Sassy's Fangirl Debuts ~ Interview with E. Katherine Kottaras

Welcome to Sassy's Fangirl Debuts, a feature event where I introduce you to this years and next years debut authors! Grab some popcorn and have your Goodreads page open because there are some wonderful new authors and books coming out soon! 

This week of Sassy’s Fangirl Debuts, we are having the wonderful E. Katherine Kottaras, YA author of HOW TO BE BRAVE, which releases on November 3rd of  this year!

Title: How to be Brave
Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want. Reeling from her mother's death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave - all the things she's wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she's always been afraid to do - including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most - and you learn that you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Hi Katherine! Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today! Before we get started on the interview, would you care to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for having me! I’m a writer and teacher. I’m originally from Chicago, but I live in the Los Angeles area. Some random things about me: I like to cook and eat, practice and teach yoga, read (and write obviously), ride my two-speed bike at low speeds, and decorate for Halloween. Yes, that last one takes all year. (And yes, I’m a tad bit depressed that Halloween is over.)

Talina: First off, congratulations on your forthcoming novel, Katherine! HOW TO BE BRAVE is an emotional contemporary novel about love and loss and having the courage to chase the life you truly want and I am thrilled to be getting the chance to read it soon! Tell us, how many years have you been writing that lead up to your upcoming release?

Thank you so much! Technically, I’ve been writing since I was a child. I’ve always written – I was an English major and have taught literature and composition for about eighteen years. I always wanted to write creatively, but I mostly did it in secret – I’ve kept journals since I was a child as well. I was twenty-five when I took my first creative writing class (but I didn’t tell anyone!) I continued taking classes, and then I wrote a book that took four years to complete. I decided not to pursue publication with that book, but instead started over with what has become my debut novel! So in total, more than thirty years. Since my first creative writing class, about fourteen. Since writing that first (now shelved) book, about seven years! 

Talina: Your novel seems to have a heartbreaking and sad element to it with the main characters loss of a loved one and I’m curious, did you ever get emotional while writing a particular scene or two?

Absolutely, yes. As I’ve written on my Twitter bio, “I tend to smile a lot,” and the people who know me would say that I’m nearly always smiling or laughing. That being said, I’m also a big time crier. My favorite stories are those that can make me laugh and cry simultaneously.
Though Georgia is her own character with her own set of unique issues, of course, it’s a book of my heart, and I poured much of my heartache into her. The most common feedback I’ve received from those who’ve read HOW TO BE BRAVE is that they cried multiple times while reading it – I’ve heard it many times now from different readers, and after they thank me. I mean, what a compliment...

Talina: Writers definitely have their ups and downs when it comes to writing, especially with a novel. What was the easiest and hardest part about writing for you?

Georgia’s voice came easily to me. With the previous novel (the one that will never see the light of day), that was the thing I struggled with – finding the right voice. Happily, Georgia arrived nearly fully formed in my head, and I think that’s why I enjoyed writing the book so much.
As for the hardest part, if I haven’t worked on a manuscript – even if a week’s gone by – I have to re-read from the beginning to situate myself back into the world. I love when I have large chunks of time – solid days or even, if I’m lucky, weeks when I can immerse myself in the worlds.

Talina: You’re a debut author now, which is quite exciting! Tell us, what is your favorite thing about being one? Do you have a least favorite thing?

I have two favorite parts: (1) Meeting other debut authors, particularly those in the Fearless Fifteeners group. I have a core group of writer friends in Los Angeles who have been incredibly supportive and wonderful. (2) People who have reached out to me to let me know that the book inspires them to be brave, in their own way, in their lives. That’s been amazing to me.

As far as a least favorite thing? It’s a new experience, that’s for sure. My nerves get a bit rattled sometimes at the thought that my book is really going to be in the world! But overall, it’s been exciting and darn right wonderful.

Talina: How to Be Brave releases in just a two days days (EEEK!) and I know we’re all wondering the same thing…are you working on anything else at the moment? If so, can you give us a little hint as to what it is?

Yes! My second book is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press and is tentatively scheduled for release in 2016. And it’s complete! We don’t have a definite title yet, but I can say it’s a YA contemporary, and like HOW TO BE BRAVE, it’s also set in Chicago.

Talina: Thank you once again for stopping by and congrats on your debut release, Katherine! HOW TO BE BRAVE releases on November 3rd, so don’t forget to pick up a copy of your own!

Thank you, Talina!

E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is at her happiest when she is either 1) at the playground with her husband and daughter and their wonderful community of friends, 2) breathing deeply in a full handstand, or 3) writing.


Happy reading!


  1. Aw, this was such a sweet interview. I love that she said she loves to smile but also loves to cry. I feel like I'm like that too. This book sounds really good and I was not familiar with it until this post! So great job highlighting books Talina!

  2. This gives me hope that I'll be able to get the characters out of my head and into print. So much hope. Now that I think about it, I might see if there are any creative writing classes at the local community college over the summer. That might be the kick in the pants that I need to get started, too.

    I'm a hardcore crier, too. OMG. I completely understand everything about being a crier.


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