Our Reading Lives

Growing Up in the House Where Stories Come From

Katherine Marciniak

Staff Writer

Katherine is an over-caffeinated avid reader, writer and college student. She was featured in the anthology Once Upon an Apocalypse, and loves to beta read and edit when she has the opportunity. She’ll do more impressive things after she’s finished her tea…and this next chapter.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in the house where stories come from.

Fun fact about me: my mom’s an author. I don’t say that to brag. (But my mom is awesome, so you’re allowed to be jealous). That means that stories were always present in my life, in one form or another. I grew up around half-finished books, unpublished stories, and a steady supply of Writer’s Digest magazines (which I would snatch up and read before my mom had a chance to).

My perspective on books and publishing is sort of unique. For example, I read the acknowledgements, in case I recognize some names and because I know how enormous a task it is to create a book from scratch. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire army to write a book.

When my mom was more involved in critique groups, and when most of her friends were writing YA, I was at the perfect age to beta read to my heart’s delight. To the uninitiated: I provided an outsider’s perspective on unpublished novels, before the authors queried their work.

This did a few things to my reading habits. One, it made it so that I am now a terribly critical reader. I beta read a lot when I was a teenager, and old habits die hard. Two, because of all the beta reading, some of my ABSOLUTE ALL-TIME FAVORITE books were nowhere near publication. Tut, by P.J. Hoover, for example, was my favorite book for about six years before it was actually published. That was a struggle. You know how great it is to tell friends about your favorite books and to encourage them to go right out and buy it or read it so you can talk about it together? Okay, now imagine you’ve read the greatest book, but it’s not published or available anywhere. And it’s still undergoing edits. And rewrites. Also, characters change names. It’s just such a struggle!

I also learned that the publishing industry is harsh. Timing determines so much of the publishing industry. My mom’s only ever gotten picked up by small presses, but not for lack of trying or bad writing. Luck is just as much involved as skill is.

You constantly have to be persistent, too. Between the actual creation of the book, marketing the book, and working on your platform as an author, the publishing industry isn’t easy. What appears between the covers of a book barely scratches the surface of the process.

We create stories at my house. This shaped how I read, and how I write, and I think I’m all the better for it.