INTERVIEW WITH KATE ABBOTT:
How did you get started writing?
I have written as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid, before I could actually write for myself, I would tell my grandmother stories and she would write them down for me. When I was in college, I knew that someday I wanted to write a novel, but I didn't know if I could do it. I was always too scared to start. I didn't write anything for years.
But one day, after I had developed bad repetitive stress injuries at my job, my doctor told me I could not type or even use a pen for a month. As soon as he told me I could not physically write, it was all I wanted to do. The day he told me I could use a pen, I started writing Disneylanders longhand. I wrote the whole book that way.
Who influenced you?
The books I loved as a kid definitely influenced me--Harriet the Spy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, even the Babysitters' Club books! Now, in addition to kids' books, I love Joan Didion, I love Diana Gabaldon, I love Anne Lamott. They all inspire me to start putting words on the page.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
Wow, this is so hard! I think my favorite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice. My favorite subject is probably love--romantic, friendship, familial, love of a place. I think depending on how it's described and the role it plays in a story, I could love pretty much any setting. My favorite character is really difficult. I'm not sure if she counts as a character, but Joan Didion's voice in her essays is just astonishing to me. She's my favorite.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Anne Lamott says: "How to write: Butt in chair. Start each day anywhere. Let yourself do it badly. Just take one passage at a time. Get butt back in chair." "Butt in chair" is my mantra. Also, don't be afraid to write badly. The most important thing is getting words down on the page. You can fix them later, but don't even worry about that when you're writing new material. Just get the story out of your head, imperfectly, and down on the page.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I wrote most of Disneylanders on my kitchen table. I wrote some of it in a hotel while taking a Disney vacation! But my favorite place to write now is in my office at home on my good old Ikea desk.
What else would you like to tell us?
If you like reading and writing, and want to support it, I would encourage you to go to any literary events in your town, buy books, and leave reviews for books online, and even contact writers you enjoy to let them know you enjoy their work. I'm kind of shy about this, but if you can do it, it means the world. It absolutely blows me away when someone sends me a message saying that they enjoyed my book, or that their kid liked it, even that it made them book a trip to Disneyland! Writing is very solitary, so when someone reaches out to you like that, it just makes my day, week, month. I'm sure I'm not the only writer who feels that way. That kind of connection with readers makes it all worthwhile.
Thank you for the questions, LitPick!