Interview With Katherine Gilraine

Or, What? I Can Conduct Interviews Too by S.R. Torris

Sometimes, as we walk along the path of creativity the assumption we make is that we travel the road alone. The crazy thoughts we have, the voices that are so real to us but go unheard by others must make it so.

Every once-in-a-while, however, we meet a fellow drifter, reminding us we are never as alone as we think, as long as a like mind can hear us. Katherine Gilraine is that mind. Author of the fascinating and much lauded “The Index Series”, Katherine took time from her busy schedule to have a tête-à-tête, and if you strain your ears just a little, you might hear some jazzy voices of your own.

SRT: Well there you are. Shall we commence?

KG: Oh yes, we shall.

SRT: For those who haven’t a clue, won’t you introduce yourself to the folks, Ma’am?

KG: All right then. I’m Kat Gilraine, live in NYC, write fantasy, and photograph jazz concerts. Known to travel for jazz or a good time, chase adventure unabashedly, and fire off volleys of sarcasm at will.

SRT: Well, that is a mouthful of interesting stuff, particularly the love of Jazz and adventure, which to some may be a bit of the same thing. Do think that your love for jazz affects your style of writing?

KG: I would definitely say so. Many of the times inspiration has hit me, it usually involves a song. I always have Pandora playing my mixes in the background. And I will be up front and say it: had it not been for my love of jazz, I would not have gotten to where I am. Also, not for nothing, but Contemp jazz, being the multifaceted style that it is, makes for a lovely soundtrack.

SRT: Now when you say “Contemp jazz” are you talking Kenny G? No classic jazz for you?

KG: Kenny G? Oh, honey, honey, NO. Kenny G is the butt of too many jokes. I speak of the Rippingtons, Spyro Gyra, Boney James if you want a sax, Matt Marshak, Special EFX, Jeff Lorber… I like a little groove in there. Classic jazz has its turn, but if I’m asked to choose between Miles Davis and Chris Botti, they make a better playlist together than separate. And to note, I’ve seen Dave Brubeck twice at the Blue Note, prior to him retiring. To play a sold-out gig at the tender age of 91 – now that’s power!

SRT: So how would you compare your style of writing to a Dave Brubeck song?

KG: Interesting question and not one I’ve thought about before. If I had to pick one for comparison, I would choose “It’s A Raggy Waltz”. It’s not quite a rag piece, not quite a waltz, much like my writing doesn’t quite fit into one particular box. But the song finds a way to mesh two styles and leaves the listener satisfied.

SRT: So tell us about what you’re working on now, and if you think that it has taken on a jazzy flow.

KG: “The Index Series” has been an ongoing pet project. Right now I’m setting out to release the fourth book, which wraps up the initial arc, and primarily focuses on the way people react to each other. No two personalities are alike, and crisis is one of the greatest tests of character. As far as the “jazzy flow” goes, I’ve written at [jazz] shows. I would go to a club with a notepad and if the muse would bite to the music – which, invariably, it did – I would hop to it. It makes for an interesting experience and I’ve grown to associate jazz with my own creativity. I won’t lie, though, there’s plenty of soundtrack potential there too! That, of course, changed slightly once I got my camera.

SRT: How so?

KG: Nowadays when I come to a show, I shoot. Sometimes it’s for the artist or sometimes it’s for my portfolio. But invariably, when I go back and look through the photos to edit them, I think back to the show all over again. Cue the writing muse then. It’s sometimes why I take longer than I need to, in order to get the photos fully completed.

SRT: Do you find you’re enjoying the photography more or is it that writing and photography each bring a different type of satisfaction?

KG: It’s different but carries a powerful similarity in the sense that they’re both creative endeavors. Photography is a challenge, and I never shirk from a challenge. It’s technical as well as creative and it’s something that combines the “best of all worlds” for me. I love my music, my tech, and my writing. So if I write about music, without a doubt, the photos will be a great aid

SRT: Let’s talk more about “The Index Series”. What genre did you choose to write it in and why?

KG: I wrote it in Urban Fantasy. It kind of wrote itself in there, honestly. I love it because it’s an “anything goes” sort of genre; you build a world and set your own guidelines for it. And it blends enough Sci-Fi elements in with general fantasy for it to allow the author to play around a little bit more boldly.

SRT: Urban Fantasy seems to be a popular genre these days and a lot of authors are making trilogies or multiple book anthologies. Why did you decide to make yours a series as opposed to one giant tome?

KG: There’s way too much story to tell, honestly. The characters, however un-human they are, are people, and just like people, they have to go through quite a few knocks to learn something about themselves and each other. I thought I would wrap up the first arc at four books but as I was finishing up the initial draft of that fourth book, I realized that wait a second – I left way too many loose ends! There’s a whole royal mess (kinda literally!) left to explore, and considering where Book 1 ended, I had to keep going. Add to that the characters’ own very curious back-stories and we have a recipe for up to fourteen books. And maybe more, if this keeps at it.

