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INTERVIEW: Patience, Persistence, and a Little Luck with Katie Oliver

Updated: Jan 30


Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview with Christina Boyd for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.


I have been a fan of Katie Oliver's since first reading Prada and Prejudice. Katie is always writing and interacting on social media, and I have enjoyed watching her star rise these last years. In 2017, Katie accepted my Big Ask: Would she please be a part of my next anthology and write George Wickham's backstory. If you haven't already, you must read the smart and titillating "A Wicked Game" in my multi-author anthology Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. It's proof she really can write any genre.


Christina: It seems to me that you have always been a writer. Is that the case? When did you first think you had a book to write and how did you start?


Katie: For many years, I had a character in my head. She was young, twenty or so, British, and spoiled, but always well-intentioned. I could see her. I could hear her voice. If she’d lived during the 1920s, she would’ve been a perfect flapper.


I worked, raised a family, and read a lot of books before I finally sat down to write a story about this British girl and her family’s financial difficulties. It took me the better part of a year, writing on legal pads at work when I wasn’t busy, writing in the evening, writing on the weekends. When it was finished, I thought it wasn’t half bad.


I screwed up my courage, found a literary agency in Washington DC that was accepting submissions, and sent in my proposed story idea. To my immense shock, they liked it, and referred me to an agent who agreed to represent me.


It took a while for Prada and Prejudice to find a home, but Carina UK bought the three-book pitch and published them as ebooks. Prada went on to hit number one on Amazon’s romantic comedy bestseller list, and eventually had two print runs.


I recently switched genres to write cozy mysteries and sold the "Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery" series to Berkley Prime Crime.



Proving that patience, persistence, and a little bit of luck can make those writing dreams come true.


Christina: Wow! What a great story. I don't know if I ever told you, but my daughter used Prada and Prejudice in a comparison writing assignment in tenth grade.


So, tell me... Pantser or plotter or hybrid?


Katie: To write for a traditional publisher, a synopsis is expected. The synopsis indicates what the book is about, what the main plot points are, who the characters are, and how the resulting conflict/mystery/etc. is resolved by the story’s end. The writer must provide a broad overview of the proposed book.


I also allow for a little “pantsing” in the middle of the book. I may have plot points mapped out, but getting from one point to the next is where the fun of getting creative comes into play. Invariably, a character will do something unexpected, or the story will turn in a different direction than I anticipated. And those moments are what make writing so much fun.


Christina: What comes first, plot, or characters?


Katie: Definitely characters. You can have the best plot in the world, but if the characters are dull or poorly realized, no one will care what happens. People read because they want to know what happens; but they also want to become invested in what happens to the people in the story.


Christina: Yes, that is what I have spent so much time revising lately....really honing voice.


You said Berkely Crime has picked up your current project. I loved the first two in your "Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery" series. What is the next title and when does it release?


Katie: Cyanide and Sensibility, book three in the "Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery" series, will be published on December 12, 2023. I’m also working on a proposal for books four through six in the series.


Christina: Four through six?! Yes! You have been so gracious whenever I've reached out with writing and publishing questions. Thank you for that. What is your best advice for new writers?


Katie: It’s often said, but it bears repeating. Read, and read some more. Read and study the genre(s) you’re interested in writing. How did the author keep you turning the pages? What made the protagonist memorable? Did you care about the outcome? Why, or why not?


Study the craft of writing. I have shelves of how-to books on plotting, creating suspense, conflict, devising characters, writing romantic comedy. I refer to and re-read them often.


Pay close attention to publication guidelines. Most traditional publishers expect a completed manuscript to consist of 80,000 words. Printing is expensive and so is shipping; if your book is 100,000 words or more, it’s too long.


Know the conventions of your genre. In a typical cozy mystery, for example, the murder happens off-screen. The amateur sleuth stumbles across the body and follows the clues to solve the murder. The sleuth’s pet—a cat, a dog, a parrot—often features in the story. The setting is usually a small town. Readers have certain expectations when they pick up a mystery or a thriller or a romance. Don’t disappoint them!


Finally, don’t give up. You’ll face a lot of rejection. It goes with the territory. Believe in yourself, believe in your ability to write. Be persistent. Be determined. And be proud of your decision to be a writer.


Christina: I love that! Thank you for sharing such thoughtful, purposeful insight. I can't wait to read Cyanide and Sensibility and, of course, whatever else you have brewing in that clever mind.


smiling white woman with short black hair
Katie Oliver, author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Oliver is the Amazon bestselling author of the romantic comedy, Prada and Prejudice, book one in the Dating Mr. Darcy series. After completing a second series, Marrying Mr. Darcy, she decided to switch genres and write a cozy mystery. The first book in the Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery series, Pride, Prejudice, and Peril, was published by Berkley in December 2021. A Murderous Persuasion followed in January 2022, and Cyanide and Sensibility will be published in December 2023.


Katie lives in South Florida along with her husband and an ever-growing stack of cozy mysteries waiting to be read.


You can learn more about Katie and her books at Katie Oliver.com or Penguin Random House, and on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. You can also follow her on BookBub.




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