Author, I Never: An Interview with Kati Gardner


Kati Gardner

author of Brave Enough (August 21, 2018)

Author, I Never is a segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.

Question the first: Kati, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t know that it was ever a conscious decision I made. I went to college and majored in theater, planning on being an actor. But, even then one of the things I enjoyed the most was messing with scripts and writing stories for my friends. I was a middle school theater teacher and I started fooling around with my own characters and developing these stories. Once I had children and started writing Brave Enough I thought that maybe I could do something with this. Maybe this story could do something more than take up space on my hard drive.

Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?

This summer I took my ARC to my cancer camp, Camp Sunshine, in Georgia. And I let my campers read it (they are all 15 or 16) and at one point one of them came and sat on my bunk, pointing to a particular passage. “This is the absolute truth.” She said. And I knew that I had written something that resonated with her. But really, anytime that a reader who is disabled or has an illness has read my book and has written back about how I “get” it. That’s what I wanted. 

Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that way! My benchmark keeps moving. I went to one of the Aspiring Author workshops put on by MadCap Retreats in 2016 and Carrie Ryan said we should make an “Oh Shit” list. I did this and recently found it and was surprised to see that I was able to mark off a good chunk of the items, but I still don’t feel like I’ve “made” it.

I am intrigued by this idea. Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?

SO MANY. I feel really lucky that I’ve encountered so many good people in this industry. I know I can go to Sangu Mandanna and Samira Ahmed, both are agent-siblings, with any question I have. Beth Revis is a gem of an individual who has listened to me and helped me through countless issues. 

That is so wonderful! Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up? 

In the early spring of 2016 my Mom unexpectedly died. Brave Enough was out on submission and I wasn’t sure if anything was going to happen with it. Grief is hard and all of us grieve differently. I didn’t really write anything that felt like it worked for almost a year. And just over a year after my mom passed I got the call from my agent that Brave Enough had been acquired by Flux. I still wasn’t sure if I could write, I wasn’t sure if I could put myself back into the world of working with words, but I knew I had to try. 

I'm so sorry about your loss. Truly. Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?

Driving on the interstate. It never fails. I’ve gotten really good at leaving myself notes on my phone with the dictation app. 

I do this too! Question the seventh: Can you give us hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?

There’s a moment where Cason, my main character, finds out something about her oncologist. That’s a true story about my oncologist.

I love learning these bits of trivia. And speaking of trivia, it's time for the...


I Never Round


The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.

I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting. 

Nope. I did stand by using medically accurate terminology and the actual names of chemos.

Most excellent. I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important. 

Sleep is really important to me. Like, my favorite thing. So I write down the gist of it and sleep. 

I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.

GUILTY! But, it was my very first original story and was NEVER the opening for Brave Enough. Even if she is in a ballet studio where there are mirrors everywhere!

Mirrors are overrated. My WIP starts "Look. My name is Dorothy and I have long brown hair and blue eyes. On the day in question it was cold and windy..." I never worked on two manuscripts at once. 

Guilty. But one always gets more attention than the other.

Fair! It's hard not to play favorites. I never went several days or even weeks without writing. 

I actually find I am more productive if I do take breaks. I don’t like to “force” it so-to-speak. If the words aren’t coming, I need to do something else and maybe think on what I should write while I’m doing that.

Same. I never wrote "for a long moment." 

Nope. At least I don’t think so. ::pours over all of her writing::

Ha! I never cheated during NaNoWriMo. 

Maybe a little…. I wrote a little ahead of time, but then still wrote more than the 50K… so only a little.

I will never tell. Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?


You can order Brave Enough at your favorite local bookstore or mine!




Twitter: @AuthorKati

Instagram: @AuthorKatiGardner

TinyLetter: www.tinyletter.com/auhtorkati

Bonus question: If your book had a theme song, what would it be? 

There are two.

1.    Gravity by Sara Bareilles

2.    Georgia God by Jon Allmet https://soundcloud.com/user-428325612/georgia-gold-by-jon-allmet