In a world of hard-working writers, I sometimes think no one works harder than Catherine Stine. She’s always moving, always changing, always willing to try something new. Her latest novel, Dorianna, is a modern day twist on the Dorian Grey story. Catherine will be leading the workshop on Young Adult writing. PWC Board member Gregory Frost grabbed some time with Catherine to discuss conferences, the writing process, and what makes fiction “Young Adult.” Find out what she has to say after the break.
How important are conferences and conventions to a writer?
When I was an aspiring writer I attended numerous conferences, including the SCBWI regional and national (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). These were indispensible in teaching me about the field. You network with other writers, learn specific skills, meet editors and agents and a host of other helpful things.
Can you give an example or two of what distinguishes YA from adult fiction?
The YA voice must be from the teen’s point of view. The plotting is often more fast-paced and high concept, with plenty of twists and turns. There is usually a romance, or at least a thread of it. And it can’t have as many digressions from the forward action as in adult fiction. That said, many YA novels are quite experimental and literary.
When did you first recognize that you were a writer?
I was always writing stories and illustrating them. In fourth grade I decided to write a novel. I got to the third chapter and couldn’t figure out how to plot the rest. By sixth grade, I’d written my first fantasy, called A Better World about kids who escape from an attic window to an exotic jungle world. My teacher Xeroxed copies for my classmates, which was a thrill. I’ve also been a working artist. One of my book series (The Art of Love written with my pen name, Kitsy Clare) is all about the inside track of the art world. It was more fun to write about artists than to do art!
Would you describe briefly your own writing process?
A novel will brew in me a good while before I start to write it. Once I decide to actively work on a project, I outline it and then write a detailed synopsis before I tackle chapters. I only work on one one novel at a time. There are more steps to my writing process, but I’ll leave some of them for my writing course. LOL. I only write in the afternoons. That’s just my best time—between 3 and 8 pm—no earlier, and no later. I belong to a writers’ space. It helps to go there and work in a cubicle, where I hear other writers typing. I wrote much of Dorianna and my Fireseed novels there.
Has digital publishing affected your writing/sales/promotional approach?
I’m a hybrid author. This means big and smaller publishers have published me and I’ve also indie pubbed. I like each method for different reasons, and I’ve learned so much about the publishing market by involving myself in all of these. Ebooks are a huge part of the market now as brick and mortar stores are shrinking. Much of marketing has gone online, and authors are always experimenting with new ways to promote. Being part of the online author/blogger/reader community continues to be quite helpful. I do a lot of cross-promotional online events and I belong to three author online promo groups, including a Netgalley collective. There are always new strategies on the brew. It’s an exciting time, and there are still plenty of enthusiastic readers out there to connect with.
What are you looking forward to at the 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference?
I love meeting aspiring writers, helping to inform and inspire them and hear about their projects. I also get a kick out of hanging out with the Philadelphia authors and teachers involved in the event. I feel a tight bond with the Philadelphia community, since I grew up in Mount Airy and I pop down here all the time to see my family.
Ready to meet Catherine and find out all she knows about the Young Adult world?