Friday, April 02, 2010

Pay It Forward: Catherine Karp

The final interview of the Pay It Forward series!! Don't forget everyone else who's playing:

Click here for more inspiration: Lisa and Laura RoeckerBeth RevisLeah CliffordVictoria SchwabKirsten HubbardElana Johnson, Dawn MetcalfKim HarringtonCarrie HarrisAmy HolderKathy McCulloughSuzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins, and Tiffany Schmidt.

Catherine Karp & I have known each other for years. We worked together at Academic Press in San Diego, as editors of various types along the chain, on the same "team" even. She was my Mommy-mentor, pregnant a year or two before me. I went to her for advice and bags of hand-me-downs from her daughter to mine. (We *just* ran out of these, by the way!) We were both writing then, she more seriously than me at the time. We kind of lost touch when she moved to Oregon and we moved to Montana, but oddly enough we're both writing YA now. And her agent, the slithery Barbara Poelle, is great friends with mine, the sharkly Janet Reid.

As a certain Disney ride told me yesterday, "It's a Small World After All..."

Here's Cathy's interview. Enjoy!!

1. Tell us about your current book.
I'm working on a young adult historical ghost story/mystery that's tentatively titled Blackbirds.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?
I've been lucky enough to have landed an agent twice, although I'm still struggling to reach that elusive publishing contract stage.  I worked with the first agent back in 1998 and 1999, when I was writing historical fiction for an adult audience.  It took me four years of writing, rewriting, and querying, but eventually I received a heart-racing email from an agent who said she was excited about my work.  Unfortunately, the historical fiction market was dead back then, and she couldn't sell my manuscript, despite glowing rejection letters.  We parted ways, amicably, and after co-founding a historical fiction publishing company, I came up with the idea for a modern-day comic novel about marriage, the suburbs, and a vampire.  That querying process was a swifter one, and I started working with Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency after she suggested some revisions.

Barbara is fabulous and worked diligently to sell my manuscript for about two years, and we came, as she put it, as close as you can get to having a contract without actually having a contract.  Last fall she and I started discussing going in the direction of young adult fiction.  We met in New York this past January and chatted about my new project, so here I am today, working on Blackbirds, hoping the third time's the charm.  

3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
There have certainly been moments along the way where I've questioned if I'm on the right path in life.  But I've always received so much support and encouragement, plus
I can't even fathom giving up writing.  Deep down a voice inside me always tells me to keep plugging away.

4. How have your goals/dreams changed since you started the process?
At this point, after fifteen years of attempting to break into the business, I'd be thrilled to get even one book in print through a traditional publishing house.  But I'd want it to be a memorable book.  I've always admired Harper Lee's ability to produce a whopper of a novel and then gracefully give a bow.  
5. What's the piece of advice you wished you knew when you started?
I actually received some wonderful advice from a screenwriter when I was in high school: Never give up.  It's the most common words of wisdom given to writers, but it's so true.  As long as writing makes you happy, keep on working away.  If you're willing to constantly go back to the drawing board...and if you READ, READ, READ authors who challenge you to set the bar'll eventually get there.

Catherine Karp 


Linda G. said...

Great interview, Suze!

Cathy, you are a sterling example of that "Never give up!" attitude. I'm sure the third time WILL be the charm for you. :)

Catherine Karp said...

Thanks, Linda. And thanks to Susan for the lovely intro. It is amazing that are paths continue to connect. Here's to the future!

Judith Engracia said...

Great advice. It really helps. I feel better now :)d

Ara Burklund said...

Great answers, Cathy! Seeing your hard work and dedication through the years has truly been an inspiration!

Catherine Karp said...

Thanks, Judith and Ara. Glad I can provide some inspiration. :-)

Susan: I forgot to mention I'm happy those hand-me-downs were well used.

Lisa and Laura said...

Can't wait to read your whopper of a novel. Great interview...solid advice!

Elana Johnson said...

I love the advice to read, read, read. Good luck on your novel, and I totally think the third time's the charm.

Catherine Karp said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!

Jen said...

Great interview!!! I actually found your blog thanks the interviews you have been doing through other sites!!!