I’m delighted to introduce the new social media maven for the Debutante Ball, Class of 2020! Please welcome and meet Kathleen West, whose debut novel Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes will be out from Berkley (Penguin Random House) on February 4, 2020. Kathleen is a writer, teacher, reader, and semi-professional minivan driver. A life-long Minnesotan, she holds degrees from Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, their two sporty sons, and an ill-behaved golden-doodle.
Isobel Johnson has spent her career in Liston Heights sidestepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a liberal agenda, she realizes she’s center stage. Meanwhile, Julia Abbott, obsessed with the casting of the school’s winter musical, makes an error in judgment that has far-reaching consequences for her entire family.
Brought together by the sting of public humiliation, Isobel and Julia learn firsthand how entitlement and competition can go too far, thanks to a secret Facebook page created as an outlet for parent grievances. This student body will need more than a strong sense of school spirit to move past these campus dramas in an engrossing debut novel that speaks to parents behaving badly and teenagers speaking up, even against their own families.
Interview with Kathleen:
Devi: What time of day do you love best?
Kathleen: I love the earliest mornings. I wrote Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes over three years between 4:45 and 6:15am. I roll out of bed and get to work in my pajamas. My house is quiet. My Twitter friends in #5amwritersclub check in and toil away by my virtual side, all before the sun rises.
I imagined that I’d sleep a little later now that I’m writing full time, but so far I’ve found that the mornings are still the most reliable. No one needs me; no one talks to me. I can get 45-60 minutes in, solid, even if I move my wake-up back to a less-shocking 5:15 or 5:30.
Devi: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
Kathleen: I wrote fiction as a young person, but I quit after high school and didn’t start again until age 36 or so. I would tell my younger self that there’s time for everything—you can get your master’s degree and run that race and have those kids and get that job and, yes, write that book. You can’t, you won’t, do it all at the same time. I’d slap stickers on my forehead reading, “Patience!” “Serendipity!” “Confidence!”
I wish I could go back in time and erase the crippling fear of failure that kept me from taking risks for many of my adolescent and early-adult years. I wish I could tell myself that failure really isn’t so bad and scary, and that every once in a while, a huge success sneaks in among all the disappointments that come along with trying hard and striving to achieve the coolest things.
Devi: Publishing a book is a bucket list dream for many people—are there any other accomplishments on your bucket list right now?
Kathleen: I’m a serial goal-setter, and I have to constantly check my “bigger, better, faster, more” mentality. Right now, I’m thinking I’d like to round-up my number of marathons run from 7 to 10. And, I’d like to maybe do a longer trail running race. And, I’d like to write short fiction sometime, and of course, I’d like to publish a second book (and a third and a fourth.) I’d like to make a long-term career as a writer. Just the basics, right? Easy stuff. Become a bestseller and attend the red-carpet premiere of my film adaptation. No biggie.