It’s no big secret that we love living creatively. But while we strive to be creative every single day, sometimes everyday life makes it mega hard to find the time — even if it only takes seven minutes to be more creative. So we’re always seeking out tips for creativity and major inspo for all areas of life from people we admire who make it work. It was refreshing to sit down with celebrated author Kate Moretti (with a can’t-miss new novel), who also struggled to find the time for her creative passion — writing. Between her two small children, her day job as a pharmaceutical scientist and the everyday rush of a busy household… let’s just say finding some quiet time was a tad difficult.
Luckily she stuck with it, learning a fair few tips on the way — and her five published novels are proof. She sat down to talk to us about creativity hacks, beach reads and, of course, her awesome new book, The Vanishing Year.
B+C: You started writing your first novel on maternity leave. What led you to pursue such a lofty goal during such a notoriously stressful time?
KM: Ha! I know it sounds crazy; I do. But this was with my second child. My oldest was in preschool and she slept all. The. Time. We couldn’t wake her up! Not even to eat. I was bored. My best friend, Sarah DiCello, and I went out to dinner one night and she confessed after a few glasses of wine that she wrote a WHOLE NOVEL in secret. I was in awe.
B+C: Did you always plan on publishing your first novel or did it start out as something you were just writing for yourself?
KM: I wrote it for myself, 100 percent. I used other novels to learn structure as I went. I never intended on publishing my book, finding an agent, a publisher… it just seemed like you had to know people for that to happen. I was just a Pennsylvania mom with two kids. I knew no one, except, like, the Domino’s guy.
B+C: How hard is it finding time to write outside of your day job? Do you have any strategies that you employ to find time and stay motivated?
KM: Well, first, I’m no longer working full-time. I work three days a week and use two days for writing and family. Working full-time was crazy. Now, life is better. More balanced. I’m exercising again and sometimes even do yoga and Instagram my lunch. I have some semblance of peace. There’s no magic in it, though. Butt in chair. Get off Facebook. Do the work, even when it’s hard.
B+C: What advice do you have for other women who are trying to pursue their passion while still maintaining a full-time job AND taking care of a family?
KM: God, it’s so, so hard. Let’s fist bump. I pared back on my job because this ended up being a real thing, but what if all that luck hadn’t come my way? I don’t know. I’d still be full time, probably. I mean, the mortgage still needs to get paid. To some extent, you make your own luck. You carve out a life that works, even if everyone around you calls you crazy.
Don’t quit. That’s lame; I know. But it’s true. I did all kinds of things to get my cover in front of readers. Joined Facebook groups, made friends with other writers, stuck bookmarks and postcards in books at the airport (ahem, I might still do this). Try the thing that no one else has tried. Do the desperate thing, even if it feels a little desperate.
B+C: Speaking of your newest novel, The Vanishing Year, what was your inspiration behind this exciting tale?
KM: The ending came to me first. I can’t tell you how because that would spoil it. I know that’s a cop-out, but I can tell you this: I wanted to write a shocker of an ending. Those books where you think “oh my, what just happened?” I loved the idea of reinvention, where you can become a whole new person — of your own choosing. I wondered about the hardship that would come with that. I liked the idea of Manhattan because I love Manhattan. I wanted to write a male character, a husband, who might be a bad guy or a good guy but you can’t tell because he’s kind of a genius too.
B+C: Quick, what are your top five summer reads of all time?
KM: What a fun question! I realize that my favorite “summer reads” are not necessarily my favorite books of all time. These are books that remind me quintessentially of the beach.
1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn ($9): I read Gone Girl in July of 2012 and it changed SO MUCH for me. I loved this female-bad-guy thing. This unapologetic psychopath. Men could do this in fiction, sure. But not women. If women do it, it becomes an immediate trope: Bunny Boiler. But oh, no. Amazing Amy was a completely original psychopath and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write such a compelling female main character, but by God, I loved reading it.
2. The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand ($6): I loved the mystery surrounding the couple’s disappearance; I loved the ensemble cast. It was hot, and light, and fun, and intriguing and a perfect beach book.
3. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt ($12): This is a huge re-read for me. You can picture the characters, imagine their laughter, feel the Savannah heat, the humidity. You can almost feel the cement of the Bird Girl statue under your fingertips, hear the cicadas. This book has always felt alive to me.
4. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells ($9): I read it in the summer and I’ve re-read it in the summer. Maybe because I vacation in the South every year, I connect with the language, the characters and the Southern expressions. It makes me laugh and cry and has a surprising amount of wisdom in the narrative.
5. The Devil’s Punchbowl by Greg Iles ($6): Again, maybe it’s a Southern thing. I love Iles’ Penn Cage. He’s one of my favorite writers: Suspense, thrills, legalese and intricate plots, combined with stellar character development. His books are a bazillion pages long because he lets nothing slide. I’m telling you, though, they fly by. You hardly notice it when you’re on page 842.
(Photos via Pooja Dhar at PR Photography and Atria Books)