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Debut Author Interview: Kate Norris and When You and I Collide Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Kate Norris here to share about her YA historical/time travel When You and I Collide. The story line sounds fascinating, and it’s set in WWII. I’m looking forward to reading it this summer.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads: 

A race against time, war, and the very fabric of the universe itself, perfect for fans of Sliding Doors and 11/22/63 .

Sixteen-year-old Winnie Schulde has always seen splits--the moment when two possible outcomes diverge, one in her universe and one in another. Multiverse theory, Winnie knows, is all too real, though she has never been anything but an observer of its implications--a secret she keeps hidden from just about everyone, as she knows the uses to which it might be put in the midst of a raging WWII. But her physicist father, wrapped up in his research and made cruel by his grief after the loss of Winnie's mother, believes that if he pushes her hard enough, she can choose one split over another and maybe, just maybe, change their future and their past.

Winnie is certain that her father's theories are just that, so she plays along in an effort to placate him. Until one day, when her father's experiment goes wrong and Scott, the kind and handsome lab assistant Winnie loves from afar, is seriously injured. Without meaning to, Winnie chooses the split where Scott is unharmed. And in doing so, finds herself pulled into another universe, an alternate reality. One that already has a Winnie.

In this darkly thrilling novel that blends science and war with love and loss, some actions just can't be undone.


Before I get to my interview with Kate, I have my IWSG Post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the July 7th posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Optional Question: What would make you quit writing?

To be honest, the heartbreak of losing my husband and all the other life changes that happened soon after that almost made me stop writing. I came very close to hitting delete on everything I’d written.

Thankfully, I only threw away a few newspaper clippings and did come back to my writing last year. I’m enjoying the process, and my writing is much stronger. But I’m just not as excited about being published anymore after everything I’ve gone through and watching so many authors go through the ups and downs of publishing.

It’s a lot of work to write a novel, and I’m a slow writer. Plus, so much of the process other than writing is out of our control, which has also been the challenge I’ve gone through as I’ve navigated life since my husband died.

Right now, I’m enjoying the creative process, so I will continue to write. But if it becomes too much of a struggle or there are other important things, like family, taking up my time, I could see myself not writing.

What about you? What would stop you from writing?

Interview With Kate Norris

Hi Kate! Thanks so much for joining us!

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’ve always loved writing—my parents still have the ‘books’ I wrote when I was around 5 years old. But for whatever reason, I didn’t think writing was something I could realistically pursue as a career. When I was in my mid-twenties, working a job I hated, I realized I still dreamed of being a novelist, and decided to go for it. I knew I had no control over whether or not I would be successful, but I had control over whether or not I tried. I started writing again, eventually entered the MFA program at Ohio State, wrote a couple books that didn’t sell, and then, finally, one that did.

2. That’s awesome that you decided to go for it. Where did you get the idea for When You and I Collide?

I don’t have any sisters, so I’ve always found the dynamics of sisterhood really fascinating and wondered what it would be like to have one, especially a twin (we have many sets of twins and triplets in my extended family). That lead me to think about what it would be like to meet your own double. What if they were doing better than you by every metric?

I’ve also often had the feeling when things are such close calls that oh, that must have actually happened, just somewhere else in the multiverse. Like there’s another version of myself who did X or who avoided Y. And just more widely, I became interested in the idea of regret, and this character who was so plagued by regret that she wanted to try to make things un-happen.

So all of that ended up coalescing into the story of this girl whose life is pretty miserable, who happens to be able to see when alternative realities splinter off from her own. The boy she loves is killed in an accident, and she’s so unable to cope with that reality that she wills herself into another world. A better world, that already has another better (or so she thinks) version of herself in it.

3. It’s fascinating how your “what ifs” developed into this story. Your story is set in WWII. What research did you have to do to get the details of this time period right?

Thank god for the internet. I did a lot of googling, particularly about what NYC was like during the 40s. There is luckily a ton of material out there, including lots of photos, which helped bring the time to life for me, as well as watching lots of movies produced around the same time. But most of the worldbuilding focused on layering in historically-accurate scientific detail because that was what was most interesting to me about the period (that’s the “why” of the setting—I wanted the backdrop of the quantum revolution, and there is a particular story about Erwin Schrödinger that cemented the novel being set in 1942). My undergrad degree covered a ton of history and philosophy of science, so for that stuff it was more a process of re-learning things I vaguely remembered.

4. That’s great that you could re-learn what you’d already learned in college. You received your MFA from Ohio University and taught creative writing. You were also a fiction editor for The Journal. How have these experiences helped you in writing this story?

I’ve been told that one of my greatest strengths as a writer is how willing I am to radically revise, which is absolutely the result of years of workshopping as a student, as well as trying to help students revise and working as an editor. As a writer, it’s tempting to convince yourself that you can get away with revising minimally. As an editor and teacher, you see how false this is.

