We received an advance review copy of the novel, and found it a well-written and compelling story. It deserves to get good exposure from the Knew You blog tour which kicks off today. Check the blog tour page for upcoming interviews and reviews of the book - as well as a contest to win Amazon gift certificates and Knew You items!
We've made it easy for you to enter the contest - see the entry form below, at the end of our interview.
Now, on to our conversation with Kate Moretti!
Kate, congratulations on your debut novel. In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?
It’s about a woman whose husband goes on a business trip and doesn’t come back. Claire has to re-examine the relationships in her life, with both her husband and her best friend, realizing that she may not have known either one as well as she’d thought.
We found the opening line of your book, and the paragraphs that immediately follow, very effective at drawing the reader in. (Maybe that's from our own experiences at having a scheduled "date night"!) How did you arrive at that opening - was it early in the book-writing process, or something that came later?
I’m so happy to hear that the beginning is a draw. The beginning of the book has stayed largely unchanged. The wording, grammar, and nitty-gritty has been edited (thankfully), but the plot is almost exactly as it was the first day I wrote it (a prologue has been removed). When I first sat down to write, I knew I wanted my main character to be similar to myself – just to make it easier. I tried to imagine myself in a typical day, home with my kids, and what I would do if my husband suddenly disappeared. I also imagine that many married couples, particularly those with small children, would relate to scheduling date nights.
We also found that the dialogue in the book rings true; it brings the book to life. Can you tell us your secrets or tips for writing strong dialogue?
Thanks so much. I take that as a huge compliment. I happen to really enjoy writing dialogue, and since I’ve started writing, I’ve noticed myself paying more attention to inflection, body language, and dialogue structure of everyday conversations. I take mental notes to use a gesture or a word combination that I notice in someone else. So basically, friends and family, watch what you say to me. I might put it in a book!
How long did it take you to write the novel? Can you give us some insights into your approach, and how you found the discipline to see it through?
This question is embarrassing to answer. I wrote the first draft in two months. I was working part time, and I was inspired by a good friend who had just completed her novel. I did it as a “bucket list” thing. I never thought it would see the light of day, much less get published. I didn’t know anything about grammar, sentence structure, or writing rules, other than what I’d gleaned from a lifetime of reading. I was free to write whatever I wanted in a way I’m sure I’ll never be again. Because of this, and the delusion that I was writing it for my eyes only, it was easy to write. It was fun! Now, working on my second manuscript, with all this new knowledge, I miss the ignorance; I miss the fun. Now, I worry about every word, consider each plot twist so carefully. You can’t go back, though! I can’t unlearn anything, and in the back of my mind, it’s hard to overcome the thought “Everyone will read this.” In some ways, it’s much harder to write the second book. It takes more courage.
From your acknowledgments, it seems you made good use of early draft readers and beta readers. Can you share how that influenced the book?
I loved having beta readers. I joined Authonomy.com and found the site’s notoriously toughest critiquers and begged them to critique my first draft. I met some wonderful people and great writers, who I’ve glommed on to, probably much to their dismay. I also asked some family and friends, who were fantastic with feedback. And then, I largely ignored a lot of the advice. Later, when I found a publisher, I was surprised about how much of the ignored advice became editorial demands. After reviewing the finished product, I (grudgingly) admit: Everyone was right. It’s a better book.
Being careful to avoid spoilers... at one point your main character views a newspaper article that is written about her situation. It's an unfair public airing of her personal dilemma. What inspired that part of your story?
It was more about keeping with reality. Claire has quite a roller coaster of a ride for a while, and I think if that happened in real life, it would be a human-interest story without a doubt. The unfair part is true; the article is very slanted against her. I wrote it that way for two reasons: I think it’s real because the current media climate is to make everything as sensational as possible. Ever try to get a gallon of milk before a snowstorm? Even the weather is sensationalized these days! The second reason was more academic. I wanted to twist the knife just a little more for poor Claire to keep it interesting for the reader.
One message that I took away from your book is that, even under very trying circumstances, the relationship between one human and another doesn't come to an end; instead it evolves into something else. Can you comment on that?
People are constantly evolving, which means their relationships have to develop just to keep up. One of the themes of the book (for me) was the way you can be so close to a person, whether it be a husband or a childhood friend, and discover you might not have known them the way you thought. Do they know you? Can you truly know anyone? Probably not, but does it matter? I think the best you can do is know yourself, even as you evolve and grow, and hope that those you love grow with you.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Ha! Writing it was easy. The most challenging part for me has been the editing process. Cutting things I liked, because frankly, they weren’t all that good, or didn’t fit. Filling in gaps I didn’t see because I was too close to it. And later, getting my head back into the story and the characters and writing or re-writing chapters with all my newfound knowledge. It’s been a learning experience.
Tell us a bit about working with a publisher like Red Adept. In what ways did that help you as a new author?
As a new author, I was (am) incredibly naïve. This is an entirely new industry for me. Imagine totally switching careers, but instead of joining a new company or just getting a new job, you hang your own shingle… in a field you’ve never worked in before. That’s what “becoming an author” has been like. My corporate science background left me enormously unprepared. Having Red Adept in my corner, and having their wonderful and extensive editing staff behind me has been amazing. Lynn, the owner, has been incredibly patient. I have had about a hundred questions at every step along the way. I truly believe they’ve turned my rough little manuscript into a book.
Okay, let's get a bit more personal. Tell us five random things about you!
- I backpacked Europe after college for a few months.
- I grew up in a town with one stoplight.
- My parents are both named Pat.
- I like to cook but I absolutely cannot cook rice, even the minute kind.
- I’m terrified of tornadoes and have recurring dreams about them, despite the fact that I live in Pennsylvania and have never seen one.
My reading interests are all over the map. I like contemporary literary fiction, some chick lit, some women’s fiction or contemporary romance, but I read mostly suspense and thrillers. I’m actually between books at the moment. I just finished The Upright Piano Player, by David Abbott. Next on my list is Sister, by Rosamund Lupton.
So, when can we expect your next book!? Any thoughts of a sequel, or are you on to something else?
I’m hoping the next book would be out the end of next year, possibly the beginning of 2015. No, it’s not a sequel; it’s not contemporary romance at all. It’s more of a crime/suspense book while still putting the marital relationship under the microscope.
Kate, thanks for talking with us. We're pleased to feature your book on KindleBoards!
Kate's book, Thought I Knew You, is available to download to your Kindle now!
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