Kathy L Salt is a Swedish school teacher by day, but she spends her free-time writing a myriad of lesbian stories, from swoon-worthy romances to steamy shorts to faster-paced adventure stories. Her debut lesbian-dystopian novel, State of Emergency, is out today and you can find it on Amazon!
Want to know more? Here’s the blurb!
Sweden, Present Day: Idun Tyr receives a warning from her sister, and army lieutenant, telling her to hide and not come out no matter what she hears. By the time she re-emerges, the world has changed. Her phone has no signal, the internet and televisions aren’t working, and her town is empty of people. Everyone is gone. She sets out to find her missing girlfriend, Mercedes and embarks on a long journey, learning to survive in this new reality. A dystopian lesbian novel about a country torn apart by a vicious disease, following three women on different sides: military, vigilante and prisoner.
I got to sit down and talk to Kathy about her book this week (ok, I was sitting, but this interview actually happened online while we Skyped and shared a file back and forth). How did I score this awesome opportunity? Well, because she’s my best friend and I’ve been anxiously awaiting this day since she started writing State of Emergency. I feel so lucky to call her my friend because she inspired me to start writing again, and I probably wouldn’t be blogging about books today if I hadn’t met her. (I know, I sound like I’m trying to talk her up. But trust me, she’s an awesome person and a lovely writer.) So, without further ado, here’s what she had to say!
Question: State of Emergency is your first published novel, and it’s coming out today! Can you describe the story in about one sentence?
Answer: Yes! Today, I almost can’t believe it. Also, wow, one sentence? I would say it’s a story about loneliness and longing in a world that’s falling apart.
Question: What genre would you use to classify State of Emergency? What is your target audience?
Answer: I would say it’s lesbian dystopian. My target audience is mainly women who like women in any shape or form but I think this book has elements that will appeal to most people.
Question: Can you tell us a little about how State of Emergency began? Where did you get the idea, and did you always know it would turn into a novel?
Answer: I always knew it would turn into a novel. I’m a planner so before I even got the first draft done, I had the whole novel planned out. It was actually my wife who told me to “write a story about a girl who wakes up and she’s all alone,” and I just ran with it. It’s changed a lot since then and it no longer has that girl waking up alone. But that’s still the idea that started it all.
Question: How long did it take you to finish writing this book?
Answer: First draft, a couple of months. But all in all, it’s taken me a couple of years to get to the finished product.
Question: Do you have a favorite or least favorite character? Can you tell us why, without spoiling the story?
Answer: Oh this is such a hard question. All my characters are my favourites, of course. But I’m really fond of Mercedes. She’s just this angry, hurt woman that I care for so much.
Question: Do you have any specific way of designing your characters?
Answer: I really dislike when characters are too perfect. Usually what I do is take a characteristic or slight flaw that I have myself and just exaggerate it. So if I’m confident, my character is arrogant etc.
Question: What was the hardest thing about writing State of Emergency? Did you learn anything about yourself during the process of writing it?
Answer: This project has taken up several years of my life. It contains tears and laughter and a piece of my soul I will never get back. This novel taught me to be a writer; it came with me as I learnt about publishing and what I’m willing to do to follow this dream of becoming an author. It’s been a very humbling experience in many ways.
Question: How did you balance writing a novel with your other commitments? Was that hard for you? Do you have any advice for other people who might be struggling to find time to write?
Answer: It has been hard from time to time. Especially during university since you don’t want to sit down and write when you’ve already written several thousand words for uni. One thing I’ve noticed is that a long commute is a writer’s best friend, when I have a daily commute of two hours per day I get so much done. I just take out my little laptop out of my bag and I write. Writing on trains or buses is the best, I really do believe that. Otherwise the best advice I can give is to try to stay away from time-sucking stuff, such as the internet. If you don’t have enough willpower to resist, get an app that blocks websites of your choice for a time period. There is no shame in that at all. I sometimes use them myself.
Question: What was your journey to publishing State of Emergency like?
Answer: So rocky. It’s been rejected three times by three different publishers for different reasons. Sometimes it felt like it’s not mainstream enough to be mainstream and it isn’t lesbian enough to be fully lesbian fiction. It felt like it fell between the cracks a lot, which was upsetting. I also tried to publish it before it was ready, which of course led to rejections. But it’s been a very educational journey.
Question: Is there anything you would do differently if you could go back and change something?
Answer: No. Everything that happened was supposed to happen.
Question: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Likewise, what advice would you give to writers out there?
Answer: I think the best advice is to just write. There are so many things you have to read or research or learn about. And different methods to planning a novel or writing a novel. But writing is an art. Writing is a muscle. If you don’t practice it at all, what do the other things matter? Write. That’s my advice to everyone who wants to be a writer.
Question: Are there any authors you admire or feel inspired by that you would like to talk about? How about specific books you’ve read?
Answer: I could talk about authors or books that have inspired me all day. But to keep it short I’ll just say that the writings by Rae D Magdon and Meghan O’brien showed me that I can do this. Jae showed me what kind of author I want to be. Radclyffe is just damn inspiring because of the amount she writes. I’m not joking, the woman has written at least 50 books if not more – she’s a machine. And I mean that in the most respectful of ways. When it comes to novels I always have to mention “Backwards to Oregon” by Jae – it’s the novel that introduced me to the world of lesbian fiction and changed my life.
Question: What is something about you that people might be surprised to learn?
Answer: Growing up I changed schools 11 times, and I lived in four different countries before I turned 18.
Question: What are you working on now?
Answer: Right now I’m working on the first draft of a contemporary lesfic romance which sadly doesn’t have a title yet. I’m also in the editing stages of my second novel “Out of Hand” which is a criminal romance.
Question: Where can people find you online?