Katey Schultz – On the Road Again…
Debra: Hello and thanks for tuning in for this edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio. So glad you could make it. I’ll be interviewing Katey Schultz today. Actually, we will be hitching a ride with Katey to squeeze this interview into her very busy book tour. I’m on the side of NC128 near Mt. Mitchell right now, waiting for her to pick me up. We’re just going to tag along for a bit. I haven’t met Katey before. I asked her what she was driving, so I could watch for her and she said, “A Volvo. You can’t miss THE CLAW!” but wouldn’t tell me more…she said I’d know. Now I ‘m really curious!
While we wait, a little background information to share with you. Katey has actually been living in North Carolina, very close to where I live, for about 10 years now. She is actively involved in many things and living a full-time writer’s dream! At the end of our interview, I’ll share a link so you can check out her amazing adventures. Katey’s unique series of short stories is titled Flashes of War, just released on May 27th by Loyola University Maryland, and is zooming up Amazon’s ratings list! Like many veteran and literary reviewers have already expressed, I was awestruck by how she wrote such an amazing account of what life is like for various people affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without having any military or Middle Eastern experiences of her own. She did this all through research and creativity and the book is brilliant. Wow! This book has 5 stars from some very reputable reviewers, including a New York Times contributor. Well, you’ll see!
Oh, this must be Katey. Here comes a late model Volvo, screeching around the bend. It looks like she’s got stuff tied onto it, a pair of hiking boots and loppers, a few boxes of books. The car looks a bit worse for wear, and it has, um, artwork on it? Oh cool, that’s a giant typewriter painted on the hood! How clever! Very interesting…let’s meet Katey and then we’ll ask about this car.
Katey: (opens car door, steps half out, and waves) Hi Debra! Come on! It’s safe, I promise!
Debra: I trust you and it must be, as much as you travel. (climbs into the passenger seat) Hi, hello there, wow, this is quite a car. Tell us a little something about it won’t you?
Katey: Oh, well, I’ve had this car since 2008 and while it’s not the fastest, it is very dependable. With over two hundred forty thousand miles on it, I’ve taken it across the Rockies and back twice already.
Debra: Ok, but what’s with the giant claw thingy on the grill?
Katey: That’s a hand-blown glass lobster claw I rescued from an artist friend of mine’s trashcan. We both thought the claw was ridiculous in all the right ways, so we attached it to the car because…well, why not? Inspiration comes from the strangest places sometimes and THE CLAW came to signify going after life, perhaps, in some small way, like a crab that relentlessly goes for what it wants.
Debra: Brilliant! Very creative. And now I get the name…many people name their cars for various reasons. I have a muscle car named Michelle, myself! A story for another day. So where are we off to, Katey?
Katey: Without spending too much time on that, actually, because I don’t want to broadcast too much just now, I’m working on raising funds to get THE CLAW to northern Alaska where it can roam alongside the caribou during their great migration. I feel that will be the final step in my car’s epic journey.
Debra: Very interesting! I was looking over your site and I just don’t know where you get the energy! You are involved in so many things and your book has already been a great success.
Katey: I get a lot of thrills from the Monster Truck Rallies I’ve been entering THE CLAW in, lately. Like my book—which many people were surprised by, since I’ve never been to war—my car is also much more than meets the eye. Just because THE CLAW doesn’t have a double muffler doesn’t mean it can’t compete with the best of the best in the rallies. So I guess you could say that my creative spirit is filled by competing with the big rigs. When the last shirtless, screaming fan has left the stadium, I go home with a real sense of peace and harmony. There’s something about sliding around in the mud on four tires, or watching the underbelly of a jacked-up Ford truck as it drives over and above THE CLAW (my side view mirrors get clipped, but whatever) that really fills my creative well.
Debra: (holding onto door handle and tightening her seat belt) For someone who didn’t grow up in these mountains, you do know how to take the roads pretty well. I’m impressed! So, Katey, at this point, my readers have seen my book review and I told them about the book. Now I’m most curious if you ever felt yourself becoming emotional when writing intense scenes for Flashes of War, or if there is a specific passage where this was the case?
Katey: The high drama and violence of war are not prominently featured in my stories, so it was really those moments that look at the human face of war that felt most emotionally challenging to write. One scene comes to mind from the story “Into Pure Bronze,” which features two Afghan boys who sneak out at night to play soccer in Kabul Stadium. One day in school, there is an air raid. The boys have to huddle against the wall with their classmates and they feel very scared. During this scene, the narrative slips into the mind of the narrator, Pirooz, and whenever I read that passage I feel very strongly that I want that boy—and all children experiencing war—to be able to live without suffering.
Debra: That was a moving story. I almost cried! So tell us, when you first get the idea for a new story, do you find that the finished product tends to differ quite significantly from your original idea, or does the original idea remain more or less intact?
Katey: I think because I had to do so much research in order to write authentically about war, cultures, and countries I never personally experienced, my original ideas for a story remained more or less intact. For instance, after researching about the U.S.’s initial missions in Fallujah, I had a new understanding for just how brutal the circumstances were. It made me wonder about very basic necessities of life—such as food, water, and shelter—and how soldiers and civilians got along without these things. I knew that platoons had spent the night in bombed out buildings in the middle of the city-as-war-zone. What if a soldier had to go to the bathroom? It may seem like a strange thought, but in warfare we are all still human beings with needs. So I wrote “Poo Mission,” (click here for 3-minute video) which is 1 of 26 flash fictions in Flashes of War. There are also 7 full-length stories in the book. As with all the stories, it’s less about war and more about the impossible decisions people have to make, and why they do what they do.
