Authentic Storytelling, Great Writing Tips, & Spring's Eternal Song: My Interview with Romance Author, Katie Mettner
Today, I am thrilled to welcome romance author, Katie Mettner, to talk about her latest release, Spring's Eternal Song, and many other writing/reading related topics. Spring's Eternal Song was an amazing 5 star read. You can check out my review HERE.
Where did the idea for Spring’s Eternal Song come from?
The idea behind Spring’s Eternal Song came from a real life event, which is still ongoing in a city in Wisconsin. However, my twist on it is purely fiction. I take a college town, add a river and a supernatural element, and you have Spring’s Eternal Song. I loved Spring and Vince so much as a couple I wrote this book in six days. It was just one of those fun stories to write. It has been over a year since I finished it, and now, four edits later, I’m extremely excited and happy with how Spring and Vince’s story has been delivered to the reader.
You’re a pretty prolific writer. Remind me how many books you have out now. Also, do you have a writing routine?
Some say I’m prolific, but I like to think of it as addicted. I’ll consider myself prolific when I hit the Nora Roberts number of 225. I am currently finishing my 34th and Spring’s Eternal Song will be my 30th published book, which I’ll take as a good omen!
My writing routine has developed over the years slowly. I start writing when my husband and kids leave for school about 6:30. I love that hour and a half before the rest of the world wakes up to get a lot of words down on the page. Since I write with voice recognition due to arthritic hands, I can get a lot of words put down at once. I break for a bit in the morning to work on household things, and then go again in the afternoon after rereading and editing what I did in the morning. I write that way during the week, and on weekends I still get up at 5:30 a.m. and write until 8 when everyone else wakes up. Once I have 3 full manuscripts done, I go back and start editing them. The do my first edit on one and it goes to the editor while I start the second. We switch them back and forth until she’s done two edits and I’ve done three. It sounds very complicated, but it works for us! In the summer, I only write from 5:30-8 a.m. because my whole family is home, and there’s no way to write a love scene when your teenage son is yelling, “Mom! Where are my socks?!”
Which of your titles that you’ve written is your favorite and why?
Oh boy, I love all my couples, but this one is easy, Sugar’s Dance. It was my first book, and I probably broke every single writing rule there is, but Sugar and Van will always be in my heart. I wrote Sugar’s Dance when I was at my lowest in my life. No matter how bad my leg hurt as I learned to walk on a prosthesis, I knew at the end of the day, I would have an hour to escape into Sugar’s world and tell her story. There were nights I couldn’t sleep from phantom pain, and I would spend it in Duluth with Sugar and Van. Sugar’s Dance was supposed to be the “one book I had inside me,” but there turned out to be three more before her story was told. After I released the book many readers contacted me and told me Sugar was a balm for them as well. When you’re disabled, you rarely get to read about a kick a** disabled hero or heroine who can be strong and vulnerable. One who feels undesirable because of their challenges, but when the right person comes along they can slowly learn to love themselves again. As a disabled woman you read about the sexy baseball players courting the movie star, but you know that’s not real life. Sugar’s Dance was real life for a lot of readers, and I’m proud to be able to continue to tell the stories of those who want to be loved for the abilities, not their inabilities All told, I have a reason each book is my favorite, but for all those nights of pain and doubt Sugar’s Dance got me through, it’s the reason she will always be at the top of that list.
Which of your titles has evoked the most reactions from readers?
This would be a toss-up between Sugar’s Dance and October Winds. Never were two books more opposite than these two, but both tell a story that has resonated with readers. As we discussed, my books have a main character who is physically disabled, but October Winds has a main character who is emotionally disabled. October is equally as brave as my characters who are struggling physically, but she’s caught up in a bad situation. These two books specifically ring true to readers for their honesty and their message of hope when there’s shouldn’t be any. I was surprised when October Winds took off the way it did because the storyline is a topic so many people pretend doesn’t exist, human trafficking.
One of my favorite things about Spring’s Eternal Song is that both Vince and Spring are presented realistically. They come across as authentic people with flaws and issues and baggage just like every person I know. Was this a purposeful decision? How important is it to you to present romantic relationships in a genuine way?
Yes, definitely purposeful! And I’m thrilled to know it came across that way to the reader. I mean, we all love to read about those rocker bad boys, and sexy successful women who love them, but it’s hard to put down a book like that and go back to real life. Real life has flaws, issues, and baggage to deal with. I can honestly say I don’t know how to write about a rocker bad boy with no flaws or baggage, nor would I want to. I yearn for books with characters who are multidimensional, which makes me strive to be sure my characters are the same for someone else to discover. What you may overlook in their experience, is something another reader may pick up on, but what you pick up on, they might overlook. That’s what I yearn for, diversity within a character. That’s why I write broken, flawed, and genuine couples for readers to fall in love with, because anything else is cheating the reader of what is really at the heart of the story, the characters. When you strip away all the events in the story, the meet-cute, the sexual tension, and the resolution of the story, all you have left are the characters. If I don’t do my work with them, then the whole book collapses like a house of cards.
You managed to add what I’ll call a supernatural element to this book in a way that it is completely believable and natural. It is one of my favorite things about this book. For many writers, this would be a risk, but you did it seamlessly and beautifully. Did you have any reservations about this element of the story?
I so appreciate knowing you loved that aspect of the story. I did have huge reservations about the supernatural or metaphysical aspect of Spring’s gift because paranormal romance is kind of out as a genre. I don’t see this as your traditional paranormal romance, however. There are no vampires, werewolves, or fairies. There’s just a woman who experiences two different realms, and because of that she’s suffered in her personal relationships. To anyone walking past her on the street, Spring is any other Midwestern woman on a warm spring day, but when Spring walks past someone on the street, she can see the souls who follow them, yearn for them, and cry out for them. She has to deal with an onslaught of trapped people who need her help, all while trying to stay grounded on this plane of existence. Her gift made Spring who she is and made her the woman Vince was meant to love. When I wrote in the metaphysical aspect of it, I did it for an all call from a publisher. However, as I wrote the story, it became such an important part of who Spring was, there was no way I could change anything about it when the publisher passed on it. They said it wasn’t paranormal enough. There were no vampires or werewolves. When I got the rejection email I smiled because vampires and werewolves aren’t real, but the people walking around our neighborhoods who see scary, life crippling, and heart breaking situations in other worlds are. I wanted to tell their story in a way that showed the struggles of dealing with such a gift in everyday life, and in a romantic relationship. I prayed I could pull it off, but your approval tells me I did. I can relax now knowing when the book releases others will feel the same way as you, and that her gift is just another facet of who Spring Lewis is.
Do you have a favorite scene in Spring’s Eternal Song?
I do! I love the meet-cute, but my favorite part actually refers to the question above about authentic people with flaws. It’s the scene where she gets mad at Vince and tells him he doesn’t know what it’s like to live her life and he should go to hell. My favorite part of that scene is where she is able to see even through her anger that what he said was right. She came to understand what he said had validity, and he helped her take an important step, even though he angered her by saying it. Spring is learning to accept love from another person, and she realizes she hurt him and is desperate to apologize. It was a pinnacle scene as they built their relationship of trust.
Many writers would not be able to write at the pace you keep up even if they had nothing but time and even though they have plenty of ideas. Do you have any tips for other writers for getting their stories on the page quickly?
Definitely utilize voice recognition! You can speak faster than you can type, and you can always go back and edit, make changes, add quotations and punctuation etc., but getting those words down makes all the difference. Suddenly you have a tangible word count to look at and be encouraged about. I have my voice recognition on my computer and even got a new phone that allows me to use voice recognition in my note app there. If I’m killing time for ten minutes in the car while I wait for the kids, I grab my phone and finish the scene I was working on before I left. I spent a lot of time taking my kids to music practice and have a lot of downtime waiting, but the computer isn’t always practical to carry with me. But, we always have our phones. It’s easy then to email it to myself and copy and paste into my document. I’m giving away all my secrets here! But seriously, I would give this secret away to anyone because it’s a fast way to make that word count for the day, or when you’re feeling inspired but you’re not by your computer.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Can I go with the worst piece of advice that I’ve made the best? Because I’m going to! The best writing advice I ever got was ‘don’t write what you know, write what’s hot, and don’t put your own personal touches on the stories.’ How did I interpret that as a new writer? Be someone I’m not. Why was it the best advice I ever got? Because it reminded me pretending to be someone I’m not never works out in the end.
I’ve been writing for seven years and I only write what I know, I’ve never written what was ‘hot’ (Because why? The trend will change before the book is released anyway), and I always put a personal touch on each story. Am I a bestselling author? Nope. Am I the most talked about and shared author in the indie world? Nope. Is the person who told me that a bestselling author? Yup. Is she shared and talked about? Yup, well, she was, until all of her books became the same storyline with a different character. Now, I’m not so sure, I don’t follow her anymore. All I know is, when I release a book it’s a book that makes me proud. It’s also a book that stays true to what my readers are expecting from me, which I think is more important than being a bestselling author where people buy the books but never actually read them. Sure, maybe I would have found raging success writing billionaire, tattoo, man-bun, step-brother leading men, but it wouldn’t be sustainable. What’s sustainable is being true to who you are, your beliefs, and your readers. I love to play inside the genre, like I did with Spring’s Eternal Song, to keep things fresh, but I also want readers to know when they pick up a book from Katie Mettner the overall message will be of trust, hope, and love.
The age-old question every writer gets asked over and over—are you a panster or a plotter? Do you outline all your stories or just go where it takes you?
Oh, I’m a total panster. I’ve never plot out a book until I get myself in trouble and don’t have a choice! If my idea is solid and my characters are well developed, the story usually just happens. I know if I tried to plot out a book it would cripple me to the point I would never get it written. Instead of being a panster, I prefer to call it being easy going 😉
If you had to cast Spring and Vince for a movie, who would you choose to play them?
