Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Truth About 10 Minute Writer, Katharine Grubb - A review and interview

One warm evening last year I met Katharine Grubb in a driveway as she was making her way across the country with her family. Her brood tumbled out of the car after a long ride and began to tear across the lawn to burn off some excess energy. As we stood chatting in the fading sunset, I found out she was an author.

I had never read her books and had no idea who I was talking to until about 10 minutes into the conversation. Needless to say, I brought myself up to speed quickly.

Katharine's two books are contemporary romances and they are completely clean. I don't get to read for pleasure very often, so when I do, I like to choose my novels carefully. I loved Falling For Your Madness (a quirky novel about courtship) so I was excited to dig into The Truth About The Sky.

I finished it in about 3 hours.
Okay... I devoured it.

The Truth About the Sky is a novel about a young woman from Oklahoma who finds herself working in the family business which just happens to be religion and then ends up finding out who she is and what she's made of as her life crumbles around her ears.

The characters are engaging, and though they are Christians of varying degrees of commitment, the message of God's mercy is not shoved down the reader's throat. The beautiful descriptions each character's interior struggle to come to terms with God's love affair with each and every one of us is what makes this book sing.

If you like a good romance or even just a good story, this is a book you should read.

I got the chance to chat with Katharine right after I finished the book and asked if she'd do an interview for me. I was so thrilled that she said, "Yes!"

Why do you call yourself "10 Minute Writer"?
Back in 2006, when I had five children, ages 8 years old and under, I had a gut feeling that we were done having kids. I also had this inner pressure to do something, anything, for my own gifts and callings, since any writing goals I had when I was younger had obviously been pushed away. My iMac was conveniently located in my kitchen, and I was spending way too much time reading Mommy blogs anyway — I should try to carve out a little time to pursue my own writing dreams, but I didn’t know what they were. I decided to have a goal — ten minutes a day - to work on writing projects. Then, it got to where I was setting my timer in ten minute increments and going back and forth between writer and mom. This worked best in the afternoons when our homeschooling day was over. And I tried, I really did try, to train my kids to respect that ten minute increment. It’s been 8 years and they still don’t get it completely.

Why did you start writing?
I don’t remember ever not wanting to write stories. I remember being four years old and holding a pencil and piece of paper and my first thought was not “let’s draw a picture” but “let’s tell a story” and then I probably cried because I didn’t know how to write. If only I would have known that someday I would be able to type 100 words a minute, and this skill would serve me when I wrote in ten minute increments.

What's your inspiration to continue?
The truth is, I did this for me. I did it because I wanted to conquer my many, many fears. I did it because I knew my kids would watch me manage my time and pursue my dreams and work everybody’s needs around it. I did it because it brings me so much joy even though it is hard to make it work. It also helped a lot that I’m a wicked fast typist.

Without question, the biggest challenge I face is fear. I think that from a practical point of view, I can always find time. From a marketing point of view, I can learn how to put my books in front of people. But what I struggle with, what I’m learning how to deal with this daily, is fear. I found out, at age 45, that I’ve suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder my whole life, due to trauma from my infancy and toddlerhood. I’ve spent most of my life a breath or two away from an anxiety attack. My fear is a vague, paralyzing kind of fear that shuts me down and isolates me. (Ironically, one of God’s solutions to this fear was to bless me with a LOT of loud, obnoxious, confident kids.)

I realized that if I didn’t do something about my fear, that I would never have my dreams come true. The beauty of the ten minute increments is not only it teaches me how to manage my time, but it also coaches me to do scary things in short time periods. Can I make this phone call? Can I contact this agent? Can I rewrite this paragraph? Like every other writer, I’ve faced rejection and disappointment, but that pain of that was not nearly as bad as the pain of thinking my children were watching me. Would they see me be paralyzed by my fear or be successful in spite of it? I want them to see me as a conquerer. That’s why I do this every day.

Though the characters in The Truth About The Sky are Christians (of various levels of commitment), it's such a part of your characters' development that it doesn't seem put on or faked. In your last book, Falling For Your Madness, faith played a smaller role. This is actually one of the things I like best about your writing: you tell the story and allow the characters to be who they are. You let them become the witnesses. You show you don't tell. With all that in mind, what connection do you see between your writing and your faith?
Faith has played a big role in who I am. I think that God didn’t give me this desire to write without providing a way in which to do it. I found in the writing of both books, I had to wrestle with everything about it and God was faithful. The message of The Truth About The Sky is one of grace and I know firsthand how God pours out his mercy and grace and faithfulness to those who don’t deserve it. The writing of the book was a journey in articulating that grace and I was changed in the writing of it. Our God is a creative God and he uses the arts to call people into himself. I can’t separate who I am from that. I wouldn’t want to try.

As I got to know David Bowles in Falling For Your Madness, I knew he wouldn’t be a Bible Belt Christian like the ones in TTATS. I made his faith congruent with his other values. My next book, Soulless Creatures is even less faith-filled than the first two, but the main characters are 18 year old college students. An obvious faith doesn’t fit them at all, but that doesn’t mean deep, important issues aren’t in the book.

What's the most rewarding aspect of creating a story?
I love finding out about my characters and then putting them in a room and letting them talk. I discover more through dialogue than anything else. That’s the really fun part, in the beginning. Then, the next big, fun part is hearing from the readers. But there’s a lot of hard work — blood, sweat and tears — in between those two moments.

In your spare time, what are we likely to find you doing?
I’m a homeschooling mom of five, I’m not sure what that word, free time, means. ;) Seriously, I like to read, watch Netflix with my husband, make Tex-Mex food, and go for walks.

To pick up Katharine's books follow the links: 
The Truth About The Sky

Falling For Your Madness

And you can find her...

At her blog:
On Twitter:  @10MinuteWriter
And she just started a Pinterest account for busy writers like her. It’s called @10MinuteNovelists

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