I “met” Katy when a friend recommended her critiquing service. Katy helped me tremendously with my manuscript. So when I began recruiting authors who I thought would be great mentors, Katy came to mind immediately.
You’ve written several non-fiction books about U.S. presidents, tech icons, animals, battles, and poltergeists. How do you do research for all those different topics?
First, I have to say that I truly love the research process. I like the challenge of trying to ensure accuracy, and I like digging for interesting, little known facts. Research for each book can take different approaches, but I generally begin scouring the internet for reputable sources. I search for both general information and for primary sources. Looking up articles in old newspapers, magazines, and on specialized sites can lead to good info. I also use library e-databases, and, of course, print books to find detailed information on my topic. Depending on the topic, I often interview people and sometimes visit various places for more hands-on research. I try my best to leave no stone unturned, and I often have a difficult time letting go of the research process to begin the actual writing.
Did you get the willies while you were writing your poltergeist book?
Nah. I don’t believe that stuff. J One thing I liked about writing for this series (I wrote another book for the series about the Bermuda Triangle) is that the publisher wanted me to present both sides of the story and allow readers to make up their own minds on what they believed. Yay for critical thinking!
Farmer McPeepers and Loud Lula have a very natural folksy voice to them. Where did you pick that up?
I’m from Arkansas and I’ve lived all my life in the South. If you could hear me talk, you would have no doubts as to where that voice derived. People say I have a bit of an accent.
What challenges do you have in writing fiction that you don’t have in non-fiction? Vice Versa?
This is a great question. The main challenges of nonfiction for me are ensuring factual accuracy and finding the perfect “heart” of the topic. The “heart” for some of my nonfiction books for the educational market is not quite as difficult, as these are generally more fact-based informational books. Nonfiction books for the trade market, though, need that perfect throughline—the “heart” that ties everything together. Another challenge is trying to figure out what to leave out when you find SO many cool facts you’d like to include but can’t.
As for fiction, my challenge is ALWAYS the overall plotting of a manuscript. I can come up with fun characters, the perfect title, interesting settings, a strong story problem, a compelling voice, and so forth, but sometimes combining all of those elements into a cohesive plot with a spot-on story arc can be a definite challenge. But I’ve learned if I stick with a story I love, it usually works itself out.
Thank you Katy! To learn how to apply for a mentorship with her check out http://beckytarabooks.com/contest/