Books Magazine

An Interview with Katie O’Rourke, Author of A Long Thaw

By Curlygeek04 @curlygeek04

thawThis is the second book I’ve read by Katie O’Rourke, and it reminded me a lot of her first novel, Monsoon Season. Both books are compulsively readable, and more complex than you expect. A Long Thaw is about two cousins, Abby and Juliet, who grow up as friends but lose touch when Juliet’s parents divorce and she moves across the country. As adults, when Abby finds herself going through a difficult break-up she decides to look up her cousin, and they begin to rebuild their friendship.  It turns out this family has an ugly secret. Juliet hasn’t heard from her father in years, but he’s been pretending to the rest of his family that he sees his daughters regularly.

One thing I really liked about this book was the portrayal of Abby’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend. Abby has high standards for relationships, due to her parents’ own happy marriage and their constant support. When her boyfriend’s commitment feels lacking, she takes the tough step of ending things, even though everyone around her says the guy is perfect. I really admired that about her. And I could very much relate to how her story progresses.

The other thing I appreciated was O’Rourke’s depiction of a web of family relationships and how important and difficult these relationships can be. Juliet’s father isn’t all bad, and neither is her mother. The rest of the family isn’t perfect either — but they are a support network when things get tough, a network that Juliet basically didn’t have.

As with Monsoon Season, I wanted more at times. Details like what Abby and Juliet did for a living and who their friends were seemed kind of sparse. I like a long, complicated read and this was a book I nearly finished in a day. Still, I enjoyed every bit of this book, and wanting more is rarely a bad thing.

I interviewed O’Rourke about her recent move to self-publishing:


Q: In 2012, you published your first novel, Monsoon Season. Tell us a little about your experience as a published novelist.

A: The biggest thing for me initially was the response from readers. I really like reading reviews on blogs or on Amazon- even the bad ones! I like to hear what my writing means to different people. It’s so neat to get to see it through someone else’s eyes. Sometimes, you get readers who totally understand what you were trying to do, which is so rewarding, and sometimes you get a reader who catches something you might not have done intentionally. That’s fun too.

It took about a year for my publisher to report sales, at which point I understood more than ten thousand people had purchased my book. I still find that figure mind-boggling.

Q: When did you release your second novel, A Long Thaw?  How was that experience different?

A: A Long Thaw was released twice. The first time it was released by the publishers with a cover I didn’t think was appropriate and they did absolutely nothing to promote it. That was kind of a bummer. The second time it was released by me with a cover I chose. I work to get it promoted and I get immediate feedback on sales. It has been much more fun and I like being in control of the way the book is marketed.

Q: It looks like both versions of A Long Thaw are available for purchase. Do you benefit if someone buys the Hachette version?

A: I know it looks that way, but Hachette no longer own the rights. I am just waiting for them to take down their Amazon page. I suspect if you tried to buy their version, the sale wouldn’t go through but I’m not sure. My version is a better deal and has a better cover.

Q: What advice would you give to authors looking to publish (or self-publish) their first novel?

A: Don’t put it out right when you’ve finished it. Read it over and over, get others to read it, take a break from it and then read it again. Don’t think you can edit your own work. Have it professionally edited- whether that means paying or bartering with other writers who are skilled editors. A Long Thaw had a professional edit when it was with the traditional publisher and that is so valuable.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have another finished novel that I’m querying to agents and I’ve gotten a really good response. Finding Charlie is a family drama about the search for Olivia’s younger sister. Charlie’s disappearance feels a lot like their mother’s disappearance many years ago and it opens old wounds, pushing family members to reexamine the past. If I don’t find an agent to represent this novel, I will release it myself in the coming year. I’m also about fifty pages into my current work in progress, but I’m not sure I know what it’s about yet!

You can learn more about Katie here.

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