Interview with Kat Zhang

smaller APMeet Kat Zhang, YA novelist. Kat’s story is so inspiring, especially for teen writers. Her trilogy, The Hybrid Chronicles, was sold to HarperCollins when she was only 19. What’s Left of Me, the first book in her trilogy, was published in September 2012 and will be followed by Once We Were, book 2, on September 17, 2013. You can find out more about Kat on her website, her blog, and her Twitter.


What is your greatest challenge while writing, and how do you overcome it?

I think my biggest challenge is common to a lot of writers–self doubt. Worry that you’re not good enough–that the story isn’t good enough. It can be really crippling, and I’ve learned to deal with it in a lot of different ways. In the end, though, the main thing is: I remind myself that my love is for the story, and the writing. I can only do my best, and work to keep improving. Nothing will ever be perfect, but I’m getting better, and that’s what counts for me 🙂

WLOM_cover to KZ 1.30.12How do you motivate yourself to write consistently? What is your writing process like (plotter, or pantser?)

When I have a deadline (set by myself or by my editor/agent), I definitely break the time down to know how much I need to get done by each day/week/whatever to keep on schedule. Then I set a daily word count/chapters (if looking at revising) goal and try my hardest to meet it!

I am a blend of plotter and pantser for sure. My first drafts tend to be very exploratory, and I definitely don’t have all the answers before I begin. On the other hand, I don’t like to go in completely blind, either. I like to have a loose chain of Things I Want to Happen, at least.

Are you a fan of sharing what you’ve written during the “early stages,” and asking for advice? If so, who has the privilege of reading your first drafts?

I’m not usually a fan of sharing that early, no, haha. Mostly because, like I said, my first drafts are exploratory. That means that in Chapter 10, I might suddenly decide my protagonist needs a little sister when she’s explicitly been an only child since the beginning of the book…so I’ll just add her in. If someone’s reading along, they would be very confused! 😛

However, sometimes, I do share beginning chapters with a friend/CP, to get their thoughts 🙂

Once We Were final hi resWhat would you say to teen writers who struggle with completing their drafts?

Set a word count goal! Even if it’s only 100 words a day, those words add up. Having a writer buddy can also keep you motivated! Definitely try to finish drafts. Trust me, they’re (almost) never easy all the way through. But you need to get that manuscript down on paper before you can do anything else with it!

What are the two most important traits writers can possess, and why?

Tenacity (to keep you striving) and confidence (to keep you from going crazy while you strive). Confidence doesn’t equal arrogance, of course! But often, before anyone else is going to believe in your story, you have to believe in it, first! And it takes a certain level of confidence to send your work out into the big, scary world.

What is the one piece of advice you wish you had been given when you began writing?

Hmm….focus on the things you can control, and don’t worry about the things you can’t control. 🙂

Thanks for having me!


*Thanks so much, Kat, for answering my questions!*

Check out my interviews with authors Rachel Coker, Laura Lascarso, Adrian Fogelin, and Steph Bowe.

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