Friday, March 19, 2010

Fresh Voices: Interview with Quinn Katherman

"we do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit." - E.E. Cummings

Welcome to the fifth edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the spunky voice of Quinn Katherman.

1. What is your ultimate writing goal?

Whenever I hear the word “goal” I think of soccer. I hate soccer, all that running up and down the field while kicking a ball—what’s the point? To get the ball past the goalie and score? Stupid.

I don’t like keeping score when it comes to my writing.

My only goal is to write. Write and write and write some more. Every day.

2. Why do you write?

Well since my modeling career never took off, American Idol rejected me, and then Steve Jobs beat me to the punch on the innovative technology front, I just decided it was time to settle for something that would put food on the table. Let’s just say if wealth were measured in Ramen Noodles, I’d be rich.

Writing is an escape for me, I write to be free from the claustrophobia of daily routines. My passion for writing comes from knowing what it feels like to read a book or story and find bits of yourself on every page, as if the author wrote the book for you. I like making people laugh and that’s what I try to focus on in my writing because I want to break the perception that female writers aren’t funny by encouraging other women to exercise their funny bones.

3. Your writing is quirky and fun. Have you worked to achieve that voice or is it just a natural style for you?

Oh, stop! I’m blushing! But yes, it’s true, I am naturally this hilarious and amazing, or “quirky and fun”—whatever you want to call it. (Good thing I’m also humble.)

As a greeting card writer, I spend most of my days writing fart jokes and birthday puns, which inevitably contribute to my voice. I also come from a crazy family that I love, but things haven’t always been easy. I have found that humor fills emotional voids like concrete, whereas ice cream tends to melt (of course, ice cream is still my food of choice whenever I decide to eat my feelings rather than write them).

I’m still developing my voice; I like to think of it as being in the training bra phase. Good writing requires a debilitating amount of honesty and a level of self-awareness you can’t escape. These things take a lifetime to develop and I think the most powerful voices out there are the ones that never stop evolving.

4. Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?

I like sentence writers. As you read their work each sentence makes you pause and marvel at the sheer genius of the composition, the artistic combination of words that couldn’t be placed in any other order and retain the same meaning. I had a teacher who called it “pondering the physicality of words,” which makes it sound like word porn and I’m totally into that.

Listing all of my favorite authors is nearly impossible, so I will narrow it down for the sake of my attention span, or lack thereof: Sam Lipsyte, Gary Lutz, Virginia Woolf, George Saunders, Sylvia Plath, Amy Hempel, Deb Olin Unferth.

5. What most attracts you to the life of a writer?

Absolutely nothing. Do you think I’m a sadist? There’s nothing attractive about the life of a writer, unless you excel at self-loathing, lying and already hate almost everything, which I do. I think the best part about being a writer is knowing that as long as you have a pen and paper, you can survive. It’s tangible, portable, physical and emotional.

6. If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?

A ninja.

No, wait—a unicorn!

NO! A gourmet chef…

Ugh, never mind. Do you have one of those career aptitude tests I can take?

7. If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?

I’m going to oversell myself here and call it “trenchant.”

8. What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?

The one phrase that always comes to mind first is, “writers write.” It seems obvious, until you’re a writer that’s not writing.

I had another professor who was also an accomplished writer, and after class he used to say, “Well, it’s time for me to get back to my people,” referring to his characters in a story he was working on. Now when I write fiction, I strive to create the kind of characters that I want to come back to, characters that need me to finish their story so badly that leaving them alone for too long makes me feel guilty—I want my characters to be strong enough to make me miss them.

Quinn Katherman is a greeting card writer for American Greetings and lives in Kansas City. She is from Richmond, Virginia and attended The University of Kansas where she received a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Communication Studies. Quinn has a blog, which you can find here, or you can get the condensed version by following her on Twitter or subscribing to her feed. Writing in third person makes Quinn uncomfortable, but she generally likes anything that makes her sound important. Quinn also likes unicorns, eating other people’s food (especially if it comes with a note that says “Do Not Eat”), the smell of new office supplies and drinking beer outside because that makes her feel outdoorsy.
Thank you for reading this edition of Fresh Voices. Feel free to follow the Fresh Voices list on Twitter or nominate yourself or another author as a Fresh Voice


  1. I adore Quinn. She's an inspiration as both a writer, and a ninja. Thank you.

  2. Good interview. I too would one day like to be a unicorn. Or an astronaut. Or an astronaut with a single horned hot glued to my big round helmet thing.