Katherine Gilraine, author of The Index Series

1: What is The Index? As the author, what do you say it is about?

The Index is, first and foremost, about people, and about human nature on a very not-human scale. Regardless of where people come from, what do they all have in common? They all have stories to tell, and their approach to conflict resolution isn’t the same from one to the other. Even though my characters aren’t exactly human, they are people in that sense; they’re different, they have stories, and of course, they have flaws. And The Index is primarily about all those things and how they interact.

2: The Index is now on KDP. How was that decision made?
I had to think about the way that the books were selling and how to maximize their potential profit. The bulk of my sales have been on Kindle, and KDP Select offers a new way to market. Considering also that Amazon has so far been leading the way in e-book distribution, I felt very safe in putting my eggs in that particular basket.

3: Was this written to be a series, or did it happen after the first book was finished?

I got the idea that this will be a series somewhere in the middle of writing the first book. I never had the sense that the story was just going to wrap up with the first book. So between December 2006 when I wrapped up the first manuscript and NaNoWriMo of 2007, I started outlining the broad strokes of where the series was going to go. The rest of it took shape with time.

4: What is your writing schedule? You are so busy with a 'day job' and I understand you are about to undertake Real Estate courses as well. Is there a balance? How do you find/create it?

I have no specific writing schedule, but I do my best work at night, before I go to sleep. It’s the best relaxation I can think of for myself. The Day Job has its lapses, and once in a while, I tinker with my stories when it’s quiet at the desk. Once I get into real estate classes, though, that will be interesting. I will be in school three nights a week, and it will cut into my schedule, but it will be for a good cause. I want that license.

5: When writing, are you ever stumped? How do you get over it?

Yes, and it’s been happening more lately. What I do is step away from the story and go out for a long walk. I keep a notebook on hand, though, so when the muse eventually deigns to get its tuchis back to functionality, I can jot down the idea and go from there.

6: Writing snacks, yea or nay?

Of course! I love finger foods while writing, and it’s kind of an “anything goes” situation. I love fresh fruit above everything else, though.

7: Writing music? What is coming through your speakers when you're really into a story?

Jazz. I’m quite in love with contemporary jazz, and it’s very surprising how well some artists’ music matches my books. The Rippingtons’ particular brand of instrumental blurs the line of rock more than once (Russ Freeman’s solo South Beach Mambo, I’m looking at you!!!), and it’s quite fitting with a good lot of scenes. Above all, though, jazz relaxes me and turns off the “stressed-out” part of my brain. Once that’s off, the writing brain takes over.

8: What kind of stories have you written pre-Index? Have you always been a genre writer?

I’ve actually dabbled in journalism before I started on The Index, which was quite fun, and tried to write some short stories. It never panned out. I tried my hand at poetry, and it didn’t resonate well; I tossed an entire notebook of poems recently. But far as short stories go, they always had a paranormal slant. I’ve wanted to write The Index for a long time, but had no idea how to start until a few years ago.

9: For you, what is the most problematic portion of writing a novel? Plot lines? Character depth?

Honestly, it’s keeping it on track that trips me up. I set up to write a long text from the start, and it’s inevitable that I get mixed up. My editor, more often than not, points out that a character is standing up a paragraph up from where I have her getting up from a seat. I’m so eager to get the entire story out that I tend to lose myself in my own plot. I do fix it on the rewrite, but in a plot as convoluted as this one, a trip-up is bound to happen.

10: Are any characters based on real people?

Quite a lot of them are! I base my characters on my friends (with their knowledge), and on people whom I meet, if even briefly. Something about them sparks the muse to create a character. For instance, Jason Watson, who is best described as a lovable little shit, was based on a close and dear friend of mine…with that exact personality trait. I created Jason based on my friend to pretty much pay homage to the fact that 1. He’s a close friend and a good influence and 2. He sometimes drives me up a wall. And he’s just one example.

11: Do you have a character that is most like you? If so, why and how?

I feel that I can relate to all my characters in one way or another. If I really had to pick one character, I would probably choose Kataria, especially now that I’m wrapping up Book 4 and starting, simultaneously, revising Book 5. Kataria has trouble accepting change, and as her life turns topsy-turvy, she is struggling to make sense of it, and doesn’t know which way to turn. Much like her, I don’t like changes, and don’t do well with accepting them, but it’s something that’s a part of life.

