It is my pleasure to interview Katy Huth Jones, who won the Fantastic Books Publishing short story competition with her story Tam and the Giantess, a beautifully told tale of loyalty, magic and the power of the mind. Katy is no amateur when it comes to the written word and imaginative uses for it. As she says herself, she grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. Katy has published three books and over 100 short pieces: stories, poems, and articles. She has appeared in anthologies and magazines, including Highlights for Children, Cricket, Cobblestone, and Boy’s Quest. Her 4th book comes out in February 2013.
Does she have a life outside writing? Absolutely. She lives with her husband Keith in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, plays piccolo and flute in the Symphony of the Hills and home-schooled their two sons before they flew the nest to live creative lives of their own. Best of all, Katy says, she is a cancer survivor.
I asked Katy about the short story competition. How did she feel when she heard she’d been shortlisted? ‘When I saw on Facebook that my story had made the short list, I was ecstatic,’ she says. ‘I hoped it had a shot at being included in the anthology.’ And did she have confidence in her story at that point? ‘Yes,’ she tells me. ‘I was confident Tam and the Giantess was a good story, but I know from experience that contests are often subjective and so I certainly wasn't expecting to win a prize.’
Not only did she win a prize, she won the top prize. What motivated her to enter in the first place? Not surprisingly in Katy’s case, the sponsorship element played a part. ‘Being a cancer survivor,’ she says, ‘the competition's chosen charity of the World Cancer Research Fund was a huge motivation for me to get my story ready to enter.’ She adds, ‘It's a definite positive (and quite humbling) to have the opportunity to be published alongside Danuta Reah and Stuart Aken.’
My own role in the competition was to judge a long list and pick the winners. Out of many excellent stories, Katy’s stood out for its emotional depth, good characterisation and simply for being a good story. But once the shortlist was chosen and the winners announced, the stories were out of my hands and in the hands of the Fantastic Books Publishing editorial team who worked with the authors. When I saw the stories again, I was amazed and delighted at the end products. Some had hardly changed at all, some were significantly different, but they all had a professional polish. Katy’s story didn’t need much polishing, but how did it feel to be an author on the receiving end. Katy says ‘The editing team at Fantastic Books Publishing is, well, fantastic! They helped me see a few things in my story that I hadn't thought to develop. I really appreciate their attention to detail and I want to keep their "eyes" in mind while writing future stories.’
What is Katy’s idea of a compelling read? She says, ‘Losing one's self in the reading of a compelling tale is such a delicious experience but oh, so subjective. Depending on taste in books, I can recommend three such tales I've read in the last eighteen months: Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones (and I deliberately did NOT read these two for a long, long time because I rightly realized I would lose touch with reality and my day jobs) and Elise Stokes' Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula which is a fun ride but definitely not as heart-rending and intense as the first two.’
Because the topic is fantasy and sci-fi, I ask Katy to put herself in the shoes of a space scout who has discovered Earth and learnt its history. ‘If I were a space scout,’ Katy says, ‘I would whole-heartedly recommend that my alien race make contact with the people of planet Earth. Though Earth's colorful history is bloody and not often happy, its people are capable of great things, and there have always been a handful eager to reach for the stars.’
Anyone who has read Katy’s contribution to Fusion will want to know what she’s writing now. She tells me, ‘My current writing project is finishing part two of a five part fantasy. I was nearly to the end and got derailed by my husband's campaign for the local water board, which was way more work than I thought it would be. I'm not sure what to do with these new campaign skills I've learned. Hopefully nothing! Now that the holidays are finally over I'm rereading (and editing as I go) the previous 800 pages of my story to get back in the groove.’
So where can we find out more? Katy says, ‘To find out more about me and my work, the best place to begin is my website at www.katyhuthjones.com which is nearly as cluttered as my office. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and G+. It's pretty cool being the only Katy Huth Jones in the whole world.’
It certainly is pretty cool, especially when you can produce prose of the quality that comes from Katy’s pen.