Interview: Kate Hart, YA Writer

katehartKate Hart is a young adult writer represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary. She lives in the Ozarks, where she and her husband own a small business building treehouses and playsets from locally sourced materials. In her spare time, she does freelance writing and design, tends an oversized garden, and goes for hikes with her two little boys.

You can find her online at www.katehart.net or www.yahighway.com.

Let’s see how Kate answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
A life that’s centered on the things I love: family, friends, writing, learning, and the outdoors.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I have two. “Wiser Time” by The Black Crowes became my favorite during my freshman year of college — it’s a song about being on the road, which resonated during a time that I struggled with homesickness. The other is “Brackett, WI” by Bon Iver. I don’t remember the first time I heard it, but it’s my surefire weapon when I need to chill out.

Which talent would you most like to have?
If we’re venturing into the supernatural, I’d like to have the ability to pull information from written material just by touch. But if forced to choose from reality, I wish I were fluent in multiple languages. Or that I could sing really well. Or that I could sing really well in multiple languages.

On what occasion do you lie?
Very rarely. But I’m quick with the white lie when it will spare someone’s feelings and the truth is of no benefit.

What is your present state of mind?
Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, expecting something in between.

What is your motto?
“Don’t do things half-assed,” courtesy of my dad.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty. I don’t need to come first in their lives, but I need to know that I can count on them when needed. One of the hardest things about adulthood has been learning to let go of one-sided relationships.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Dude. Y’all. Just. God damnit and a couple other obscenities. (I asked my friends for suggestions and it turns out I also say “Jesus take the wheel,” “bullshit,” “stabby,” and “relevant to [one's] interests” a lot.)

Georgia O'Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918.

Your favorite painting?
It’s a toss up between a scene my mother-in-law painted of the bridge in Florence where my husband and I bought our wedding rings, or an abstract my son and I painted together when he was four. But so far as professionals go, I love Georgia O’Keeffe.

What is your favorite journey?
Heading west with lots of camping gear and no plan.

What is your favorite time of day?
Early evening.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Minerva McGonagall. I have the feeling that she’s full of fantastic stories we haven’t heard.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I need to feel like I’ve created something that will outlive me, even if just for a short while.

Who or what is your first love?
A boy I dated at age 14. He broke my heart, and I treated him badly in return, but he remained a friend to me when I didn’t deserve it — a fact I didn’t realize until much later. He’s still a dear friend today.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I was camping with Sarah Enni and a friend from college. The latter threw a snake at my face and I flailed myself (and my husband) awake trying to bat it away.

What’s your madeleine?
Music. Sometimes it feels like every stage of my life has had a soundtrack. A love of lyricism and word play was definitely part of my motivation to write poetry in high school, and remains tied to the types of prose I like today.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Cereal.

Interview: Andrew Harwell, Editor

Andrew HarwellAndrew Harwell is an Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, focusing on middle grade and young adult fiction. He especially loves novels that take risks and play for keeps, and his favorite books are genre-benders held together by alchemical prose.

At Harper, Andrew has the privilege of working with such genius authors as Dan Gutman, Heather Brewer, J. Scott Savage, Noelle Stevenson, Madeleine Roux, and many more. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Andrew is a piano player, a gamer, and a film fanatic.

For an incomplete list of books he’s edited, some of which are coming out soon, click here and follow him on Twitter

Let’s see how Andrew answers the Proust Questionnaire!

Asylum revised coverWhat is your idea of happiness?
My idea of happiness is much like Zadie Smith’s idea of “joy” (as opposed to “pleasure”), from the 1.10.13 New York Review of Books: “a strange admixture of terror, pain, and delight” that comes from truly loving other people and finding meaning in one’s work.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
“Us” by Regina Spektor. A friend introduced me to her music with the song “Samson” just days before I was to spend a summer in Germany, and it was a beautiful song but also very sad. I listened to it on repeat throughout my ten-hour flight and worked myself into a kind of funk, already missing my friends and wondering why I wanted to spend a summer studying alone, anyway. But this was my first time living abroad, it wasn’t supposed to be sad! So as soon as I arrived in Freiburg and found a WiFi hotspot, I downloaded more of her music, and when I first heard “Us,” it was a revelation. Missing friends could be a happy feeling, too, I realized. A “Yes, and” moment. And the refrain spoke to me: “We’re living in a den of thieves, rummaging for answers in the pages.”

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play the piano by ear. I do play the piano, and after many years of practice, I can even tromp my way through a few songs in very loud imitations of what they are meant to sound like. But even those songs required me to puzzle out each measure one chord at a time; I so wish I could hear a song and channel it, sight unseen.

JupiterPirates-HCOn what occasion do you lie?
In the elevator at work. Someone will ask me something simple like, “What are you doing this weekend?” and, in the sheer terror of trying to complete a coherent answer in ten seconds or less, I’ll start babbling things that are only half-true, maybe, and then get off on my own floor cringing at the memory of my voice.

What is your present state of mind?
Reflective.

What is your motto?
Via Tina Fey and my own years doing improv: “Greet everything with ‘Yes, and….’”

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
It’s either imagination or it’s a sense of humor, so to answer this question, I’ll say “an imaginative sense of humor.”

3.12.09Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Point being…” I’ve always felt this need for the things I say to have a point, even if it means I’d better figure out what it is while I’m talking. Hence this expression, which I overuse as a segue / stalling technique.

Your favorite painting?
I’m going to say “Phoenix with Crutches” by Sophie Blackall, since her use of Chinese inks and watercolors qualifies it as a painting. Phoenixes have always had special significance to me, and a print of this painting was the first piece of art I ever bought with my own money.

What is your favorite journey?
The flight home.

What is your favorite time of day?
When it isn’t day at all, but late at night, and everyone else is asleep.

Almost Super_finalWith which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Sophie Hatter. We’d fuss about Howl and then she’d unlock my magic powers.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
A well-organized mind, with deference to Dumbledore.

Who or what is your first love?
Playing pretend.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I was in my high school calculus class, and I couldn’t remember how to do natural logarithms. I have multiple interpretations of what I think this dream meant, and none of them are very interesting.

What’s your madeleine?
Christmas, in all its smells, sights, and rituals. I love that everyone essentially agrees to believe in magic for a month, putting up colored lights on their houses and listening to bizarrely earnest music. When I was a kid, I would hide in the corner behind our Christmas tree for hours, imagining I was tiny and friends with the Nutcracker ornaments. Every year at Christmas, I feel like that kid again.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Meaningful.