Friday, July 3, 2020

Katherine St. John

Katherine St. John is a native of Mississippi and graduate of the University of Southern California. Over the years she has worked as an actress, screenwriter, director, photographer, producer, singer-songwriter, legal assistant, bartender-waitress, yoga instructor, real estate agent, and travel coordinator ... but finds she likes writing novels best. St. John currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

Her debut novel is The Lion's Den.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Lion’s Den was the first title I came up with for the book and I can say with absolute authority that it’s the right title, because over a period of months I went through about five hundred alternate titles with my publisher, and none of them were nearly as good! Thankfully, we circled back around to the working title. The Lion’s Den is a double entendre in this case, because it’s the name of the yacht that Belle and her friends set sail on, which proves to be the proverbial lion’s den over the course of the novel. Alternate titles we considered were All That Glitters, Filthy Rich Girl (which I must say I hated), and even… Yacht Candy. Yeah, we went a little deep into the weeds in search of a better title, which only served to make me all the more certain The Lion’s Den was the title that was meant to be.

What's in a name?

I put a lot of thought into the names of the girls on the boat because I wanted to make sure the reader found it easy to keep the characters straight. Alliteration felt appropriate for most memorable golden girl Summer Sanderson, and Amythest (yes, it’s misspelled on purpose) stands out as the one with the amethyst contacts. Wendy is a person whose loyalty changes depending on which way the wind is blowing, and Claire is sweet and pure. Rhonda and Brittani just felt so right for Summer’s mom and sister. Belle is a nickname born from the classic Isabelle, and she’s in some ways like Belle from Beauty and the Beast – brave and kind and likes to read, still growing into her full name. As for John, well, at the end of the day John is a john, is he not?

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

I have to say, my teenage reader self wouldn’t be at all surprised by The Lion’s Den – in fact, teenage me would likely gobble it up in one sitting! While I like to think I’ve grown and changed in the years since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve always loved reading books about shifting dynamics between friends, I’ve always had a soft spot for a romantic element in a story, and I’ve always loved a good page-turning mystery.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I definitely find it harder to write endings than beginnings, but even more difficult are middles! I often know where I’m starting and concluding a story, but it’s the course the characters take to get there that is most malleable. I always want to make sure that all of my characters (not just the protagonists) are believable three-dimensional human beings with arcs, and that the journey they take and the lessons they learn over the course of the novel dovetail with the storyline and end in a satisfying way.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Belle and I probably share the most personality traits of any of the protagonists I’ve written because I also worked as an actress in Hollywood in my twenties and had a number of similar experiences to what she goes through. Though my experiences were not quite as dramatic and never involved murder, thankfully! That said, I see myself in all my characters, both good and bad. Jungian psychology says that the traits we most despise in others are elements of our shadow selves or disowned selves, and that one of the best ways to learn what we need to work on as human beings is to understand what we most deplore. I see myself doing that with my characters, whether or not I set out to!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

My biggest non-literary inspiration is probably psychology. I have always been interested in what makes people tick, why we become who we are, and if and how we can change. I love delving into a character’s personality and background and exploring how that colors the way she sees and reacts to the world.
Visit Katherine St. John's website.

--Marshal Zeringue