AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kat Howard

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

It’s about the quest to fund a restaurant that serves a very particular kind of cuisine.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

You and I were talking on Twitter—I actually can’t remember about what at this point—and you messaged me, and asked if I could write a story about a restaurant that served babies for this project. I almost said no because I couldn’t think of how to make it work, and then overheard a mom talking to her baby—“Oh, you’re so juicy, I could just eat you up.”  At that point, it really clicked in my head how much of the language around very young babies involves them being sweet or delicious or yummy, and I wrote from there.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Yes! I almost abandoned it at one point, and backed out of the anthology, something I’ve never done, because the experience of writing it was so upsetting to me. Not just the idea of cannibalizing infants, which was awful enough on its own, but also my general rage at a set of circumstances that I didn’t have to stretch very far to make getting the restaurant its supply possible. Lack of proper sex education, lack of proper care and support for women who do find themselves pregnant, the immense costs of even a pregnancy without complications in the United States, the costs associated with childcare. I felt sick with fury during most of the time I spent writing and thinking about this story.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Well, I’m very fortunate in that I’ve never had to face having an unplanned pregnancy. But I am a woman who lives in a country where health care is—even after the ACA—obscenely expensive. Where the rights of women to have control over their own bodies, even at the level of access to birth control, are constantly under attack. Where far too often, it seems like the movement that calls itself “pro-life” cares only about making sure a woman carries a pregnancy to term, rather than truly providing support and care for her life or the life of the child once it is born. So yes, this was personal to me.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I did a lot of research into the costs of pregnancy—just the doctors’ visits and the cost of the birth. I didn’t even factor in the costs of good food, prenatal vitamins, the cost of having to take time off work to get to the various doctors’ appointments or anything like that. I also did research into adoption, and the fees associated with that, and the reality of which babies are easily adoptable.

What are your thoughts about crowdfunding generally? Do you back a lot of Kickstarters, or at least find a lot of interesting projects because of crowdfunding?

I think crowdfunding is a good option to have. I’ve backed Kickstarters, and I’ve been involved in projects where the funding was, either in its entirety or initially, generated through Kickstarter. I think it can be a useful tool, and I’m generally in favor of anything that increases the amount of interesting things in the world.

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing?  

Well, I think they both open the doors to more possibilities. They allow people to publish a wide variety of projects. I think the places where they are most interesting to me is in things like Tim Pratt’s Marla Mason books, where the series was cancelled, but the fans passionately wanted more stories, and were willing to put up the money to see that that happened. I think it’s too early to really talk about long-term changes in publishing caused by these platforms, but I’m certain there will be some.

BONUS: What are some examples of fiction you like in which the format helped dictate the story? (i.e., like the stories in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!, or like a found footage movie, or like Jake Kerr’s “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” etc.)  

I generally love stories where form helps dictate the story, because I think it’s so interesting to see how the writer worked in the form. One of my favorites is Cat Valente’s “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica.”