I interviewed the lovely and talented Katharine Grubb, foundress of 10 Minute Novelists. She’s what’s known as a hybrid author (both self- and traditionally-published) and a busy homeschooling mother of five. Katharine’s garnered the respect and affection of more than a thousand diverse, fellow time-crunched writers.
Tell me about the early days when the kids were little and you began writing a novel. Was it as haphazard and chaotic as I imagine? (Because it’s a zoo here, and I have one less child, the older ones are spaced farther apart, and I don’t homeschool.)
It was chaotic. I knew going in none of it would be neat and tidy. I’ll be honest, some days all my expectations did was expose my delusion. Some days I handled interruptions well. Some days I didn’t. But motherhood is a game of inches. You don’t teach order once, you teach it daily. You don’t teach hygiene once, you teach it daily. You don’t teach manners once, you teach it daily. It’s the same with my personal goals. What mattered to my writing is that I did something daily. Once I organized my time and household, made a plan and stuck to it, I got those ten minutes in. I also learned to be content with low expectations. If you can get through the day and say, everyone ate something, the house didn’t burn down and we didn’t go to the ER, so it was a good day. But now my kids are older and the lessons I taught them about order and hygiene and manners are paying off because they can basically run the house without me. My increments for writing are much, much longer.
I think of Falling For Your Madness as a quirky, clean romance. The main character, David, is, at a minimum, offbeat. What did you hope to convey by what I’ll call his extreme chivalry?
You think he’s just a little offbeat? 😉 I wanted to create a character, a man, that a woman couldn’t say no to. In my mind, that man would have to be extremely respectful and conscientious of his power. I exaggerated David and created his elaborate backstory to prove a point. He gets the reader’s attention. I also hoped by writing Laura in first person, and by not describing her appearance, that readers could put themselves in her position and wonder what they would do with David. If I had one goal, it was to get my readers to think. The world doesn’t need another romance. But it does need reasons to think about chivalry and respect.
Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of the huge upward trajectory your career has taken over the past couple of years?
What a ride it’s been! It all started with Falling For Your Madness even though there was a novel before that one. In January of 2013, FFYM was named a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award annual contest. That meant that it was in the top 25 of 10,000 entries. For writers, it’s kind of like being on the stage at American Idol. Days after getting that news, I was contacted by Hodder & Stoughton, who I honestly think Googled Ten Minute Writer and found my original blog on which I gushed about FFYM’s success. They wanted a book Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day and asked me if I’d do it. I was so freaked out I didn’t even know how to answer! But because I had been reading writing blogs for years, I knew an agent’s advice would be helpful. I emailed my top three agents. Of those three, Chip MacGregor was the only one who answered me back. Chip negotiated my contract and we got to meet in person a few times! Then, as I started drafting the book, I was thinking about marketing and how having a community around my book would not only sell it, but would also (hopefully) build a long-lasting platform for future books. I really didn’t know what I was doing in March of 2014 when I started 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook. But I did know that time-crunched writers everywhere needed tips and encouragement. I find it easy and fun to help people. The Facebook group has evolved into something I could have never dreamed up in a million years. I love everything about it.
I am most surprised at the many willing hands I have. Everybody wants to help make it successful. I have a team of admins who volunteer their time to monitor the conversations, admit new members and enforce rules. Vickie Miller hosts a chat every Sunday. I know I can ask for a favor, or insight on an issue or some practical help and I’ll end up with more than enough. It astounds and delights me how the effort I put into the group (all of my silliness and invisible snacks!) is multiplied many times over. This brings me so much joy. We’re getting a reputation for being fun, practical and orderly. The leaders and I have every intention of continuing this no matter how big we get.
Who did you have in mind when you wrote Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day? Can anyone who’s ever thought ‘hey, I’d like to write a book someday’ pick it up and find a blueprint for success?
Yes! I wrote the book under the assumption that the reader knew nothing about story, genre, plots, characters, settings and drafting. I also have precise instructions on how to spend those precious ten minutes. This book is not for the writer who has an isolated cabin in the woods. This book is for moms like you, with screaming toddlers in the next room, who need their hand to be held through the writing process.
You have another novel slated for release later this year, Soulless Creatures. I’m intrigued by the premise of one young man proving to another that he does, indeed, have a soul.[Have I got that right? Or is it more general?] Can you tell me a little more about it?
You got it right! Back in 1986, when I was 18 years old, I thought I knew everything. I went off to college thinking I would take it by storm. My main characters, Roy and Jonathan are doing the same thing. They’re entering the University of Oklahoma in 1986 (my alma mater) with big dreams. Roy, a working class redneck, is a natural leader trying to live down the expectations of his small town and con artist father. Jonathan, an entitled preppy, is a self-absorbed over thinker, trying to avoid fraternity life and the expectations of his pampered life and his lawyer mother. Roy thinks Jonathan is a big crybaby who might be successful in wooing Abby if he’d stop obsessing over Walden. Jonathan thinks Roy is a superficial hick who might show some self-actualization if he’d stop flirting with every girl he meets. They make a wager. Jonathan bets his the car he got for graduation that Roy has no soul — no inner life, no depth, no poetic thought. Roy, thinking that this is the easiest game he’s ever played, takes the bet and spends the rest of the school year proving Jonathan wrong. Not only does this contest bind the two roommates together, but they also compete for Abby’s attention, avoid their surly RA, organize the whole floor in the most innovative events on campus and avoid getting caught up in a fake ID ring. Oh, and pass zoology and cheer on the Sooners. They do NOT know everything, big surprise.