First off, I want to congratulate you on publishing your first book, Burden of the Soul. Yeah! How psyched are you right now?
I’m in desperate need of a nap, but beyond that I’m completely stoked! It’s so exciting to hear the response from readers. On one hand I would love to say once the book released I was able to step back and just breathe and enjoy the accomplishment, but as you know that’s when the work and begins. Now it’s about supporting the book that’s out while also writing the next one.
Tell us what the story is about.
Burden of the Soul follows the journey of completely average, 17-year-old Clara Gaber as she realizes the world she had been living in was an illusion. Throughout her young life she was being raised and prepared as a weapon in a greater war between good and evil, but as she learns more and more she begins to realize that there’s no such thing as pure good and pure evil. She realizes the potential for both exists in each person around her so it becomes difficult to know whom to trust, including herself. All in all, Burden of the Soul is about love in every form it can take and the limits it can push any of us to.
You graduated with a MS in journalism and for years was a writer/editor at various publications before becoming a copywriter. Why the move into advertising and what do you think of it so far?
It’s difficult to give a short answer to this as a lot of different factors went into the decision. The cliff notes version is while in graduate school for journalism I got to see the other side of that career. Being part of what became “the news” I saw what journalists were required to do for the sake of reporting—a lot with integrity, others without in my opinion. Regardless of how I felt they did their job, I realized to do it and do it well was not something I would be capable of. I started looking into industries that my skills could translate to and in the meantime got involved in the comedy improv scene in New York City. It was through that I realized I needed a certain level of creative expression in whatever I ended up dedicating my career to in order to be happy. Doors opened and I ended up in advertising and haven’t turned back.
How did publishing your first book compare to producing your first ad?
The first ad was pretty cool, though I cringe a bit now when I think of it. But a novel runs a lot deeper in so much as it’s not only something I’ve lived with and spent time with for two years, but it’s also something that sprung up from my personal history. I didn’t realize it while writing, but looking back now and reading it I see so much of my past in there. In some respects it feels like allowing the world to read my teenage diary. There’s more vulnerability and therefore more personal/emotional risk.
If you had to run Burden of the Soul by a client for approval, would it have turned out differently?
ABSOLUTELY! Writing fiction is like swimming in the biggest pool ever with no adult swim! There’s more freedom to explore and have moments of discovery in my opinion. There’s no boundaries. That and for sure the legal department would stamp a big ‘ol “Substantiate” on every page and require a signed release from Elijah Wood.
You got an agent and initially set out to publish traditionally but then changed your mind and self-published. Why?
I had a wonderful agent who worked her tooshie off and we had some great breaks and moments, but the more I learned about the industry in its current form, the more I realized it wasn’t what I wanted. Being the person I am and from the field I work in I wanted to have a say in marketing, editing and cover design. I knew what editor I wanted to work with, I knew who I wanted to have design the cover, and I knew what cover image I wanted to use. Then add in the fact the industry is in an evolution stage with the rise of digital and I got excited to jump in and get my hands dirty. Lucky for me I had a very understanding agent who was (and continues to be) passionate about the book. She fully supported my decision and withdrew Burden of the Soul from submission to publishers.
Ad people make stuff everyday. Besides the length, how far off is making a book from making an ad?
Ad people make A LOT every day. I’m constantly challenged as a person and artist by the people around me at work. I truly believe every person has creativity in them and often struggle with how to access it and keep it going against challenges. It’s such a vulnerable part of ourselves. Ad people are amazing in their resilience and determination. I’m working on a way to bottle it because that would be unbelievable. I think I could actually rule the world with that!
The process is similar in a lot of ways when it comes to shutting off that inner editor and critic we all have, and finding the courage to just let the imagination run free. It differs in the respect, in my opinion, of where it comes from. There’s a lot of ourselves in what we create in advertising, but there are also factors outside of ourselves that need to be mixed into the creativity stew.
In fiction writing, I feel more exposed. It’s my imagination stripped of outside factors, so it’s all on me. It feels a lot like letting people read my journal or peek into my memories.
Most of the ad people I interview are industry vets. You’re still fairly new, yet you published a book. It’s a huge accomplishment. Do you think you might have inspired some of your more experienced co-workers to take a crack at writing a novel?
I hope so, because there is such an amazing reserve of talent and imagination in advertising. Since the book has come out some people have confessed to me the screenplay they wrote or the book they want to write. I knew it existed, but I never realized just how many people have that great work of their imagination sitting in a “shoe box under their bed.” The only thing I can say is there is absolutely nothing to lose by taking that “shoe box” out, dusting it off and seeing where it can go. Advertising takes courage, as does publishing. If you can muster it up in one, it can translate to the other.
A Michigander turned urbanite by adaptation, Kate Grace has worked as a freelance writer and editor for various regional publications and Web-based zines for years. She received her BA from Columbia College in Chicago and her MS from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
You can purchase Burden of the Soul from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. If you want to know more about Kate Grace, read the bio below or stalk her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or at her blog, A bit of Grace.
She is author of the dark, Paranormal series Burden of the Soul, the first book of which is on sale now.
Kate also works as a writer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners in Detroit, Creative Agency of Record for Chevrolet. She’s worked on online creative works for vehicles such as the Volt, Sonic, Cruze, Camaro, Sonic and others.
Apart from writing, she has stretched her creative legs by performing improv with groups based out of The Peoples Improv Theater in New York City and Go! Comedy Improv Theater in Ferndale, Michigan.