12: Are there any characters that were difficult to write? If so, why?

I struggled the most with Morrhia in Book 3. She is the most conniving person I’ve had the chance to write so far, bar none, and it took me a good effort to get myself into her head, so to speak, to write her scenes. I don’t know any people quite like Morrhia, and it was interesting, to say the least, to write this individual who will stop at nothing to achieve her ends, even if it means shooting herself in the foot.

13: What are you favorite authors and books? What do you like about them?

I’ve had many favorites, but lately I’ve been revisiting Philippa Gregory. She has a talent for setting a scene with such detail that it’s a shock that you’re not actually in it.

14: If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Off the top of my head, “Walking on the Sun” by Smashmouth.

15: If any actress was to play you in your biopic, who would it be?

Possibly, Olivia Wilde.

16: We're friends on Facebook, and your political leanings are very apparent. You show a true passion for the rights of women and working-class folks. Is there a story behind that story?

Indeed there is. This is the thing: when my family came to NY, we did not have much of anything other than what could get fit into 8 canvas bags and 10 parcels that we shipped ahead. I was 9 at the time we moved, and for as long as I can remember living in NY, I remember my mother working like a maniac just to keep us afloat. We have gone without a lot of things, and many times when I was sick, we wouldn’t go to the doctor, because we simply could not afford it. I grew up hearing every decision being based around what it would cost.

Now that we’ve been in NY for a hair over 17 years and we’re a little more comfortable, I still find myself pinching pennies and thinking of just how easy it is to fall back to the state of having to scrape by. Financial security is haphazard at best, and while I enjoy working, what I would enjoy a lot more is not to have to work my ass off to live hand to mouth.

The passion for women’s rights is something recent, but the roots of it go further back. I’ve often heard that the first thing I have to do once I’m old enough is find a good friend to marry and have children so that I’ll be “taken care of.” As I hit my teens, I started to take serious offense to that mentality, because it reduced any and all of my desires for my life to irrelevance. Worse, nothing I said in protest made a difference, because any of my arguments were summarily dismissed. In other words, I was taught that I should do what I was told and my feelings on the matter were unimportant. As such, I had no idea, for quite a long time, what a healthy relationship even looks like.

I was angry. Why did my feelings not matter? Why was I discouraged from doing things that I wanted? Most importantly, why was I never taken seriously, particularly when I said, even to my then-husband, that I did not want kids, and that no, I am not “too young to know what I want?”

Until I divorced and started reading material for the women’s studies elective class, not once did it occur to me that the these ideas that I had been presented with earlier on were based on very real and very current perceptions of what women should be doing was something deeply ingrained in society as a whole, and that I did, in fact, have the right to live my life as I see fit. It honestly made me angrier, because really, what does society teach young women if, from the beginning, they’re taught to limit their choices and to ignore their own wants and simply do as they’re told? After that class, I saw this reflected in the legislature across the country with abortion restrictions, and my first instinct was, “Since when is it anyone’s business what a woman does with her own uterus?!”

That was the wake-up call.

17: And as a follow-up to 16, do you have any family/friends that disagree with your views? I want to know, are there any Turkey day throw downs?

My friends, no. My family, yes. I have made it a point to avoid family get-togethers, and have frankly refused to speak to my father after he told me, some years ago, that women were put on this planet to reproduce and have to do what they’re here to do and I have to “do my duty”. That, combined with other things that he had said and done, was the final straw.

18: Speaking of family and friends, do you have a support system when it comes to writing? What was the reaction from those close to you about your novels?

My friends are the best support system ever. They’re my beta readers, editors, plot consultants – this series wouldn’t exist without them. My mother is curious as to how it’s going, but she has no knowledge of the actual business of writing and publication, so I find myself explaining, time and again, that while I’ve been at this series for six years, and published for three, it is never quick and will never get easy. I’ve heard the “go back to school and get a nice job with benefits” line a few times, but honestly, the way to survive in this world now is to be your own boss, which is where my focus is.

