2K18 Member Spotlight: Kate Alice Marshall
Kate Alice Marshall
BOOK TITLE: I Am Still Alive
PUBLISHER: Viking Books for Young Readers
RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2018
About I AM STILL ALIVE
Cheryl Strayed's Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.
Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.
Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.
With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.
Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father…and she wants revenge.
Kate Marshall is the author of the Young Adult novel I AM STILL ALIVE. Her science fiction and fantasy fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and elsewhere. She writes historical romance as Kathleen Kimmel, and works in the video game industry as a writer and occasional designer. Her love of books runs through every aspect of her career; she serves as both a developmental editor and a cover designer for fellow authors.
She lives outside of Seattle with her husband, a dog named Vonnegut, a cat named after a cylon, and a baby. They all conspire to keep her on her toes.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK?
I read Hatchet cover to cover a dozen times as a kid, and I love tales of wilderness survival. I knew that I wanted to strand my heroine in the wilderness, and from there, everything in the novel came from brainstorming how to get her into as much trouble and danger as possible—and how to get her back out again.
BEST ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
The simplest advice is really the best advice. Read—read in your genre and out of your genre, deeply and widely. Read intentionally and intelligently, with a critical eye and attention toward craft. Take apart good (and bad) books like an engine to see how the pieces fit together. Read things that do what you want to do excellently, and figure out how they do it. Read things that fail at what you want to do, and figure out where they went wrong. Don’t get in the rut of a single subgenre. And then write. Write as much as you can, and make it intentional practice. Pay attention to technique. Experiment. Push yourself. Read more. Write more. Find other readers and writers to talk to. Repeat.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FURRY WRITING SIDEKICK.
This is Vonnegut, who is also variously known as Vonnie, Vonn Doggins (imagine Chris Traeger saying "Ann Perkins" to get the proper cadence), Vunderboofins, Vinnie Vinnie Vonnie, and ARGH! DOG! He is a soft and gentle splenderboof who borks fiercely at many a squirrel, saving our lives from their wicked machinations.
WHAT DOES FEARLESS MEAN TO YOU?
Fearless means not flinching from what is frightening. Its literal meaning isn’t particularly useful—to be without fear in the face of danger and trouble is often rather foolish. To refuse to be bound by that fear, to overcome it, or to use it—rather than be used by it—is what we strive for when we talk about being fearless.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A TEEN?
I am actually twelve in this photo, not technically a teenager, but I can promise you that I did not in fact get any cooler over the next several years. This photo was taken outside the Maryland Renaissance Festival—basically heaven for an incredible nerd like me. This is also around the time I started playing Dungeons & Dragons, which is how I met the guy who became my best friend and who, seven years later, I finally asked out (we're now celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary). Like many nerds, I didn't long to be out in the wilderness shooting bows and skinning rabbits so much as I longed to be the person that longed for those things. So I spent a lot of time imagining survival scenarios, in our world and others, and how I would conquer them, all of which eventually led me to writing I AM STILL ALIVE.
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
But more seriously,* the fear I struggle with in my writing is that I will put a piece of myself on the page, and it will be rejected, belittled, or misconstrued. Sometimes it seems like sincerity is in scarce supply in today’s stories, replaced by irony and snark and jokes, as if we’re saying to the reader or the viewer “Don’t worry, we’re not taking this seriously either; we know it’s cheesy.” Being emotionally sincere, without undercutting that sincerity with humor and self-deprecation, is frightening. It’s exposing your emotional heart, and inviting ridicule. But we respond to sincerity in stories. We respond to genuine emotion and conviction. Sorrow, determination, love, heroism—we respond to these things. Part of being fearless in our fiction is owning these true, emotional moments, and not flinching from them.
*I am seriously afraid of bears.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH FEAR IN THE WRITING PROCESS?