Author Interview: Katie Nelson

HELLO! Since I am currently away for the week in California (WOOP!) I have decided to use this week to feature some smaller authors and bloggers. Today’s spotlight is featuring an author by the name of Katie Nelson! Her book The Duke of Bannerman Prep recently came out, you can learn more about her and her novel HERE!

For those of us who have not read The Duke of Bannerman Prep, introduce it to us in one sentence?
The Duke of Bannerman Prep is The Great Gatsby meets a prep school debate team.

What was your favorite part of writing The Duke of Bannerman Prep?
I loved being back in the world of high school debate. I competed when I was in high school and coached when I was teaching. It was fun to live through a season with these characters!

Is the finished version of The Duke of Bannerman Prep how you always imagined the book? Or did the plot and characters change a lot over the course of the writing process?
The plot changed A LOT. At first I really struggled with how close to stay to the original Gatsby plot line. It took some time to figure out how I was going to structure the novel, and what key events I wanted to include. I lost count of how many drafts I did, but it was in double digits!

Do you have a favorite of your own characters? And, along those lines, do you ship any of your own characters?
That’s kind of like asking me to pick my favorite child! I love Tanner, and I love Kelsey. I totally ship the two of them! But I also really love Sam. He’s probably my favorite, if I’m being 100% honest.

Does any of your personality ever go into any of your characters?
I think elements of my personality go into several of the characters. I’m pretty driven, like Tanner, and I definitely have a bit of a competitive streak. I also have been known to go on rants, like Kelsey, when I’m talking about something I’m passionate about. And these days, I can relate to Tanner’s mom, who is doing her best to keep her family together, despite the challenges. And there is a bit of the way I taught in Coach Watterson too.

The Duke of Bannerman Prep is described as a ‘contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby’, did your career as an English teacher inspire this idea?
Definitely! As a teacher, I was always trying to find ways to make the literature that we read in class relevant for my students. So I’d thought about this story, its themes and character struggles, A LOT. While my students had a hard time transporting themselves in the high society world of Fitzgerald’s novel, it was easy to show pictures of modern day Silicon Valley, and they were familiar with stories of young millionaires who had made lots of money quickly in the tech industry. So I felt like it was a natural setting for the story.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what bands or genres?
I listen to music to get into the character’s frame of reference. I am a huge alternative music junkie. My playlist for this novel includes The Killers, Atlas Genius, Motion City Soundtrack, Weezer, Cold War Kids, and a couple of songs from Hamilton (because I love that musical!).

What is your favorite part of being an author who has recently had one of your novels released into the world?
Meeting readers who are passionate about books and who connect with my characters and talk about them like they are real people. It’s also been so fun to meet other authors and connect with them. I feel like my circle of friends has grown exponentially and I’ve just loved that part of this process.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I think I could fill pages and pages writing about my experiences, but remember that every writer is different. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Some take years to publish a novel. Some have success early on. Find what works for you and pursue that, without worrying about what other writers are doing. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s so important. Also, I have this quote by Winston Churchill up by my writing desk to give me perspective: “Success isn’t final, Failure isn’t fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Was there a specific person or event that inspired you to write or was it always an aspiration you had for yourself?
I always loved words and stories, but I had writers on this huge pedestal for a long time, so it wasn’t something that I told people I wanted to do. I was (and still am, often) plagued with self-doubt. For a long time, I was afraid of failure, and of letting people know I was a failure, so I kept that part of me quiet for a while. Eventually I realized I needed to let people see my writing, and I took classes and went to conferences and the secret got out. But it took some time.

What is your favorite genre to read?
I like reading all kinds of genres! My first love is character-driven, contemporary stories. But I enjoy fantasy and historical and mysteries/thrillers too. I don’t love heavy sci-fi, but I’m open to just about everything else.

Do you have any favorite TV shows?
I must be some kind of jinx because every show I love seems to get cancelled prematurely! For example: Timeless, Life, Arrested Development, Veronica Mars. The one show I love that keeps going is Saturday Night Live.

When you aren’t writing what are you doing?
Realistically? I’m doing laundry or dishes or driving kids around. What I’d like to be doing? Reading, taking the dog on walks, traveling, biking, baking.

Leave any links (buy links, social media, websites) below!
You can find me online at the following:

You can order the book from:

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