This one is always a fun question, and I usually have a great answer like Jude Law and Hilary Duff or something of the sort, but not in this case. Spring and Vince are such unique characters I would go full indie with them. Vince is half Native American and I would give an up and coming Native American actor the chance to play him. I would also try to cast someone with the same kind of sensitivities as Spring has to play her. Why would I go indie? Because the town this book is based on has a huge indie community of actors, singers, musicians, and writers, which I would like to tap into and promote. I also think we need fresh faces of diversity to tell stories about real, authentic, diverse characters.
What is next for you?
I have the second book in 3 different series in edits right now. While that’s going on, I’m writing the final book in the Dalton Sibling Serie, the first being Inherited Love. It’s another series about a group of siblings with metaphysical gifts, which is set in California instead of the Midwest! After I finish that book I’ll have to take a break as my first baby bird is leaving the nest for college. I can’t believe she’s graduating already, but I want to spend as much time with her as possible, so I’ll be doing my usual morning writing this summer and that’s it. Of course, first I’ll need another book idea! Kidding, of course. There’s always another damaged couple waiting in the wings for their story to be told, and I’m always waiting by the keyboard to document their lives and remind readers that even in our darkest hours, a light will shine in the darkness to bring us comfort and hope.
He stopped my hands and forced me to make eye contact. “They don’t know, do they?”
I gave my head barely a shake and focused my attention back on my shoes, taking them off and slipping them under the coffee table. I wasn’t going anywhere tonight. I barely had the energy to go to bed. “No one knows at work.”
He rubbed my shoulders to relax me again. “Why haven’t you told them? I would think the medical community would be the most likely to understand these types of abilities.”
“You would think wrong, then,” I said, standing abruptly and hightailing it to the kitchen. I yanked opened the fridge and dug out a soda, intent to take a long drink of it, but he spun me around before I got it open. He backed me up against the counter and trapped me there with his long arms.
“Sarcasm isn’t helpful, Spring. Educate, don’t infuriate,” he said.
I shoved him away and ducked under his arm. “Don’t treat me like one of your students, Professor Roundtree,” I snapped. “I don’t need a lecture in your teacher voice about anything tonight, or ever, for that matter. When you walk in my shoes, then you can tell me how to live my life! Now, I’m going to bed, you can show yourself out.”
I spun on my heel and ran to my bedroom, slammed the door behind me, and twisted the lock over. I stomped to the bathroom and cranked the shower handles around. When the water was hot I stepped in and let it run over me while I cried wracking, painful sobs of anger, hurt, and frustration. The dead kids, Ms. Davis, and Mallory were hard enough to deal with, but his disregard of all of them was the hardest for me to bear.
I woke slowly, my eyes grainy from crying and still tired, but Oliver clearly had other ideas. I put my feet on the floor and gazed at the clock. It was after nine already and I remembered the night before, and my anger at Vince. There was pounding on the door and for a moment I contemplated not answering it. What if Vince had a break and decided to come over? How would I face him after last night?
After my shower, I fell asleep wet on my bed and woke up a few hours later, cold, and alone. Only then did I venture out to the living room and found he had left, but not before he left a note that simply said. I’m sorry. If I wasn’t already feeling crappy about my outburst, his note sealed the deal and made me cry all over again.
I got to the door in time to whip it open as the person jogged down the three steps to the sidewalk. “I’m here,” I said, out of breath.
The young kid returned to the stoop and checked the card on the vase of flowers. “Spring Lewis?” he asked, and I nodded. He thrust the vase into my hands, told me to have a good day, and beat it out of my yard.
I closed the door with my foot and inhaled the sweet scent of the spring flowers in the vase. There was a card attached to it with my name on it. I probably didn’t have to read the card to know who they were from. I set them down on the counter and made a pot of coffee, waiting for it to brew while I stared at the flowers. As if my guilt wasn’t steep enough, now I had flowers to face. I lifted the card from the bouquet and opened it, reading it to Oliver.
“Spring, let me take you to dinner. I promise not to say anything stupid. If you don’t want to go, text me. If you do, I’ll pick you up at seven. I hope I don’t hear from you. Vince.”
I groaned and laid the card down on the counter, setting the flowers in the middle of the table. They made the room feel sunny and bright, something the gloomy outdoors didn’t do. In a way, you could say my life is the opposite. Sunny and bright on the outside, but gloomy on the inside.
I poured a cup of coffee and sipped it, one arm across my chest. I want to go to dinner with him, but by not texting him and just letting him pick me up, it keeps him feeling like it was his fault for the rest of the day. By not hearing from me he feels like he needs to atone for something he didn’t do. I finished the mug of coffee and set the cup in the sink. I had a few things to take care of, which meant I better get going if I was going to make things right before seven p.m.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT KATIE BELOW:
Katie Mettner writes from a little house in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. She's the author of more than thirty romance novels, all featuring a disabled hero or heroine. Most of her series are set in the Midwest and are a mix of new adult and romantic suspense.
Katie lives with her soulmate, whom she met online at Thanksgiving and married the following April. Together they share their lives with their three children and one very special leopard gecko named Gibbs. Katie has a slight addiction to Twitter and blogging, with a lessening aversion to Pinterest now that she quit trying to make the things she pinned.
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