Welcome March, the lion and the lamb! I’m pleased to host as this month’s author Katharine Grubb, whom I met at the first-ever 10Minute Novelist Conference in Cincinnati in 2018. Here’s a look at Katherine in her own words: “Katharine homeschools the youngest two of her five nearly grown children. She’s also a novelist, a baker of bread, voracious reader, comedian wannabe, and the author of Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she leads the 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. With over thirteen thousand followers and a successful first-ever conference under her belt, Katherine has established her presence in the writing community. She occasionally blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. Grubb lives in Massachusetts with her family.”

Janet Irvin: Welcome, Katharine.Will you share with readers a little about your writing journey?

Katharine Grubb: I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, so it was a natural move for me to write in high school on the newspaper and yearbook staffs. From there, I was a journalism major at the University of Oklahoma until a combination of lack of confidence and practicality shifted my focus to education. After graduation, and a stint as a public school teacher, I toyed with being a free-lance writer, but it wasn’t until 15 years after college graduation (and after the birth of my fifth child) that I decided to return to writing and pursue my ambiguous dreams of becoming a published writer.

I developed the habit of writing in ten minute increments with five children under ten years old, thinking that it was far better for me to write a little something than a big nothing. And after five years, I finished my first novel, The Truth About the Sky. Then, in a muse-driven frenzy, I wrote Falling For Your Madness in  about six weeks. I don’t recommend writing this way, but that book became my best seller and opened doors for me that I still can’t comprehend. After I self-published it, I entered it into the 2013 Amazon Breakout Novel Award and it made the top five for romance, out of 10,000 entries. My success there and brazen excitement on my blog got the attention of a UK publisher who asked me to write Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day. It was a result of that book and the creation of the Facebook group 10 Minute Novelists, that brought me to where I am now.

J.I.: So, your most recent novel, SOULLESS CREATURES, is set on a university campus. Why did you decide to write about this particular cast of characters?

K.G.: In my first two novels, I found it fun and easy to create the leading men. They were obnoxious and quirky and always had the perfect one-liners. My main character in Soulless Creatures, Roy Castleberry, is a teenage, working class version of Quentin and David (from the other two books). It’s usually the men that I can visualize first. For some reason, the women are a lot harder to understand. Roy’s roommate, Jonathan, is the extreme contrast of Roy so this gave the book kind of an Odd Couple, buddy movie vibe. Having them fall for the same girl, Abby, wasn’t that hard, but the most fun was them playing off each other as Roy tries to prove that he has a soul. Plus, it was all set in the 1980s at the college where I went to school, so I had a great deal of fun putting in the ‘80s references.

J.I.: Classifying novels has become quite a challenge these days. How do you refer to your work – romance, suspense, thriller, Christian?

K.G.: If you look at them by genre, all my books are different. The Truth About the Sky is Christian fiction on the snarky side. Falling For Your Madness is romantic comedy. Soulless Creatures is Young Adult. But all of them are funny, at least I think so, and that would be the most unifying trait about them. My next book is a middle-grade fantasy which will definitely be on the humorous side too.

J.I.: How did the 10minute Writers come into being? Did you ever anticipate holding a conference as successful as the one in Cincinnati in 2018?

K.G.: In 2014, a year before Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day was to be released, I created the Facebook group in the hopes that I could create a place for time-crunched writers. From the beginning we’ve offered chats, subgroups, articles, and practical tips for now nearly 13,000 people worldwide. I have an army of volunteers who help do much of the work. We did have a successful inaugural conference in 2018 and in March of this year, we’re having our first meeting to plan the next one. We have no details confirmed yet, other than this will not be an annual event. Everything about 10 Minute Novelists has delighted and surprised me. The group is no longer about the book, it’s about the joyful community of writers who encourage each other.

J.I.: What future writing plans do you have?

K.G.: Currently I’m working on a middle-grade fantasy and I think I want to pitch it to a few agents to see how it will fare in the traditional industry. I also am interested in writing a psychological thriller and poetry. I don’t have a long term plan, although getting a master’s degree in creative writing without any loans would be a dream come true. All I want to do now is be faithful in the ideas that I’ve been given, read as much as I can, stretch myself in new creative ways, and continue leading 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook.

J.I.: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

K.G.: Be true to yourself. I’m not sure where I heard it, but I always come back to that when I think that my experiments in writing comedy aren’t good enough. No, I’m good at it. I’ve always loved it. I don’t need to apologize for it.

J.I.: What do you see as your biggest writing challenge?

K.G.: Right now, I’ve found I’m more motivated to create new works than edit the old ones. I need to grow in discipline to complete short stories, my middle-grade novel, and perhaps some poetry. As fun as stream of consciousness is, it’s hardly publishable. I need to keep it in the right perspective.

J.I.: And, now, just for fun…What  character in fiction would you most like to be? Why?

K.G.: I have a lot of favorite characters! I keep thinking of adventurous types who hung out with a mastermind, say Dr. Watson, but then I reconsider because I wouldn’t want to face the life-threatening danger. I suppose if I knew that there would be a happily ever after, and no Moriarty could actually hurt me or my friend, I’d roam London with literature’s most famous detective. Then, when I got tired of mystery and intrigue, I’d settle for drinking tea in Lady Catherine’s parlor at Rosings, until I got the urge to slap her face.

J,I,: What is your favorite way to relax? 

K.G.; I really like to walk on my local rail trail, but this is New England, so it will be icy until April. I also love to read. I like having a diverse literary diet and try to keep my interests balanced. And I really like hanging out with my family. They are the most entertaining people I’ve ever met.