A New Novel with Grace on Top

Last year at this time I’d never even heard of Katharine Grubb. Then I got hooked on her newly-published novel, Falling For Your Madness. If you haven’t read that yet, what are you waiting for?K Grubb headshot

Katharine has an author page on Facebook that’s a lot of fun. But I think I’ve gotten to know her best through Twitter, which is about right, since she’s a very busy homeschooling mom of 5 whose claim to fame is writing novels in 10-minute increments. Twitter is a medium that was made for people who can do that!

Right now she’s working on her third novel, which takes place at the University of Oklahoma (coincidentally, the Fighting Irish’s opponent this weekend!) We’ve agreed to put aside our football differences for the purposes of this interview so I could ask her about the FIRST novel she wrote (though not the first one she published). The Truth About the Sky is available now at Amazon!

I don’t write fiction, but I love to read it, so it was a lot of fun interviewing Katharine about the writing process. I can’t wait to read the book!

What was your inspiration for writing this novel?

My inspiration for TTATS was Arrested Development. I wanted to write a book that had a dysfunctional family, exaggerated plots and ridiculous situations yet pointed to truth somehow. I visualized the mom character, Jeanah Roche, as Lucille Bluth and it seemed easy, at that point, to create the family that orbited around her. The Roches are a dysfunctional Evangelical Pastor’s family and they have got so caught up in the expectations of church life that they forget what family and faith is all about. I drew heavily from my childhood memories to write this and many of the activities and programs were exactly what I did long ago in northeastern Oklahoma.

What is the most difficult part of writing a novel?

I think the most difficult part is keeping doubt at bay. Even though this book is my second to be released, it’s the first to be written and honestly, there are passages in it that were rewritten dozens and dozens of times. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have a lot of confidence, but as I sculpted the entire thing together, I could believe in myself and trust that someday it would all come together. It did, after five years.

Truth about the sky coverWhen you write a novel, do you figure out the story arc first, or do you let yourself be guided by inspiration as you go along?

For me it’s a combination of both. I don’t like to write a word unless I can mentally see a beginning, middle and end. Then I spend a couple of months “pantsing” or freewriting like a crazy person. Usually in that stage, much of the characters’ inner struggles really come out and I see hidden themes and details come to life. Then I cut and paste the heck out of it, free write more and then organize into loose chapters.  Then I draft and redraft a chapter at a time.

Describe how you figured out that 10-minute writing could work for you.

Back in 2006, I had five children eight years old and younger. I also had my computer in my kitchen. I wanted to write so, so badly and I believed that if I could just carve out a little time every day, then it would add up. I used to set my timer for ten minutes, write like a mad woman, then go be a mom (laundry, dishes, childcare, whatever) for ten minutes. If I could put in an hour a day on my story doing that, I thought it was awesome! And woe to the child who decided they needed apple juice during the wrong ten minutes!  Now, my children are much older and more self-sufficient so the 10 minute increments aren’t are necessary. I can actually write for an hour at a time!  I’m so, so glad that made myself find time for my passions. The years would have flown by whether I had worked at it or not. Now I have three novels, an agent and a book under contract. If I had waited until the situation was perfect, I wouldn’t have any of those things. It DID take me over five years to finish The Truth About The Sky,  but I’m so glad I kept at it.

It must take remarkable self-discipline to write in 10-minute increments. How do you manage to keep the story flowing when you’re working in such small blocks of time?

I compartmentalized much of it. I wasn’t writing a book, I was writing a series of chapters. I wasn’t writing a chapter, I was just writing the dialogue. I found that the smaller I made the section, the more manageable it was for me. It also helps that I’m a fast typist. Some chapters in TTATS took weeks for me to get perfect.

What lessons have your children learned about writing as a result of your work?

I’d like to think that they’ve learned that anything is possible, that staying organized and focused can make dreams come true. I’d like to think that they value their own big goals more. I’d like to think that they can learn from me determination and courage. Plus my older kids have read this book and we’ve talked about the themes — grace and mercy. My family is my own personal cheering section. I didn’t have that growing up. So, I think this is my favorite lesson learned: that we always encourage each other to be great.

I thank Katharine for including my blog in her Book Tour. I’m eagerly awaiting my copy of The Truth About the Sky, but if the rest of Katharine’s writing is any indication, there’ll be intriguing characters and plenty of laughs.

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