Hello wonderful readerinos! Today we have a virtual sit down with Katryn! (Technically this sit down happened a few months ago on a drive back to the Bay Area from Disneyland, but that’s beside the point).
Katryn’s a 2022 debut middle grade novelist, who’s first released came out yesterday, March 1st. Her book, Drew Leclair Get’s a Clue, is about a 12 year old murderino, who attempts to solve the crimes at her school via the techniques learned from her Criminal Profiling hero. She navigates the ups and downs of real life (such as your mom running away to live in a yurt with your guidance counselor) by going into her profiling place. It’s such a fun and hilarious read for all ages! But would especially be loved by the young mystery lover in your life.
I’ll have a longer review of Drew later, but thank you Kate for sitting down with me to answer some questions about writing this novel, and what brought you here!
What inspired you to start writing, and what was the first story you wrote?
Um, I’ve been writing stories since I was very little. First story was written a the age of 6 and was called Amy and the Stolen Pumpkin. I wrote my first full length novel at the age of 12. One reason I kept writing was because I felt like I had run out of things to read, so I wrote more so I could read more.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Drafting. The reason is that I’m very eager to revise right away. But that can make it harder to get the story down. There’s a quotation from Judy Blume that I love about how first drafts are just awful, and I feel exactly the same way.
The first draft is a skeleton….just bare bones. The rest of the story comes later with revising.Judy Blume
Do you write your book in order, or skip around when you figure out how a scene or plot line is going to work?
I write my book in order. I tried to write out of order once and it went very poor me. Some writers are plotters and some are pantsers. I’m right in the middle – really more of plantser. When I write, I often see the story playing out in my head like it’s a movie. It’s always in order, but sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up.
In your upcoming book Drew Leclair Gets a Clue what moment resonated with you the most?
In the book, Drew has somebody make an embarrassing post about her on Instagram. In many ways this inspired the whole plot due to my own nerves about social media. I’ve always been a person who would rather observe the people around me rather than have those people watching me. And I wanted to bottle what that would feel like to a 12 year old girl who also doesn’t want to be seen.
How did you come up with/what was your inspiration for Drew’s Story?
I’ve always been fascinated by True Crime and I even got my bachelor’s in Sociolgy/Criminology because I wanted to be a Criminal Profiler. While that did not happen, and I ended up in libraries, it made me wonder about a young girl like I was who was interested in the same thing. Like my main character, I was bullied as a kid and I loved the idea of the kid profiling the bullies at her school.
Since you were bullied as a kid, do you have any advice for middle grade readers who are dealing with bullies now?
In the book, Drew has a 3-step bully remedy. I would absolutely suggest following it. My favorite point is to take whatever they’re saying to you, and make it seem like no big deal. For example, if somebody says “you’re ugly” you could say “hm, I didn’t brush my hair this morning. Thanks for the feedback, I’ll work on it!” Much like sharks, bullies smell blood in the water, they won’t keep coming after you if you don’t appear affected by it. But ultimately, if a bully simply won’t stop, I would suggest telling an adult you trust as soon as possible.
Are there any parts of your book that feel autobiographical?
There’s a lot of Drew in me. For example, my whole family is also fascinated by true crime. In the book, it’s just her dad, but I must point out that my mother is much nicer than Drew’s mother. Like I said before I was also bullied as a kid. I also share the same chronic illnesses with Drew and am also Bisexual. In a way I was trying to write a character who was a lot like me at that age, but who has a lot more confidence.
Do you feel like any of your characters are partially/fully based on people in your life?
Drew’s best friend Shray stuck with her from kindergarten through years of bullying. I also had a best friend who was loyal to me, almost to a fault. The character of Drew’s dad, Sam Leclair, is loosely based on my own dad. Like Drew and Sam, we would regularly, get a baguette, some olive oil and watch some Murder Mysteries.
Where/what is your favorite setting to write in? Any specific foods or background noise?
I like to write in a comfortable chair with a hot caffinated beverage. Those are really my only needs.
Where is your favorite place to read a book?
Oh, that’s a good question. I think my favorite spot is curled up on the couch with a blanket. Probably also with a hot caffeine beverage. Perhaps the reason for that is I’m still in the mentality that I’m writing so that I can read.
What author or book series do you feel inspired you or influenced you the most in your writing style?
I think Meg Cabot’s the Princess Diaries inspired me the most. Thats because she writes secondary characters so richly, in a way that I really love to read. She also infuses humor into every one of her series. To me, a book has to be at least a little bit funny for me to keep reading.
Are there any Easter Eggs in your book readers should look out for?
Yes. Jervis Bharwal. I have no additional information.
What Drew you to writing a mystery book? Is that your preferred genre or do you wish you could write something else?
I think I’ve always loved mysteries. The story I wrote at age 6 was a mystery that I made into a series. I devoured Nancy Drew as a kid, and she is Drew’s namesake. While I think mystery is my primary genre, I would also love to write contemporary someday.
If you could have people know one random fact about you, what would it be?
For a long time I thought the authors Stan and Jan Berenstain, authors of the Berenstain bears were actually bears. I thought they spoke to an authentic bear perspective. Which shows you how much I know about Bears.
Other than writing or reading, what is your favorite pastime?
Any opportunity to be in the water. When I’m in the water I find I get my best ideas on what to do next in my books.
Any plans for a Drew Book 2?
I certainly hope so. I feel like I have so many more Drew stories to tell.
Thanks Katryn for indulging me with this long deluge of questions! Find Drew anywhere books are sold!
**Disclaimer** Katryn Bury is in fact related to me, so my connection is partially biased. However, that doesn’t change the fact this book is amazing, and I’m so happy that the world can meet Drew, Shray, and Trissa!