Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang

Kat Zhang talks about her latest sci-fi novel, Echoes of Us—2014

November 2014  – An Exclusive Authorlink Interview

By Columnist Doreen Akiyo Yomoah

Echoes of Us
by Kat Zhang

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AUTHORLINK: Have you always wanted to be a novelist?

ZHANG: From a very young age, I was very much into reading, and I first started wanting to write and get published when I was 12. I started my first book when I was a senior in high school, and finished it in the spring of my freshman year of college. My agent and I sold it as a trilogy sold it during spring of my sophomore year. [Echoes of Us, which came out in September, is the third final book of the trilogy.]

“I was just always into writing essays, and trying to figure out what made a book interesting.”

AUTHORLINK: You’re really young to have already published a trilogy. Did you take writing courses or go to workshops?

ZHANG: I just read a ton. I read all sorts of things. When I was younger I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I’m really into contemporary fiction now as well as sci-fi. I was just always into writing essays, and trying to figure out what made a book interesting. It was still a learning process, and I majored in in creative writing in college. [Zhang graduated from Vanderbilt in 2013.] I really like strong characterization, beautiful writing, and poetry, so I am into books that read like poetry.

AUTHORLINK: Your website mentions that you’ve traveled. Have your travels influenced your writing at all?

ZHANG: I think so. One of my favorite parts of traveling is to see different cultures. It’s easy to think the things that you find within your culture are true everywhere, and everything you think is the way the world is. As a writer, it’s your job to explore what it means to live in a society with other people. My family is originally from China, so I’ve been there a number of times. I’ve also been to London and Paris, and the summer after college, I traveled a bit through Germany and Italy. I’m writing a book now that has scenes inspired by my study abroad in Spain.

“A lot of my stories come from “what-if” questions.”

AUTHORLINK: How did you come up with the idea of hybrids? [Zhang’s trilogy is set in a universe where two siblings can inhabit one body.]

ZHANG: A lot of my stories come from “what-if” questions. For hybrids, I thought, what if everyone’s internal monologues were not their private thoughts but someone else’s thoughts? What if you had someone else inside of you watching everything? And what would it be like to be that other person? That’s sort of how the main characters came about. Is this person normal in society? How does society treat them?

AUTHORLINK: How did you develop the main characters, Eva and Addie?

ZHANG: Sometimes when you write characters it feels like you’re discovering them, not making them up. What has affected this person’s life? These are the hurdles this person has encountered, this person’s desires. Some things you find through trial error. Eva [the less dominant of the two sisters] was the same all the way through. Addie changed more throughout the drafts as I figured who she really was.

“The thing about writing a novel is that you get to be in such control of you characters. . .”

AUTHORLINK: Do you write short stories, nonfiction, or other types of writing?

ZHANG: I write poetry, and I’ve published a little bit on the side. I like storytelling of all kinds- movies, film, plays. The thing about writing a novel is that you get to be in such control of you characters, you control everything. The final product that people see are your words. In film writing, the final product isn’t your work, but I would be interested [in writing scripts] if the opportunity came up./p>

AUTHORLINK: You mentioned that you’re working on another book?/p>

ZHANG: Yes, another novel. It’s in the really early stages. It’s a little more traditionally fantasy than hybrid chronicles, which are more light sci-fi.

About the Author:

Kat Zhang is an avid traveler, and after a childhood spent living in one book after another, she now builds stories for other people to visit, including What’s Left of Me, her first novel, and its sequel, Once We Were.

About Doreen Akiyo Yomoah:

Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is a nomadic freelance writer, currently living in Dakar, Senegal.