Katie Mettner kindly agreed to do my interview today:

Tell us about your latest project.

Sugar’s Dance is my newly released novel set in the Twin Ports of Lake Superior. It’s a journey of grief, forgiveness and love in a romance suspense genre. The protagonist, Sugar, is at a point in her life where she can no longer keep pretending that she isn’t hurting from an accident that took her family and left her with deep physical and emotional loss. She knows that she has to figure out a way to move forward with her life emotionally before she is lost to the overwhelming sadness. The story opens as she sits on her front porch swing sipping coffee trying to put her jumbled thoughts in order. She had just spent the summer with a couple that had come to stay at her lodge for their wedding and she was missing them. Her brother arrives and in the blink of an eye she is thrown into a protected witness type situation with her new bodyguard, which is not something that she is comfortable with. She is being hunted by a drug lord who kidnapped his daughter and son-in-law (the couple who stayed with her for the summer) who were actually protected witnesses of the state. She must find the information that he wants and get through the anniversary of her parent’s deaths without falling apart. Her bodygaurd, Agent Walsh, holds her on the dance floor he quickly sees that this case is going to be anything but simple. As he works with her to track down the information he also breaks down her emotional walls and finds out what she’s really hiding. When her brother is kidnapped and her life is in danger will she find the strength to save them both?

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

I’m not really sure if it’s a quirk, but I don’t write in order of chapters. I write scenes and then form the book around the scenes. In Sugar’s Dance I wrote the bridge scene first and that was the inspiration for the rest of the book. As I write the second book, Sugar’s Song, I am finding myself doing the same. The big scenes are telling the story, but the smaller scenes are developing because of the bigger scenes.

Is the first scene you have often the initial spark for your ideas or does something else provide the spark normally?

The character provides the initial spark and the scene provides the flame. When I wrote the first scene of Sugar’s Dance I was already friends with Sugar, but I needed that one thing that fueled her and made her into the flame. When I drove across the Blatnik Bridge that spans Lake Superior for the first time I heard the match strike. It was that “a ha!” moment for me. It was the first scene I wrote in Sugar’s Dance, even though the reader doesn’t come across it for a few chapters. I just finished that “a ha!” scene in the next book of the series, Sugar’s Song, and I can tell you that again the reader isn’t going to come across it for a good way into the book, but it sparked off the whole adventure.

Are there any of your characters you particularly relate to, if there is, who and why?

I have a special love for the protagonist Sugar. Like Sugar, I love coffee and ballroom dancing! She is also passionate about the things that she believes in like organ donation and family. Sugar is her own person, but a lot of my life experiences are entwined in her character. I can relate to her on a very real level because we both have physical disabilities that have shaped our lives. I am a below knee amputee and Sugar is, well, let’s just say you will have to read the book to find out what they are!

Her brother Jesse is someone I can relate to as well. In the story her brother (who is actually not her brother) is someone who would do anything to help her through this time that she is going through. He is deeply protective of her as well as very supportive of her. They have the kind of relationship where they can just be themselves with each other, the good, the bad and the ugly and would do anything for each other. As I developed his character my brother was playing through my mind and my relationship with him. We live far apart but we both know that if one of us needed something we’d be there in a heartbeat. My brother is a lot like Jesse in that he’s tough and all manly on the outside, but when it comes to the women in his life he is tender and understanding.

Characters seem to be important to you. Do they form easily for you or do you have to put a lot of work in to flesh them out?

Characters are very important to me. You can have the best plot line in the world, but if the reader can’t relate to the character, if the character isn’t believable, then it’s useless. The characters in Sugar’s Dance came very easily. They were like old friends, people that I have known my whole life. The fun part is revealing who they are throughout the book and once in a while throwing something in the reader doesn’t expect or showing some side of them that suddenly makes the reader go “a ha!” I love to build my characters and my kids love to help me build my characters. We have a lot of ‘sessions’ talking about the characters and how they are going to progress or for the new characters who they are going to be and what makes them tick. The other day my husband even told me he had a great idea for the villain in my new book! For me character development is the best part of being a writer.

What started you writing if you remember, and why do you write now?

I honestly don’t remember when I started writing. I have always loved books and I loved how words went together and how you could start off with a clean sheet of paper and as you wrote your pencil became duller and duller, but when you finished you had something that could make someone feel happy, sad, lonely or angry. My parents always had us at the library and reading and exploring and so I think my interest came from holding a book in my hand and saying “Someday my name is going to be on one of these.” When my son was born we always called him Spaghedward and I wrote my first official book when he was about two. It’s called Spaghetti Eddie and it’s a children’s book. I haven’t published it because I need to find an illustrator, but that was my first kind of foray into writing as an adult. I write now because I enjoy it. I enjoy sitting down and telling a story that can raise so many emotions throughout the course of the book. I enjoy the character development the most and how with each turn of the page the reader gets deeper and deeper into that character’s life and what makes them tick. I hear from the readers that Sugar’s Dance keeps them up at night with the “one more page” syndrome. When I hear that then I know that I did my job of drawing the reader into her life as they walk along with her on the journey.

Do you think reading so much as a child influenced your likelihood of becoming a writer or that it would have been something you wanted to do either way?

I think reading is the only way to become a good writer. Writing is one of those things where they can teach you the fundamentals in school of how it SHOULD be done, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it HAS to be done. I still needed to read all the different genres and really figure out how the words go together and to use combinations of words and punctuation to imply tone and get across to the reader exactly what those characters are feeling. I had great teachers all through my school career who started us journaling and just let us write free and really encouraged us. Some kids hated it, but for me it was a good way to let my imagination be free. So reading definitely influenced me as a writer and shaped who I am as a writer.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

As mentioned I am working on the second book in the series called Sugar’s Song. We are going to get to know one of the minor characters a lot more, but I can’t say much more than that because it will give away a lot from the first book. It will also take place in the Duluth/Cloquet area and there will be some fun tie-ins from the first book. I have a third planned as well, but that one will deviate a little in location.

If you want to find out mroe about Katie and her books check out her webpage here