I met Katie Rose Guest Pryal almost four years ago at a pitch workshop in New York City. She introduced me to the yumminess of chicken kebabs with srircha sauce and taught me some tricks to hailing a cab when you have a suitcase. Four years laster, we both launched our novels into the world and are members of a fantastic group of women writers, the Tall Poppies. She’s smart, strong, and a vocal advocate for those who need to be heard.
Her novel, ENTANGLEMENT, tells the story of awkward, 21-year-old Greta Donovan, the fiercely intelligent daughter of a philandering physics professor. She doesn’t relate to people nearly as well as she relates to facts and figures. While Greta gets quarks and string theory, she hasn’t a clue where men are concerned.
Which is exactly why she doesn’t see it coming when someone tries to kill her.
This book is visceral, heart breaking, and sometimes hard to read because Katie isn’t afraid to explore the difficult topics, but it’s worth taking the journey with these complicated and real characters.
Katie stopped by to share her thoughts on making it as a writer. Make sure to comment on her post to be included in a giveaway for her book. Details are below.
Writing is the worst job in the world. Because I write for a living, I’m scared I won’t be able to buy diapers for my kids. Because I write for a living, we eat too many hot dogs and too much macaroni and cheese, especially in November, the month before my royalty checks arrive.
But come January, writing is the most amazing job in the world. I’m delighted that writing can feed my family, can pay my mortgage.
Writers (well, most writers) live from royalty check to royalty check. But we also live from idea to idea. We have to grab our ideas from the air, whenever and wherever they manifest.
I write while I walk or drive, dictating ideas into my phone’s voice transcriber. Later, when I pull up the words, they often come out a little garbled. But no matter, the juice is there, enough juice for me to start writing when I arrive at my workplace of choice.
My workplace of choice: the place brewing the best coffee, with the best art on the walls that month, or with the best air conditioning in this, the hottest June in recorded history. I live in North Carolina after all, and it’s hard to write well when it’s so hot you feel like the weather is trying to crush your brain. (Hear that Mother Nature? Let up a little bit.)
Sometimes I walk to my writing spot, and I read while I’m walking. My neighbors think I’m eccentric, walking around with my face in books. But aren’t I a little young to be considered eccentric? I understand where they’re coming from, though. I’m new to the neighborhood, and I have small kids, so I don’t go to the wine tastings (for the love of egg salad, no) or the other things that people go to who don’t have to shell out their retirement fund for babysitters. So my neighbors don’t know me well. They don’t know that I read because I have no choice. And that I have important things to do in the evenings.
In the evenings, I teach two small children how to brush their teeth. How to zip up their sleep suits. How to read. How to fall asleep. I didn’t even know that sleeping was a thing you had to teach before I had kids.
And then, once my babies’ lashes touch their cheeks, I write again. This second shift is the best shift. I sit in bed with my laptop. My husband putters downstairs. The sound of his activities echoing up the stairwell creates comfort while I delve into human depravity, into the hard things that people can do to one another.
“Why don’t you write happy books?” my mother asks. I think, What on Earth is a happy book? I write books about real people, the things they fear, the pain they suffer—and their joys. Every single feeling my characters have felt is a feeling I’ve felt.
These are questions about Entanglement I always get from readers. I think they explain a lot about what it means to write for a living, to write for real.
- Is this book about your life? Yes, but not in the way that you think.
- Are the characters based on people you know? Yes, they are all based on one person I know.
- How did you learn so much about Greta’s strange line of work? Because I did Greta’s strange work, once.
- How did you depict what it was like to be an outsider so well? Because, for most of my life, I was an outsider. Sometimes, I still am. (Eccentric, remember?)
- How did you know how to write about Daphne’s childhood suffering? How did I, indeed.
- How can people who’ve known such loss still find joy? Because they must.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, August 7th to win one a copy of ENTANGLEMENT (U.S. only). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Katie is a novelist and freelance journalist living in Chapel Hill, N.C. She’s the author of the novel ENTANGLEMENT and the novella LOVE AND ENTROPY, both available now from Velvet Morning Press. Katie contributes regularly to THE HUFFINGTON POST, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE TOAST, DAME MAGAZINE and other national venues. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship, and her doctorate in rhetoric from UNC-Greensboro. Katie has published five books on writing, the most recent with Oxford University Press. You can find Katie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Contently.