Friday, May 11, 2012

Class of 2K12 - An Interview with Katherine Longshore, author of GILT

GILT by Katherine Longshore (Viking/Penguin May 15, 2012, for ages 12 and up) 

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis (from Indiebound): 

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free--
and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Why I liked it:  Besides all the fascinating court intrigue, gossip, flirtations, and dangerous secrets?  I really liked Kitty. She's a complex, well-rounded character.  Only a few chapters into the book, you feel you know her.  It's a long book, but well worth reading, and would be especially fun for a rainy weekend. Have some tea and chocolate and settle in for a while!

Katherine Longshore graciously agreed to answer a few questions today.

Class of 2K12  
Katherine's Blog (the YA Muses)

Welcome, Katherine! Do you outline before you write? If so, does it end up changing before you finish the first draft? What change surprised you the most?

I think I would like to outline before I write.  I didn’t with GILT, and suffered the consequences of many dead-end tangents.  But I had a strong concept of how I wanted the book to be presented.  It was a very stylized format.  And I found that I couldn’t write to that format.  The characters didn’t follow it, and it just didn’t fit my writing style.  So I dropped it long before I finished the first draft.

With the second book in the series, I submitted an outline for approval.  And went wildly off-track.  My character fell in love with completely the wrong guy, and the book is better for it.

That is so cool that your character took over and fell in love with a different guy!  I love that! How long did it take to go from the idea for the book to the draft your editor accepted? Was it months or years? Did you go through endless revisions, beta readers, etc, before starting the submission process? Did you ever want to pull out your hair?

I got the idea for GILT at least two years before I started writing it. I had been reading a lot of history, and wanted to write a different version of Henry's teenage Queen. Different from the slutty, fashion obsessed dimwit often presented. But I wasn't sure how I was going to go about it, and I was already writing a different book, so I put it on the back burner.

But then my concept for my middle grade novel tanked, and I turned eagerly to my new idea. Writing the book took about a year, including five revisions (cutting around 200 pages – I’m a total pantser and overwrite continually) and a round with beta readers, before I started querying agents.

With every draft, I want to pull out my hair at least ten times.  I suffer the throes of agony, moaning, “What made you ever think you could write a novel?”  And then I eat some chocolate, sit down, and keep writing.

Chocolate is always good!  Tell us a little about getting your agent. How many queries did you send out? How long did it take before you got an offer of representation?

I went about finding an agent by the book. I wrote and revised my novel, had a trusted group of writer friends read it, revised again, and wrote a query. I logged on to upon the advice of a friend, solicited names of agents from other friends, followed all of the guidelines, and hit send. My 1st query resulted in a request for a full from the one agent I had met in person. The next 10 resulted in rejections. But every time a rejection came in, I sent out another query, so I always had 6 to 10 queries out at a time. It took a couple of months before I got an offer, and even then I realized that was amazingly fast.  I was very fortunate to get offers from four amazing agents.  But something with Catherine Drayton just clicked.

Do you revise one novel while writing another? Or do you feel you need to write and revise one novel and get it as polished as possible before moving on to your shiny new idea?

Because of deadlines, I have to attempt to write one novel while revising another (or at least while waiting for edits), but I find it very difficult. It takes several days, or even weeks, to get into the rhythm of a new voice. I find it very hard to switch gears. I'm hoping this will get easier over time, and that I never let one voice bleed over into another novel.

Tell us what darling you had to kill that you really really wish you could have kept.

It took a long time for me to delete the scene in which the newly married Anne of Cleves makes her triumphant progress into London as Queen. I have a great fondness for Anne. She's probably the least noticed and most maligned wife of Henry VIII. Because he called her ugly and fat, she's been portrayed this way frequently throughout history. Of course we know that one person's opinion is not necessarily the truth, but there it is. I wanted to write a scene where Anne got the chance to shine. If only briefly.

The scene did not move the story forward, and reflected too closely a more important scene later on. So it had to go. But one day, I hope to write Anne again.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Katherine!


  1. Great interview Joanne & Katherine. It was interesting hearing about Katherine's querying process. It sounds like it went pretty fast.

    I've been hearing great things about Gilt. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    1. You'll love it, Natalie. And yes, her querying process sounds pretty ideal.

  2. Great interview! It sounds like an interesting book.

  3. Ooh, sounds like a good one! I can't explain it, but I-- like a lot of people-- am endlessly fascinated by that era. Can't wait to check out your book, Katherine. Thanks for the interview, Joanne. :0)

    1. I'm willing to bet most people are fascinated by that era. And you certainly feel like you're immersed in it when you read this book.

  4. I just ordered this! I'm a huge Tudor buff. I read a biography of the six wives of Henry VIII when I was 15, and I've been hooked ever since.

    1. Hi Jade! I didn't read that biography, but I remember a TV mini-series about the Six Wives. Based on the book, maybe? It was pretty fascinating stuff.

  5. Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Joanne! Such a pleasure to answer incisive writing questions. And I'm so glad you enjoyed GILT!

    1. You're welcome, Katherine. The pleasure was mine. I love hearing writers' answers to questions like these.
      Finished reading GILT just this week and I was totally caught up in Kitty's world.


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