SRT: Sounds intensive and you write a blog on top of that? What is your blog about?

KG: The blog is an anything-goes writing venue. I won’t get personal in there or write about things that I don’t particularly want made public. For instance, I state it in the blog rules that my personal life is off limits, but I write about whatever comes to mind: projects, current events, politics, music, what I plan on doing – things like that.

SRT: When you said you were a woman that likes adventure, you weren’t kidding. I see you’ve blogged about writing and the publishing industry. You have some pretty strong opinions about traditional publishing, would you share some of them?

KG: Yes, I do, I won’t lie. The more I see where traditional publishing is going, I can’t help but ask if these companies are trying to go out of business?

Trad-pub houses have their use. I will never deny that. They put books through a rigorous process from draft to publication – a two-year process that vets every last detail. However, they are sticking to the same model that has been around for decades. That model is no longer the only option for publishing. The authors have accepted this. Slowly, the readers are accepting this. But the trad-pub houses are digging in their heels and sticking to the same business model. It’s very counterproductive on their end.

SRT: Doesn’t that model weed out the crap, though? There is a flood of e-pub stuff that’s absolute garbage, as you kind of attest to, trad-pubs would sift through, right?

KG: Not necessarily. There are good and bad eggs in every avenue of publishing and every genre. And moreover, if something like “Twilight” can get released, then I wouldn’t say trad-pubs weed out the crap that well. And yes, I’m going there with “Twilight”. The editor of that book should have gotten “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.

SRT: Well alrighty, could you be more forthcoming and speak your mind?

KG: Just keepin’ it real.

SRT: Do you feel there’s a greater depth of talent that trad-pubs haven’t tapped into?

KG: Definitely. As of late, all I’ve read were self-published books, all by authors still in the “generating a buzz” stage of their authorship, and all of whose books were absolutely brilliant. The other thing that they all had in common was that they were all turned down when they tried to go the traditional route. Publishers are not willing to take risks and put their efforts into a book or genre that’s outside the box and they’re missing out on a lot of great books! If they would step outside the box, they would find a slew of authors who have a great, original concept, who can potentially bring a profit to themselves and the publisher.

SRT: Do you think that the public is open to new and “outside the box”? You know that people tend to follow the herd and trad-pubs have the ears of the masses.

KG: They’re getting there. Since most of the marketing right now is done online, self-pubs have their shot at generating an audience buzz. The other part of it is that e-readers are becoming more and more popular, and since self-pubs tend to be priced lower than trad-pubs, the readers can check the books out with less of a dent to their wallet. I’m finding that as the e-reader sales grow, so do the self-pub sales.

SRT: Do you think it possible thatHollywoodcould come calling on some e-pub titles or is that something that still falls within the realm of the traditional publisher because they’ve been established longer?

KG: It can happen, but it will be a while before it does.Hollywoodis used to film-adapting trad-pub stories because they have a ready-and-waiting audience. But self-pub just has a wider and outside the box talent pool. I’m under no illusions, though. It’ll be a long, long while before it happens.

SRT: Let’s talk a little about your out the box cluster of supporters; what’s the feedback been on “The Index Series”?

KG: For the most part, it’s been good. I’ve had a few people come back to me and say that they’re confused, especially with Book 1. But I tell them, “Stick it out through the series; you will get the answers to the questions.” The Amazon reviews are encouraging.

SRT: So when can we expect the next installment?

KG: It’s set to come out on my birthday, May 13th [2012].

SRT: Earlier, you mentioned that you are a photographer, have you thought about doing a book like that – something artistic and totally out of your genre?

KG: I’m definitely thinking about it. I’ve been thinking of doing an anthology, but now I’m considering making it a photo book. I just have to figure out the details and how it’s going to work. The more I think about it, though, the more I think that it’ll probably be something that I’ll approach a traditional publisher about. Never said that trad-pub doesn’t have its uses…

SRT: You are adventurous.

KG: Indeed.

SRT: So here’s a typical question, what advice would you give to an aspiring author of any fictional genre?

KG: Above everything else, treat your book as a business venture. Writing is a business, and it’s a business that is, right now, getting a major overhaul. Editing is important and so is marketing, and above all, so is NOT heading into the mix of things without some sort of a survival kit. Network and work.

SRT: Would you recommend self-publishing/e-pub or traditional publishing?

KG: I wouldn’t “recommend” to begin with because that’s up to the author. What I feel works for me (self-pub), may not work so well for someone else. I would suggest that the author does a nice metric ton of research first.

SRT: And in closing, another typical question; who is your favorite author and why?

KG: Stephen King. That man’s mind has no limits.

SRT: Thank you for your time and good luck on your next adventure!


For more information on Katherine Gilraine please enjoy these links…

Buy “The Index Series” by Katherine Gilraine on

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