Flurries Unlimited (FU) caught up with jack of all trades author Kat Ross (KR) for a one on one chat about her work, inspirations and plans. Here's what we talked about:
FU: There are so many different genres to choose from, what inspired you to write in at least three different ones?
KR: As an author, I like trying my hand at different kinds of voices and stories, and as a reader, I've always loved multiple genres, so it seems natural to experiment. While I'm a great fan of pure fantasy, cozy mysteries, alien invasions, etc., genre mash-ups are my favorite right now. Books that may not be easy to classify (Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle, for example, or David Wong's John Dies at the End), but that are so well-written and have such memorable characters, it really doesn't matter. Both of those books had me utterly horrified and laughing out loud on the same page. That's where my current Fourth Element series is headed. Gaslamp mystery with elements of fantasy, sci-fi and romance—all the best bits!
FU: Which of your books is your favourite? Why?
KR: Oh, hard question. The two that are out right now are very different. My first (Some Fine Day) is pretty straight dystopian, while The Midnight Sea is epic fantasy with an historical twist. In time, they're set a couple thousand years apart: 2090 versus 330 B.C. Half the action in Some Fine Day takes place deep underground in a world that's flooded from extreme climate change, while The Midnight Sea is set in an alt Persian Empire at the time of Alexander's invasion. I did a massive amount of research for both stories, which fortunately is something I enjoy. And they both have strong female leads I wouldn't want to get into a bar fight with.
That said, my favorite is probably the one that's coming out in October. It's called The Daemoniac and I'm thinking of it as Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files in Gilded Age New York, circa 1888. The voice is a bit more sophisticated than my other books, and I loved going deep into the Victorian rabbit hole of quackery and spiritualism and bizarre party attire. I'm a huge fan of Caleb Carr's The Alienist, and it definitely inspired me while I was drafting this book.
FU: You have two books slated to be released this Autumn less than a month apart. How do you manage such a tight schedule?
KR: It might look like I pound out 10k words a day, but sadly, that's not the case. I doubt I'll have two releases so close together again, but I wrote The Daemoniac last year and then got seduced by the Next Great Idea, which turned out to be The Midnight Sea. So the manuscript sat for a bit (which is a good thing anyway), while I wrote the first two books in the Fourth Element series. But I always knew I'd publish it, and once I had the cover in hand, I couldn't resist scheduling a release date just ahead of Halloween. It's the perfect spooky tale to curl up with under the covers while the autumn winds are howling outside…
FU: You have a very diverse work background. How have your bike messenger, coat-check girl and UN experiences influenced your writing?
KR: The short answer is everything we do in our lives has some usefulness in our writing. But I doubt I would have written Some Fine Day if I hadn't been following the climate debate as a journalist and editor since the mid-2000s. I sat there watching the predictions of very smart scientists get worse and worse, and actually start coming to pass.
I'd already decided to write a YA thriller, and there was so much terrifying stuff in scientific journals that I didn't have to look very far for a white-knuckle plot. Climate change is different from most other challenges humanity is facing in the sense that it affects every corner of the globe and it's basically irreversible. A lot of that carbon will stay up there for thousands of years. And I couldn't help wondering, what if the worst case scenarios come true? I'm just naturally optimistic like that.
FU: They say that every character has some of the author in him/her. Which of your characters is most like you? In what way?
KR: Honestly, both my protagonists are way, way out of my league. They're basically James Bond to my Johnny English. Likewise the villains. I only wish I could be that magnificently evil. So yeah, I'd be one of the extras. The middle-aged waitress who asks, "How d'ya like your eggs, sweetheart?"
FU: So what else is on the horizon for you?
KR: I'll be wrapping up the Fourth Element trilogy this December with Queen of Chaos. No spoilers, but the end does leave the door open to the next series, which I'm calling Dominion Mysteries, after the sort of purgatory where the Undead and other nasty creatures come from. The books will be standalones, with magic, murder, demonic entities, tea, consulting detectives, rare books, grave-robbing, cavernous English country homes and other gothic delights.
I also still want to write the sequel to Some Fine Day, and I've promised fans of that book that I'll get around to it next year. So when I'm sick and tired of living in the 1880s, I'll just zip forward a couple hundred years. Writing in multiple genres can feel a bit like time travel, in the best way.
FU: Thank you so much for chatting with us.
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