Author Interview - Katherine Center
Author I draw inspiration from: It’s a toss up between Jane Austen and Nora Ephron. I imprinted on them both early and will never let go.
Favorite place to read a book: The bubble bath! No contest! In part because it’s the easiest place to concentrate: no dog wanting to be walked, no chores giving you the hairy eyeball, no internet pinging at you. You just sink into that tingly warm water, lean back, and get lost in a story. I can stay for hours, adjusting the water faucets with my toes to keep the temp right. If the book’s really great, I’ll stay until I’m done. My husband’ll be like, “Have you been in there since this morning?” And I’ll be like, “Well, yeah, but this is my job."
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: Am I hoping this character will help me get out of the elevator? Or are we just passing the time while we wait to be rescued? Either way, I’ll go with the nutty and lovable Beatrix Hathaway (and her ferret) from Lisa Kleypas’s Love in the Afternoon. I feel like she’d try to get us out—and even if she failed, she’d be fun to hang out with.
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: I got hooked on writing stories when I was in the sixth grade and I wrote a “novel” about Duran Duran, starring my own self as the main character. The story had a pretty straightforward plot: ALL FIVE OF THEM FELL IN LOVE WITH ME. And then I had to decide which one to marry. So . . . as embarrassed as I still am by that story (my sister has instructions to burn it if I’m ever hit by a bus), it was definitely my first taste of the magic of stories—how they can transport you and delight you and make you feel anticipation and hope. Sixth grade was, shall we say, not my best year, and I so badly needed something to look forward to. It was my first inkling that stories could change my life—and once I knew that, I was doomed to want to be a writer.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: Anything but e-book! I look at too many screens! I love the gravitas of hardcovers—I used to work in a my uncle’s bookstore, where we had a rare books room with signed first editions, and I gained a strong appreciation for hardcovers. I treat them with reverence and protect their book jackets at all costs. But I also love cracking the spines and dog-earing the pages of paperbacks—even boxy little mass-market ones. I love everything about the physicality of books—toting them around, writing notes in the margins, getting them wet with bathwater. I like to claim them and make them mine. I’ve also come to adore audiobooks—especially when I’m making dinner or folding laundry or cleaning out closets. I love the voices and the music of the language.
The last book I read: The last paper book I read was The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway—a time travel historical love story that Eloisa James blurbed as “the love child of Jane Austen and Dr. Who.” The audiobook I’m halfway through right now is Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, and it’s very fun so far.
Pen & paper or computer: Both! I type fast, so I always start by typing on my laptop so I can catch the words as they’re avalanching into my head. But then, as soon as I’ve got that scene all down and I get to a stopping place, I immediately print it out and start writing all over it—scratching things out, and moving things, and handwriting long paragraphs on the backs of pages.
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: I’d be intimidated by Daisy Jones, and I’d be tongue-tied with either sister from The Nightingale, and I’m not sure what I’d say to Claire Fraser from Outlander. I’d love to talk books with Juliet Ashton from the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, or maybe Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion (who I always feel like needs a good friend), but I worry my cursing would shock them. Maybe Cannie Shapiro from Good in Bed. I’m pretty sure we’d make each other laugh.
If I wasn’t an author, I’d be a: A bookstore-cafe-bar owner? An art therapist? A TV producer? An old-school sign painter? A fabric designer? A folk artist? A beekeeper? A podcast host? . . . Maybe I'd flip houses. I’ve done it before, and it’s tons of fun.
Favorite decade in fashion history: Probably the 1940s. I love all those big collars and jaunty hats! I actually love pretty much everything about how the 1940s looked, and I will watch any BBC show set in that decade. Not sure I would want to actually live in that time period, but it sure had great style.
Place I’d most like to travel: Fifteen places just popped into my head, but I’ll just pick one and say: Scotland. We have family from there, way back. Plus, you know: The castles. And the accent. And I wouldn’t say no to a kilt or two.
My signature drink: Coffee! I love everything about it: How it smells in the bag while you’re scooping it, how it sounds when it’s brewing, how warm it is in the mug against your palms, the steam that rises up from the surface. I brew coffee all day long—and then mostly forget to drink it. Doesn’t matter. It’s just so comforting when the coffee pot’s doing its thing . . . a feeling like there's something to look forward to.
Favorite artist: I think maybe Maud Lewis, the Canadian folk artist who sold paintings by by the side of the road from her one-room house. She had a hard life in many ways—poverty and many health challenges, including rheumatoid arthritis that severely limited her mobility—but she painted for joy on anything she could find, including her own windows and walls and front door. I’m so inspired by how she used art to create happiness in her life—and I adore the look and feel of the paintings themselves. There’s a very gripping movie about her life called Maudie that’s worth a watch.
Number one on my bucket list: A hot air balloon ride with Tina Fey. That could happen, right?