Spotlight: Karly Kirkpatrick

Karly Kirkpatrick’s YA novel INTO THE SHADOWS releases in November. In addition to working on her third YA piece, Karly teaches German and French to high school students, attends DePaul University, and devotes time to her family: husband, daughter and pets. She stops by the spotlight to share more about her writing life.

Q) Karly, when do you have time to breathe? You’ve written Y/A fiction, a children’s picture book, a screenplay and numerous flash fiction pieces, AND teach German and French to high school students, AND attend DePaul University (Master’s in Writing and Publishing program) AND have a husband (in law school), daughter, and two dogs…*breathing* Please tell us how you balance all of the above and still flow with your creative muse.

A) Haha, I sometimes feel like I don’t have any time to breathe! It’s funny though, the weekends or weeks when I force myself to take a little time off, I find myself crabby and listless, constantly thinking of stuff I’d like to work on or write. Some days it’s really difficult. As a teacher, I’m off for the summer and really looked forward to doing a lot of writing this last one, but my daughter is now 3 and I didn’t realize how much more time she would need at that age. Needless to say I, accomplished maybe 1K words over the summer. I was really bummed. But now I know for next summer not to overestimate how much I’ll actually be able to accomplish.

As for now, I use my lunch hour at school to write. I haven’t written any new material (aside from a short story for my grad class) this school year so far, due to the Into the Shadows editing that needed to be done. I have 50 minutes a day to do writing/editing and I just try to fit what I can in that amount of time. Lucky for me, I’m quick!

What keeps me going IS the creative muse, it seems to never leave me alone!

Q) How did you happen to discover writing as a passion and how do you develop your fiction works?

A) I’ve always been two people. On one side, I’m very practical and organized. But my other half is very creative. I had always tried to ignore the creative side, because even though I had all sorts of ideas, I never thought it would help me in life. I had originally planned to major in musical theater in college, but scrapped that because I didn’t see it as a very practical career choice. Despite that, I’ve always had a notebook that I would write story ideas in, so maybe deep down, my creative side had plans for my future.

I discovered my passion for writing the summer after my daughter was born (2007). I’d done everything I’d planned to do in life; went to college, became a teacher, got a master’s degree, got married, had a kid, bought a house, got a couple of dogs, but I still couldn’t shake the thought that something was missing. I had the idea for Into the Shadows, and just started writing. I had the framework in my head, jotted down a few notes and dove in.

I like to write with a rough framework, but it always changes as I go. I do a lot of brainstorming when I drive. A lot of my plots developed in the car. My second book, which I wrote during last year’s NaNoWriMo, was written mostly in a month, with, again, a framework developed while I drove around. That book, The Green (about a drug-dealing cheerleader) will hopefully be available in the spring some time. I’m also very much a beginning-to-end writer. I see the story as a movie running through my head and have to capture it in order.

My most recent WIP, a YA paranormal set in New Orleans called Rising Sun, caused me to do quite a bit of research before. It was hard for me to read before I did the writing, I just wanted to get to it. But I hope that the story will be better for all the details I can add. I also have a first chapter and a framework for an Into the Shadows sequel, I’m excited to continue Paivi’s story and hope to do that this winter.

Q) How important has it been for you to get writer’s feedback as each of your projects progress, and what advice would you offer to other writers about critique groups, challenges, and contests?

A) I think it’s SO important to get feedback from other writers. I’m so lucky to have found SCBWI and the fabulous writers that I meet with when I can fit it in the schedule. Unfortunately, lately it’s not as often as I’d like. But I did meet with them pretty regularly for over a year. I went to 3 different groups, so I would meet 2-3 times a month. I learned so much not only from having them critique my work, but from critiquing others. It really helps you turn a skilled eye on your own work. Even though I don’t meet with them at the SCBWI meetings right now, we are always happy to critique or beta read anything anyone in our group needs help with. I’m lucky to be in a writer’s workshop at DePaul right now, so I have the folks there critiquing my work as well.

I LIVE for feedback. I’ve never been one for being sensitive about my work. Writing is an art, but it’s also a business. If something doesn’t work, I want to know why, and I want to fix it.

Contests (such as my own YA Flash Death Match), NaNoWriMo, or weekly writing groups, like Friday Flash, are a great way to practice. I love making myself step out of my comfort zone and try different types of writing (short, flash, picture book, film scripts, magazine articles) and other themes. Giving yourself that experience is so helpful in honing your writing and editing skills. It also gives me the opportunity to explore other characters/plots for possible future novels.

I would highly recommend for all writers to be involved with some type of writers’ group. The knowledge you gain so valuable, it’s worth way more than the yearly membership fee!

Thanks Karly! You can find Karly Kirkpatrick at her site

Karly is also at YA Flash Death Match at

Find her on Facebook



Yes, please, join the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s