Katharyn Blair is a novelist and screenwriter. She has her MFA in screenwriting and her MA in literature. She’s been a social media coordinator for several films at 20th Century Fox, an intern at her city’s Parks and Recreation Department, a gymnastics coach, and, most recently, a writing professor at Azusa Pacific University. UNCHOSEN is her second novel for young adults. Her debut novel, The Beckoning Shadow received two starred trade reviews and was the book of the month for Book Box Club, Shelf Love Crate, and Beacon Box.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novel, Unchosen? What made you want to tell this story?
Katharyn Blair: The inspiration for UNCHOSEN really came from the feeling we know—the feeling that we haven’t been picked. I wanted to write a story about a girl who had to save the world when she knew she wasn’t the one who was supposed to. And then I added a virus that is spread through eye contact, a sprinkle of swoon-worthy sea captains, and a teaspoon of creepy zombie spookiness, because I just couldn’t resist. 😉
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
KB: I hope every time my readers pick up my books, they feel brave. Stories have helped me remember how to be strong in moments when I felt like I would break. If my stories remind just one person how to find their voice when things get hard, I’ll feel like I have done my job.
V: What was the hardest scene of Unchosen to write?
KB: My main character, Charlotte, has panic attacks. I have suffered from them since I was a kid, and have intimate first-hand knowledge about how awful they can be. And after having so many, I always think that writing them won’t be that bad. But putting myself in that headspace and writing that terror is hard.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
KB: I spent all of high school and college writing, though I never really thought that I’d be a writer. I assumed, as most people do, that I needed to get a “real” career (whatever that means). I looked into law school and studied journalism and did all these things I thought would lead me to my “dream job,” and then when it was late and I couldn’t sleep, I’d write. Now, I would tell myself to take a deep breath and pay attention to what I love doing, not what I think I’m supposed to be doing. I was twenty-two when I finally realized I wanted to be a professional writer. If I’d listened to my gut, I would’ve known when I was twelve. Also, if I was breaking the rules of the time/space continuum to give myself a heads-up, I’d tell myself to a) not bother with the guitar player freshman year of college and do not lend him books and b) you can dye your hair darker at home, but never lighter. I’d save myself some tears, a few lost books, and orange hair.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
KB: If I have a serious writing session ahead of me, I’ll usually get Starbucks so that I’ll think twice about giving up and wasting that $7.00 caffeine boost. (It is not a fool-proof system, my husband often finds half-filled Peppermint Mochas in the refrigerator door.) I also always have the Pinterest mood board for my WIP pulled up, and my Spotify playlist on (Sasha Sloane and Taylor Swift are some of my go-to’s). If I dare to begin before my dog, Cricket has taken her perch on the chair in my office, she huffs at the door until I let her in, so I usually make sure she’s safely squirreled away before I jump in.
Head to our Instagram page (@voyageya) to hear Katharyn read the first page of Unchosen! Find Katharyn’s video under the IGTV tab.