the time. I’ve dipped my pen into middle grade, young adult, new adult and adult ink pots across both the contemporary and paranormal genres. The common thread running throughout all my writing, however, is a voice that leans towards humour and a desire to infuse an underlying message of hope even when touching on serious topics.
You have a MG story that’s close to home, what was it like to write something so personally inspired?
Change of Heart was inspired by my firstborn child’s emergency cardiac surgery. Now almost fifteen years old, my son was born with a heart condition requiring him to have open heart surgery at birth, followed by a second surgery at age ten. Stressful times, the first surgery in particular as it entailed a three-month emotional rollercoaster ride in paediatric intensive care.
Unlike the first surgery, the second was planned and therefore a little easier (just) for everyone involved to cope with. It was sitting by my son’s hospital bed, inhaling the unique scent of hospital bleach mixed with hand sanitizer, all the beeps and dings of medication pumps providing my daily soundtrack as they kept my child alive, that inspired me to write a middle grade tale of a cardiac kid. Writing something so personal was both difficult as well as cathartic. The story was published by the New South Wales School magazine ‘Touchdown’ in 2015, and I honestly think it was the emotion unlocked by the underlying experience that saw it picked up for print.
You got a book coming out with Entangled Teen soon(ish). *leans in close* Tell us more!
My YA paranormal romance is about eighteen-year-old ‘master of the meaningless hook-up’ Jonas Leander who discovers he is cursed to endure a test of true love or forever be alone. At first he figures it’s a revenge prank by a disgruntled ex (he’s got enough of them), but when an impulsive kiss between him and long-time friend, Cora, makes her the target of Old Testament demons hell-sent to prevent Jonas from finding true love, the curse becomes dangerously real.
Set against the backdrop of Sydney’s North Shore and Ku-ring-gai National Park, the novel is a fast-paced YA romp involving taekwondo, swinging sickle swords, some award winning kissing, and a Siamese fighting fish called Mr Miyagi. So if you like your YA romance with a touch of the supernatural, a sprinkle of snarky humour and a good dose of action, this novel might just be for you. The release date is August 2017!
What advice would you have for Aussie authors trying to make it with US publishers like Entangled?
For Aussies who might think a story with an Aussie flavour will be too parochial for a US publisher, DON’T! I almost didn’t submit to Entangled for this very reason. I’ve since learnt if the overall story has a wide-reaching appeal, an Australian setting isn’t going to stop it being picked up by a US publisher. And as with any publisher—Australian or otherwise—professionalism as well as a good story are key. Always follow submission guidelines and polish that query letter until it blinds you with its shine.
What are you working on at the moment?
In between edits for my debut, I’m working on the sequel to my YA paranormal. Book 2 is about Jonas’ friend, Leo. Already on the demon hit list because of something he’s done in book 1, things get worse for him when he causes Jonas to be kidnapped by the very hellhounds who are after him, and he agrees to help Beth (Jonas’ sister) plan and execute a rescue.
Rapid fire questions
Plotter or Panster?
Plantser, as in I like to know where I start and where I’m heading as well as the key turning points in between, but everything else is up for grabs.
Unicorns, Griffins or Phoenix?
Unicorns … but this type:
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. Definitely coffee. Preferably a Katachino. What’s that you ask? A cross between a long black and a cappuccino. I’m a long black fan at heart but love me a bit of chocolaty froth on my coffee. Best of both worlds!
Physical book, eBook or audio?
Physical and eBook depending on my reading environment. Love snuggling up on the couch with a paper book but dig the convenience of an eBook when standing in line somewhere or travelling. Not a fan of audio; I like to dictate my reading pace.
Notepad, typewriter or laptop?
Laptop at home and notepad when out and about. Unless I’m stuck, then I turn for the pen and paper. Something about the feel of a pen moving across the page helps unlock the words.
Kat Colmer is a Young and New Adult author and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. She also sings (occasionally) and speaks German (almost fluently). Her hope is to one day read one of her novels in Deutsch.
Sharon M. Johnston is a YA and NA author from the Sunny Queensland (except for when there’s weather events like Cyclone Debbie). She’s a Pitch Wars mentor and delivers the live Pitch Wars Road Show workshop at writerly events in Australia (and once in Las Vegas). Her Open Heart series is out now with City Owl Press.