Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Kate Stollenwerck Interview - Hello, Goodbye

Photo Credit: Agnes Lopez

Kate Stollenwerck, a fifth-generation Texan, was born and raised in Dallas. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in history and earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

Kate practiced law for several years at a large firm in Chicago. She left the practice to stay home with her young daughter and pursue her dream of writing. More babies arrived and took up more time than she imagined, and not much writing took place. She finally pulled out a rusty manuscript in the summer of 2019 and has been writing ever since.

Kate resides in Florida with her husband, three children, and a crazy cat. Her debut novel, Hello, Goodbye, will be released on August 2, 2022.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m scheduled to give a talk at my hometown public library, and I’m filled with all the fuzzies about this event!

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Criticism should be constructive, not destructive.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Greatest thing you learned in school.
How you treat people matters.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on a sequel to Hello, Goodbye and have also been outlining a legal thriller (I’m a former attorney) and another contemporary YA that revolves around elite high school swimmers.

In your newest book; HELLO, GOODBYE, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Hello, Goodbye is a charming and heartfelt story about a girl helping her grandmother unravel an old family secret that leads to adventure and love over one unforgettable summer. The novel is a contemporary coming-of-age tale filled with adventure, romance, friendship, family drama, and a dash of mystery.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
That family is the true treasure in life. I hope they reflect on the importance of knowing our grandparents and their stories.

What part of Hailey did you enjoy writing the most?
Every scene with Gigi. They have a special bond!

What was your unforgettable moment while writing HELLO, GOODBYE?
SPOILER ALERT: Bawling my eyes out as I wrote Gigi’s death scene. I had fallen in love with her alongside Hailey and it was just horrible to say goodbye to her.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
My heart ring ID card. I had open-heart surgery at age 39 and I have to carry around the make and model of the ring on my heart that holds my mitral valve in place in case of an emergency!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
A Polar Bear Plunge on New Years’ Day! On January 1st, you jump into a cold body of water to start the new year off with a refreshing cleanse . . . it’s especially fun if it’s freezing outside! I did it for the first time this year and I loved it!

Best date you've ever had?
I’ve been with my husband since I was 21 so it’s hard to remember!

What event in your life would make a good movie?
The semester I spent studying abroad in Prague in the mid-90s. Prague was a magnet for young, bohemian artists from all over the world and it was a very exciting place to be . . . and so cheap! You could live like kings in Prague in the 90s.

How far away from your birthplace do you live now?
A 2.5-hour plane ride or an 18-hour drive!

First Heartbreak?
Can’t discuss that one! Some things need to be kept private!

  • 1. The title is a play on a Beatles song, “Hello, Goodbye.” One of the main characters, Gigi, is obsessed with The Beatles but the real meaning of the title is revealed in a pivotal scene in the novel.
  • 2. The entire plot came to me while on a beach walk listening to This Is The Beatles on Spotify. I walked for about an hour and a half typing notes on my phone. I then raced home and sketched out the novel.
  • 3. I wrote this novel in two months during Covid when I was missing my parent so much and very reflective on the importance of family in our lives.
  • 4. My paternal grandmother was born and raised in the small Texas town that plays a part in this novel, but I had never actually visited the town, so I used Google maps for details about the location! Several months later I took a road trip to see it first-hand.
  • 5. I’m very close to my father and my daughter is very close with her dad, so I wanted to write the sweet daddy/daughter dynamic for Hailey with her dad. I do think so many of us are closer to one parent over another and that’s okay and should be celebrated!
  • 6. The painting referred to in the novel is a play on one of the most famous pieces of missing art from World War II – The Portrait of Trudie Steiner by Gustav Klimt
  • 7. The novel originally ended much earlier, but my mother read it and told me I absolutely could not end it with a cliffhanger, so I went back and wrote an additional 50 pages. She was so right!
  • 8. The description of Gigi’s house in the novel is based on my grandmother’s house in Texas. She passed away many years ago, but I can still see every detail of her beautiful home in my mind.
  • 9. My 14-year-old daughter and a few of her friends were my beta readers and made several helpful suggestions for the story.
  • 10. “Embraceable You” was a song my grandmother always played on the piano for me when I visited her home, so it was of course the love song I wanted to incorporate into the family history.
Journey to writing HELLO, GOODBYE
I wrote my first novel when I was in law school over twenty years ago. But I had no idea what I was doing, and it was quite awful, so I never even had anyone read it! It’s in a landfill somewhere in Austin, Texas, and I’m happy about that! I began to practice law at a big firm in Chicago and naively thought I would have free time to work on my writing after work. That didn’t happen, but I didn’t give up on my dream of being a writer. Several years later I had my first child and my push present from my husband was an antique typewriter because he knew I still dreamt of being a writer. Again, na├»ve me thought I would have all this free time to write when staying home but being a new mom is no joke! I did attempt four or five different manuscripts during the three years between my first and second child. I would get about 40 to 50 pages in, get stuck, and life would move on, but the stories didn’t. So those four or five manuscripts traveled from home to home, crossed state lines, and then settled in my linen closet for the next ten years. In the summer of 2019, I was cleaning out that linen closet and discovered the old manuscripts, which I had totally forgotten I had written! My husband and I dug out old hard drives and found the original files. There was one story that I felt strongly I could finish and so I committed myself to do just that. I wrote a few hours a day, six days a week for two straight months, and finally had a completed novel! I spent close to another year editing it before beginning the query process. As I waited for responses (of which I got none), I told myself I better get writing again. COVID hit, and writing became an outlet for me. Two months later, I had the first draft of HELLO, GOODBYE. I worked with a developmental editor and a copy editor before submitting it to publishers and agents. I knew this was the story I wanted to debut with and was fortunate enough to find a home with SparkPress. On August 2, 2022, my debut novel will release . . . twenty-two years after I started my writing journey!

Fifteen-year-old Hailey Rogers is sure her summer is ruined when her parents force her to spend a few days a week helping her grandmother, Gigi. Although she only lives across town, she never sees her grandmother and knows little about her. But Gigi is full of surprises--and family secrets. Throw in the gorgeous boy down the street, and Hailey's ruined summer might just be the best of her life.

Then tragedy strikes, lies are uncovered, and Hailey's life suddenly falls apart. After unearthing clues in an old letter written by her great-grandfather, she takes off on a road trip to solve the family mystery with the only person she can trust. In a forgotten Texas town, the past and the present collide--and Hailey is forced to choose what she truly values in life.
You can purchase Hello, Goodbye at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KATE STOLLENWERCK for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Hello, Goodbye by Kate Stollenwerck.

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