Everyone please welcome K.T. (Kate) Ivanrest
Here’s Kate at the Michigan Renaissance Festival
*So what interests you in classical languages and studies? (I love Greek, Hebrew, and Latin by the way).
What actually got me into Classics were the languages themselves, particularly Latin grammar. I’ve always leaned heavily philological—my dissertation looked at how Roman authors used descriptions of odors in their texts, and at how those descriptions give us greater insight into Roman sensory culture.
Now that sounds cool. First, Classical studies is utterly fascinating. It’s no secret that people love roman culture. They definitely left their footprint on society. Yammers, I’ve got so many things to pick your brain about!
*What made you want to pursue this in college?
I needed a language requirement and had a friend who took Latin in high school and loved it. The next year I took “Greek and Roman Civilizations” to fulfill an honors requirement, and the rest, as they say, is (ancient) history.
Oh, Greek and Roman Civilizations sounds great. I’m not sure what it is about these two cultures, but they were powerhouses.
*Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes and no. I wrote as a kid—my school had a “Publishing Center” where we could illustrate our stories and have them bound into little books—and when Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring adaptation came out I got really into fantasy writing. I entered college as a writing major but didn’t really know what I would do with it—I naively thought I could study creative writing and magically become a successful fantasy author, so I was never very interested in my professional writing classes. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone that route; I think I would have enjoyed marketing.
Man, your high school had a publishing center? That’s awesome! Wish we had one. So many people have been influenced by the Lord of the Rings its amazing. I’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books yet. *sinks in shame*
*Are you originally from Michigan? (I was just in Ann Arbor actually)
Yes; my family lived in Indianapolis for a year when I was about 2, but otherwise we’ve always lived in Michigan.
Cool beans! I like Michigan.
*Do you despise the Buckeyes?
I had to look up the Buckeyes to make sure they are, in fact, Ohio State, so…that probably tells you how I feel about them. 😛
Lol! Yup, that’s good ol’ fashioned Ohio State. Just curious. There seems to be a great rivalry between the two. Makes for great entertainment!
*Would you use your background in classical studies to influence your writing?
Subconsciously, I think I do—my Latin classes were where I learned 90% of English grammar, and studying literature has definitely made me think about what I’m conveying with my own writing. I haven’t set any stories in Rome-inspired cities, though, or raided classical mythology for ideas—probably in the future, though!
I bet. It’s a rich source to draw from!
*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
I’ve always been telling stories to myself—I played soccer as a kid and mid-game I’d be standing in the field staring at the clouds imagining what lived up there. I remember taking bike rides and narrating stories out loud as I rode. 😛 Because I was fairly shy, I think writing them down was the natural next step. Interestingly, though, I’m not a natural storyteller—I’ve always been better at the actual writing than at crafting a narrative.
Eh, narrative, can be learned of course. You’ve been telling stories since you were a kid though, that counts. For what it’s worth, I’m not a natural storyteller either, but that’s a skill that can be picked up as we learn the craft. I have a particular fascination with narrative, point of view and how it affects the story. When you learn something new drop me a line.
*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
At the end of the day, I think I’d say it’s to give people hope. I’ve got nothing against sad stories, and while I shy away from killing characters whenever possible, I understand the value of doing so in the right situation. But I want to write stories that, no matter what bad things might happen in them, leave my readers looking forward and thinking about the possibility for good—in people, in the world, in their own lives. I don’t write Christian lit, but I am a Christian, and I hope that underlies everything I write.
Well very good. (Pun unintended)
*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
1. Loss of interest. Occasionally I start writing and have no idea where the story’s going, and most of the time I peter out and lose interest before I develop a direction. But that’s not always bad—sometimes I just need to get a scene out of my system, or try something new as an exercise.
2. Writing difficulties. If I’m not sufficiently dedicated to a story, any serious snag (plot holes, character issues, etc.) might cause me to give up rather than push through.
3. Edit-as- you-go syndrome. I get so bogged down in editing that I don’t give the story room to grow and develop. My most popular tweet says “Keep writing, you can edit later,” but it’s advice I’m terrible at following!
