Interview with KatYa Mills

What's the story behind your latest book?
This novella is the first in an urban fantasy series I am writing. It was not intentional. A couple of years ago I moved away from the Bay Area in Northern California, and got swallowed up in a perfect storm of memories and feelings. I had lived there for a decade. So I found an apartment and got situated, broke out my laptop and spent my mornings drinking coffee and getting this big emotional monster out in front of me. It cast a big shadow! I knew if I wanted to have a fighting chance at a fresh start, I was gonna have to write myself out from under it and back into the light. I was unemployed, so I had plenty of time and few distractions. I had also been thinking a lot about origins. The female lead in the story is kind of a rootless wonder. Well, she has roots, she just doesn't know where they go. The reader gets to walk hand in hand with her to uncover her origins. Not only was she adopted at birth, but she has preternatural abilities without explanation. There are many more questions than answers. How many of us feel this way, and do not know where we come from? My aunt met with an acquaintance of many years, who inadvertently told her one day that they were distant cousins. He had done his homework and published quite a large volume tracing his family genealogy, and our family was in there! She gave me this book at the precise moment I came to her asking questions about our origins. Which was just after I had drafted this story about a strange girl with unknown origins, seeking her truth. None of this was by accident! And yet it all starts off so random, lending itself to a tapestry of synchronicities. All I had to do was take the time, sit down, and weave. And that's the story behind my book 'Grand Theft Life'.
I did not decide to write a series. I simply have to continue, for there is so much more to be said.
What is your writing process?
Coffee. I like to get closer to a place where my mind is free-associating. Sometimes just after waking up. I usually write without much of an outline, but ideas which have some sorta emotional connect. My work is character-driven, meaning whatever happens is colored by the POV (point of view: thoughts, feelings, biases, dreams, wishes, desires, interest, sensations, internal experience, intuition) of the main character(s) in relation to their world. I use visual mapping applications and sometimes Scrivener to help see the various parts of the whole. I usually do a little freewriting before I know where I wanna locate myself in the narrative for the day. By freewriting, my heart is given a chance to tell me where in the story I can make the most impact. Because I come into the experience of writing with whatever thoughts and feelings the day has inspired, I hope to use the immediacy of my own life to come to bear on my story. Of course, the process does not always play out this way! That is a best case scenario. I try and stay as flexible as possible with scenes from a first draft, often cutting and pasting chapters relentlessly in my edits until the puzzle comes together the way that feels right. This keeps the editing process fun and sometimes magical!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Some days I jump out of bed because I had a nightmare.
Some days I get out of bed to go to work.
Some days I float out of bed with a wild idea I need to type out of my head.
Some days I drag out of bed, desperately seeking coffee.
Some days I wake up screaming bloody murder,
my kitten doing acupuncture on my toes.
Some days are uninspired, and I pray to god for the muse.
Some days are easy, so I stay in bed, my imagination in a delicious state, wandering.
Some days are hard and depression fights me into a corner.
Some days I have a powerful thirst to publish,
so I can reach out and connect with my fans.
Those are the days I really feel alive!
Where have you lived, and how has this influenced your writing?
I have traveled far and wide, and lived all across the US. I like to set my novels in cities where I have lived. I grew up in New England, and was admitted to Northwestern University in Chicago. I studied literature there. After graduation, I waited tables and wrote in my spare time. I decided to move back home to Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts. I was there for a year doing social work but barely making ends meet. Then I took a well-paying financial job in St. Petersburg, Florida. All along I knew I loved to write, and writing was the only constant in my life. Finance did not appeal to me. I filled many journals with my writing. After a year living on the beach and typing away nights to NPR jazz on an old Smith Corona I bought at an antique store, I made a rather foolish decision to move back to Chicago. I swear the city was calling me! I would live in many different neighborhoods on the west side of town, from Wicker Park to Ukrainian Village to Humboldt Park. Again, working odd jobs and writing in my free time. I was going broke and broken-hearted a few years later, and well into my first novel, 'Girl Without Borders'. I felt like I had lost in love and life, yet I wasn't even thirty years old. It took me a decade to complete and self-publish that title, a literary fiction. I ultimately moved to Northern California, and lived in the Bay Area for a decade, ending 2012. I began writing 'Grand Theft Life' in 2013, an urban fantasy set in Oakland and the Bay Area.
