Sleepwater Static by Kathrin Hutson – Author Interview

About the Book

They say home is where the heart is. Now that Sleepwater’s on the run, home is just another place to hide.

Wyoming’s Sleepwater chapter is on the run, hunted for their ability to spin a beat. With little time to mourn the members they’ve lost, Bernadette Manney takes the group to the one place she swore she’d never see again: the cabin in Hollywood, South Carolina. It’s remote enough to lay low and catch a break, but not for long.

Their beats are condemned as mutations, radical terrorist tactics, and felonies punishable both by and outside the law. Bernadette thought Sleepwater would be safe here, but returning to her Southern roots unleashes more demons than she left behind. Her past, her love, and even her own flesh and blood won’t let her move on through a venomous society intent on rooting out her people. Now, to bring a mother’s first child safely into an unsafe world, Bernadette must face her own shame from before Sleepwater itself was born. But redemption and forgiveness may be too much to ask, and it may just be too late.


What is your ideal writing setting (outside, at a desk, etc.)?

I used to be able to write absolutely anywhere when I was in high school and college—at my desk at home, out in a field, on a plane, at a coffee shop or the library or during my classes (not something I recommend, unless one can also ace said classes at the same time…). These days, though, I’ve become particularly attached to my home office. It’s not so much the specific room in a specific house that makes the ideal writing setting (the longest I’ve ever lived somewhere is in our current house now for almost two and a half years, and we’re moving again soon anyway). But I definitely need a dedicated writing space to “get in the zone”, with a closed door and privacy and where no one else walks in to disturb me unless it’s an emergency. Plus, I can admit I struggle with anxiety when I’m out in public, and if I’m not completely focused on enjoying myself in public (as opposed to trying to focus on writing), nothing works out the way I want it to. So I have my standing desk in my office, my bookshelves and cabinets full of books and my own writing (physical books are still just such a comfort and inspiration), all my tools around me, my fancy “sometimes I sit down for 9 hours a day and need back support” pillow, and I’m good to go. That’s when the day flies by, and the only commutes I have to worry about are my trips to the bathroom and the kitchen! Seeing as writing fiction is my full-time 9-5, this is incredibly helpful. 

How do you deal with writer’s block?

These days, when I hit a bout of writer’s block (and it doesn’t happen very often, but it definitely does happen), I just keep pushing through. I have deadlines to meet and word-count quotas to reach every day, which definitely helps push me through those moments of, “I have no idea what I’m writing right now.” So the days I experience writer’s block are, admittedly, lower word-count days. 

The fact that I write all day in sprints helps tremendously! Even if I’m feeling stuck on something, I know that when my timer goes off (my sprints are anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes long), I’ll get a little break to stand up, stretch my body, and focus my brain on something else for five minutes before getting right back to it. The solution I’ve found that works for me personally is to just keep going, even if I’m writing slowly or writing something that will need to be revised in the future. Because writing something is better than writing nothing at all, and eventually, I get back into the zone and pick up the speed, and the “block” passes. 

What authors/books inspired your writing?

My top favorite authors are: Stephen King, Jacqueline Carey, William Gibson, John Irving, and Neil Gaiman, Quite a range, I suppose. A few of their books have directly inspired some of my own characters and storylines, and most of their work I just love for the sake of reading and enjoying them. I’m not sure if I’d say that any authors inspire my writing per se, because I can’t remember a point of trying to emulate the way other authors write or to “be like so and so”. But I do have my favorites, and I supposed that good stories and great writing are a form of inspiration all on their own. There’s nothing like cracking open a favorite book that I’ve already read many times and knowing that I’m going to enjoy it all over again (I’m currently reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series for the 10th time).

What are some of your favorite writing tropes that people usually hate?

One of my favorite things to do with writing tropes is to use them to the fullest extent that they benefit the plot and then flip it on its head completely. Is the main character fighting for love? Great. Let’s make it an obsession or a compulsion, where the main character and the reader can’t quite figure out if that love is real or worth fighting for, but they’re doing it anyway. Is this character “the chosen one”? Awesome. Let’s make the “chosen one’s” goal as vague as possible and give them absolutely no control over how to “fulfill that destiny”. Not so chosen anymore, are you? 

I think my favorite trope to work with is the epic journey, which I know some readers can get pretty sick of seeing over and over. But 99% of the time, my heroes’ epic journeys aren’t necessarily to reach the end of the quest and fulfill some massive responsibility that defeats the villain and saves the world. My heroes’ epic journeys are within themselves, and more often than not, I don’t have cut-and-dry villains in my work. I’ll slap a main character into a quest and give them nothing in return, so what they get out of it is personal growth, or not dying, or an understanding/epiphany that what they thought they wanted wasn’t actually what they were chasing all along. That, to me, is far more interesting than “saving the day”. I love to write tons of action, suspense, and violence within character-driven stories, just to make things interesting. 

Has the coronavirus impacted your writing in any way? 

It has in the sense that my three-year-old is now home every single day instead of being in preschool. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so we’ve been remarkably fortunate in that we haven’t had to change our schedules much in order to accommodate a lack of childcare during this time. So while my husband and our kid are doing their thing during the day, I just keep writing away in my office. And I bought myself a better set of headphones so I can drown out the noise!

The biggest change for me personally, which I probably wouldn’t have discovered without this current situation in the world, is that I do actually “recharge” myself, on occasion, by getting out and interacting with other people. As a severe introvert working from home, I normally don’t get out much anyway. And it took me a little over six weeks through this pandemic to start feeling a desire to get out and enjoy time with friends and family. Most of that, I think, comes from the fact that I know my husband and daughter thrive when they’re surrounded by people. Going through these unprecedented times with social isolation and stay-at-home orders during the end of Vermont’s very long, very dark and cold winter didn’t help much either. We love to hike and get out in the sunshine and nature, and that’s been a lot harder to do this year. Thankfully, things are starting to clear up, and it’s been hugely beneficial for us to get out of the house and out in nature where we’re not freezing on the trail. 

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Just keep writing. It’s said so many times by so many different authors, but I wholeheartedly believe this is the number-one thing an aspiring author can do to improve their craft, to learn about themselves and how they write, and to develop their strengths in writing. Just keep going, don’t give up, and get those words down on the page, even if they’re awful and will never be seen by the light of day. Trust me, I have whole piles of writing that will never get picked up or even repurposed into something else. But they got me to where I am today. 


About the Author – Kathrin Hutson

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and LGBTQ Speculative Fiction since 2000. With her wildly messed-up heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never Afters, she’s a firm believer in piling on the intense action, showing a little character skin, and never skimping on violent means to bloody ends. Kathrin is an active member of SFWA and HWA and lives in Vermont with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

For updates on new releases, exclusive deals, and dark surprises you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to Kathrin’s newsletter at kathrinhutsonfiction.com/subscribe

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