Tell me a little about yourself, personally.
I’m Kat, a thirtysomething wild child whose mission in life is to answer the next question. I write fiction as A. Kat because I use my legal name for my scholarly work. I have been a nerd since childhood, and while I love to research a variety of subjects, my heart belongs to the interdisciplinary study of animal behavior, including humans. I’ve also been a geek since childhood, getting highly invested in the stories I consumed through books, television, comics, and games. This may be contradictory, but I’m a misanthrope who nevertheless believes strongly in the power of the human spirit and our capacity for good.
What is the name of the book or books you have published?
I write Inferno, a series of fantasy adventure books that I describe as heroic, character-driven, and “grimdark”. So far I have published two of them, Inferno: Cassandra’s Call and Inferno: In Elven Woods.
Where can they be found?
I sell my books digitally on Amazon, Apple Books, and Kobo, and I am open to selling on other stores in the future. If you go to my website, freethinkerfantasy.com, there are links to each book’s listing in all three stores, and as more installments are completed they will be there as well.
Do you have any current WIPs?
Yes! Right now I’m working on Inferno: The Shadow Alliance, the third book in the series. It’s a great story with some dramatic developments for the main characters that have been a lot of fun to write, so I’m excited to put it out.
How are they going?
A little slower than I’d like, but no good ever came from rushing. Quality is very important to me, and so at the editing stage, which is where I’m at now, I’m meticulous. Some of the text of Inferno 3 was written over five years ago, so I have to update that to make the tone consistent with what was written more recently and also make sure the continuity and characterizations are correct. I expect to release it early in 2020.
What got you into writing?
It’s hard for me to think of a time when I wasn’t into writing. I remember doing creative writing summer programs all the way back in elementary school, and I was always crafting little tales here and there. I definitely got more invested in it once I discovered online fan communities (specifically Xena: Warrior Princess) and started writing fanfiction as a young teenager.
What keeps you focused?
Focused? Me? Focus has always been an issue for me, because while I can get myself in a groove, I also have so many interests (not to mention my academic career!) that I often hop from project to project. I love starting things and am not the greatest at finishing them, but I’m trying to grow in that area, and I believe that I have. What’s kept me focused on Inferno all these years is the fact that this story and these characters matter to me. I believe in this project, I want to see it made real, and I want other people to be able to enjoy it as I’ve enjoyed it.
What gives you inspiration?
I get inspiration from so many things it’s hard to keep track of it all, but I think it’s worth saying how much my writing has been influenced by visual media, particularly TV shows, comics, animation, and video games. When I’m writing, I’m just describing a movie that’s playing in my head. This is particularly great for action scenes and critical dialogue. I’m no artist, but when I create major characters I do sketches and develop their visual design so I can picture them more easily, and sometimes aspects of their appearance develop into plot points. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how much my background in biology and anthropology influences my worldbuilding – I think about how particular animals would survive, or how a society’s history and mode of subsistence might be reflected in its culture. I really geek out to stuff like that, and I hope some of my readers will appreciate that level of detail. Hey, it worked for Ursula K. Le Guin.
How do you battle writer’s block?
If I find myself stuck on a scene I’m not enthusiastic to write, I’ll just write something else that I’m eager to put down, even if it’s far ahead in the story or even a side story. Obviously this doesn’t work when it’s time to buckle down and finish a particular book, but it can still help ease me back into the world, and I’ve produced some great scenes that way.
Did you decide on traditional or self publishing?
I self-publish my fiction through my own independent imprint, Freethinker Fantasy. I publish my scholarly work through “traditional” channels, though. Anyone who’s familiar with academic promotion and tenure will understand why!
What made you make that choice?
If indie publishing didn’t exist, I don’t think I would have ever put my original fantasy fiction out into the world. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against traditional publishing, and I wish the talented authors published this way only the best. I still buy print books in bookstores. But for me, personally, I can’t abide the compromises inherent in the traditional publishing process, especially the loss of control over my work. I have a particular story to tell in a particular way, and I won’t settle for a watered-down version of that. Self-publishing has allowed me to take the plunge and actually sell my work through major commercial outlets while retaining complete ownership. Digital distribution helps minimize costs, too. Economies of scale are a lot less relevant when you’re not printing and shipping anything. That said, someday, I might like to do a print run of several installments of Inferno put together, much as “floppy” comics are to trade paperbacks. It doesn’t seem feasible without crowdfunding it beforehand, though, and for now I’d rather just write.
How does it feel to be considered an author?
Am I “considered an author”? I’m not sure. I like recognition as much as the next person, but what would really excite me is people geeking out to the world I’ve created the way I do. My ideal conversation with a reader isn’t, “Wow, you’re so talented!” so much as “Wow, I’m so invested in the team’s journey and I can’t wait to see where they go from here. Is [character] really trustworthy or will they make a face-heel turn? How will [character] deal with their past mistakes? And was [X in-story thing] a reference to [Y book/song/show]?” That’s what I’m in it for, really.
What’s your social media platforms for people to find you?
I’m on Goodreads as A. Kat. I’m on Twitter as @nerdc0re84 and also @infernobyakat where I am “in-character” as Lady Cassandra (the leader of the heroes in Inferno). And finally, you can head over to freethinkerfantasy.com and sign up for the email newsletter to get all the latest updates on new releases.