KATIE ROSE GUEST PRYAL: FALLOUT GIRL

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There are so many things I could say about Katie Rose Guest Pryal. Our lives have intersected in interesting and bizarre ways. We went to college together and didn’t know it, took a (traumatic) creative writing seminar together and never met. Somehow, we connected on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere and realized we were a coincidence waiting to happen.  Now we are doing a joint author event on May 19th with the amazing Barbara Claypole White, not to mention co-editing an awesome YA anthology. Life is weird, but mine is better for having Katie in it. Welcome to the blog, lovely lady!

Tell us about your newest book, FALLOUT GIRL—the latest installment in your HOLLYWOOD LIGHTS series. What’s it all about?

I don’t think I can answer this question better than the back cover of the book can. So here it is: 

“Fallout Girl is a love story wrapped inside a heart-rending struggle for personal freedom.” —Sonja Yoerg, author of All the Best People

Fractured family, deadly secrets, and a woman on the run in L.A.

The day she buries her mother, Miranda George jumps on a plane from North Carolina, telling no one where she’s heading. She wants to disappear and start over. She arrives on the Los Angeles doorstep of college friend Daphne Saito, and even though Miranda hasn’t seen Daphne in years, Daphne welcomes Miranda into her home and her makeshift L.A. family.

The problem is, Miranda is on the run from family. All family. Family, in Miranda’s experience, can get you killed. 

Miranda takes off again, but this time her plan is much more sinister. She certainly doesn’t expect her friends to track her down. When they bring her back from the edge, the question remains: will Miranda be able to save herself and her newfound friendships? Or will she remain strangled by the past? 

“A dangerous, sexy, motorcycle ride of a story, which pulls off the feat of being both humorous and heartbreaking at the same time.” —Sandra Block, author of the Zoe Goldman series

Speaking of HOLLYWOOD LIGHTS, give us a glimpse into the series. How long have you been working on it, and what do all the books have in common?

I published the first book of the series, ENTANGLEMENT, in 2015, with a small press based in Paris. The books center around a group of friends who are from North Carolina but transplant to Los Angeles. (Each book features a different protagonist, so it can stand alone. I called them “linked novels.”) 

Each of my Hollywood Lights heroines, like many people who transplant to L.A., is hoping to leave something behind. But that something always catches up to her. There is one more novel forthcoming to close out the series—that’ll make six books in total. I will miss writing about these characters and about Hollywood when I’m done, but I’m looking forward to the new projects I have cooking.

On your website, you identify yourself as a “novelist, essayist, and freelance academic.” How do those three elements of your life express themselves? Are there commonalities between the subjects you tackle in each arena?

I write essays about mental health and disability in addition to writing novels. I write these essays, in part, because I have a psychiatric disability. Last year, I published my collected essays on mental health and disability (with some new stuff) in a book called LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED.

But here’s the thing: All of the heroines in my novels tangle with mental health, disability, addiction, and trauma in one way or another. For a long time, I kept the side of me who writes serious essays for serious publications separate from the side of me who writes novels about smart women in doing interesting things in Hollywood (and, when the Hollywood Lights series ends, other characters doing other interesting things). I realized that I always explore disability and trauma issues in my work because these issues make up my work. I can’t do one without the other. 

As I’ve said before, Miranda George, the heroine in FALLOUT GIRL, is allowed to have mental health struggles AND a bright-lights Hollywood romance. She gets to have both things.

For folks who are interested in breaking into the essay-writing market, how did you get your start—and what tips can you recommend for beginners?

It didn’t hurt that I studied essay writing with some great professors over the years, both at my undergraduate institution and when I was getting my master’s in creative writing in nonfiction. So lots of practice perfecting the skill came first. But mostly, I’m always writing. I get ideas from everything around me, turning the mundane into the fantastic. That’s what makes up the best essays—the tiny details of life. And then you have to read the magazines you want to write for, and befriend the editors on Twitter (and by “befriend” I mean “stalk”), and also you must not give up.

In 2016, you and your business partner, Lauren Faulkenberry, co-founded Blue Crow Publishing—which I’m personally very excited about, since you and I are co-editing an anthology that will be published via Blue Crow’s young adult imprint Goldenjay Books! Can you share a bit about your decision to start a small press, the biggest challenges, and the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way?

I love writing. I also love editing. Also, I’m a lawyer. Lauren, my co-publisher, is not only a great writer and editor, but also an amazing artist and designer (by trade). So, together, we were already set up to succeed at this. We knew that there were great books out there that weren’t getting published, and we thought that, between the two of us, we had the skills to make great books. At this point, we’re overwhelmed by the great submissions that we have. If you want to check out some recent incredible books from our house, here are a few: SEXISM ED: ON GENDER AND LABOR IN HIGHER EDUCATION by Kelly J. Baker (part of our Critical Higher Education series). A TYCOON’S SECRET by Avery Laval (which releases June 4, and is part of Laval’s Sin City Tycoons romance series). 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Katie is a novelist, essayist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, NC. She is the author of the Hollywood Lights Series, which includes ENTANGLEMENT, LOVE AND ENTROPY, CHASING CHAOS, HOW TO STAY, and FALLOUT GIRL (2018). She also writes nonfiction, including LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

As a journalist, Katie has contributed to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE (late, great) TOAST, DAME MAGAZINE, PASTE MAGAZINE, and more. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. She lives in Chapel Hill where she works as an editor and teaches creative writing. She is a member of the Tall Poppy Writers (tallpoppies.org). You can connect with Katie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @krgpryal, on her blog at katieroseguestpryal.com, and through her e-letter at pryalnews.com.

