Artist Spotlight | k.a. emmons

Hey guys, how’s your summer fairing?

Mine is pretty great, although I’ve had hardly any time to do “summery things” because I’ve been working so much. Weekends are always filled with home projects, blogging prep, and editing new photos. I have over 300 photos to sort through and edit – so that’s taking a lot of time. Guys, I’m really, really excited to share them with you. And yes, there will be a blog post with my favorites. . . soon. But today is not that day.

Today I have a very special post for you. I’m interviewing Kate Emmons to celebrate the release of her latest book – Worlds Beneath!!!*

*it came out
July 1st, so
get over there
and buy it.

Kate is someone I really admire. A lot. She’s a talented writer, she runs an incredible, A+ blog, she’s determined and it shows. It’s an honor to interview her. So today, we are chatting about her, her writing, her latest book, and best of all: her passion for the indie movement. This is something she spoke about in the release video for Worlds Beneath, and after I watched it, I knew I had to ask her more about it (it’s near the end, and you definitely don’t want to miss it).

So. I’m going to stop talking now and hand it over to Kate.


KATE / personal

tell us a little about yourself. hobbies, passions, faith – what makes you, you.

I live in the green mountains of Vermont with my husband and right next door to my family and sister – who is a fellow creative and basically my spirit animal. I’m passionate about writing, traveling, surfing, karate, and helping people realize that they are here for a big, beautiful reason.
Above all of these though, I’m passionate about Jesus and obsessed with this beautiful truth: that we were created to discover and ENJOY the bliss of who we are in Him.


have you always wanted to be published or is this a recent dream?

I don’t think I really thought too much about being published when I was a wee child. I was too busy furiously scribbling and getting ink on my fingers, sipping tea with my sister and bantering on about our books. By the time I was a teenager though, I knew that I wanted to write forever and publish everything.


in what way does your personal life influence your writing?

I would say that my my faith and the things I spend time on definitely influence my writing. I spend a lot of time outside in nature, talking to my friends and family about faith, reading scripture, doing karate, and traveling. All of those things have inspired me, for sure.


do you ever worry about where the next “big idea” will come from?

Not so much worry, but I definitely wonder sometimes! Haha. It’s always a crazy excited/anxious feeling, waiting for inspiration to strike for the next story. I’ve learned by now to just trust that it will come when it’s meant to.

you have written more than just fiction – essays, spoken word, slam poems, nonfiction – what is it about these genres that intrigue you?

I LOVE non-fiction. It’s fun to write, it’s fun to read, and it’s just a pure expression of something – usually an idea or concept – that just won’t keep quiet in your head. There’s so much room for variety within non-fiction and I think that’s part of what attracts me to it. I write a lot of poetry and I find slam poems to be an excellent and artful way to communicate things in ways that you may not be able to by just writing something down. It adds that extra element of speech, and with that a lot of passion and raw authenticity.


outside of your published books, do you have a favorite writing project you’ve done?

I do indeed. It’s a fiction YA novel that I wrote when I was 17, and it’s extremely near and dear to my heart, and I am planning on publishing it. I wrote a blog post about it once. It has a lot to do with faith and doubt and what it means to be alive. There’s lots of surfing and strawberries and dancing with kids, and learning to forgive and let go and learning to listen. There’s a lot about graffiti and hope and wrestling with big questions and big dreams.


you’ve said that you almost never read fiction: why is that? what would you say to people who say that you have to read fiction, in order to write it?

I get this one so often! I’ve kind of gotten to the place where I don’t even feel the need to explain myself anymore, because SO MANY PEOPLE quote “you have to be a reader in order to be a writer” thing. . .not true. You really don’t. It really depends on what mediums inspire you to write, and books have just never really done that for me. I know it sounds weird, coming from an author, but films inspire me a lot more than books do. And I’m also hugely inspired by travel and being outside or in the ocean. So it all depends – everyone is different. Everyone is inspired by different things.


and while we’re on the topic: what are you favorite nonfiction book(s)?

I love anything by C.S. Lewis. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven.

what are some writing doubts you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome them?

