New Author Spotlight: Katrina S. Forest
What drew you to writing stories that move across genres? Is this a new direction for your writing?
The setting of “Water, Floor, Leaves” is probably the first one I’ve created that really lends itself to moving across genres. But it’s a setting I’d love to write more stories about.
The theme for this issue is Sport. Did you write “Water, Floor, Leaves” for the theme, or was it something that you’d already completed that seemed to fit?
“Water, Floor, Leaves” had quite an adventure. It started as a short story during Clarion West, got expanded into a novel during NaNoWriMo the next year, and then became a short story again when I saw the theme. It’s now completely different from the original short story, as any of my classmates will probably tell you.
The main character in your story is deaf. Being deaf affects how she plays her game in a handful of ways, but the story really isn’t about that. Why did you ignore the rule of writing fiction that insists characters – especially main characters – should have no important traits that are not plot points? Why didn’t you write a ‘default’ MC?
April is one of those characters that sort of popped into my head. My job was to learn more about her, and as a hearing person, I had a lot to learn. I took ASL classes for about a year, consumed biographies, novels, and documentaries (See What I’m Saying came out while I was working on this), and of course watched sports.
I also had an amazing editor, Chase Nottingham, who read the novel-length version of the story. He not only made sure I never committed a comma splice again but also helped keep my portrayal of April respectful and accurate. (The comma splices were a way more frequent problem; the semicolon and I are much better friends now.)
As to “breaking the rules,” a story can be about anybody. People aren’t defined by a single trait, and characters shouldn’t be either.
The theme for this issue probably leads most readers to expect wall-to-wall action. But while “Water, Floor, Leaves” flows pretty fast, its plot is moved more by character development than by external forces. When you’ve gone to all the trouble of inventing a cool, magic-based sport, why focus more on the player than the game?
To me, characters are the story. Someone could be rushing to save the world, but if I don’t care about that character, the tension’s gone. Besides, writing the dynamic between April’s no-nonsense approach to the game and Travis’ let’s-wing-it attitude was just as much fun as inventing the game itself.
Tell us something about your future writing projects. Are you developing more short stories? Do you have a novel in the works?
I actually have a short story, “Pidgin,” in Flash Fiction Online’s September issue. My acceptance at Crossed Genres came a couple weeks after my acceptance there. It was a very exciting month for me. I’ve got a short story collection called The Poisoned City in the works, and if my “Water, Floor, Leaves” novel doesn’t find a home, I may just give it one myself.
You can always find me babbling about my latest writing adventures at KatrinaSForest.com.
Where is your favorite writing place? Can you draw us a visual picture of the kind of space you create for yourself when you write?
I was fortunate enough to create my ideal writing space right in my house this summer. The paint is a crazy bright green, and I’ve got little U-shelves all along the walls, each one housing books I admire. I’m going to have to eventually give up the space when my toddler gets too big for her nursery, but I’m enjoying it while it’s there.
I can write other places, of course, but I’m one of those people that works better in a quiet area. If I write in a coffee shop, I’m armed with earplugs.
What’s a question that you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?
“Kataang or Zutara?”
What’s the answer to that question?
Zutara. It just makes sense.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think is important or that readers might want to know?
Not that I can think of. If anyone’s curious, my editor’s website is ChaseEditing.com.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my work with your readers!