5. Share about your plotting process for When You and I Collide. Have you changed how you plot your stories from this experience?

I had the same experience I’ve seen other writers share: I did very minimal plotting for Collide. This led to an agonizing, several-year revision process. Now, I do much more planning before just diving into writing a draft. I’m still not a heavy outliner though. Basically, I try to have a strong sense of who the main characters are as human beings and know the major events that are going to happen, but a lot of the “how” I figure out along the way, which keeps things feeling alive for me while I’m writing. I wrote a book last year and this planning took the shape of a hybrid query-style summary/synopsis (longer and more detailed than a typical query, shorter and less fleshed out than a typical synopsis), as well as a sort of mental outline of the major plot points and twists. That book and the one I’m working on now are both thrillers, so I felt like I needed to know the solution to the puzzle I was writing from the beginning.

6. Yes, I’ve had to learn to plot more too after not plotting my first one and having to revise extensively. Winnie sounds like a fascinating character who is faced with tough choices. Did you have a good sense of her as a character before you started writing her story or did that change through drafting your manuscript? What are your three favorite things about her?

I need to feel like I know the main character to be able to start writing, but I also learned more about Winnie as I wrote, and her character shifted a bit over the course of revisions too. Probably my favorite thing about her is the tension between how logical and scientifically minded she is, and how much she relies on her daydreams about her love interest Scott to cope with her unpleasant life. She’s outwardly very rational and cold, but inside very fanciful. I also love how insecure she is and how much she really doesn’t know herself very well at all, because that gives her the space to really learn and grow over the course of the book.

7. Your agent is Lara Perkins. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

When You and I Collide was represented by both Lara Perkins and Laura Rennert. I originally queried Laura with the book I wrote before Collide (a sci-fi dystopian that we never ended up going on submission with), and back then Laura was taking on some clients in conjunction with Lara, who was an Assistant Agent at the time. Long story short, I cold-queried with a different project, was offered representation from Lara and Laura as co-agents, that book didn’t pan out and I wrote Collide, Laura and Lara offered editorial guidance over several rounds of revisions, then once it was ready we went on submission. It was on submission for one very long round, and sold after about 10 months. Of course, now Lara is a full Agent, and we transitioned to her representing me on her own. (Incidentally, for anyone who is looking for representation, Laura and Lara are both extremely gifted editorial agents who are a dream to work with, although I believe Lara is closed to queries at the moment.)

8. That’s great that you had the benefit of being represented by Lara and Laura. What is something that surprised you about the process of becoming a published author? Why?

I was warned that at every stage of publishing you don’t feel accomplished, just anxious about the next thing, but I still felt like “Oh, if I ever publish a novel, I’ll just be thrilled for forever.” I was wrong! And I’m still wrong! Because even now I think, “Oh, if I sell another novel, then I’ll never worry again!” It always feels like the next benchmark is the thing that will bring an end to all anxiety, but the benchmarks just shift.

9. What have you done to promote When You and I Collide and what are your future marketing plans? What advice do you have for other writers hoping to become a debut author?

About six months before the release of Collide, I started to panic about book promotion. It was becoming obvious that Collide wasn’t going to be a “big” book, and I so desperately want it to do well because it’s my baby and I love it, but mostly I just really, really want to be able to keep publishing books. Then I read a few extremely helpful blog posts like this one, whose advice basically summed up to “self-promotion isn’t going to make or break your book, so relax”. I’ve done some guest blogging, regularly participate in the #debutauthorchat on Twitter, have signed stock at local bookstores, and am hoping to participate in some festivals and conferences. I would love to do school and library visits too. But instead of spending time and money doing a pre-order campaign and trying to somehow teach myself how to be a marketing professional, I focused on finishing another book. So I think my advice would be “know yourself and work to your strengths”.    

10. You’re making me feel much better about marketing. What are you working on now?

I never know how coy I’m supposed to be about these things. Sometimes it seems like you’re supposed to keep everything a secret in publishing! But I’m currently working on a YA mystery with Twin Peaks vibes, set during a summer theater festival on an island off the coast of Maine.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kate. You can find Kate at https://linktr.ee/KateNorris

Giveaway Details

Kate has generously offered a hardback of When You and I Collide for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 24th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The giveaway is international.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family

Wednesday, July 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Analieze Cervantes and a query critique giveaway

Friday, July 16th I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 19th I have an interview with debut author Alysa Wishingrad and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Verdigris Pawn

Wednesday, July 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Mary Cummings and a query critique giveaway

Monday, July 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Allison Hellegers and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!




Liza said...

