Thursday, March 10, 2016

Interview with Katya Mills

Hi everyone! Great news. Internet is turned back on at last, which means I'll hopefully be starting blog rounds early next week. Playing a lot of catch-up at the moment, which means I have to prioritize until this weekend. Which in turn means that I won't be posting again until Monday.

In the meantime, I want to welcome Katya Mills to my blog for an interview.


Hi Katya! Welcome to The Five Year Project! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi and thanks for having me, greetings from Northern California! My name is Katya and I am an American with German, English and French heritage. I am a social worker and self-published author of one novel, two novellas and a short story. I was born in Connecticut in February, 1973 and raised in New England. I first left home for school in Chicago, where I majored in English Literature at Northwestern University. I fell in love with books at an early age. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens was the first epic story I read all the way through. I was about ten years old. That’s about when I decided I wanted to write books. I am an Aquarius and my favorite color is royal blue. I support LGBT and human rights. I work at a non-profit with a team of compassionate caregivers providing support to homeless people suffering from mental illness. I work the nightshift now, which seems to coincide nicely with my writing life. 

Very cool. Tell us a bit more about your books. What are they about?

Girl Without Borders is a novel I wrote while living in Chicago. I consider it my tribute to this great city. The protagonist, a rather aimless young man, becomes the center of an unrequited love triangle. The story follows the guy as he basically gets blindsided by love, and caught in a deadly situation. These are young adults in their twenties, freewheeling with counter-culture attitudes, coming of age on the west side of town.

Grand Theft Life is the first book in my Daughter of Darkness series. This is written in the voice of a strong lead (first person) heroine named Ame. The story takes place in Oakland, where I lived for many years. I like to set my books in cities I know inside and out. Ame is one of a divergent strain of humans, known as Delux. She doesn’t realize she is extraordinary until she is fully grown and her people abduct her and take her to Oakland, where she learns how to channel human fear, for survival. She discovers she can read minds and such. She falls in with an interesting group of characters, including Freddy, the man who abducted her. There is an anti-hero vibe about these ones, and Ame is trying to sort it all out.

Maze is the second book of the series. The title refers to Ame’s boyfriend, a punk skateboarder with an ice cream sandwich habit. He has mixed blood (hybrid human) but it doesn’t deter him from a merciless way he hunts humans for their fear. Ame hunts with him, but she is conflicted by the violence. She was raised by humans, actually, so she has a soft heart for them. There is a way to extract human fear without killing, however, and the results are unpredictable. Ame’s best friend Bless is crushing on her, and tries to pull her away from Maze. This book introduces Kell, the little sister, who is struggling with an addiction to Oxycontin. And an orphan boy with a gap in his teeth who likes to follow Ame around.

Everlee and Lee is a horror story I wrote about a couple of kids who are living in a spooky old Victorian house with their nefarious Aunt Rose. They are visited by the ghost of their mother, who provides clues toward unraveling a dark and disturbing history. The kids learn to communicate telepathically so to hide their thoughts from Aunt Rose, as they figure a way out. This story is published alongside my books on

Ame and the Tangy Energetic is the third book in my series, and my WIP. I hope to publish it in late Spring or Summer 2016.

Your stories sound interesting. What comes to you first? The plot or the characters?

Thank you. Characters come first! I typically work without an outline, a very open-ended plot and a situation / circumstance / tension that needs to be worked out.

Sounds a lot like my process. How do you approach editing? 

I try and get the first draft all out without looking back, but sometimes I can't resist a little peek. Then I move the doc to Scrivener and read it through, make some notes and begin editing. I imagine a puzzle and usually find myself relocating paragraphs and passages several times to form any chapter. It can get pretty chaotic! But somehow my mind knows where to put stuff. Cutting is hard so I typically take my cuts and place them at the end of each chapter so I can reconsider later. This makes cutting easier. I try and keep a flexible attitude and playful. And say to myself 'simple story simple story' over and over again. Betas will be involved after the second draft. But there may be several drafts within the draft... I usually know when a chapter feels like it expresses the story the way I like. I also like to read my work aloud to hear how it sounds word for word.

What is the best piece of advice you can give new writers?

Writing a book can be thrilling and a whole lotta fun. Sometimes it's hard to get to that place. The page is always blank for you. It's the only way. If the mind comes in preoccupied, you may not get the immersion. I believe in mindfulness to bring a quiet mind to the process. Slow it down to one word at a time, one sentence, one paragraph, one passage... give it room to breathe and make sense of itself.

Good advice. Where can people find you and your books?

Here are the links. I have author profiles on Goodreads and Amazon.

My website is Katya Mills and I frequent the GPLUS community.

Thanks for stopping by, Katya! 

Anyone else use Scrivener to edit? What is your favorite program to use when editing? See you all on Monday! (Although I might try and sneak in a few visits before then.) 


  1. I think being a social worker and having interactions with so many different people help to make unique and wonderful characters (said by a fellow social worker, hehe).

  2. Getting the mind to shut off and just go with the writing can sure be a task sometimes haha but the writing voices win.

  3. Hmm...I've never tried that program. I just use Word's track changes option, which definitely has its glitches.

    Think I'm missing out?

  4. That cover is cute and creepy. I like it!

    I enjoyed reading about your writing process. I always keep parts I cut in a separate document in case I want it again or can share it as a deleted scene.

  5. Nice interview, ladies. It's terrific that both of you started writing seriously at such young ages. I was too busy writing for various volunteer organizations to make much time to pursue writing for my own purposes until I was already an old broad. :)

    I haven't tried any of those fancy writing/editing programs yet. Maybe some day... (HA! Who am I kidding? No I won't...)Fortunately, I have a very pushy internal editor. (And she is SUCH a nag!)

  6. So mice to meet Katya and learn about her books. What an interesting interview! Great advice about slowing down. Wishing her all the best!

  7. Great interview, I especially like the advice about slowing down! I'll definitely try that 😉

  8. Nice to meet Katya and getting to know more about her books. I like the advice to slowing it down and giving it room to breathe and make sense....

  9. I've all good things about Scrivener, but I've never given it a try. Thanks for the interview and introducing us to Katya.

  10. It's great learning about Katya, her books, and her advice. I like to think one of my recently published books is a tribute to a big city I used to live in.

  11. Hello,

    Very interesting and inspiring interview. Wonderful tips on writing. Katya is a prodigious writer and I admire her for her talent in writing. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite writers. A Tale of Two Cities written by him is one of my favorite stories.

    Very probing questions which were very frankly answered.

    Best wishes

  12. I tried Scrivener before but just couldn't get into it. Old fashioned Word works well enough for both of us.

    Great interview! We too like to start with characters before plot. A good character always helps breathe life into the story.

  13. Great interview. I love the cover to Maze. Beautiful, and it sounds like a compelling story.

    I use scrivener for my rough drafts, because it lets me keep track of daily word counts. Then I transfer everything over to word and print it out. I always do my revisions using a hard copy, because I make notes better with my hands.

  14. Intriguing interview, and what a cool book cover!

  15. I wanted to thank you all for your comments and encouragement! Misha, Elizabeth, Catherine, Stephanie, "A beer for the shower", Joseph, Medeia, Cleemckenzie, Rachna, Miss Andi, Jess, Susan, Chrys, J.H., and Pat -- best of luck to you all!


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