Interview by Jill Earl
Katie Noah Gibson is a lover of books, travel, knitting, mellow music, dark chocolate and colorful scarves. She grew up on the plains of West Texas, where she still lives with her husband, Jeremiah, whom she married last June. Katie holds two degrees in English, has been writing since she could hold a pen, and plans every day how to get back to Oxford, England, where she spent a year earning her master's degree. Her writing has been published in Radiant magazine's print and online editions, as well as the online editions of Everyday Woman and Relevant magazines. Visit her blog at http://katieleigh.wordpress.com/.
If you haven't checked out the delightful Book By Its Cover, please take a look at it here, then c'mon back and join us for WOW!'s interview with Katie!
WOW: First of all, thanks for joining us, Katie, and congratulations on your winning entry! How does it feel?
KATIE: I am so honored to be named a winner in this contest! I love knowing that people appreciate my work.
WOW: Well, we appreciated reading your beautiful entry! Can you tell us a little about your story and what inspired you to create it?
KATIE: My story was inspired by my own mantel, which does in fact have books arranged by color. I found myself thinking that would be a fun beginning to a story, and the characters and plot evolved from there.
WOW: Great idea of looking to your own experience as inspiration for a story, and you're right, it was a fun beginning. As I read your story, all of my senses were engaged. I found myself identifying with your main character as she recalled the memories tied with her books. Such vivid and lush descriptions were a pleasure to read! How were you able to successfully accomplish this?
KATIE: Some of my main character's memories are actually mine--and I just imagined myself back in Blackwells, or Oxfam, or wandering the streets of Europe. I believe fiction should transport you to another place, and I tried to make my story do that. For me, concrete details are such fun to include--they really take the reader to wherever the character is.
WOW: I think you identified an important point when it comes to writing good fiction. In addition to transporting readers to other places, adding concrete details truly makes stories come alive.
Your story's ending was sweet and clever, I thought. How did you come up with it?
KATIE: The main character's love interest just wandered into the story--and I wanted to see where their relationship would go. I was pleased that the books played a role in his marriage proposal--and of course I knew she would say yes.
WOW: Of course! Sometimes it's more natural when you allow a character to show up and let things develop in a scene. It certainly worked in your piece.
Katie, how long have you been writing, and what excites you most about it?
KATIE: I've loved to write since I was a child. I am fascinated by the power of words to evoke memories, spin stories and literally change lives. I love that stories offer endless possibilities, and that we can shape our own lives by the words we choose to describe them.
WOW: It's amazing what we can do with words--and what they do to us in return, isn't it? Let's turn to your writing habits. Do you have a particular writing schedule that you follow?
KATIE: I try to write three pages of longhand writing every morning--as prescribed by Julia Cameron in several of her writing books. I've found that this helps me clear my head--the writing comes more easily later if I've started the day off by writing. I also post on my blog two to four times a week and I work on various projects as I have time.
WOW: Those are great habits you've established for yourself, and it shows in your work.
Now, what about your reading tastes? Have you a favorite author and/or book?
KATIE: I have several favorite books--my childhood favorite is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I also love Madeleine L'Engle (I wrote my master's thesis on her memoirs), Eva Rice, Dodie Smith, Kathleen Norris and Joanne Harris. (I actually got to meet Joanne and have her sign my books at the 2008 Oxford Literary Festival. What a thrill that was!)
WOW: Alcott's Little Women is a favorite of mine too, along with Little Men and Jo's Boys. I also love Madeleine L'Engle and Kathleen Norris.
Your bio mentions that you have two degrees in English and that you received your master's from Oxford. Can you tell us more about that?
KATIE: I've always been a reader and a writer, so I knew I wanted to major in English in college. I had a great experience in the English department at Abilene Christian University--fantastic professors, engaging discussion, great books. I studied abroad in Oxford as a college sophomore and fell completely in love with Oxford and England--I knew I had to go back. After college I took a year off to work and save some money, then applied for a master's program in Oxford and spent a year completing my degree. It was heavenly; Oxford is, of course, a great city for books, and it's my favorite place in the whole world.
WOW: What a marvelous opportunity! Studying at Oxford is a literary dream for many, including me! Do you have any projects currently in the works?
KATIE: I'm always blogging over on my site, Cakes, Tea and Dreams (http://katieleigh.wordpress.com/). I'm also revising a novel I drafted last fall as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo - nanowrimo.org). It, too, is based on my experiences in Oxford. And I'm always writing short travel pieces and things like that.
WOW: Thanks for your blog address, we'll definitely check in for updates! To wrap things up, what final advice would you like to share with WOW! readers?
KATIE: Keep writing. The people who say "Write every day" are absolutely right. Madeleine L'Engle has a wonderful metaphor for it--"keeping the clock wound." That's so important--only if you're consistently working, consistently practicing, will you truly experience growth as a writer.
WOW: "Keeping the clock wound." That's a noteworthy quote and super advice to leave with our readers.
Katie, thank you, it was a great pleasure chatting with you today. Best of luck to you and continued success in your writing endeavors!