Second Novel Blues with Kate Karyus Quinn

Yes, I figured it was time for another acronymific interview series here on the blog. Welcome to the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent Blues. We all like to hear about the journey to publication, and hopefully other people's success stories help bolster the confidence of those still slogging through the query trenches. But what happens after that first book deal? When the honeymoon is over, you end up back where you were - sitting in front of a blank Word document with shaky hands. Except this time, there are expectations hanging over you.

Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?

Fellow Class of 2k13 member Kate Karyus Quinn is my first volunteer for the SNOB. Kate's debut ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE was one of my favorite reads of 2013, and her upcoming release (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME, sounds incredible.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

Yes, it was actually really much more difficult than I thought it would be. One because OMG this was my debut novel! That means that I seeing my book on shelves for the first time(!) and reading reviews for the first time(!) and hyperventilating over all of it for the ninety-ninth time. BUT while all of this was going on, I had to also write a totally separate (stand-alone) novel and even work on edits for this other novel the very same week that my debut novel came out. It was more than just an exercise in time-management (although yes, I could’ve been better with this) but also in mental headspace management. 

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

Ummm… never? Was I supposed to divert? I sort of see my books as two treadmills sitting side by side. Sometimes I run on one and then hop over to the other. At other times, I try to run with one leg on each treadmill and just hope I don’t faceplant. When it’s time for my third novel… well, I will probably have to change this to a juggling analogy. 

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

Both my debut and second novel are standalones, so while I knew that readers wouldn’t come back expecting the same characters or stories, I did want to be able to offer them a book that had a similar creepy atmosphere, but that was still unique and a fresh reading experience. 

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Yes, absolutely. I actually quit my day job the same month that my debut novel was released because between promoting Another Little Piece, revising (Don’t You) Forget About Me, and making sure the two kids, two dogs, and husband all got a piece of my time as well – I was just not able to keep up with everything. 

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I wish I could say that I was so much more confident while writing my second novel, but for some reason this book was just elusive and really hard to pin down from the very first scene I wrote for it. While writing (Don’t You) Forget About Me I often had a feeling like there was something really great here, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. With the help of my amazing editor, Erica Sussman, I finally figured it all out – but it took me a long time to get there and the piece definitely took a lot longer to fall into place than they had with Another Little Piece. Maybe the third or fourth or fifth book is when I’ll start gaining perspective and feeling like “Yes! I really know what I’m doing here.” 


I’ll let you know.