When You and I Collide sounds like an amazing book. I love the premise. Kate, being a New England girl and a Maine fan, I love the story behind your next book, too! Thank you Natalie, as always, for the informative and helpful interview.

Pat Garcia said...

I can very well understand the deep tear in your heart after losing your husband. I think we all have different ways of dealing with it but that kind of hurts makes you sit back and breathe as you deal daily with the loss.
I'm glad you started writing again.
Wishing you all the best.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Jemi Fraser said...

What an excellent premise for When You and I Collide! Intriguing!

It would be serious life events that would halt my writing for a while as well, Natalie. Glad you're enjoying the writing - that's the key!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Natalie, just enjoy writing for you. Less stress.
Cool Kate's book is set in 1942.

Leigh Caron said...

Glad you found your way back to writing...and as Alex said - less stress. When You and I Collide sounds awesome. Will check it out.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Sounds like an interesting book.
Keep writing, Natalie! Writing is (mostly) a personal thing, anyway :-)

Ronel visiting for IWSG day Obstacles to Overcome and My Podcast is Live!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, losing a loved one can be very devastating, it makes us so low, that we have no interest in anything.

Ilona Bray said...

I'm not usually a time travel fan, but When You and I Collide sounds both fascinating and sweet. Gotta read it!

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

When You and I Collide sounds like such a great read—the premise is so original! It was interesting to hear about how self-promotion of your book isn't the biggest deal—you definitely see a lot of authors concerned about that, but it makes sense that it is just a smaller piece in a bigger puzzle. And it is funny how some authors keep all of their future writing plans extremely secret, but others don't!

Also, Natalie, I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that, and I can definitely understand almost quitting writing afterwards. But I'm glad you've kept with it, and I love that you've changed your focus more toward writing for yourself, instead of necessarily aiming to get published—that sounds like a really healthy mindset to have!

I'll pass on the giveaway, but thanks so much for the great interview! And it looks like there's a great schedule of new posts in July—I'm looking forward to them!

Sarah Meade said...

This book sounds fantastic. I love time travel stories, so I look forward to reading it! Congratulations, Kate!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

One that already has a Winnie - that's a twist.

Write because you enjoy it and don't worry about publication, Natalie.

Chemist Ken said...

Devastating life events would be about the only thing that would stop me from wanting to write. I'm praying I don't get any of those until I run out of stories.

"When You And I Collide" sounds intriguing.

Computer Tutor said...

I do think losing my husband could make me do the unthinkable, one of which would be quit writing.

And Kate--your book sounds absolutely amazing! What an intriguing concept and a peak at why we'll do stuff that we say we wont

Stephanie Owen said...

Kate, congratulations on your book! It sounds amazing.

Nancy Gideon said...

Kate's book sounds awesome! Thanks for previewing it, Natalie. (((HUGS))) on your crushing loss and kudos for bravely getting back to the keyboard. I've found a remarkable support group amongst the written words that take me out of my own situation and into one I can control.

Fundy Blue said...

Congratulations, Kate, for an interesting interview and for publishing what sounds like a great book. And Natalie, I thought of you many times as Terry was recovering from his heart attack. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must have been for you to lose your husband. I'm glad that you found your way back to writing, and you do inspiring work on your blog. Take care, my friend. Sending you a big hug!

Chrys Fey said...

I’m glad you’re writing again and didn’t delete everything you’d ever written. I can understand not being excited about publishing. I’ve been there many times. It’s why I’ve decided not to publish anything for a while. At least not this year. Publishing is disheartening and stressful. The creative process of writing is better, and I’m glad you found that joy again. Take care!

emaginette said...

I'm very much like you. Creating and exercising my imagination is what I love about writing. I'll always write. hehehe

Anna from elements of emaginette

Rosi said...

Another interesting interview, and the book sounds very interesting as well. I don't read much YA, but I might make an exception for this one. Thanks for telling me about it. I will pass on the giveaway.

Samantha Bryant said...

Thanks for popping by my blog today. Reading your IWSG post got me thinking about feeling in control and a writing life, and it's interesting how you are both in charge and not in charge in different senses when you choose a writing life. @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Olga Godim said...

I find that writing is a wonderful way to channel your emotions. Especially negative emotions like frustration, anger, grief. One of my first published stories I wrote a couple years after my brush with breast cancer. I channeled all my fears and determination and uncertainties into my protagonist, and the story was picked up by an anthology. What I couldn't say (didn't dare to say) about my own vulnerabilities made my protagonist real, and made the readers appreciate her.

Jenni said...

This book sounds like an amazing book! I like the historical setting, the multiverse slant, and the intriguing characters. I want to read this now!
Natalie, I think it's so great that you found your way back to writing. I think it's totally normal not to be so excited about publishing. It's such an up and down thing, and you've been through so much. I sort of feel the same way about publishing right now, but focusing on just writing helps me keep moving forward.

diedre Knight said...

