Everyone, meet Katharine McGee, author of the upcoming Science Fiction novel, The Thousandth Floor! Sadly, she has just left the Bay Area for the East Coast, but I reached out to her to ask if she'd like to answer a few questions for us!
1. Did you have an elevator pitch for The Thousandth Floor, and what was it?
Absolutely! My elevator pitch was “Gossip Girl meets The Jetsons”—Gossip Girl because of the dramatic, emotional nature of my characters’ secrets, as well as the fact that it’s set in a glamorous New York world. The Jetsons I added to convey that while the novel is set in the future, it isn’t a dystopian or post-apocalyptic future: there are no dictators or caste systems or children competing to the death. The futuristic technology in The Jetsons is fun and lighthearted, never brutal or scary, and that’s the tone I hope to capture in The Thousandth Floor
2. What was the hardest part of getting published for you?
I used to work in publishing, on the editorial side, so I luckily understood the industry and what it takes to get published! As for many authors, the most painful part for me was waiting for news after I knew that my agent had pitched my novel—I was constantly checking my phone, anxious for a phone call or an email with news!
3. Was there something about the process of getting publishing that you didn’t expect?
The community of YA authors is incredibly strong, especially among debuts. It’s been a lovely surprise to see how warm and supportive everyone is of one another’s work!
4. Who has been your biggest supporter?
My fiancé Alex has definitely been my biggest supporter. He has read every draft of the book (and gives me notes!), helps me talk out plot questions when I get stuck, and when I’m really down to the wire on deadline, he cooks for me to make sure that I have writing fuel! We’re getting married in October which means that he’s signed on for many more years of listening to me vent about fictional characters misbehaving J
5. What was your inspiration for The Thousandth Floor?
The jumping-off point for The Thousandth Floor was an article I read about Sky City, a building in China. It’s an enormous, self-contained “vertical city” just like the Tower in The Thousandth Floor—complete with schools, apartments, parks, and even farms! After I read the article I couldn’t stop wondering what it would be like to live in one of those cities. And because I love New York, it became the setting for my new future Tower.
6. How many versions did you write?
I did four full revisions on the manuscript, so I have five drafts saved on my computer—eek!
7. Are any of your characters based off of friends or old acquaintances? You don’t’ have to say who….
There are pieces of my personality in all of the characters, and probably little tidbits of my friends and family too, although those are harder to pinpoint. I’m very close with my younger sister (and fiercely protective of her, as all older siblings are) so a lot of our relationship went into Rylin and Chrissa. Also, I know this is cheesy, but there’s a moment where Avery says that she first realized she loved Atlas while they were both standing on the lift platform… um, I first realized that I loved my fiancé on a New York subway platform.
8. How many publishers did you go to before it was picked up?
There were several publishers interested in The Thousandth Floor when my agent submitted it, but in the end, HarperCollins was the right fit. They have been incredibly supportive of the project and really understand my vision for the series!
9. Who was your favorite character to write? Did you have one that was hard to pin down, with the voice or their back-story?
I was worried that Watt would be hard to write simply because he’s a boy, but his chapters flowed surprisingly easily! I think Nadia helped. J Some of Eris’s chapters ended up being the trickiest, only because she deals with so many emotional conflicts throughout the novel, and I wanted to make sure that I gave her space to process each of them in turn.
10. What are some of your favorite books or authors?
The formative series of my youth were Harry Potter, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and all the Tamora Pierce novels. I also read a lot of historical fiction and love big, sweeping epics like those by Philippa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon, and Karleen Koen.
11. Do you have favorite tropes or topics that you like to read?
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I love books set in interesting or unusual worlds! So I read a lot of historicals, fantasy, and sci-fi.
12. Favorite/ preferred place to write? Do you listen to music?
I’m a home writer! For some reason I can’t focus in coffee shops. Usually I just make Nespresso at home and curl up in yoga pants to write in silence. Plus, when I’m home there’s a constant supply of snacks J
13. Coffee or tea?
Coffee!! The best coffee in the world is Philz Mint Mojito iced coffee. I used to live in California and I think the hardest part of moving back to the east coast was giving up my Philz addiction!
14. Did you write in a linear fashion or do you jump around?
I have to write in chronological order! Because my story is multi-POV, if I skip around I start to get really confused. It helps me to write linearly since so many of my chapters build on the one previous—it’s hard to write a reaction to something (like a kiss!) if you haven’t written the scene where that something happens.
15. If you hosted an author dinner, who would you invite?
J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Philip Pullman, and Rainbow Rowell.
16. Are you a part of any “fandoms”?
Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and all the Shonda Rhimes shows! I’ve also recently become addicted to the TV show Unreal, which is a hilarious tongue-in-cheek satire on The Bachelor.
Katharine McGee is from Houston, Texas. She studied English and French literature at Princeton and has an MBA from Stanford. It was during her years living in a second-floor apartment in New York City that she kept daydreaming about skyscrapers . . . and then she started writing. The Thousandth Floor is her first novel and is available August 30th. You can catch her on Twitter at @katharinemcgee .
Not Your Mother's Book Club Proudly Presents Ransom Riggs, the #1 bestselling author of the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children novels, for a Loop Day celebration!
- Your ticket secures you a signed copy of TALES OF THE PECULIAR at a 20% discount off of the retail price, and a professionally shot photograph with the author.
