Recently, I got to interview Katherine A. Ganzel, whose book The Boy in the Woods is about to be published.
I’m Katherine A. Ganzel, aka KatherineArlene on Wattpad. I’m a married mother of two grown daughters and currently live with my husband, two dogs, and cat. I’m a Wattpad Ambassador and work for Wattpad on a variety of projects, but mainly as the leader of the Club Ambassador team. When I’m not Watpadding or working on a story, I do a lot of fiber arts. I knit, crochet, weave, and even make my own yarn on a spinning wheel.
Why did you start writing? How long have you been writing?
Writing was an impulse that I didn’t really think about. I lived in my imagination a lot as a kid. I also read a lot, and consumed TV and movies. If a story had something that grabbed me, I’d think about it all the time, and make up new stories about it in my head. When I was old enough to write those stories down, I did. That continued off and on through my teen years and then into my adulthood. I never thought about trying to become “a writer,” I was just having fun.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank or acknowledge?
I’d like to thank the dedicated readers of my first story, Stolen Hearts. Because they were willing to read as I posted and overlook my newbie author errors, they encouraged me to finish it and gave me the courage to write more. When I read it now, I cringe at how bad the writing is, and yet they looked beyond that to the story I was trying to tell. There are no words for how grateful I am for the gift they gave me.
Do you consider yourself a writer or an author? Why?
When I posted the last chapter of my first Wattpad story, that’s when I realized I was an author. I mean, I’d written a book! I had readers!
Who’s your favorite author? What’s your favorite genre? What’s your favorite story/book?
My favorite author is J.K. Rowling. I was obsessed with the Harry Potter series, and when I began writing my first story, I made a lot of writing choices based on how she wrote her series. My favorite genre is young adult fiction, mystery, and YA romance, which is also what I love to write. My favorite book is Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire. I’ve read it over and over.
How did you get people to know about your stories/books? (i.e. promotion methods)
I used pretty unconventional methods to promote myself and my stories, but it worked for me. I was active in the clubs, which is one of the best ways to get people to check out your stories. I made sure my covers were attractive and my blurbs were well written. Back when there were no Share Your Story advertising threads, I used to post my story on profiles meant for advertising the kind of story I was writing. That really helped my story get a boost. I also had a romantic profile picture for a long time, a ballerina kissing a boy, to help “sell” me as a romance author. On Wattpad, the more you give, the more you get. Being active, friendly, and helpful really is the best way to draw readers.
How do you judge if you are successful?
That is a really good question since what is considered “success” is subjective. When I first started on Wattpad and was still struggling to gain a readership, I hung out with a group of authors who were all in different stages of their Wattpad journey. One of the authors was always complaining about how none of her readers cared about her and Wattpad never did anything to help authors like her, and instead, only promoted the really famous authors. This person had thousands of followers and over a million reads on her story. I was pretty shocked, and more than a little disgusted by her attitude. Even though my numbers were a whole lot less, I treasured each one of my small number of readers, and celebrated every little milestone. It made me realize that no matter how successful you are, if you’re comparing yourself to others, it will never be enough, and it can turn you into an ungrateful jerk. It was a valuable lesson that’s saved me a whole lot of angst.
How did you find Wattpad? Why Wattpad over other sites? Are you on other writing sites?
I wrote my first story like all the other stories I’d written, in private for only my own enjoyment. After working on it for months, I began to think it hadn’t turned out too badly. I had gotten a Kindle at that time and was reading a lot of self-published stories that weren’t written that well. It gave me the idea that maybe I should share my story with others who might enjoy it like I did. Not to sell it, because I wasn’t a “real” author, but just post it online. I Googled free reading and writing websites, and the rest is history. I’m too devoted to Wattpad to post my stories anywhere else.
Have you been published before? If so, what and where can people find it?
I wrote a short story about Marty and Jess, the two main characters in The Boy in the Woods called “Finding Marty.” It was published in an anthology. The book is called Library of Dreams and it’s available on Amazon.
What is The Boy in the Woods about? Who is the target audience? Do you know the release date, the length it’ll be, or the price?
