Local Spotlight: Interview with author and illustrator Katy L. Wood

Author and illustrator Katy L. Wood chats about her exciting new book called Bound by Kin: Kith and Kin Book One. That super talented young adult writer has her finger on the pulse of adventure. Check out the book trailer and get lost in the stories of the Lockwood family living on a ranch in the Yukon Wilderness. Wood is from a Colorado family with generations of history and adventures. She current lives in Colorado with her two cats, Rumble and Rebel.

Author and illustrator Katy L. Wood
Come meet Katy in person in Artist Alley at table E17 at Denver Comic Con. Katy will be releasing the book at Denver Comic Con, and the special goodies await the first few people who buy the book. Pre-orders are up on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Bound by Kin: Kith and Kin Book One by Katy L. Wood

Colleen Bement: I read that you based some of your characters on your family. What about your family inspired you?
Katy L. Wood: There isn’t exactly anyone specific character or thing based directly on any of my family. It’s more that I pulled a lot of things from a lot of places including the size of my family, the family history, and general family stories I was told growing up. I come from a HUGE family: grandparents had ten kids, grandfather had 12 (I think) siblings, many of my aunts and uncles have kids, several of my cousins have kids, etc. Basically, everyone stayed in Colorado so family get-togethers are ridiculous. On top of all of that, the family history reads like a bit of a, well, cheesy western dime novel. Great-grandpa lost part of his hand in a mining accident, married his nurse, moved to another part of the Colorado Rockies to a tiny farm, had a ridiculous amount of kids who all went off to the world wars, got in a fight with the state over their land and came out on top with a lot more land than they started with, etc. etc. etc. I grew up with all of that, and I grew up in the same mountains as where the family settled. I ran around the same forests with all my cousins. I learned to shoot and hunt in the same places, I swam in the same lake, and I sifted for the same Ute artifacts on the shores of the lake. I wanted to capture that feeling of a big family with lots of history and lots of family members all growing up in the forests and mountains because it’s something I never really found in the books I’ve read. The Lockwood family, the main family of the series, is where a lot of that inspiration is placed. They’re a family of eight kids, about half of them now adults, plus their parents and a few kids of their own all (well, mostly all ) living on one ranch in the Yukon Wilderness. Some are soldiers, some are mountain men, and some run the ranch.

CB: Can you give a little glimpse into what it was like for you growing up to scope out creepy abandoned trailers and old mine shafts.

KLW: It was super fun! My family still owns a lot of the original land my great-grandparents had (including their original house!) and we’ve also acquired some new land a little higher up the mountain which is where I spent most of my time growing up. The family cabin is a little A-frame with a finished garage that has basically been turned into another living area. All my aunts and uncles own a share of it, so our whole branch of the family uses it. I went up there almost every weekend as a kid, and continue to do so now as an adult. My cohorts were my cousins, Brad and Jeff, as we were all about the same age. About as soon as we could walk we were out running around in the forest, usually with no supervision and only a whistle for protection (because, obviously, whistles are magical and will totally take care of bears and mountain lions and other critters who would consider small toddlers very edible). It really fostered a sense of exploration and adventure as well as an appreciation of getting things done myself.

Bound by Kin: Kith and Kin Book One by Katy L. Wood

CB: What was it like to write and illustrate Bound by Kin: Kith and Kin Book One? Although it gives you all the creative control, it must have been a lot of work.

KLW: It was a long damn project; but very worth it. This book went through so many revisions, especially in the beginning. I’ve had the idea for the world of the book for years, but it took me awhile to find the story within that world that I wanted to tell. Even once I found that story it went through a lot of changes. Shae was originally a much different character, Ariane and Vivian originally only appeared in a couple chapters each, and the entire beginning of the book changed a dozen or so times. But, with all of that said, it was an amazing project to work on because I got to dive really deep into so many different things, including my own family.

CB: Was there a particular writer or artist that inspired you to follow this path?

KLW: Maggie Stiefvater is a huge inspiration. I freaking love her writing and nobody can capture the atmosphere of a forest quite like she can. I love the fact that she’s an artist as well, and when I met her at a signing last year she was easily the funniest author I’ve ever met. There are also a dozen or so indie-authors I really adore, because going the self-publishing route is so damn hard and it is nice to see others succeed at it. Especially ones who came from fandom like I have, because there’s still such a shadow over starting out in fandom and the going on to write original content. That shadow shouldn’t be there, and it’s nice to see other creators succeed even though it still is.

CB: What are some of the bands on your music playlist right now?

KLW: Right now my playlist is a lot of stuff related to the next book in the series, “Bound by Kith.” So a lot of Joy Williams, Halsey, The Wind and the Wave, Johnny Cash, The Sweeplings, Down like Silver, Goodnight Texas; that sort of thing. Which I know sounds like a potentially odd mix, but it works!

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