Episode 74: Pursuing Your Passion with Katie McNey

In Episode 74, Dan interviews Katie about her science fiction and fantasy novels, her background in medieval literature, her journey getting into podcasting, and her new role as a book writing coach. Along the way, we talk about witches, fan fiction, medieval dream poetry, and the time she set up a Go Fund Me to send her favorite podcasters to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.

Katie McNey earned a Ph.D. in English with a focus in medieval and early modern literature from the University of Minnesota. After moving to Los Angeles, she taught in the Writing Program at the University of Southern California for two years before designing her Author’s Dream Mentorship Program and launching her own coaching business. She hosts two podcasts about writing and reading (Writing Remix and Witches in Britches) and is one of the founding members of the Humanities Podcast Network. She also writes speculative fiction and is represented by Kurestin Armada at Root Literary.

You can learn more at katiemcney.com and get in touch on Twitter and Instagram @KatieMcNey.

This episode was recorded on November 8, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“Going to grad school was so valuable for me, and I grew a lot and I learned a lot, so I don’t think it was wasted time. But I had always wanted to write [fiction], and so I did…When I was in grad school, I published a trilogy of novels, which was probably an indication of where my real passion was. ” @KatieMcNey

“[At the end of my Ph.D.] I was like, ‘I don’t know how to do these two things: I don’t know how to raise a kid and be in academia.’ And I think it speaks to the dismal state of things, that academics are expected to produce at such high levels that are really not sustainable for a good work-life balance.” @KatieMcNey

“It was just another way of looking at what I can do with this degree that I hadn’t really considered before because…we have such a narrow focus about what [a Ph.D.] means.” @KatieMcNey

“I would literally just write all day long…and I never felt tired or drained. I always felt energized. To me, that was a real indication of something that was important to me or that I was meant to do.” @KatieMcNey

“I just really love world-building. I love how the setting can become like a character.” @KatieMcNey

“I love Sci-Fi and fantasy and cool, weird elements, and I love writing action and fast-paced page-turners.” @KatieMcNey

“A lot of modern fantasy is rooted in medieval literature.” @KatieMcNey

“For me, [inspiration] really comes in stages. I get an inkling of an idea, and I start working on it. And then I read something or see something and I’m like oh that’s a cool element. I like that. And I figure out how to work that in.” @KatieMcNey

“It’s a little bit like painting a picture. You have a rough sketch, and then you add in some colors, and you keep layering and layering, and you get more detailed as you go. That’s how writing works for me.” @KatieMcNey

“I’m both [a plotter and a pantser]. I always have an outline, because I always want to know where I’m going. But inevitably as I’m writing, I end up changing what I’m doing, or in the course of writing, I get a new idea. So I like to allow space for that organic development as well.” @KatieMcNey

“[Writing fan fiction or playing an RPG] is a great place to start as a writer…It’s a great way to try things out where you don’t have to come up with everything from scratch on your own.” @KatieMcNey

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