19: If you could change anything about the books that are already out there, is there something you wish you'd changed?

I wish I met my editor at the time I was working on Book 1, really. That was my first book on many levels, and I ended up doing the edit/rewrite over the course of three years. Never again. It’s an eye-crosser, and I am sure that there’s still work to be done on it, but since it’s on the market for three years now, I’m not about to pull it off and toss it to my editor.

20: You're about to write. Do you have a ritual?

Yep! Make some tea, put on something for sound – music, turn on the TV, something – and read a prior draft. Then, hop to.

21: Do you have any great programs to write or edit your books?

I’m very much a fan of Scrivener, and I’m using it now to work on a screenplay version of Mages. It lets you lay everything out by scene, take character and scenery notes, which in turn makes it more difficult to get lost in your own story.

22: What are you currently reading? Other than real estate course work and politico articles, of course.

I got Public Enemies by Brian Burroughs in my Kindle now. It’s a nonfiction account of the crime wave of the Great Depression –John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson – and the creation of the FBI. Fascinating reading.

23: Do you have any great moments in writing to share? A character hits too close to home? A plot line makes you cringe?

Oh yes! I had to gut out the entire first half of the first book. It was so overwhelmingly cliché that I just could not, could not let it go to print. The sad part is, it took me about a year to realize that the entire beginning was crap. What happened was that I put the manuscript away, wrapped up college, started the Day Job, and reread it…and had the what on earth was I thinking?! moment. Yeah, fun. Not quite. Cue the rewrite!

24: You meet one of your characters in a dark alley. You...?

Invite them for coffee or run for the hills, depending on whom I meet.

25: What do you want fans to know about The Index series? About you? What do you want them to know about your day, your passions, your mind-frame when you're writing?

I want them to know that I’ve written the series to ask the tough questions. People sometimes don’t stop to think, “Who am I?” “What’s important to me?” “Why are my feelings important in this situation?” “What should I do in a tough choice?” Those are all cornerstone questions to who we are, and they show a lot of facets to who we are as people. These questions need to be asked a hell of a lot more than they’re asked now. I’ve written this series, primarily, so that people ask those questions of themselves as well as the characters.

Also, this story is about resilience. When I was growing up and watching what was happening around me – my mother busting her hump every day, watching every cent to make sure food was on the table – I realized that it’s really not about circumstance. Circumstance gets easier. It’s surviving circumstance and getting through it that’s hard. Some people are more resilient than others, but quite a good lot of them have no idea of just how resilient they are.

When Katherine Gilraine heard the words, "You can't be a writer!" she replied with, "That's what YOU think!"

At that time, she was three years old.

Having gotten into and through college, the days of which were often filled with putting pen to paper, or words to screen, Gilraine had decided to enter the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2006, and while working night shift and taking 18 credits in her senior year of college, she wrapped up the first draft of the first installment in her sci-fi/urban fantasy saga, The Index Series, which would see first light of publication in 2009.

Now in her late twenties, Gilraine had continued her participation in NaNoWriMo, penning a manuscript annually, and jumped in with both feet into the world of self-publishing in 2009 with Mages, the first installment of The Index Series. Secrets followed in 2010, and Lineage in 2011. As of right now, she is set to release the fourth book in the series, Revival, with the second arc in the wings as well.

Never one to sit still, Gilraine had also launched KG Creative Enterprises, a boutique company that encompasses her various creative skills, from writing and editing to graphic design and photography. She loves contemporary jazz and chases it far and wide, often finding inspiration for her writing between the notes coming from the stage. She continues to call New York City her home, and loves nothing more than a Starbucks vanilla latte in the morning. Or two.

Artwork for The Index Series covers is done by Jenna Bacci (Bergenfield, NJ, vols. 1 & 2, back cover vol. 3), Tiffany Chaney (Winston-Salem, NC, back cover vol. 4), and Marion Meadows (Phoenix, AZ, front covers vols. 3 & 4).
The Index Series Copyright © Katherine Gilraine
New York, NY 2009-2012
Contact author directly at k.gilraine@gmail.com
Katherine is everywhere! Follow, Fan and Frolick with her online:
Twitter: @kgilraine
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/katherinegilraine


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