Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Kate Gateley about her writing and her recently released book, Mantle of the World Ruler (Book Two of the Lost Wells Trilogy), an expertly woven and enthralling offering that immerses readers into a world of dark magic, ancient mythology, and Celtic history. (Read the review here.)
Kate currently lives, and writes, on a small farm in the Cowichan Valley on beautiful Vancouver Island, Canada, with her amazing husband, two incredible sons, an adorable dog, several barn cats who don’t earn their keep, and some decidedly ungrateful chickens … all of whom are very dearly loved. She is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), Federation of BC Writers (BCFW)and Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA). Kate’s debut novel, Tides of the Sovereign, was the winner of the 2022 Canadian Book Club Awards in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi category. Mantle of the World Ruler (Book Two of the Lost Wells Trilogy), publishes February 21, 2023.
Instagram / TikTok / Pinterest: @kategateleyauthor
How do you begin a book?
Great question! When I started my writing journey, I knew that the most important thing was finding my own rhythm. There are so many (fabulous) strategies out there, but to light my creative fire in a meaningful & sustainable way, I needed to forge my own methods onward.
For me, a book begins with a feeling that originates somewhere in my chest (much like Julia’s Bearing fire!), and I go from there. Music, events, and locations all influence how these seeds of creativity are germinated, and—at the risk of sounding cliché—I then plant them throughout the story where they feel the most intuitive. From there, the story structure usually comes to life. I suppose I’m a “pantser” at heart, though since I write in the fantasy realm, there is some plotting (but not usually until I have the creative framework set out before me).
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My debut novel (and book baby), Tides of the Sovereign, took me about nine months to complete—a lot like gestation! Mantle of the World Ruler took me a little bit longer, about ten months, to complete the first draft, but it was a ton of fun to write! Book Three (name not yet announced) is taking me a bit longer, mostly because I’m still juggling all of the publishing tasks and obligations from the first two books! I’m also finding it more challenging to wrap it up as the final book in the trilogy—there are so many loose ends to tie up! I estimate I will complete the manuscript between the 10-12-month mark (hopefully by the end of April, 2023).
Is writer’s block real?
I almost wish I could say it was for me since this is a shared experience among my peers, but my personal writing challenge is finding the time. I have two kids under seven and several businesses I’m involved in, so my time is often spread very thin. I’ve combatted this by carving time to sneak away for writing weekends!
What’s more important: characters or plot?
For me? Characters, always. My favourite aspect of writing is anything to do with impassioned dialogue between my protagonists and their comrades. That’s when I lose complete track of time and submerge fully into that magical realm of writing euphoria. Hundreds of words later, I re-emerge, and my soul feels alight. That’s the juicy bit of it all, right there. I also love writing dialogue between good and evil because it’s so much fun!
What sort of a relationship exists between you and the characters you created in this book?
This might sound wild, but Julia shows up for me very much as an ancestor, almost like a conduit telling their story through me. More often than not, I am following her lead and doing my best to express it as best I can, coming to me through the divine feminine—the lost voice(s) of the wells. Julia is a force.
Dom, meanwhile, is a character I’ve carried with me for most of my life—the imagined Celtic prince of my childhood to the rescue! In reality, he bears a familiar essence to my own balanced masculine side. A problem solver. If you can believe it, when editing scenes of conflict between the two protagonists, my husband Scott (and at-home alpha stage editor & brainstorm support) often sides with Julia, whereas I am often team Dom!
All that being said, I also alchemize my own lived experiences, as well as the experiences of those around me, through the characters of my books. Arguably, the depths of Ronan’s character, particularly his work with his shadows, resonates deeply with many of us in this generation.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Since publishing book one, constructive and collaborative feedback (working with experienced editors, receiving professional reviews, and adjudication in writing competitions) has been wonderful fuel for motivating my future work! I’ve also learned quickly to avoid specific apps/websites that deal in negativity as currency—those spaces aren’t for the authors, anyway.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
“Hi, younger Kate. Firstly, hold on tight to those stories, letting them grow within you until the time is right to ripen their fruit. In the meantime, do the work to free yourself from the perfectionism and misplaced obligations you feel so deeply—you know, the ones holding you back—and put pen to paper. Your voice has value, and you can be as generous as you like in your storytelling. You are allowed to tell your stories your way … in fact, that will be the source of your creative wellspring.”
What does literary success look like to you?
I care most that my stories reach people in their heart space. Sure, it’s obviously amazing to sell books (all writers wish for this—and if they say they aren’t, they are lying, haha) … but I would like my legacy to be one where whatever art I put out into the world, it adds both healing and magic to the collective.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Original is my goal, but we’re all shaped by the stories we’ve read previously. I don’t try to thread the needle with what’s popular, however, because I feel that with the pace of writing, editing, and publishing, it’s impossible to hit the mark before the reader’s tastes have moved on. I write what moves me and what I believe I can share with the world with intention and integrity.
Which scene, character or plotline changed the most from first draft to published book?
In the context of the trilogy’s first two books, Ronan, Dom’s best friend in the series, is on a real journey throughout. His character offers so much depth every time he walks onto the page, but he also makes me work hard to peel back the layers. It took me a while to really get to know him, and now I can’t help but ache for him in the challenges he faces throughout.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favourite? Why?
Without giving spoilers, my favourite scenes in Mantle of the World Ruler are tied between when Julia visits a magic Bearer in Big Sur, California, and when Dom drives his motorcycle out to Death Valley. These segments were an absolute thrill to write, with juicy imagery and, of course, magic. Advanced readers have shared similar sentiments!
What’s next for you?
This month (February 2023) will see both the launch of my first audiobook production for Tides of the Sovereign (narrated by the incomparable Frankie Porter) and the publication of Mantle of the World Ruler, Book Two of the Lost Wells Trilogy. I can’t wait to share both of these publications with fans of the series!
This month I am also collaborating with visual artists Ashley Marston, Mathew Gladman, and Arianna Augustine to photograph and film the promotional materials and book trailer for the third book in the series. This is taking place in my home community of Cowichan Valley, BC, which has been wonderful. I am also working on some fun (but currently top-secret) collaborations with several Canadian digital and surface artists! Stay tuned.
Lastly, this spring, I’m so excited to attend Apollycon 2023 (hosted by author Jennifer L. Armentrout) in Washington, DC, from April 27-30, as both sponsor and attending author. I am also stoked to be a featured author and panellist at the Imaginarium Book Festival in Washington, DC, from May 20-23, 2023.
Categories: BookView Review Interview
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