Debra: Is there a particular scene from your book, Flashes of War, which would translate well to canvas and provide a powerful inspiration for a dramatic or emotional piece of artwork?
Katey: I’m so glad you asked! Gold Quoin Press in collaboration with the students of Bradley University created 2 beautiful, limited edition, letter pressed broadsides with original artwork based on my work. I’ve got some in the backseat, but these can also be viewed online here, and full footage of one of the stories, “While the Rest of America’s at the Mall” can be viewed by clicking the link. The “bullets” were hand-tamped into the special paper and the original artwork is by Robert Rowe.
Debra: Oh wow, that question usually trips people up! Well done! Let me try another one then. (evil smirk and Katey gives a playful smile in return) Tell us something about you we won’t find on the Internet?
Katey: Oh, do I have to answer that one? Just kidding. Well, Google is pretty amazing at unearthing things online, but let’s give this a shot: As an undergrad at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, I played rugby for four years. We were a tiny school with a tinier team in one of the roughest sports. Not to mention that rugby came pretty late to the Western United States. What you won’t find on the Internet is a photo of the expression on my face when I tried to tackle a particularly hefty University of Santa Cruz rugger during Regional Finals one year, and she just kept running and running…dragging me down the field like a rag doll.
Debra: Oh my gosh, I would have been so embarrassed!
Katey: What can I say? It toughened me up. I didn’t mind…though the sport did cost me one concussion and two bones in my feet.
Debra: Well, you are tougher than I ever was, I got those injuries just playing softball, not a full contact sport! Never was very coordinated to be playing sports but softball was fun. Anyway, next question, what’s the best and worst thing about being an author for you, personally?
Katey: Social media and social media. It’s great being able to stay connected with so many friends and fans from across the globe and to sell books online, but I don’t always find it fulfilling to maintain an online presence and “share links” or “retweet.” That said, it’s part of my job as a self-supporting writer to not only engage with my community, but to add to the dialogue. I try to take it all with a grain of salt and give what I can, but also maintain boundaries. One year from my book launch, I’m rewarding myself with a month-long “no social media” retreat from the Internet.
Debra: Agreed! It’s so time consuming, necessary and fun, but just time consuming too…really cuts into my writing time if I don’t watch it! This question is a popular request from readers: If you were to write a fictional story based on a real-life celebrity, who would you feature and why?
Katey: I would write a satire of the life of Britney Spears, which would include more insight than one might expect. Such as: delightfully rambling passages of what it’s like to dance with a chair, or, stabbing realizations about the trials and tribulations of youth celebrity life.
Debra: Oh! Not Britney Spears! However, I have to say after your work on Flashes of War, I’d probably read it, and like it, too! Katey, do you have any advice for other authors at this point?
Katey: Hire a publicist. Jessica Glenn of MindBuck Media is mine, and she’s great!
Debra: I can see by your author platform and all of your events and public exposure already, she did an excellent job. Thanks for sharing that. Do you have a favorite review or has anyone expressed a particularly nice compliment about your writing, which stands out as your most memorable piece of praise?
Katey: One of my favorite moments was after giving a public reading at a library in Sitka, Alaska. (I was also there for another Monster Truck Rally. Try competing with the big guys on the middle of an island in the North Pacific!) During the Q&A, the first person to raise his hand was an Iraq war veteran. He asked me if I had served in the war and where. I hadn’t served in the war, but his question was the highest compliment I could have asked for. It spoke to the authenticity of my work and made all the hours of hard research seem to pay off. Also, Author Doug Stanton really gave me a jump-start with one of the kindest blurbs on the planet. His blurb is on my website: www.kateyschultz.com.
Debra: Fantastic, really, I can only imagine how you felt in that moment at the reading. What was his reaction when you answered?
Katey: He responded with quiet, but authentic approval. Later, he took a writing workshop from me and we became friends.
Debra: We’re almost at the bottom of Mt. Mitchell, Katey, so one last question for you. Do you already know what you are going to work on next?
Katey: Yes, I have completed the first draft of a novel, tentatively titled The Longest Day of the Year. This is based on two stories from Flashes of War—“Aaseya & Rahim” and “The Quiet Kind.”
Debra: Thank you so much for meeting with me for this interview and letting me ride in THE CLAW. I wish you all the best success in uniting THE CLAW with the Alaskan caribou migration…and with your book, of course. I hope you’ll stop into the studio sometime and keep us posted on what you are up to!
As promised, here’s the links to connect with and learn more about Katey…I’d keep her on my radar, this young lady is going places!
Flashes of War is available now!
Flashes of War book trailer – Check out this great YouTube video and look for her other videos too!
Talk Radio with NO Radio is a mock radio show, and uses fiction skit based story lines designed to let you learn about the person behind the book, have a laugh, and hopefully enjoy the non-fiction responses to actual interview questions, even more. These skits couldn’t be possible without the authors taking the time to collaborate and do a little writing too. Today I’d like to thank Katey for her time and her support in bringing this “broadcast” to you. While we never took that ride in her car, we did talk at length to make sure even the fiction is very close to the truth of what you would see if you passed Katey in traffic, what she’s up to right now, and her answers truly represent an interesting and adventurous writer living the dream!