Novelist and screenwriter Katharyn Blair just released her new contemporary fantasy, Unchosen. A horrifying curse spread through eye contact has turned the majority of humanity into zombies. Charlotte Holloway and her two sisters are set to defend themselves from the hordes, but Charlotte feels inadequate next to them. Her older sibling, Harlow, commands their crew and has captured the heart of Charlotte’s childhood crush, Dean. And her younger sister, Vanessa, is considered to be the Chosen One — who, legend has it, can end the curse and save humanity. When Vanessa’s identity is discovered by the soulless monsters’ leaders, Charlotte, determined to save her sister, offers herself in Vanessa’s place. Check out what Katharyn Blair told us about writing before she takes over our Twitter account this afternoon!
Young Entertainment Mag: What made you want to become a writer? Who were your early influences?
Katharyn Blair: I always loved stories. My mom has videos of me sitting on the steps of our front porch when I was four, whispering spooky tales to an imaginary audience. I started writing very young. And it was always something I came back to in order to sort out my thoughts and process emotions. As well, I read a lot. I loved Tolkien and Laurie Halse Anderson. Anything that would help me understand the world – and myself – a little better. I wrote stories for fun all through middle school, high school, and up into college. I just never thought that it could be something I did for a living. And I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a full-time author until I was twenty-two.
YEM: You’re a novelist and a screenwriter. How is writing a script different from writing a novel?
Katharyn: The obvious answer is that a novel is a lot longer than a script, but honestly, for me the structure is very similar. I always break my novels as though they’re screenplays. I find that helps with the pacing.
YEM: Your newest release is called Unchosen. Can you tell us about the novel?
Katharyn: Unchosen is a survival story and a love story. A virus called the Crimson, which is passed through eye contact, sweeps the globe and brings humanity to its knees as it turns people into ravenous zombie-like creatures called Vessels. Everyone awaits the arrival of The Chosen One, who will bring the virus to an end. And the Chosen One is our main character’s sister. When danger comes to their door, Charlotte makes a rash decision: she pretends to be The Chosen One in order to save her sister’s life. But what started as a lie to save her sister soon becomes something bigger, and Charlotte soon finds herself on an adventure she never saw coming.
YEM: The title Unchosen is so powerful as the main character feels she is often in the shadows. So that begs the question – what do you think makes a good main character? Even amongst those who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves to have “main character energy”?
Katharyn: I believe a great main character has something they want and are willing to go through hell to get it. It doesn’t matter if what the character wants seems trivial or if they’re shy, etc. I think anyone with drive and dreams can be a main character!
YEM: Unchosen has elements of fantasy but also has elements of romance. How do you balance those two worlds as they both affect the main character in different ways?
Katharyn: I love romance because it doesn’t have to happen in a particular place. It doesn’t listen to the confines of genre. I think the fantasy elements in Unchosen just made it so the connections between the characters has a unique ebb and flow.
YEM: Our readers know you from your debut novel, The Beckoning Shadow, where the main character could summon her worst fear and turn into a reality. What is it about humans and fear that interested you in writing a novel about it?
Katharyn: I, like a lot of people, have spent most of my life under the thumb of fear. As a kid (and now an adult) with a debilitating anxiety disorder, I felt really helpless. I’ve spent years learning how to navigate my fears and live a full life despite the fact that they’re so strong sometimes they feel like they’re going to take me down. Vesper and Charlotte both deal with fear, and I think it’s because that battle is so deeply engrained in who I am that I’ve found it’s easy to write about.
YEM: Do you even put elements of yourself or your own life into your writing?
Katharyn: Absolutely. Unchosen and The Beckoning Shadow both draw on personal experiences – from dealing with fear to sorting out family dynamics – it’s all personal.
YEM: If you were to write a novel based on your life, what would the title be and why?
Katharyn: If I could write a book based on my life, I think I’d call it Do It Scared – a phrase that’s near and dear to my heart. If you can’t stop being afraid… then do it scared.