Oh wow, inspiration isn’t flowing right now. . .this must be the end. I’ll never write again.
Literally this happens and that’s pretty much my exact thought process, and I think we can all agree it is utter nonsense, haha! Talk about putting pressure on yourself. I find the best way to overcome this is to be KIND to yourself. Take some time off. . .restore. Fill your cup. Don’t beat yourself up and talk down to yourself or your craft. As my husband likes to say “perfection takes time.” So quote that to yourself instead of talking all this garbage about your book.


outside of writing, you also run a blog collaborative: Burning Youth. What is Burning Youth, and what inspired the idea?

Burning Youth was something I was inspired to start a couple years ago about passionate young adults and how much beauty and potential we have locked inside of us just waiting to be let out. It essentially became this really beautiful yet casual online hangout for young adults about fighting darkness and bringing the light, and that’s exactly what I wanted to see happen with it. It’s not super organized or scheduled – it’s messy and random but steeped in purpose, and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it with so many other talented young writers.


I have to ask: what are your favorite soundtracks?

YOU KNOW MY LOVE LANGUAGE: SOUNDTRACKS. ❤ My favorite of all time would have to be The Passion of The Christ soundtrack by John Debney because that’s really what made me fall in love with scores as a young kid. Also any and all of the Transformers soundtracks by Steve Jablonsky, and quite literally anything by Hans Zimmer.


KATE / writing + author tips

how many (finished) books have you written?

Oh boy, I’ll have to put on my thinking cap for this one. . .like 9 or 10? Something like that


what made you decide to publish The Blood Race series, ahead of any other novel?

Because I was completely on fire for the story, stoked, and I felt God guiding me hardcore in that direction. So I went for it! I also believe so strongly that it’s a story the world needs. Writing it made such a huge impact on my life.


do you have any kind of checklist that a piece of writing has to make before you release it to the world?

After I finish writing, I am pretty religious about editing my own work before I send it off to my editor. I think it’s a great practice to get into, and it will teach you so much about your craft and story in general. After this it’s off to the proofreader, ARC-readers, and then formatter. I typically also design and create the cover during this time + a little before, too.


do you read “how to write” or “writing tips” books? what is your opinion on “writing” books?

I personally have never read them. I think every writer is different and I know a lot of people who are into reading that kind of thing, and that is all cool! It’s just personally not my thing. Writing to me is like painting or any other art. . .there is no right or wrong. It flows from my soul. No one can tell me how to make that happen, it’s always just comes to me.


how do you feel about the advice “write what you know”? do you think it limits young writers?

I think this can be good and bad. There is some truth in it. . .but honestly, you could know a lot of things and not be passionate about any them. And who wants to write a book they’re not passionate about? Sometimes these things go hand in hand, but not always. So if you don’t know what to write. . .write what you’re passionate about. Write the thing that keeps you up at night.


being an indie author, do you find that it’s easier to be distracted from writing because there are so many other things you could do – marketing, replying to emails, social media branding, etc. .? how do you balance it all?

I would say that’s the hardest part about being an indie: you’re the one doing all the work, and it can be tricky to balance all of that. But it’s possible with discipline. . .staying focused, not getting distracted, and therefore, having enough time. I do find it distracting sometimes, when I sit down to write in the morning (when I usually write) and find myself thinking about my stuffed inbox, or ad copy. . .but I refocus, put these things aside, and focus on the task at hand. It’s helpful to have at least a vague outline of your day too, such as writing in the AM, emails in the PM. . it gives you permission to relax and take that off your plate until later, and vice versa. I also have a lot of help from my family and friends which helps a TON.


how has being a published author changed your mindset / writing process? does it feel different, to know that your writing is being read and admired?

Knowing that my writing is making an impact is a huge source of joy and motivation to me. I couldn’t do what I do without my readers, so I find it extremely humbling. It definitely feels different and surreal, and sometimes scary, haha. It’s like putting your baby out there into the world. But it hasn’t really changed the process of how I write.


last question: I remember when The Blood Race first came out. I used to check its Amazon page regularly, and read the reviews. So many of them were wonderful reviews, but like anything else. . .some were not so wonderful.
has that surprised you in any way? how you reconcile the idea that your writing is not for everyone, even though so many people enjoy it?

I think it boils down to the fact that everyone is different, and that’s to be expected. I write what’s in my heart. . .whether someone takes it or leaves it is fine with me. I always say “I write because I have to”, and that’s not an exaggeration. . .writing is how I understand the world and myself, and I would do exactly what I’m doing now even if no one ever read a single thing I wrote.


KATE / the indie movement

your passion for the indie movement: does it spring from being an indie author yourself, or something else?