What are you working on next?
Daughter of Darkness, Book Two. - 'MAZE' - This is the followup in my urban fantasy novella series. It will focus on the love story between Ame and Maze. The writing style will be less choppy. Longer sentences, more streaming, flowing. I plan to release Book Two some time in 2015, late summer to early fall.
Describe your desk
I have been writing on a small surface, a solid mahoganey desktop about three feet long and two feet wide. This keeps it small enough so I cannot have clutter (all the 'stuff' is located on surrounding tables and bookshelves). I simply have a swing-arm lamp attached to the desktop, which is seated on a single mahoganey column about three feet off the ground, supported by a wooden base crossed like an X. I place my laptop on the desktop and go from there. Coffee and the cat sometimes accompany me. There is barely enough room for the kitten to lie behind my laptop. This desk is heavy but rock solid, and I have had it in my possession since I lived in Chicago, at the turn of the millenium. I love it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am an indie author, and basically promote my work in as many social medias as possible. But probably my best marketing is through my website, www.katyamills.com , where I have links to my publications and my spoken word videos and readings, and my blog on wordpress. When I post on my site, the posts are setup to transmit to FB and Google Plus. I spend a lot of time on Google Plus these days, and have met many writers and readers there. It is hands down my favorite social media venue. I also promote my books on my Amazon author page, my FB author page, and Twitter. I like to buy paperbacks of my books to take to local bookstores and libraries.
How do you approach cover design?
I designed the cover to the first book I ever self-published, 'Girl Without Borders'.
I wanted every element of my first novel to be DIY.
And so it was.

From here on out, I most likely will be outsourcing the cover designs.
There are some great designers out there! I oughta keep my focus on the writing,
because this is where my talent lies.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use the Kindle Paperwhite version. I like having lots of books inside one small device to access. I like the fact that there is a backlight for reading in the dark. I like being able to lookup words easily while reading, via the online dictionary. I prefer the feeling of having a paperback in my hands, though. The hard surface is not as appealing. This is my only real complaint! I love being able to send samples of books to my Kindle, to check out a new author.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is a healing process. My spirit is uplifted when I finally say what I need to say with the words. I feel physically lighter and transformed by the experience. I write every day, the process has become my favorite ritual. Especially when I am able to freely share my fantasy worlds with others. Give and you shall receive. Often when I am completing any book, the work becomes arduous yet so compelling a tractor beam seems to form, pulling my vision from my heart and mind out on to the page. This excitement can carry on with great urgency for weeks. My favorite part is reading aloud (usually to a friend) the final draft to see if it meets my vision! Then, creating the e-book and hitting publish, is clearly the greatest joy I have experienced in recent years when I became an independent author (2013). The other great joy I experience, is when I am freewriting (first draft) and fall into a zone and my fingers cannot seem to keep up with the words in my head! Those moments are delicious, too!
What do your fans mean to you?
My fanbase is building little by little now, and my fans really mean the world to me. I am not accustomed to having fans, so I am trying simply to be helpful and responsive to any questions or comments people have, trying to make myself available when I can. Before the internet, I wrote for the sake of writing alone. Maybe shared a bit here and there with a friend or two. Did a little spoken word at open mic venues in Chicago. Today I feel blessed to be able to have a greater reach, online, and there's no better feeling than discovering I touched somebody or made an impact on their lives through my writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend much of my time working with those who suffer from severe mental illness.
I like to go cycling up along the mighty American River.
I like to sit on my back porch and read or reflect. I have a nice southern view.
I roast coffee at home. I share my coffee and time with friends.
I like to go for walks. My neighborhood has many cafes and bookstores to visit.
Published 2015-07-10.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Grand Theft Life
Series: Daughter of Darkness. Price: Free! Words: 26,540. Language: English. Published: June 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
(5.00 from 1 review)
An urban fantasy fiction. A gripping tale told by a young woman who is absconded to a city inhabitated by strange people, different from us in ways we cannot see. They are connected telepathically and they feed off the fear that regular humans feel. She quickly realizes she is one of them. She will have various strange encounters and experiences, toward discovering who she is and what she can do.