Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am the author of one book, hundreds of newspaper columns, and four years of blogging on my website. I hold a BA from the University of Arizona in English/Political Science. However, I have really excelled at the School of Trial and Error. I’ve held various careers including software support and training, paralegal, tax preparation, and four years spent answering phones for a forensic psychiatrist. In the background, I was always writing something. I’ve always been drawn to nonfiction, and biographies even as a young girl. Since I was shy as a child, and somewhat lonely, I became a voracious reader, meeting my friends in books. Reading a lot lays the necessary foundation for good writers.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My debut nonfiction biography Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America is the true story of a Polish swimmer who survived three years in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and then lived the American dream. The book has been thoroughly researched and includes more than 75 original photos and documents not seen elsewhere. The book is a direct result of chance meeting when I wrote for the newspaper, and has been receiving outstanding praise since it was published on November 1, 2017.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I can't go a day without music, and when I write I can listen to classical music all day long. It is my 'white noise' that both calms me and helps shut out other distractions. I grew up playing the piano, so to this day I think my typing speed subconsciously cues to the beat of the music.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Certainly Viktor Frankl – Man's Search for Meaning. I read that after I started this project and it offered such a keen insight into the camps as to why some people gave up, and some like Henry kept going. I have a copy of This I Believe, Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. People fascinate me, and it’s an incredible challenge to write out your personal beliefs in 300 words or less. Every single person has a different angle. We can learn so much from each other.
What are you working on now?
Currently, my full energy is on launching HENRY to as many readers as possible. I believe in the story, believe it needs to be told, so therefore I want it to reach as many readers as possible. I would love to write a similar story of someone unknown but worthy of being remembered. I do have someone in mind who I met a year ago. My entire journey of this book has been one of faith – so I have faith the right person will walk into my life who needs to be remembered.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
As a new author, I am still testing multiple platforms and venues. I use Facebook daily to connect with people around the world, especially those with similar interests such as Polish History, Holocaust awareness, and fellow writers. Facebook groups are a great way to reach targeted interests. I am growing my presence on both Twitter and LinkedIn, and post a lot of information on my own website, katrinashawver.com. Goodreads is a great connection to reach readers, and my first giveway was a success in terms of creating visibility.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Believe in yourself and invest in yourself. Commit to perpetual learning. Take the time to read other authors, and other genres. Attend workshops and writing events to meet other authors and learn whatever you can to improve your craft. Be a sponge for information. Become tech savvy with social media. For me, writing begins with a need to communicate a message, to explore a new topic, to ask why? The passion for that message is what propels me through multiple drafts, but it is the quality of the craft that will convey a polished message with the best chance to resonate with readers. Before you present your work to the world, hire a professional editor, not your best-friend’s-mother-who-taught-high-school-English-for-twenty- years. No matter how good you may think you are, a professional editor will make you shine. Write for yourself, publish for others.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Just keep writing. When working on a first draft whether by hand or on the computer, let the words flow – no backspace key, no second thoughts, no re-reading or looking at the monitor. Many of my best sentences and thoughts were culled from original drafts I at first thought were terrible. It is absolutely true that the more you write the better you will get.
What are you reading now?
I recently discovered Fredrik Backman, author of A Man called Ove, which I loved. I'm now reading another one by him entitled Britt-Marie was here. I just finished The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek. My To-Be-Read stack of books includes three more Holocaust memoirs, 1984 by George Orwell, MIssing You by Harlan Coben and Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I would love to take on the story of another person from WWII, especially from Poland, because I have spent so much time learning the time period. Any remaining survivors are all in their 80s and 90s, so it's critical and urgent their stories are captured before they are lost to history. I have faith the right person will enter my life at the right time.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Grimm's Fairy Tales – we all need imagination in our lives to create, think and dream.