Books · Motherhood and Writing · Novel Writing · Publishing · Writing

Swapping Stories with Author Kate Baggott

My publisher, Morning Rain Publishing, has put together a special deal for Mother’s Day. They’ll gift wrap and ship a copy of Strangely, Incredibly Good in a beautiful canvas tote bag, along with a copy of Dry Stories, for your Mom, or your Mom-friend, your Grandma, even for yourself! – you choose. There are two other versions of that promotion – details are here. 3bundle

Dry Stories is written by my colleague, Canadian author, freelance journalist, writing teacher, and mother of two, Kate Baggott.

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It is a literary compilation of short stories that can be read as stand-alone pieces, or sequentially in a compelling novella. Each story is a letter written to a friend recovering from alcoholism and resonates with the truth of what it is to be human in a naturally disconnected world. It’s received many 5-star reviews describing Kate’s writing as ‘a heartfelt painting of words,’ ‘beautiful’ and “Wow!’

While I love her writing and have enjoyed her Twitter posts, I realized I didn’t know that much about Kate, and I thought it was time to remedy that with a blog-swap: I’m interviewing her on my blog today, and she is interviewing me on her Goodreads blog. Please check out both of our ‘stories,’ and then get shopping!

Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott is a Canadian writer who lived in Europe for more than a decade before returning home. Her work has been published around the world and ranges from experimental fiction to chick lit, and from creative nonfiction to technology journalism. She won the America’s Next Author competition in 2012, Workzine’s Employee of the Month award in 2010, and the Dylan Days Fiction Contest in 2009. She is the author of two collections of short stories, Dry Stories andLove from Planet Wine Cooler. She writes, teaches, consults, and does project management in St. Catharines, Ontario. A mother of two, Baggott holds a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA from the University of British Columbia. More information about Kate Baggott and Dry Stories can be found on her website, her Facebook group, and Twitter.

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Q&A with Author Kate Baggott

HGS: Dry Stories has had some terrific five star reviews since its release. What famous person would you want to review it if you could get it in their hands, and why?
KB: Angelina Jolie is my fantasy reader and not just because she might buy the film rights! Seriously, I am not up on my entertainment news and I haven’t seen a movie in months, but keeping up with political and international affairs is my forte. Jolie is bravely talking about having her ovaries removed while travelling to Syria to try and spread awareness of how to help people there. There aren’t very many other celebrities, I think, who could get into the Dry Stories themes of parenting, fighting human trafficking and nurturing distant but important human connections all at the same time.
HGS: You lead two six-week writing classes – ‘Have You Got Stories to Tell’ and ‘Nonfiction for Non-journalists.’ Tell me about them.

KB: When I lived in Germany I taught two writing classes to the expat community while I was teaching English as a foreign language for Berlitz and English for Engineering and English for Organic Chemistry at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt. When you are living in a foreign country and learning to speak a non-native tongue, you are forced to confront language as a form of intimacy, a form of community-building. For English speakers, you also have to confront the status of English as a colonial tool and as a tool of oppression. No body wants to be forced to learn a language while no one wants to give up the intimacy or closeness of their mother tongue. I haven’t taught either of my classes since I’ve been back in Canada, but I have been asked to. It would just take a group of six willing participants. That said, it would have a completely different vibe. English is not as precious a resource in Canada as it was for the expats I taught in Germany.

HGS: What do you find the most challenging part of teaching writing?

KB: Teaching writing is a challenge because it is an act of listening. You have to listen to the cadences of your own voice as it is written, to the pauses of the comma, the full stop of the period, the intake of breath as you start a sentence. It is difficult to entice students to take the words on the page and transform it into an act of telling.
HGS: The most rewarding?
Writing, regardless of whether it is journalism, creative nonfiction or fiction, is an act of honesty. Working with students to cut through all the pretty devices we’re taught and getting to the pure story underneath is absolutely golden. ~Author Kate Baggott
HGS:  You’re also a technology journalist. What was, for you, the coolest technology you’ve written about and can you tell us a bit about getting that story? Any fun anecdotes?
KB: Technology journalism is all about trying to explain the most complicated processes in the sparest language possible. The problem is that scientific papers — the source for most articles — is so precise that only other specialists in the field can understand it. Like most writers, I suffer from a condition that requires me to think I am smarter than I actually am. To write about science and technology, I had to learn very early to ask precise and simple questions of specialists. Now I ask immediately what they are doing and why readers need to pay attention.
But, sometimes it is completely and absolutely clear what the breakthrough is and what it means. Watching a video of boy with a prosthetic arm type on a keyboard and move each finger independently was amazing. What that meant for people returning from war zones, for people with birth defects, for people who have been punished by brutal regimes, was immediately clear. ~Kate Bagott

HGS: Ebooks or print books, and why?

KB: Both Ebooks and print books have their uses in different times and places. When I’m travelling for work, I load up my tablet with reading so I don’t have to carry any additional weight. When I am at my leisure and need to slow down with no electricity or light or email notifications, I look to print books. I read print books exclusively before bed and Ebooks exclusively on trains and buses.

HGS: Summer is on its way to Canada (we hope!) Describe an idyllic summer day for Kate Baggott including where you’d go, what you’d see, and what you’d eat/ drink.

KB: These days, I dream of canoeing with my children in the early morning hush. They’ve just reached ages where quiet is a possibility…really, for minutes at a time. It has been a long time since the three of us were away together, but the traditional Canadian cottage on the lake is exactly what we would order up if given the chance. I think I would always associate that with fresh corn on the cob and toasted tomato sandwiches.

Kate, I am so glad we did this story-swap. It’s been fun getting to know you better, and I know my readers will feel the same way. Thanks again for the interview!
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