- Books will be pre-signed, but not personalized. You will receive your book as you enter the event.
- Due to strict space limitations, a ticket is required for each person entering the event space. This includes parents accompanying a child to the event.
About TALES OF THE PECULIAR: A companion to the bestselling Miss Peregrine s Home for Peculiar Children, soon to be a major motion picture directed by Tim Burton! Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in "Tales of the Peculiar" the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the locations of time loops first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich, and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for not only fans, but for all lovers of great storytelling.
Last month we brought you debut author Stephanie Garber, this month we have another wonderful debut author to introduce you to! Meet Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper. Just like Stephanie, I met Tara a little over a month ago at Stacey Lee's book launch, but we actually knew of each other before that! Tara and I have a very special person in common, her literary agent Laura Crockett, who told me almost a year ago that I would love her new client and that she couldn't wait to tell me more about her and her new book. It was all very hush hush at the time and I wasn't allowed to know who Laura was representing or what she was writing, but I'm so glad they found each other. Now we will all have the chance to know a bit about Tara Sim and her debut YA novel, Timekeeper!
1. Did you have an elevator pitch for Timekeepers, what was it?
I think my elevator pitch is more of a never-ending-escalator pitch, but it essentially boils down to: In an alternate Victorian era where clock towers literally control time, a young clock mechanic must rescue his father from a town where time has stopped completely—and try not to fall for his new apprentice, who turns out to be a clock spirit.
2. What was the hardest part of getting published for you?
All the waiting. I’m an impatient person (although I think it’s safe to say most authors are), and the publishing world tends to move rather slowly. Writing the book, revising, getting an agent, going on submission, getting the book deal, and releasing book one has taken a little over three years. I’ve been deeply conditioned to constantly check my inbox!
3. Who has been your biggest supporter?
I want to say my parents, although my mom tends to say things like “what, you’re still writing that thing?” or “we never see you, get away from your computer.” Truly, though, they’ve always been very supportive of my goals and dreams, which has meant the world to me.
4. What was your inspiration for Timekeepers? Was it the plot or a character that came to you first?
Actually, the thing that came first to me was an image. I studied abroad in London when I was in college, and I was somewhat obsessed with Big Ben. I even bought a keychain. One day I was driving and wondering what sort of story I should write next when I looked down at the keychain. An image popped into my head of a boy standing in a clock tower—very atmospheric, golden light everywhere, a huge clock face with ticking hands behind him throwing him into shadow. I wondered what would happen if the clock tower could literally control time, and what, or who, would be able to fix it if it broke. It all spiraled out from there.
5. How many versions did you write?
*laughs until the end of time*
I have no actual clue, since the story has been molded and remolded so many times, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the double digits somewhere.
6. Are any of your characters based off of friends or old acquaintances? You don’t’ have to say who…
I actually don’t like to base characters off of people I know. Rather, if someone I know has an interesting trait, I like to file those away and give them to a character here or there. Like a certain hand gesture, or a way of smiling, or a type of humor.
7. How many publishers did you go to before it was picked up?
The whole submission process is a blur to me now. I couldn’t tell you how many looked at the book, but I was so glad it ended up in my editor’s hands.
8. Who was your favorite character to write? Did you have one that was hard to pin down, with the voice or their back story?
As much as I love being in Danny’s moody little head, my favorite character to write was Colton. He was a very new type of character for me in many ways, and although it took a few drafts to get him just right, I always had fun with his personality, abilities, etc. Someone who was hard to pin down is Daphne, one of Danny’s peers/rivals in the book. She’s a complex character, and it took me a very, very long time to fill her out completely and understand her backstory, her motivation, and her goals.
9. What are some of your favorite books or authors?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
The Song of the Lioness series – Tamora Pierce
A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy/This Savage Song/anything, really – Victoria Schwab
The Grisha Trilogy/Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
10. Favorite/ preferred place to write? Do you listen to music?
I prefer to write in my bedroom. Super boring, I know. I listen to music all the time, but for Timekeeper specifically I listened to a lot of Lindsey Stirling, Ellie Goulding, and the Hunger Games soundtracks.
11. Coffee or tea?
TEA. Although a latte now and then doesn’t hurt!
12. Did you write in a linear fashion or do you jump around?
Linear, for sure. Although sometimes a scene will come to me early and start shaping itself in my head, and if I don’t want to lose the clarity of it I’ll go ahead and jot it down to insert later.
13. If you hosted an author dinner, who would you invite?
I’d love to host Victoria Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, Tamora Pierce, Sarah J. Maas, and Maggie Stiefvater. And of course, my awesome fellow 2016 debuts, especially Emily Skrutskie, Traci Chee, and Jessica Cluess.
14. Are you a part of any “fandoms”?
Oh yes! Many. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, obviously. Avatar: the Last Airbender. Pirates of the Caribbean. The Raven Cycle. Just…so, so many…
15. Did you ever want to give up?
I’ve wanted to, certainly, but more in the vein of “I wish I could quit you.” As painful and as difficult writing can be, I think the only way you’d get me to stop is if you cut off my hands. And even then I’d just buy one of those voice transcriber programs.
Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper (Sky Pony Press, Nov. 1, 2016) and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website at tarasim.com.