I am so excited to introduce YA author Kat Ellis. Her novel BLACKFIN SKY has sold to to Lisa Cheng at Running Press Kids (US) and Penny Thomas at Firefly Press (UK/Comm), for publication in Fall 2014. Kat took some time from her whirlwind of good news to share a bit about herself and her book:
ENGLE: Do you have a particular system for writing a book, such as outlining or discovering the ending first? Do you ever waver from it?
ELLIS: I usually start out with a very simple idea. This will generally be the ‘hook’ for me – the thing that as a reader would make me want to read on and find out more – but it’s sometimes just a scene, or even an image. Once I have that in my head, I start to outline. I’m very much a plotter, so what starts as a broad, synopsis-like outline, will soon become very detailed notes for each chapter, from the first right through to the last.
I can’t say I never deviate from the outline, but I really find it helps to keep me on track and avoid those dreaded brick walls.
ENGLE: Tell me about BLACKFIN SKY. What’s it about? Where did the story idea come from?
ELLIS: Here’s a little intro:
When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.
Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.
That first line was really the starting point for me, and I spent a fair amount of time staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what had happened to Sky in those three months. Of course, it actually ended up an entirely different story to the one I’d thought I was going to write – in the best possible way!
ENGLE: Very cool storyline. This is definitely going on my goodreads list. What’s the most difficult part of the writing process or anything unexpected you encountered while writing this book?
ELLIS: Before I started writing BLACKFIN SKY, I had an idea fixed in my head that I was going to write a completely fantasy-free mystery. Straight-up contemporary, if you like – no robots or lasers or fairies. And while none of those things actually appear in Blackfin, it’s probably the weirdest, creepiest thing I’ve written to date, and certainly not fantasy-free!
ENGLE: I think weird and creepy are inevitable when you’re bringing in circus mimes! Can you share a bit about finding an agent to publication to the most recent US publication? Anything that stands out?
ELLIS: I found my agent (the fabulous Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency) after Molly requested some of my work from an online contest. I really couldn’t ask for a better, more supportive agent, and having her in my corner not only makes the world of publishing less scary, but a whole lot of fun too.
I’d say the best part of my journey so far has certainly been announcing two deals in a matter of weeks – I’m still fizzing with excitement about it! I get to work with some amazing editors, and I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on my book.
ENGLE: Where can we buy BLACKFIN SKY? Do you have a website/facebook/twitter you’d like to share?
ELLIS: BLACKFIN SKY won’t be out until 2014, but if you check out my blog I’ll be posting regular updates on my path to your local bookstore, and doing some Blackfin-ish giveaways over the coming months! You can also add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads – all the cool kids are doing it. Seriously.
ENGLE: And as your publication dates gets closer, I will be having a giveaway at my site and sharing your pertinent release date information. Are you working on another project at this time that you’d like to tell us about?
ELLIS: I’m still challenging myself to write something fantasy-free, and my current work-in-progress is more in that vein. Still plenty of mystery and thrillerishness (what? That’s a word) but in a setting that’s much more familiar than Blackfin – even if it is still a pretty strange story. But it would be boring otherwise, right??
ENGLE: And finally, if you could be a Muppet, which would you be and why?
ELLIS: I think it’d have to be Rizzo the Rat. I fell for the sarcastic little dude in The Muppets Christmas Carol, where he was the long-suffering sidekick of a suspiciously Gonzo-like Charles Dickens. I’ve seen that film so many times I can practically recite it word for word. That said, my fake New York accent is fairly diabolical, so I should probably rehearse my Rizzo lines a little more…
ENGLE: Thank you for a fabulous interview! I am so excited for your success in the UK and the US, and can’t wait to read your book BLACKFIN SKY!
Bio: Kat Ellis is a young adult writer from North Wales. Her debut novel, BLACKFIN SKY, is forthcoming from Firefly Press (May 2014, UK) and Running Press Kids (Fall 2014, USA). You’ll usually find Kat up to no good on Twitter, playing badminton like a ninja, or watching scary films with her husband and feral cat. She speaks Welsh fluently and French badly.