Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Author Interview ~ Kate St. Clair

Last month, William Brandon stopped by for an interviewKate St. Clair

Today, we’ll talk to another author from Black Hill Press.

Her name is Kate St. Clair and you can check out her bio on BHP’s site or delve into her author website.

But, let’s get right into the interview and ask Kate a few questions about her writing life, her book Spelled, and her relationship with Black Hill Press.


So, Kate, let’s begin with your giving us a brief “then-and-now” about your writing life.

I’m originally from Texas, just outside of Austin. I grew up an only child and my parents were slightly older, so I spent a lot of my childhood on my own. We didn’t have a TV, instead my parents covered every wall in my room with bookshelves and sent me to read when I was bored. I wanted so badly to be in those books, having adventures, that I eventually began to make up my own stories so I could imagine myself in them. I always knew writing was what I wanted to do. I can’t imagine a better life. Now, I live in San Diego with my horse, Black Magic, and I teach riding lessons on the side.

Which authors influenced you the most?

Julianna Baggott’s Pure really hit me when I read it. I don’t think I really had a voice or style before I read it, but afterwards I knew exactly what I wanted to sound like when I wrote. Finding “your voice” is probably the most important development in a writer’s life, and it wouldn’t have happened without her, for me. She taught me just how vivid you could make your writing. And I was lucky enough to read my editor Ryan Gattis’ book Kung Fu High School, which teaches you to ask the most important question when writing: “How does it feel?”

So you’ve been classified as a YA (Young Adult) author at BHP. Do you cringe whenever people ask if your book is like Twilight?

Yes, I’m quite tired of it! But I understand where the question comes from. Growing up, I felt like the YA genre was reserved for Judy Blume-type books, but now it’s the most burgeoning genre and is bringing in millions a year. Harry Potter was definitely the start of that trend—it made people of all ages want to read and enjoy YA—but Twilight brought in tons of young women because, suddenly, they touched on something essential to YA: romance. All of a sudden people were really into YA for a whole different reason.

Would you say  Spelled has a lot of romance? Spelled

I think romance is an important part of any YA, but there needs to be a balance. The discovery of love and sex is something so ingrained in the process of growing up, yet it’s something adults tend to shy away from. Having an outlet for teens and tweens to explore those feelings is essential. On the other hand, if writers lean too much on romance and make that the main plot line, it makes the book like teen erotica, essentially, and that’s not what I’m aiming for. The romance between Georgia and Luke, the main characters, is secondary to Georgia’s growth as a character, but it is definitely there. Luke is just so perfectly dark and mysterious—there’s no way anyone could resist him entirely.

Black Hill Press has an unusual publishing style that centers around novellas. How does that work for you?

Research is showing that attention spans are getting progressively shorter, and teens are seeing the worst of it since they grow up in a distraction-rich society. So, naturally, YA novels are getting shorter. For me, the novella series was a no brainer, because YA should move quickly anyway. And I’m following in the footsteps of another great YA writer, Cate Tiernan, who published her series Sweep in novella-length books. It helps keep the story moving, and it reduces my writing time so I can turn out the other Spelled books without taking a year to write them. I think they look less intimidating as well. It isn’t like you’re making a huge commitment to be reading for two months when you buy them. You can polish them off in a few hours, so they’re perfect for reading on commutes.

Do you think your age helps you connect to your readers?

It’s true that a lot of YA is being written by middle-aged authors, and while most of it is brilliant, some of it comes off as a bit juvenile to me. I didn’t like being talked down to when I read, and sometimes the dialogue comes off a bit forced. So, yes, I think being in my teens when I wrote Spelled helped because I wasn’t having to try to remember how I spoke or acted in high school, I could just write.

What would you cite as your purpose for Spelled?

Having grown up in a very small town in Texas, it was very hard to see the beauty and magic in a place that felt so restricted and washed out. It was also a very Christian area, and I wasn’t exposed to any other religions until I’d left for boarding school. I think Spelled was a bit of an attempt to rewrite my history there, and to sow some magic into it. I hope that kids in similar situations who are feeling trapped by the mundane might start to look for their own kind of magic

Kate, thank you, so much, for stopping by and giving my readers lots to think about :-)


You can follow Kate on Twitter.

And, you can find Spelled at Black Hill Press or GoodReads or Amazon.


Now, it’s time to ask Kate a few questions in the Comments :-)
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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3 responses to “Author Interview ~ Kate St. Clair

  1. Jane Watson May 7, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Thanks for the interesting interview, Kate. I went to your website and read your Bio. That is one interesting Bio… You’ve got some impressive writing experiences there – time at Interlochen and Oxford! But I have to ask – what is aerial silk dancing? Whatever it is, it sounds like something a writer should be writing a novel or story about ;-)


  2. Kate St. Clair May 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Thank you Jane! I got very lucky in my life, and had a lot of amazing opportunities. Aerial silks is a kind of acrobatics that centers around two long panels of silk that hang from the ceiling. It can be quite breathtaking when it’s done right, but I’m far from good at it yet! This is my first routine, which I did about six months ago. You should check out some professional silk acrobats though, to see how it’s really done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alexander M Zoltai May 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    InCredible, Kate :-) — Takes courage


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