These are all valid points. The “edit-as-you-go-syndrome” seems to be a common one. You hack the thing to pieces before its even ready. I planted a gladiolus bulb in the front yard one year. After a few short weeks, I was so frustrated because I didn’t see any growth. So what did I do? Dummy me, had to go dig it up to see if it was growing. It had a beautiful bright green stalk about 3 1/2 inches long judding out of the bulb. Of course it broke in half when I dug it up. *sigh* Plants are both beautiful and frustrating at the same time. To see them grow, develop, bud and blossom is absolutely beautiful. But sometimes waiting for it to grow can be very frustrating. I suppose beauty requires patience.
*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
One of my favorite things about writing is just hanging out with my characters. Getting to know them. Watching them interact. Giving them a hard time. If I’m not excited about the people in my story, chances are I’m not enthused about the story itself. So part of my motivation is getting to spend time with cool, albeit totally fictional, people, and part of it is hoping that someday I’ll get to share these characters with readers—who will hopefully grow as attached to them as I am.
This is a good one. I’ve heard many writers say the same thing. Hanging out with characters, or living in imaginary worlds etc. But you’re right Kate, if we’re not excited about our own peeps, it’s hard to imagine anyone else will.
*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Impostor syndrome—the constant conviction that I’m not good enough, not creative enough, don’t know enough. It might sound stupid for a fantasy writer to say this, but I don’t tend to think of myself as a very creative person. I need to remind myself that cool ideas are only a small part of what it takes to succeed as a writer, regardless of genre.
This just validates that you’re a writer! A normal one. Cool ideas are relatively easy to come up with. But to take an idea and ripen it into a compelling story, is craft. Which can be learned. To me, a writer is essentially a learner. We’re just like the characters we create. We have goals, desires, dreams and what not. Then there’s the dreaded antagonist standing in our way. He often uses the fear tactic to stymie us. Works like a charm every time. As writers we have to learn to work through those internal conflicts to achieve what we want. Then as we overcome the internal conflict, we’re empowered to deal with the external conflict. Next thing you know you’re off to save the day and live happily ever after. But knowing the nature of the conflict and facing our own antagonist is the heart of the battle.
*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
Any number of reasons. I was just reading a post by a writer lamenting that her favorite genre has fallen out of favor with agents and publishers—despite the fact that this was what she loved to write, she was considering giving it up because she was worried it wouldn’t sell. Time is another one—either the realization that writing a book takes a great deal more time and effort than expected, reluctance to set aside the necessary time, or an actual lack of time due to life circumstances. In the end, unless you remember what it is you love about something—a hobby, a dream, a job—you can always find a reason to give it up.
Well said. I like how you brought it back to what we love about something that’ll “keep the drive alive”. Love is most interesting isn’t it? There’s a great deal of investment that goes into writing a book, published or unpublished. Love will keep us afloat amidst treacherous waters.
*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Think about why you started writing in the first place, and what you love about it. It can be really easy, in the tsunami of social media, to feel you’re not a “real writer” or that you’re “doing it wrong.” It can also be easy to get caught up in what’s popular and believe that in order to be successful, you have to write something similar. Don’t. Stick with the story in your heart. Write for yourself. Write for the fun
of spending time with your characters. Whatever gives you joy in writing, start from there.
I LOVE THIS. You know, by doing these interviews, I’m the first one that get encouraged. Writing is an extremely subjective experience, written by fantastically subjective persons. And the definition of success is also a very twisted subjective concept to most people. We tend to subjectively measure ourselves based on what we see objectively in others. We try to climb the mountain that they built. As they say, Rome wan’t built in a day. But then, it’s hard not to see the mountains around us. James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, JK Rowling, Suzzanne Collins, Victoria Aveyard, George R.R. Martin. They’re gorgeous and breathtakingly majestic. Don’t try to climb their mountain; grow your own wings and take to the sky, see where it takes you.
Grow your own wings. Sky is the limit, but imagination has no boundary…
~ Benjamin Thomas
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