Katie Crouch grew up in Charleston, S.C., lived in New York while getting her master’s at Columbia and now resides in San Francisco. She has written two novels for adults and next week is releasing a YA novel, “The Magnolia League.” She will appear at 4 p.m. Wednesday May 4 at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma.
The paranormal YA book involves a California hippie teen girl who moves to Savannah, Ga., to live with her grandmother. She becomes a somewhat unwilling member of a longstanding debutante society and discovers dark secrets about how its members manage to enjoy unusual youth, beauty and power.
You’ve done two novels aimed at adults, including “Men and Dogs,” just released in paperback. Why did you want to write this particular story (“Magnolia League”) for young adults? Why do you hope young people will want to read it?
All of my characters in those adult books you mentioned go through a teenage period. I love writing about that time of life–it’s exactly when one is most impressionable and making decisions that will determine one’s future. I hope young people will read Magnolia League–as well as Girls in Trucks–because they identify with the characters. Also, frankly, Mag League is a fun book and I’d like to show the kids a good time.
When I read that the story was set in Savannah, Ga., I couldn’t help but think of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Your heroine goes to that Southern city from California. Why did you want to tap into these two locales for “Magnolia League?”
I am a native Southerner, but I currently live in San Francisco and have spent a lot of time in the hinterlands of Northern California. The two places could not be more different, which is why I had Alex go from one extreme to the other. The communal farm where she grows up was based on this wonderful wierd hotel I stayed in north of Mendocino. It had once been a hippie commune and my imagination just took off. When her mother dies, she has to leave this very free life and move to Savannah, a place where manners and customs are as good as the law. Having grown up in Charleston, Savannah’s sister city, I know all about that! It’s the ultimate fish out of water story, with a supernatural twist.
What’s the best part about being a writer?
Being able to do what I love every day. I’m incredibly lucky. I just love working. I’d rather work that do almost anything. But to be honest, the ability to sleep late and hang out with my daughter is pretty great too. I worked in the corporate world for many years, so I appreciate these perks.
You studied at Brown and Columbia Universities. After the release of your first novel, you noted your many years of college and quipped, “In other words, this book will never come close to paying off my school loans.” What have you learned that might help young adults who are trying to figure out how to make their livelihoods in writing?
It is very difficult to make money writing, but not impossible. However, you’ll probably have to support yourself another way until you sell a book. And selling a book can take a long, long time. I used to get up before work at six to get my hours in before trotting off to the office.
But, as a young adult, you have a key advantage on your side: youth! So I would say: Write every day. Read a lot. Stay off the internet. And don’t be afraid to waitress for a while–all the greats have done it.
What awaits those who show up for your appearance at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma?
A good time! I’ll be talking about the book, but also how to become a writer both inside and out. I’ll also be passing out love spells.
What key lessons have you learned on your journey?
Always play your own game. People all around you will be hitting you up with ideas, advice, what you should or shouldn’t do. I am constantly exposed to reviews, emails, people saying to me, “Young Adult? Why now? Why not a Girls in Trucks sequel?” And also “Hey, look, your peer won this award! And your other one is a mega bestseller! Does that make you nervous? Can you measure up?” Sometimes you have to put your earplugs in and your blinders on and just listen to yourself and move forward. I’m talking about writing here, but that goes for the rest of life, too. Develop your own voice, learn to love it, and listen hard. Do that, and I promise, everything will be OK.
Learn more about Katie and her books at her website.