There are so many things I could say about Katie Rose Guest Pryal. Our lives have intersected in interesting and bizarre ways. We went to college together and didn’t know it, took a (traumatic) creative writing seminar together and never met. Somehow, we connected on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere and realized we were a coincidence waiting to happen.  Now we are doing a joint author event on May 19th with the amazing Barbara Claypole White, not to mention co-editing an awesome YA anthology. Life is weird, but mine is better for having Katie in it. Welcome to the blog, lovely lady!

Tell us about your newest book, FALLOUT GIRL—the latest installment in your HOLLYWOOD LIGHTS series. What’s it all about?

I don’t think I can answer this question better than the back cover of the book can. So here it is: 

“Fallout Girl is a love story wrapped inside a heart-rending struggle for personal freedom.” —Sonja Yoerg, author of All the Best People

Fractured family, deadly secrets, and a woman on the run in L.A.

The day she buries her mother, Miranda George jumps on a plane from North Carolina, telling no one where she’s heading. She wants to disappear and start over. She arrives on the Los Angeles doorstep of college friend Daphne Saito, and even though Miranda hasn’t seen Daphne in years, Daphne welcomes Miranda into her home and her makeshift L.A. family.

The problem is, Miranda is on the run from family. All family. Family, in Miranda’s experience, can get you killed. 

Miranda takes off again, but this time her plan is much more sinister. She certainly doesn’t expect her friends to track her down. When they bring her back from the edge, the question remains: will Miranda be able to save herself and her newfound friendships? Or will she remain strangled by the past? 

“A dangerous, sexy, motorcycle ride of a story, which pulls off the feat of being both humorous and heartbreaking at the same time.” —Sandra Block, author of the Zoe Goldman series

Speaking of HOLLYWOOD LIGHTS, give us a glimpse into the series. How long have you been working on it, and what do all the books have in common?

I published the first book of the series, ENTANGLEMENT, in 2015, with a small press based in Paris. The books center around a group of friends who are from North Carolina but transplant to Los Angeles. (Each book features a different protagonist, so it can stand alone. I called them “linked novels.”) 

Each of my Hollywood Lights heroines, like many people who transplant to L.A., is hoping to leave something behind. But that something always catches up to her. There is one more novel forthcoming to close out the series—that’ll make six books in total. I will miss writing about these characters and about Hollywood when I’m done, but I’m looking forward to the new projects I have cooking.

On your website, you identify yourself as a “novelist, essayist, and freelance academic.” How do those three elements of your life express themselves? Are there commonalities between the subjects you tackle in each arena?

I write essays about mental health and disability in addition to writing novels. I write these essays, in part, because I have a psychiatric disability. Last year, I published my collected essays on mental health and disability (with some new stuff) in a book called LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED.

But here’s the thing: All of the heroines in my novels tangle with mental health, disability, addiction, and trauma in one way or another. For a long time, I kept the side of me who writes serious essays for serious publications separate from the side of me who writes novels about smart women in doing interesting things in Hollywood (and, when the Hollywood Lights series ends, other characters doing other interesting things). I realized that I always explore disability and trauma issues in my work because these issues make up my work. I can’t do one without the other. 

As I’ve said before, Miranda George, the heroine in FALLOUT GIRL, is allowed to have mental health struggles AND a bright-lights Hollywood romance. She gets to have both things.

For folks who are interested in breaking into the essay-writing market, how did you get your start—and what tips can you recommend for beginners?

It didn’t hurt that I studied essay writing with some great professors over the years, both at my undergraduate institution and when I was getting my master’s in creative writing in nonfiction. So lots of practice perfecting the skill came first. But mostly, I’m always writing. I get ideas from everything around me, turning the mundane into the fantastic. That’s what makes up the best essays—the tiny details of life. And then you have to read the magazines you want to write for, and befriend the editors on Twitter (and by “befriend” I mean “stalk”), and also you must not give up.

In 2016, you and your business partner, Lauren Faulkenberry, co-founded Blue Crow Publishing—which I’m personally very excited about, since you and I are co-editing an anthology that will be published via Blue Crow’s young adult imprint Goldenjay Books! Can you share a bit about your decision to start a small press, the biggest challenges, and the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way?

I love writing. I also love editing. Also, I’m a lawyer. Lauren, my co-publisher, is not only a great writer and editor, but also an amazing artist and designer (by trade). So, together, we were already set up to succeed at this. We knew that there were great books out there that weren’t getting published, and we thought that, between the two of us, we had the skills to make great books. At this point, we’re overwhelmed by the great submissions that we have. If you want to check out some recent incredible books from our house, here are a few: SEXISM ED: ON GENDER AND LABOR IN HIGHER EDUCATION by Kelly J. Baker (part of our Critical Higher Education series). A TYCOON’S SECRET by Avery Laval (which releases June 4, and is part of Laval’s Sin City Tycoons romance series). 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Katie is a novelist, essayist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, NC. She is the author of the Hollywood Lights Series, which includes ENTANGLEMENT, LOVE AND ENTROPY, CHASING CHAOS, HOW TO STAY, and FALLOUT GIRL (2018). She also writes nonfiction, including LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

As a journalist, Katie has contributed to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE (late, great) TOAST, DAME MAGAZINE, PASTE MAGAZINE, and more. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. She lives in Chapel Hill where she works as an editor and teaches creative writing. She is a member of the Tall Poppy Writers (tallpoppies.org). You can connect with Katie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @krgpryal, on her blog at katieroseguestpryal.com, and through her e-letter at pryalnews.com.

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