Interview with K.A. Gandy
How did you become a writer? I have always been a writer, but I really got a passion for it in sixth grade. I had a teacher—hey, Mr. Skinner!—who encouraged us to practice freewriting. Something about that exercise really unlocked my creativity, and writing has been an outlet for me ever since. I never dreamed back then I'd one day write a book, yet here I am!
What inspires you to write? Is it bad to say almost everything? Most of my books start with a simple what-if. What if a farm girl had to deal with an apocalypse? What if the whole world was a swamp? What if the government picked your spouse for you, and forced you to make babies together? What if . . . you get the idea.
How do you develop your plot and characters? The characters always come first for me. I'm of the opinion that the story is already out there, and I'm uncovering what it's meant to be. I don't start a book until I know that particular main character inside and out. I have to know how they think, eat, sleep, and breathe. When I know confidently how they'd react to any situation, I'm ready to write the book.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer? I work primarily on instinct. I've been a lifetime reader and lover of books—getting in trouble as a teen was getting put on "book restriction"—and sometimes that makes it harder to figure out what the problem is, when I feel something's off with a manuscript. Hitting one of these blocks will often send me into a spree of doing seemingly unrelated things, while I work it out subconsciously. House organization. Long walks. Cleaning up the much-neglected flower beds. Facing the laundry version of Kilimanjaro. And then . . . it'll hit me. It can be frustrating when I want to keep forging ahead, but that's just how it works for me.
Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness? Hmm, this is a hard one! Sadie in Dwindle is a young, sheltered girl who grew up in a ranch in a dystopian version of North America. She's pulled away from her family who she loves dearly, and taken to go marry a complete stranger who's genetically compatible. My favorite trait would be her compassion. She loves on people who need it, even if the situation doesn't seem like there's time for that. Her biggest weakness would be either stubbornness or pride; she's got both in spades.
How does your antagonist create conflict? Because it's a dystopian story, the antagonist is really two-fold; the government, and the dystopian "landscape". Humanity has nearly been wiped out over the past two hundred years due to a Sterilization Vector, and the government has used this weakness to seize control of people's lives and choices. Women no longer have free reproductive choice, and in this dystopian world we can uncover a lot about how that impacts us as people personally, and as a society as a whole.
What are your current/future projects? I've just finished the first draft of Marked, which is the start of a spin-off series in the same world as Dwindle. This book follows a new main character—she's in the spotlight for some really unique and different reasons than Sadie—but will also bring back all of the old favorite characters. It's been really fun so far, getting to play in the Populations Crumble world again. :)
Do you have a routine you follow when writing? I wish! I'm a mom of two small kids, so the schedule mostly looks like, "whenever time is available."
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be? Don't sweat the early days. You don't have to know everything up front, and it's okay to trust your gut.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? You don't publish the first draft. Get it out however makes sense for you and your brain. You're probably doing it right, whether or not that's the popular advice right now. Once you've got a complete manuscript, then you can worry about what's next.