The Boy in the Woods is a coming of age, young adult romance with a healthy dose of mystery. It’s about a young girl, Jess, who’s lost her parents and has to go live with her uncle and teen male cousin. She’s grown up in Manhattan, but the move takes her to the rural Midwest where she’s living in a gated estate. Even worse, her new family makes it clear they don’t want her. Feeling quite lonely, she struggles to deal with the change in her life. But then she discovers a poor boy, Marty, who’s somehow made it onto her property. Through sheer force of will, she overcomes his distrust of her and they become friends. The story takes place over four years, and as they continue to meet in secret, they grow up and grow much closer. Through it all, there’s the constant fear they’ll be caught, but also her struggle to deal with her controlling uncle. Will they be able to have their happily ever after? Read to find out!
The target audience would be anyone from 14 to adult who likes non-cliched romance. The release date I’m shooting for right now is the beginning of March. I don’t want to rush into publishing. I’ve got the word count down to 166K, so it will be over twice as long as most YA books, a good thing if you’re enjoying the story. The price point will be below the cost of a cup of good coffee, and I’m planning on having frequent sales.
What stage of the publishing process are you at?
I’ve had it professionally edited, and I’ve also had a bunch of beta readers have a go at it. Now I’m trying to address all the things that were brought up. Since I’m publishing this myself, it’s extremely important to me that the final version is as well edited and written as a traditionally published book.
What are your plans now that The Boy in the Woods is going to be published?
I’d like to write a new story, with a new boy and girl. I have an idea I’ve been mulling over while I’m working on Boy.
Any plans for future books? Will there be a sequel or prequel?
I wrote the prequel to The Boy in the Woods already, The Man Inside the Iron Fence. It’s about Jess’s uncle, and explains how he became the cold and controlling man he is in The Boy in the Woods.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I’ve never had true writer’s block, but when I’ve had a hard time starting a chapter or figuring out how to get from point A to point B in my plot, I sit down with pen and paper and just write whatever comes into my head. After a while, ideas come to me. It’s kind of like magic.
What is your proudest moment as a writer?
There are many, many proud moments, but a pretty good one was the three week period where my first story, Stolen Hearts, it’s sequel, Love You Forever, and The Boy in the Woods all reached one million reads.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
All of the stories I’ve written were shaped by the stories that were inspirational to me as a kid. For instance, The Boy in the Woods was inspired by The Secret Garden and A Little Princess.
What book/story has been the most fun to write? Which was the least fun to write?
The Boy in the Woods was the most fun because the writing and plot were easy for me. I had nearly every scene in my head before I started writing and posting the chapters. The least fun was the prequel about the uncle. It’s a tragic story with an unhappy ending. I so wanted my characters to get their HEA [Happy Ever After], but they couldn’t.
What character (yours or any other) would you want to be and/or what world would you want to live in?
That’s a tough question for me because every story I’ve written and the ones I enjoy reading have some pretty dark elements. No world is perfect, and I’d rather just deal with the one I live in now rather than have to learn how to survive a whole new environment.
Imagine you could do anything you wanted—“in the real world” (you had enough money, time, etc), what would you do?
I’d live somewhere where the weather is perfect every day, the landscape is beautiful, and where I’d have all the time to devote to creating art, in whatever form that took. Oh, and I’d have a housekeeper and a cook on call 24/7.
What advice do you have for other (or new) writers?
Write! Write the story you wish you were reading. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you can fix it later. And then write some more. Also, read! Try to read a little every day. The more you read and write, the better at writing you’ll be.
What advice do you have for other (or new) writers on Wattpad?
Ignore your numbers. Seriously. Don’t obsess over them or compare them to other authors. There’s something more important (besides writing and posting chapters) that you need to be doing with your time. The best thing about Wattpad is the community. Seek out other authors who write the same kinds of stories you do. Read, comment, and vote on their chapters. Let them know you appreciate their work, and they’ll often return the favor. Get into the clubs and participate in the discussions. Ask for advice, or give it to someone who needs help. You’ll learn so much and make wonderful friends from around the world. That’s worth a lot more than numbers on your profile.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for asking me for the interview. This was fun. 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. Good luck in all your future endeavours.