Kat Richardson (LJ, Twitter) have a fair amount in common. We both wrote three books before landing a deal for our fourth. We both ended up represented by Steve Mancino, former junior agent at JABberwocky. We both started writing at least in part because a friend of ours was doing it… The big difference is that she sells much better than I do 🙂
Read on to learn more about Kat Richardson, urban fantasy author and defender of all ferretkind.
First, I’d like to thank Jim for letting me ramble around in his virtual space. Thank you, Jim!
OK, so… about this first book. Technically I’d written three prior novel-length manuscripts (and a lot of what I call “junk” short stories) before finally getting published with Greywalker [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], but those other stories were, frankly, so bad even I—proud literary parent that I can be—could tell they just weren’t “ready for prime time.” In fact, if you were to open the Rubbermaid container they’re stored in, the smell of bad prose would form a cloud from Seattle to Miami.
I’d been toying with the idea of a detective who worked for ghosts for quite a while, but the idea never quite gelled into something exciting until my husband and I moved to Seattle in 1994. Here I found an atmosphere and geography that just seemed to pump new life into the idea and connect disparate elements I hadn’t thought of before. Now the story actually had a shape, but I didn’t get it on paper until Fall of 2000. (yeah, we all still printed everything out back then….)
At the time I was unemployed, but my husband was commuting from Seattle to Central California every Monday morning and coming home every Friday night. This went on for more than a year. We were living on our first boat and… it leaked badly when it rained—which it does a lot in Seattle. So I spent a lot of my time alone, fixing the decks and wondering what to do with myself. I played a lot of Thief: the Dark Project and was seriously bored otherwise.
One of the other players I met online through a Thief fan forum was writing an astrology book and he expressed that he was far more likely to finish and sell his book than I was. That, naturally, got my dander up, so I thought, “Oh yeah? I’ll show you!”
So I started writing every night and I outlined, re-outlined, revised again, and cranked out the entire first draft—137,000 words—in about six weeks.
Did I mention I was also an insomniac at the time? Yeah. Due to my lack of anything interesting to do, my sleep schedule had turned into a pile of doo-doo and I slept about four hours a week. It’s really amazing how much you can get done when you have all those extra hours in a day. Though I can’t say it’s the best thing for your health….
Now, I don’t recommend this method, but the challenge of working against someone else—as a personal test—really motivated me to get the darned thing done. And I finished well ahead of my competitor. So far as I know, he’s never published his book, but… we kind of stopped speaking anyhow, so I’m not sure.
Once I was done, naturally, I then took four years off, tinkering with the book and being a lazy twit before I decided that if I was going to call myself a “writer” I really ought to get something published or give up and go back to the corporate grind.
By this time I’d gotten a comfortable contract as a technical editor for Microsoft and I had a long commute on top of long days, but I still managed to put a lot of time and research—and letters—out trying to find an agent and, after about two dozen rejections and a lot of non-responses, false starts, and offers that were too bad to consider, I finally got an agent (and a damned good one, to boot).
It took another year of working on the manuscript with my agent to get it into saleable condition and, once it sold, another eighteen months working with my new editor to get the book revised, copyedited, proofed, into covers and onto the bookstore shelves—which is actually very fast, but what did I know? But there it was and it did pretty well—not New York Times Bestseller well, but good enough to keep me in the business.
So this is the moral of my tale: if you want to be a successful writer, get pissed, work your ass off, don’t sleep, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. Because getting published is the best revenge.