I think it might spring from my rebellious gypsy spirit to be quite honest! Haha. I’ve never been a conventional person. I was a free-ranged homeschooler, I didn’t go to college, and I wrote prolifically since I was a kid. I was used to doing things on my own, and by the time I’d published The Blood Race, I’d already co-founded a non-profit with my sister, helped make an indie documentary, and spoken at conferences and classrooms internationally. My sister and I have grown so much together as creatives as well, and she has always been a huge inspiration and motivation. So I was a pretty darn headstrong, independent young adult. It’s ironic though, because I actually did start going down a traditional route with another book. . .which turned out to be a great big learning experience but lead the book nowhere. So I started from square one and went indie. . .which turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I felt completely liberated, and free to build my career.


what is the indie movement? or. . .more specifically: how would you define it?

Artists making art, being able to share it directly with their audience – with no massive corporation as a middle man – and being able to build a career by doing so.


why did you choose indie over traditional publishing?

So many reasons. I wasn’t ready to change (many) things about my book just because someone sitting behind a desk somewhere in a publishing house wanted me to. It’s not just a “crank em’ out” business for me, it’s an art. While every once in a great while, you CAN have a very successful experience publishing traditionally, it’s most certainly not the norm, and it was not the experience I had approaching the industry.

do you see the indie movement exploding in the coming years? why or why not?

Oh, I think it’s already started to, 100%. Indie music is dominating the markets, and indie books are right behind it. We are living in an indie age. . .people don’t just want to buy the mainstream things that corporations are pitching at them – they want to discover art for themselves and there are SO many platforms for that. There has never been a better time to be an indie artist.


are there any disadvantages to being an indie author, do you think?

Hmm, not so much a disadvantage, but it is more work. There’s a lot to do, a lot to balance while still pursuing your craft. So sometimes the struggle is not being able to find enough hours in the day. But as you grow and learn, you find ways to manage everything, and often friends and family who are eager to help you along the way. (Shout out to my awesome, talented family!!)


why do you think people resonate with the indie message?

I deeply believe we are all born with an innate desire to create – we are creators. And with that desire comes the potential to create it ourselves. . .I think we’re attracted to the idea of doing it ourselves – as artists, without restrictions, or waiting for someone else to buy our story out from under us.


what advice can you give aspiring indie authors?

WRITE. Write, write, write, and then write some more. That’s the #1 thing that will build your career. And second, research – learn all you can. I highly recommend starting with Self Publishing Formula Podcast – hosted by a best selling indie.


what do you think is the most defining difference between traditional publishing and indie publishing?
(it seems to me that the relationship between authors and readers is closer because there is no publishing house or management company between them. that’s really the message I got from your Worlds Beneath release video – that readers can actually be apart of the process. so. . .could you touch on that?)

You definitely nailed it – that’s a huge component. But I would say above that, two larger differences are: how much control you have over your own work, and how much income you’re making, honestly. There’s a huge difference on the financial scale. I know a lot of traditionally published authors who are happy if they are getting 17% of the profit from their work, while indie publishing will often allow the author up to 60-70%. So that’s a massive difference. And if your book is sacred to you, and there are things you know you’re not going to want to change or cut, or if you want a say in the title, cover, etc? You may want to consider indie publishing.


how can readers support the indie authors?

Buy their books,
leave them nice reviews,
and share them.


KATE / World’s Beneath

I know you won’t give spoilers (and honestly, I wouldn’t want you to), but can you give a little teaser about what readers can expect from the sequel?

It’s funny because I’m finding that this one is SO HARD to talk about without giving spoilers! Haha. Expect a new POV, a few new faces, and some new places as well. There’s a very different and unique component that makes it quite different from book 1.


what was your favorite part of writing the sequel?

Writing a POV for Fin, the wolves, and a certain climax.


were there any particularly challenging scenes to write?

Not really. Haha. That sounds super conceited, but this book was honestly just so much fun.


is there a playlist or Pinterest board for readers to visit?


yes, well I’m
sure it’s amazing


the playlist || the pinterest board



Get the first 9 chapters of The Blood Race: FREE!


all photos credit
to k.a. emmons


. . .

I hope you enjoyed that. I was so blessed that Kate agreed to this interview alongside her busy schedule. Make sure you show her some love (AHEM…buy her book), and follow her in all the places.