Katie St. Claire’s approach to writing is simple: She writes about what she knows, then adds a heaping dose of imagination and fantasy that help the story stray a bit from the beaten path.
St. Claire’s first novel, Second Hand Stops: Book I: Benefactor, was released in June of 2014. The first in her acclaimed urban fantasy series The Van Burens, the book tells the story of six teens who are forced to drink a life-prolonging elixir to receive multi-million dollar inheritances and internships in New York City courtesy of mysterious anonymous benefactor. The series continued with Rewind: Book II: Immortality and came to a stunning conclusion in 2015’s Fast Forward: Book III: Generation.
An old soul who will forever remain a kid at heart, St. Claire resides in the rural north of the United States with her husband and her son. Aside from writing, she is passionate about gardening, photography and crafts. To learn more about her and her writing, visit www.katiestclairebooks.com.
What was your upbringing like, and how did it shape who you are today?
My upbringing has been a source of speculation. When the time is right, I’ll write a book loosely based on my experiences. I am an only child who grew up in the Midwest, relying on an active imagination for entertainment.
Growing up, who were your biggest creative influences?
Shel Silverstein. He sparked my love of poetry and I remember lying in bed reading Where the Sidewalk Ends over and over. That began the writing journey, and I penned notebook after notebook of poetry as a child and teenager. My favorite quote comes from Dr. Seuss, and to this day, I love to make poetry rhyme.
What inspired the story of The Van Burens?
I love anything paranormal because it’s fascinating to me. I’ve had experiences of my own to know it exists. With that said, The Van Burens started out as a completely different book. It’s still on my hard drive and looks nothing like the final product. Writing this series was more of a process, which led to sparks, and finally led to a blazing inferno by the time I finished. The biggest piece of the puzzle came from launching a new line of pharmaceutical grade skincare in the state of Michigan. I helped a high school classmate who works for a plastic surgeon. That’s what inspired me to write the elixir into a skincare product. The skin can’t absorb water, but it can absorb aloe… well, you know the rest and it’s all very scientific. I tied that concept to my heavy social sciences background, along with an interest in the paranormal, and voila’ we have The Van Burens.
What sort of research went into bringing the story of The Van Burens to life?
Oddly enough, I researched New York, Europe, South America, Claridges Hotel (they emailed me directly), and new age theories about evolution and paranormal abilities. And of course I have twelve years of research on sociopathic behavior and the types of people behind various forms of corruption we see all over the world and in every walk of life.
How much of you is there in the character of Julia?
Quite a bit, actually. She’s sort of a nutty, naive intellect, who sees the world through a colorful, introspective, and observant lens. I think anyone who reads this series will see certain sides of me in the character of Julia.
Does writing come easy to you? If so, has it always?
Sometimes it comes easy and I write like the wind. Inspiration comes from places I can’t even begin to understand, and at other times, I’m blocked. I try not to force it because what comes out is unique. I think my subconscious does an incredible job of bringing things into focus when the timing is right. I develop ideas, thoughts, emotions, and dialogue over time, but other times, it just comes from nowhere when I’m quiet and still. That is when I rush to my computer to get everything written.
When it comes to marketing your books, what methods have proven to be most successful for you?
Word of mouth is always the most successful method outside of big media marketing. Someone reads a book, loves it, and tells everyone he or she knows about this book they just have to read. Authors also give review copies to unbiased bloggers, make the first book in a series free for a while, allowing it to reach hands, and use marketing companies to get our books in front of a target audience.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Learn all the rules so you know when to break them. Breaking out on our own is the single most effective weapon we have. We shouldn’t jump on bandwagons, or recreate what authors have written a thousand times before with no real original thought. In a way, authors are no different from inventors.
From your perspective, what distinguishes great writing from good or mediocre writing?
Writing is completely subjective, but anything that entertains me is great writing. I want to get to know unique characters on a deep, emotional level, and let the author take me on a journey. It’s not so much about a particular writing style, because it varies by author. Mediocre writing lacks tension and emotional depth, and sometimes an author forgets to set the scene.
In the movie version of The Van Burens, which actors and actresses do you cast to play the lead roles?
Julia is a unique character and I always pictured someone with great emotional and intellectual depth. Avril Lavigne perhaps? Claude Van Buren is mysterious and even as the author of this series, he intrigues me. Is he good or bad? There is this gray space where the reader really doesn’t know for sure. Perhaps, in the end, he’s perfectly flawed. Lyra lacks a filter so I would cast a very blunt, offish actress. To be honest, it would be hard to cast The Van Burens because they have such unique and opposing personalities. I pictured someone like Tom Felton as Lincoln.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
The Fire in Fiction, and The Breakout Novel, written by Donald Maass.
What are you working on next?
I’m an inspiration-led author so I have a paranormal, psychological thriller, and romance going at the same time. When one doesn’t flow, I’ll flip to another. The characters and plots I create should feel authentic. I go back to the drawing board repeatedly, until readers believe the tale, and that these characters actually exist in an alternate universe.