Kathryn Williams, author of young adult novels, visited seventh-grade students at Elizabeth Davis Middle School shortly before the holiday break. While also visiting students from Thomas Dale High School and Carver Middle School, Williams shared stories of her “long and twisting path” of becoming a published author and the process of writing, editing and publishing.
She told her young audience that she had always loved stories and began writing at the age of eight penning her first “literary masterpiece” in a pink Trapper Keeper. Soon after she wrote her first short story about a wild horse named Babbling Brook. She kept writing, entered a literary contest while in the eighth grade, and won first prize. After graduating with an English degree, she moved to Washington, D.C. and then to New York. Williams worked as a free-lancer and had several articles published in major publications. Her break came when she was noticed by an editor at Disney-Hyperion who read her published essay on being a southerner in New York City.
“I didn’t think being an author was a career option,” she said.
Williams had six drafts of her first book. “It went from 1200 pages down to 244 pages. That’s how much revision goes into a book. There were 10 versions of the first chapter.”
Williams took a few questions at the end of her talk. The students were interested in how long it took to write and publish her first book – three years for the first book and two years for the second. How long had she been an author – eight years. Who was her favorite author – John Green.
The students were also interested on how she came up with her titles and which book did she love the most. “I am not so good at titles,” she said. “That’s when you go to work with the editors.” She said it was hard to choose which one she loved the most, but it had to be the first, “because it was my first one.”
She is now the author of three young adult novels; The Debutante, The Lost Summer, and her latest, Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous.