Katharine Grubb and "The Truth About the Sky"

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The name “Katharine Grubb” may not mean anything to you, but let’s change that. I’ve been a big fan of hers for a while.

With the news that her latest novel’s been released…well, how could I not share it here?

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The Truth about the Sky is funny and poignant and clinching. It tells a tale that may strike a little close in ways you don’t expect.

Katharine Grubb has a way of weaving a story that keeps me reading until waaaaay past my bedtime. She hooks me in and has me plotting how to read when I should be doing anything else.

Here’s a bit about The Truth about the Sky:

As a Pastor’s kid, Kim has been told her whole life that God can see every mistake she makes. Now that she’s a college dropout, unemployed and in a questionable relationship with a party guy, her mistakes are all the more obvious. (Especially to her demanding mother, who, apparently, thinks wearing jeans on a commercial flight is a sin.)

If only she could move away! Then she could hide from gossip and no one would see her mess up! Kim can’t move to Dallas unless she saves her money, so she swallows her pride and heads back to her childhood church to reluctantly serve as her father’s congregation’s secretary.

Her mother makes it clear, Kim better get her act together. Not only is the church watching her, but Kim is also bothered by her theme obsessed mother; a creepy mortician who wants to court her; a sad, but good-looking music minister (whom she may or may not have been kissing) and her childhood friend, Eddie, who, as a lawyer, has an inexplicable interest in lawn care.

Even if God was in her childhood church, Kim would be too busy and discouraged to find him. Then her father is caught in a scandal — one that challenges her already shaky faith and her dysfunctional family. She has to choose: will she run away from critical eyes to Dallas as quickly as her car can take her? Will she be as critical and condemning as her own family has been to her? Or will she take her brother’s advice and believe, for the first time in her life, that God’s grace is as big as the Oklahoma sky?

Q: Your second novel has been out for a bit, but ironically, it’s the first novel you wrote. Tell us about the journey to publishing it.

At the risk of sounding like I don’t know what I’m doing, The Truth About the Sky  was my “starter novel.”  It was like the first child, the one you make all your parenting mistakes on. I spent five years and probably wrote over 500,000 words in the creation of it. (It clocks in at 96K. Don’t worry!)

Once it was done, I had intended to find an agent and get it published traditionally, but then, out of the blue, I was sidetracked by the idea of Falling For Your Madness, which I wrote, edited, and published it in a matter of four months. Because this plan changed, it was like The Truth About The Sky was the long-suffering spinster who just watched her little punk sister, Falling For Your Madness, get married.

The success of FFYM gave me the confidence and the readership to put out TTATS in the same way. I’m glad it worked out this way. I’m also very glad these books are really not my children.

Q: Your “thing” is 10 Minute Writer. And this is the novel you wrote in ten minute increments. There are a lot of moms reading this who are going, “No way!” Give us the down-low on how you did this while homeschooling your five kids, juggling work and moving and impossible odds.

Back in 2006, when I had five children, ages 8-years-old and under, I had a gut feeling that we were done having kids. I also had this inner pressure to do something, anything, for my own gifts and callings, since any writing goals I had when I was younger had obviously been pushed away. My iMac was conveniently located in my kitchen, and I was spending way too much time reading Mommy blogs anyway — I should try to carve out a little time to pursue my own writing dreams, but I didn’t know what they were.

I decided to have a goal — ten minutes a day — to work on writing projects. Then, it got to where I was setting my timer in ten minute increments and going back and forth between writer and mom. This worked best in the afternoons when our homeschooling day was over. And I tried, I really did try, to train my kids to respect that ten minute increment. It’s been eight years and they still don’t get it completely.

The truth is, I did this for me.  I did it because I wanted to conquer my many, many fears. I did it because I knew my kids would watch me manage my time and pursue my dreams and work everybody’s needs around it. I did it because it brings me so much joy even though it is hard to make it work. It also helped a lot that I’m a wicked fast typist.

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Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer? Is it your kids? Or is it selling books? Or is it making dinner? Or…?

Without question, the biggest challenge I face is fear. I think that from a practical point of view, I can always find time. From a marketing point of view, I can learn how to put my books in front of people.

But what I struggle with, what I’m learning how to deal with this daily, is fear.  I found out, at age 45, that I’ve suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder my whole life, due to trauma from my infancy and toddlerhood. I’ve spent most of my life a breath or two away from an anxiety attack. My fear is a vague, paralyzing kind of fear that shuts me down and isolates me. (Ironically, one of God’s solutions to this fear was to bless me with a LOT of loud, obnoxious, confident kids.)

I realized that if I didn’t do something about my fear, then I would never have my dreams come true. The beauty of the ten minute increments is that it not only teaches me how to manage my time, but it also coaches me to do scary things in short time periods. Can I make this phone call? Can I contact this agent?  Can I rewrite this paragraph?

Like every other writer, I’ve faced rejection and disappointment, but that pain of that was not nearly as bad as the pain of thinking my children were watching me. Would they see me be paralyzed by my fear or be successful in spite of it?

Q: What has helped you most as a writer? 

What’s helped me the most was the support of friends and family. I have these people I live with — six other Grubbs — but I also have my critique partner Jane, who balances me out well, my beta readers who are thoughtful and smart and challenge me to do better, and my readers! I feel like we have a special bond. I want to be my best for them with every project.

Q: I know you’re an avid reader. What’s crossing your reading shelf these days?

I’m reading a lot of books about writing because I’m writing a book about how to write a book in ten minute increments. (ETA Spring 2015 through Hodder & Stoughton!) I’m also reading books from 19th and 20th century writers, like Virginia Woolf, Henry James, and other “greats” so I can study their artistry and I’m also wrapping up The Complete Sherlock Holmes because my teens and I are obsessed with Sherlock and I’m becoming more and more intrigued by the idea of a mystery. I may write one someday.

You can order The Truth about the Sky and your purchase will support CatholicMom.com.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2014, Sarah Reinhard

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2 Comments

  1. I am a fan of Katharine Grubb’s work–and because of that I have been blessed to number her as one of those “friends I’ve never met in person (YET).” For those who have not read either of her books, she tells a great tale with captivating characters and JUST the right touch of humor.
    Katherine, I think your children will benefit greatly from seeing you work hard to make your dreams a reality!

  2. I absolutely loved “Falling For Your Madness” and loved meeting Katharine in person for about 10 minutes (I’m seeing a pattern here). I am really inspired by you, Katharine. Conquering your fear is no small feat. 🙂

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