Hi Natalie!
Maybe it's just me, but if you leave scary words like marketing and publication out of the equation, you'll find yourself back at that comfortable writing place. You'll share when you're ready. No hurry, no worries:-)
Congratulations to Kate! Her books sounds fantastic!

tetewa said...

Congrats on the release, sounds like something I would enjoy! Continued success, keep writing!

Melissa said...

I'm glad you didn't give up your writing, Natalie. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Loni Townsend said...

Kate's book sounds good. Yeah, when life throws rough patches at us, it's hard to keep going on what then seems frivolous. I am glad you have found joy again in writing. I'm a bit like you, though. I have no passion for publishing after seeing the struggles others face.

cleemckenzie said...

Losing your life partner shakes everything up, including what you love to do. I thought about the same thing as you and stopped writing for a while. Now I'm easing back into it.

The cover on this new book is beautiful, and I hear what the author says when she blesses the internet. If you need to find out something it's only a few clicks away.

Carol Kilgore said...

I cannot imagine not writing in some way. I think I will always write, even if only in my head.

Sandra Cox said...

I have so much admiration for you, Natalie. I can't imagine too many things harder than losing a spouse. If there's anything I can ever do to help, critique or beta read, shout out.
Kate, your book sounds amazing. I love tales of alternate universes.

Pat Hatt said...

Have to keep on keeping on, but yeah, life can sure bring one down with all the crap piling up.

Interesting how the road went indeed.

J.A. Nielsen said...

Love this--the premise of Collide sounds amazing. And I really appreciate the advice for debut authors about the marketing side of things.

SC Seaman said...

Collide sounds interesting! Thanks for another great interview. Sharing this interview on Twitter as well.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It's good to hear you're writing again.

When You and I Collide sounds like a fabulous read!

Liz A. said...

Sounds like a fascinating premise. Making the alternate realities thing work is a challenge, but it sounds like she pulled it off.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I am finding, when I think about it, that I not only can't see giving up writing, I wouldn't want to give up publishing, in whatever small and personal way. I think that sharing my writing has helped me grow as a writer, and yes, the nice things people say help my self-confidence.

satkins said...

When You and I collide is a definate for me to read,thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you, Natalie. When my husband got sick, I couldn't write at all. And when he died in December, I could barely function, much less write. I'm writing again, but it's a whole different experience now, because he's not here to share it, and he was always my number one cheerleader. Published? Don't really care anymore. But I'm enjoying the characters and the world I'm building. So there's that.

Michelle Wallace said...

If you enjoy writing can you really quit? I don’t think so. You may have phases, where you don’t write much; but eventually you will find your way back to the blank page.
And I'm talking about writing for the sheer pleasure of writing, and possibly publishing something along the way.
Then there's writing to pay the bills - that's a different story.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the interview and chance to win this exciting book! It's already on my TBR and wish list. I follow Natalie on Twitter.

Tonja Drecker said...

Sometimes writing goes on a pause, but I think it's because writing comes from the heart. But that doesn't mean it disappears. I see it as a time to grow and be inspired, since writing also comes from inspiration...and that comes from life. But I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it again!
And this book sounds amazing!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

The key here, Natalie, is "almost made me stop writing." Bravo to you to push forward and return to your writing and make it even stronger. You are very brave, my dear.

And yes, I agree with everyone here. The book does sound wonderful. All the luck with this new release.

dolorah said...

Awesome premise Kate. Congrats.

Glad to see you still posting Natalie. Stay upbeat :)

Jemima Pett said...

Reading through the comments as well, I find that Lee has said everything I would. Great to have an interview with a debut writer in IWSG day as well ( although I think you’ve done that before😀

mshatch said...

Boy does this sound like a book I'd love! I may have to buy it if I don't win it :) Best of luck to Kate.

Quenntis said...

My deepest condolences. I lost my mom over 20 years ago, and it almost made me throw in the towel as a creative artist. The speech I gave was titled, "Beyond Words" and I often feel that there are certain times in our lives where we inhabit a place words cannot reach. I'm glad I am still able to write, and I am sure the words will still be there for me for many more years.


Charlotte said...

Have added this to my tbr list! Sounds great.

traveler said...

Wonderful, captivating and intriguing. What a beautiful post. Thank you for your talent and creativity. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Angie Quantrell said...

Oh, this sounds wonderful! What a great story! Congratulations, Kate!

I will tweet this. :)
angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Sunnymay said...

The historical speculative fiction novel set in WWII has a strong female lead and a father who wants his theories to be true. It looks like an immersive read.
am widen at aol dot com