Kathryn Purdie lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and three children. Kathryn is a trained classical actress who studied at the Oxford School of Drama and was inspired to write this debut trilogy while recovering from donating a kidney to her older brother.
What made you decide to start writing, and why did you choose children’s books?
I’ve always loved to read, but when I became a mother and started reading more adult fiction, I felt disillusioned by the stories. Then I discovered the young adult genre. (I’m old! This genre didn’t exist when I was growing up.) I immediately connected to YA stories, and more than that, I began imagining my own stories. I love the “firsts” often explored in YA—first stabs at independence, first loves, first losses. I still feel seventeen at heart, so I read and write for that girl.
Tell us about your experience getting into publishing. How long did it take you?
I started writing in pursuit of being published in 2009 and sold the BURNING GLASS trilogy in 2014; the first book was published in 2016. I obtained my first agent with the first full-length manuscript I ever wrote, one I spent 2 1/2 years drafting and revising. I thought I had it made! But that agent soon quit the industry, and I began querying again. I gained a second agent with my second story—that agent is my still my agent today and one of the best in the industry—but landing a publishing deal came later after a couple more manuscripts. Many writers struggle with finding an agent; for me, selling a book was harder, but I’m grateful for the time I spent continuing to develop my craft. I consider myself a perpetual student and love to learn. You will see me at WIFYR this year, taking notes during the breakout sessions with the rest of you. I believe the moment you think you know it all is the moment your work becomes stagnant.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have a background in classical acting; that’s what I studied in college and how I met my husband, who is now a high school drama teacher. We have three kids, and theatre is an active part of our lives. My kids and I help my husband with sets and props and all kinds of things as he puts together his productions. I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve taught our kids to love Shakespeare. Shakespeare is my favorite!
Who was your favorite author growing up?
What I read most growing up is mythology and folklore, and those authors are often unknown. All of the stories I’ve ever written have a mythical flair, thanks to my deep and lifelong love for different cultures, gods, belief systems, and the stories people build to explain creation, life and death, and everything we mortals experience.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? What was it about?
I can’t remember which was the first, but I usually wrote about forest nymphs or mermaids with wings—drawings were included! When I was in the 4th grade, I also wrote a chapter book about an epic sleepover. Ha!
What is your favorite memory of WIFYR?
WIFYR was the first writing conference I ever attended. I felt so nervous! I’d never been publicly critiqued before. Leading up to the moment my pages would be workshopped I thought I would throw up. So you can imagine my relief at the positive feedback! I still received many suggestions for improvement, but the whole experience was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I left the conference feeling on top of the world. In that one week, I’d learned more than I ever had studying on my own, and I gained hope that I would one day be a traditionally published writer.
What are you working on now?
I’m drafting the third book in my BURNING GLASS series, and I’m in the process of trying to sell a new young adult fantasy series.
Where can we find out more about you and your upcoming books?
I have a fun website, kathrynpurdie.com, which has information about all my books, the world behind them, my latest news, and pictures of all the events I’ve attended lately and what I’ve been working on.