Name: Katerina Baker
Author of: The Corner Office (Self Published)
Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? I always thought I would be a full time writer in retirement, but until then I am managing to write in my spare time. As to whether I can call it a profession? I am definitely not the writer who has ambition to release many books per year. I prefer to let the books “stew” and grow, add on shape that can only happen when I take breaks from the novel I’m writing.
The first book I completed was started six years ago, which began my journey as an author. I remember sending my very first query letter to a New York City agent–only one because I did my research and I knew he was the perfect agent for me–and waiting for a phone call from him that same day. I think I even moved my meetings around so I would be available when he called.
That phone call never came, but I made another important one–to the editor who agreed to help me get the book into shape. Many revisions and almost three years later, that book did earn me my agent, which brings me to answering your next question…
Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? God, too many people to count. But a few people did make a tremendous difference in my writing career. First off, my long-time writing buddy and an amazing author Camilla Monk. She was my first true fan who helped me see potential in my work. I remember how high I felt receiving her comments after she read my work in progress. I think all authors needs a few good cheerleaders, and Camilla was that person for me when I was just starting out.
The other people who really helped me are my agents. They worked with me on many gruesome revisions, relentlessly making me kill my darlings and pointing me in the right direction.
Do you exclusively write romance or have you written in other genres? All of the books I’m writing have strong Romantic aspect, but I’ve decided to not market all of them as Romance because some of them are not traditional romance. My latest novel Under the Scrubs, which will be published soon, will be marketed as Mystery, but there is a very strong romantic element and happily-for-now ending.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? I am one of those writers who gets up at 5 am to get a few words in and then revise it on the bus to work. I also write at nights and on weekends while my kids are at various activities. Overall, I find myself more productive when I do a few dedicated spurts of writing rather than doing it continuously for many hours. I need my breaks to produce the best stuff.
How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? The first draft might take 3-4 months but revisions could sometimes take years. The first novel in a series always takes longer, but sequels come much easier since I already have the special bond with the characters.
Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? I prefer to write about a topic that I know about, and my pre-work is focused around drafting a few-page synopsis.
Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? You mean the quirky habits I’d never want to tell anyone but your blog readers? None. Absolutely none. Just kidding. Well, when I get stuck, I like to play “what if” game with my kids. I give them a vague situation and ask them what would they do if they faced it. They win extra points if they find something absolutely ridiculous to resolve it. Under the Scrubs features quite a few of their gems, which is why this novel is that much more special for me.
Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I’ve extensively traveled in Turkey for a book I am writing. It’s about two Americans experiencing life in this beautiful country, and I wanted to make it truly authentic.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? The inspiration for Under the Scrubs came when I watched a movie about an FBI agent rescuing a girl-next-door. The movie finished as they walked into sunset together, and I thought, wait a minute. Would it really happen in real life? Would the people like that really get their happily-ever-after and what would it look like? The idea was born: pair up the most different people imaginable and explore their relationship, throw the craziest situations their way and see whether they’d manage to come out together. Would it work out? Would they be able to move past all the conflict? Or maybe life doesn’t really work that way. That’s how the idea started, but it evolved into a really fun novel and some really unusual characters.
Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I love to read all sub-genres of Romance, particularly Romantic Suspense. In humorous mystery, Janet Evanovich is my hero.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I hide a murder mystery in my books, but you’ll need to read all of them to find out. Just kidding.
I don’t know if this is really a secret but I spend a lot of time making up the names of fictional places in my books. A few of my characters also love to give nicknames for things, and I spent quite some time making those perfect.
Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? The female characters in my books are inspired by the women I knew and admired. I love writing about smart women: they are leaders, scientists, even hackers. They create their own destiny and make things happen. They show me the world I want for my daughters.
Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. There are so many undiscovered books that deserve more attention. I love Camilla Monk’s Spotless series. I think it’s a new classic that everyone should binge-read. How could you not love a hitman with an OCD?
Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. You’ll get me in trouble here. I could spend days binge reading Outlander. I am the type of person who can re-read my favorite books over and over again and never get bored. I do sometimes go to my favorite scenes on my tenth read, though.
Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Never. I don’t care nearly enough what people think of me. This is the same reason I rarely read book reviews. I always reply to any direct messages sent by my readers, though. Those are truly special.
As a writer, which animal/item would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?
It would be a pink pussy hat worn during women march.
Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? I could improve my world-building skills, particularly when writing imaginary places.
What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Never give up. If you want something badly enough, keep at it. Be open to constructive criticism, no matter how hard it might be to hear. Constantly grow and learn from others, and eventually it will happen. If you never give up, it’s not a question of if, but of when.
What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Market your book would be the smart advice, but really, do what makes you happy. Write a new book.
In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I spend a lot of time reading work-in-progress by other authors and providing feedback. I would love to be able to do more collaborations on marketing, but there’s never enough time in a day.
Where can people find more about you?
The Corner Office
Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.
Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.
But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand her.
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