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Interview with Katie Karambelas, MFA

How did you become a writer?

I like to think that I was a writer the minute I put pen to paper and created my first story. My sixth-grade language arts teacher gave me an extra credit assignment that involved creating a short story. She entered it into a contest where I won honorable mention. That gave me the confidence to keep writing. I went on to submit short stories and articles to different publications and then got my MFA in fiction last year. I also work full time as a proposal writer for a clinical trial company so I guess you could say that writer is my official title, whether that's creative or strategic writing. I like to think it's in my blood!

What inspires you to write?

I take inspiration from a lot of things but my graduate program really instilled the importance of place to me. Place isn't always the most important aspect of a story but I've been very inspired by my travels to different places and the cultures there. A lot of times my characters are inspired by someone I met while traveling or someone who had an impact on me growing up. Honestly though, a lot of the times I'm inspired by events that happened to me and the "what ifs" of having reacted differently. Writing gives me the ability to be other people but also different versions of myself. What if I had kissed that boy I wanted to kiss at sixteen? What if I never left Vienna after falling in love with a pilot while on vacation? What if my mom had never died? I like to explore how life can turn out different for my characters.

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

I think most writers can agree that time is a huge challenge. It takes a lot of time to develop a story, write it, edit it (multiple times), and then try to get it in front of the right people. When you're a parent with a full-time job, some days it seems like it will be impossible to find a time to write. I've learned to batch my blog posts when I can. I've learned to find pockets of time to edit stories. It's been a lesson in time management but I will always be up for the challenge of finding time to write.

What are your current/future projects?

I have both a YA novel and an NA novel that I'm getting ready for submission. I'm in various stages of three other YA novels, one of which involves paranormal elements. I write short stories and short memoir pieces whenever I feel inspired but I'm also constantly working on blog posts for my travel + parenting blog The Jet-Setting Mama and as contributing writer for various sites such as Raleigh Moms Blog.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?

I would probably tell myself to study abroad in college. There were so many times that I didn't do something because I was dating someone. I'd make sure that I didn't make my decisions based on a boyfriend. I was lucky enough to study abroad in my graduate program but I really wish I had spent an entire semester somewhere. Everyone should take time to get to know themselves in another country at some point in their life!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don't give up. I'm sure everyone says this but it's true. There will be a million nos. It only takes one yes. I love the notion of "why not me?" because why the heck not? Everyone deserves their chance at making their dreams come true. Keep writing. Keep editing. Keep reading. Never give up on what makes you happy.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?

I welcome all emails! is my email for readers.

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