Katrina Shawver is an experienced writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of Henry – A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America, an adult nonfiction biography released in 2017 to high praise. She holds a BA from the University of Arizona in English/Political Science, and began her writing career more than twenty years ago by writing hundreds of newspaper columns for the Arizona Republic. Her favorite quote is ”What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband Rick. For more information visit katrinashawver.com where she blogs regularly.
What inspires you to write?
I write because I'm a communicator and have something to say, which explains in part why I'm drawn to nonfiction. Real life is often crazier than anything I could dream up. From my newspaper days I loved to highlight little known stories or people in the community. My favorite reactions from readers were "Gee, I didn't know that" or "So that's why . . . ." The written word remains a powerful tool to convey thoughts, persuade, entertain, provoke discussion, or tell stories with a message. If something happened to me tomorrow, I know my words will outlive me.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am always coming up with ideas, so I have learned to keep paper with me wherever I go so I do not lose those fleeting moments of brilliance. Because I write primarily nonfiction, my writing begins with research, reading similar books, and then coalescing a lot of information into a cohesive story. For sheer creativity and brainstorming, or writing practice, I have learned to type or write without a backspace, correction, or even looking at the screen if possible. Just let the thoughts flow as they come, and set a timer so I do not stop writing and get distracted. Some of my best lines have come from those initial inspirations.
Who are your favorite authors?
My all-time favorite book is Grimm's Fairy Tales. We all need to keep imagination alive. While I follow certain authors, I’m drawn more to individual works. Books that come to mind include Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I also like to try different genres. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was fun. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s 1984 are in my growing TBR stack. I also keep both volumes of This I Believe, Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women in a prominent place on my bookshelf. It’s an incredible challenge to write out your personal beliefs in 300 words or less, and everyone has a different angle. We can learn so much if we first stop and listen to each other’s wisdom.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was fortunate to partner with Köehler Books, an independent press based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They know the business and what makes a book successful. John Köehler came up with a brilliant book cover and ran a “Vote for the Cover” on their website that garnered a lot of attention. I had no desire to self-publish. I know my limits and goals. For me, self-publishing is akin to selling my own home without a realtor. I wanted an expert to guide me through an industry I’m new to. I’m a writer who wanted to put out an outstanding book, and I was willing to wait to do it right and partner with the right people. As a debut author, I’m well aware I’m an unknown and a gamble for any big agent or press. I queried a few but didn’t want to wait forever only to be turned down. I sent out fourteen queries; four requested the manuscript, and I turned one down before finding Köehler. Köehler Books made my book a priority, has a great team of professionals, and produced it in less than a year, an unheard of timeframe for large publishers. They share the passion for spreading Henry’s story.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of book publishing is alive and well, and is constantly evolving as technology offers more options for new authors to self-publish, partner publish, or blog a book. The players are changing, but the pace of publishing is bringing more books than ever to market. Online book clubs and book reviewers keep the desire to read alive and promote new authors. It’s fabulous anyone who really wants to write and publish a book can. The advent of self-publishing is absolutely freeing for writers and would-be authors, with the caveat I believe it's a wise investment to hire a professional editor and graphic designer to ensure the quality is competitive with established publishers. In an ironic double sword, as the volume of books in the market increase, an author is increasingly challenged to draw attention to their books so they stand out. More time, effort, and skill than ever is needed for marketing and social media to drive a book’s success.
What genres do you write?
Nonfiction, Biography, History, WWII
What formats are your books in?
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.