FAQ

The questions are grouped into two sections:

  • Section 1: Questions about Kate Bridges
  • Section 2: Questions about Writing and Publishing

Scroll down to find the area you are looking for!

Section 1: Questions about Kate Bridges

Will you be making any special appearances?

I love to meet readers! Currently, I have no scheduled upcoming appearances, but when I do, I’ll announce them on my website. Check my ‘News and Events’ page for more info, and please drop by if you see any upcoming events! Also, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter list, where I always give the most timely updates on new releases.

What made you branch off into writing steampunk as Kate Maddison?

I love immersing myself in Victorian London, and adding a twist to real-life history with some science fiction and fantasy, so that my readers – and I – have to keep guessing what’s going to happen next. Do you know what my least favorite class was in high school? History! I think because it mostly consisted of memorizing dates of famous wars and battles, and didn’t concentrate on people and motivations and relationships. I have since taken several Art History classes in college and got a kick out of those.

Where do you get your ideas?

From everyday life, all around me. I get lots of ideas when I’m walking the family dog. I also get inspired by postcards, photographs, things I hear on TV, likeable characters in a movie, stories my parents told me, and books I read when I was young.

What inspires you to write?

The fun of it. Creating people and exploring their relationships to each other, and conjuring fantastical plots, and putting it all down on paper to share with others.

Where do you write your books?

90% of my writing is done on my desktop computer. Sometimes I’ll use a pen to jot notes in a notebook when I’m in a brainstorming stage, or if I’m traveling. My desktop computer has easy access to the internet which I often use to look up key facts as I write. I have a laptop and an ipad, but for some reason I always go back to my desktop.

Do you have a writing schedule – a set number of hours you write per day? Does this help you focus and finish a book?

I keep a very regular schedule – because it works for me. It’s Monday to Friday roughly 8 am to 3 pm. From 3 pm to 5 pm I’ll work on business matters that pertain to writing. I try to keep the weekends free, but if I’m close to a deadline I’ll usually bite into that time, too.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What were some other jobs you had before getting published?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager, but thought I had to be a lot older to start (you don’t!). So, I worked in several different fields first. I studied architecture and interior design (hence my love of art history). I was always interested in medicine, too, and became a pediatric intensive care nurse, where I really loved interacting with young people and their families. I remained a medical writer for ten years after that, combining my love of writing with health care, writing brochures for drugstores and their patients. Then I became a researcher/writer for a TV interior design show. Now that I write novels full-time, I feel like I’ve come home to a career that I love.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I research names and their meanings – in books and online. I generally like to start with the country where the character was born (or where their parents were from) and find names from there. I play around with syllables and the sound of the name said aloud. Sometimes it takes a long time to find one that’s just right (several weeks). When I hear or see a name that’s appealing in some way – good or bad – I write it down in a special file folder I keep. That way, if I can’t find the perfect name online or in a book, I can just pick one from my own files.

What are some important lessons you’ve learned since you started your writing career?

  • Never give up.
  • Guard the writing.
  • Don’t let the business side of writing interfere with the creative act of writing.
  • Sometimes a rejection has nothing to do with a submission. It might simply be that an editor doesn’t want that particular plotline or maybe just bought one similar to it, or their buying budget just shrunk, or that specific editor doesn’t particularly enjoy the genre that’s been submitted to her or him.
  • On the practical side, I’ve learned to keep a notebook beside my bed for those middle-of-the-night ideas!

Have you ever thought about writing a screenplay?

Yes! In fact, I took postgraduate studies in comedy screenwriting. One of the scripts I wrote was optioned by a production company that was interested in making it, but the option fell through for lack of development funds. I’ve since realized that I really prefer to write novels (it’s faster and creatively exciting). I’m using my screenwriting techniques to apply to my storytelling in books.

How do you go about your research?

I use many resources. History books, biographies of famous people, their journals, online sources such as the Buckingham Palace website where they give wonderful histories of their kings and queens, and television documentaries. My favorite and best type of research is visiting the site. I’ve visited places like London, England for THE INCREDIBLE CHARLOTTE SYCAMORE, Yukon Territory for my series set in the Yukon Gold Rush, and Alaska for my Alaskan series.

Why did you decide to write YA books?

From my teenage daughter who loves to read. She started recommending some of her favorites to me, “Mom, you’ve got to read this book!” Through her, I discovered a whole new generation of stories and characters that I also fell in love with. And my daughter was the inspiration for the Charlotte character.

Do you create an outline for your books before you begin writing or do you just sit down and let the ideas come to you as you write?

The short answer is that the outline comes first.

The long answer is that the ideas come in stages. Usually the characters pop into my head first. Then a location and setting. Then I start brainstorming (with notebook and pen) ideas of where the story might go. Then I transcribe those ideas into my computer and try to develop a one-paragraph blurb (or logline) that the story might be about. From there, I play around with writing a couple of scenes to see how the characters act on the page and thereby get to know them better myself, then I develop a full outline. From that full outline, I write the manuscript.


 

Section 2: Questions about Writing and Publishing

How does a person become an author?

It takes a lot of patience, writing practice, and dedication. The wonderful thing about writing is that you’re never too young or too old to start!

First, I would recommend reading lots of books on the craft of writing – it’s how I got started. Read books on how to create interesting characters, compelling plotlines, and all about your targeted genre (such as mystery, YA, children’s books, science fiction, or romance). There are lots of magazines you can pick up at your local bookstore with amazing tips on writing.

Second, take some courses or go to a workshop given by a professional writer. You’ll get feedback on your own writing.

Third, you might join a writer’s group, such as the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) or RWA (Romance Writers of America). Not only will it give you a place to discuss writing with like-minded, professional people, but they have resources online that are fantastic – such as how to format your manuscript for submission to agents or editors, how to self-publish, how to write a query letter, and updates on the market.

How does a person get published?

Once you’ve finished writing a complete manuscript and have polished it to the very best of your abilities, you’ll need to send out query letters (business letters) to agents or editors to see if they might be interested in reading a sample of your work. Read some articles online on how to write a professional query letter. Or, you might wish to go the self-published route – but it’s still best to get your manuscript reviewed by a professional editor to make it look its best.

Do you have any book recommendations on writing or publishing?

I’ve read about 50 different books on writing! I get something valuable out of each one. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress
  • How to Write a Damn Good Mystery by James N. Frey
  • Plot: How to build short stories and novels that don’t sag, fizzle, or trail off in scraps of frustrated revision – and how to rescue stories that do by Ansen Dibell
  • Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost
  • Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger (I apply the suggestions to novel writing)

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors looking to improve their craft?

Keep practicing. You might join a critique group with other writers who will give you honest, valuable feedback. Or do what I did – sign up for a college course (or 2 or 3) where the teacher (a published author) will give you feedback on your writing. Also, check out my blog page (the category WRITING) to see more advice for aspiring authors and writing tips.

What are the best and worst things about being a writer?

I love creating the characters. Choosing names for them is really difficult. If the name doesn’t feel right, I feel awkward with the character on the page. Writing the actual pages is the very best part of writing. The worst part for me is the loneliness sometimes, when I’m cooped up for long periods of time working on a deadline.

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