(photo: Karen Walrond)
KatherineCenter wrote her first novel in the sixth grade (fan fiction about Duran Duran) and got hooked. From then on, she was doomed to want to be a writer—obsessively working on poems, essays, and stories, as well as memorizing lyrics, keeping countless journals, and reading constantly.
She won a creative writing scholarship in high school, and then went on to major in creative writing at Vassar College, where she won the Vassar College Fiction Prize. At 22, she won a fellowship to the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program and moved home to Texas with plans to become Jane Austen ASAP.
Didn’t happen quite that way. Of course. Instead, she began a decade of struggling, agonizing, and questioning the meaning of life before finally finding a fairy-godmother-like agent and getting a dream-come-true book deal from Random House for her debut novel, The Bright Side of Disaster.
A total happy ending. And also, just the beginning.
Katherine firmly believes that our struggles lead us to our strengths, and the years of not getting published, she’s decided, were good for her. They forced her to define who she is and what she cares about. They forced her to figure out why she writes at all. They forced her to clarify for herself what she loves in stories as a reader—to create her own definitition of “good writing” from the inside out.
Katherine is constantly thinking about craft, and looking for stories to admire, and working to get better at storytelling—but she’s very careful about what “better” means. For her, getting better as a writer means getting clearer and clearer about what she, herself, loves and looks for in stories—and using everything she knows about writing to do those things in the spirit of service for others.
Katherine believes the single most inspiring thing about the human race is the way life knocks us down over and over and over, but we just keep on getting back up.
She believes the best stories let you get so lost, you forget you’re reading at all—and then you find your way back out a little bit changed.
Katherine also believes joy is just as important as sorrow.
That’s why her stories are always about resilience and struggle and finding ways to savor life’s moments of grace. That’s why her characters joke around so much, even in the shadow of hardship. And that’s why Katherine will never, ever, run the main character over with a bus in the final chapter.
That’s a promise.
Katherine is always looking for reasons to be hopeful, and opportunities to laugh, and ways of getting inspired—both in real life and in fiction. She believes that the only compass you can follow as a writer is to write the story you, yourself, long to read.
Katherine Center is the author of six bittersweet comic novels about love and family, including The Bright Side of Disaster, The Lost Husband, Happiness for Beginners, and the upcoming How to Walk Away (May 15, 2018). Her work has appeared in Redbook, InStyle, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Real Simple, Houstonia, the Dallas Morning News, The Houston Press, and the Houston Chronicle, as well as several anthologies.
The Dallas Morning News says, “Reading a book by Katherine Center is like having a long lunch conversation with an old friend you haven’t seen for a while — familiar, cozy and satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.”
BookPage calls The Bright Side of Disaster, “beautifully penned and truly memorable. A heartwarming and deeply emotional debut.” People calls The Lost Husband, “A sweet tale about creating the family you need.” And InStyle says of Happiness for Beginners, “If you’re anything like us, you’ll read this book in one sitting.”
BookPage named Katherine a writer to watch, the Houston Press named her a Top Ten writer in the city, and Instant Pictures recently optioned The Lost Husband for a movie.
Katherine’s novels have been published in translation in Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Hungary, as well as in the UK, with upcoming editions in Sweden, Italy, and Israel. She has won a number of awards for her work, including the Rose State President’s Distinguished Author Award, the Girls, Inc. Strong, Smart & Bold Award, the Writers In The Schools Founders’ Award, the St. John’s School Maverick Award, and the Vassar College Fiction Prize.
Katherine is also a speaker on writing, and reading, and how the stories we tell impact our lives—and she recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy. She lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her awesome husband, two sweet children, and their fluffy-but-fierce dog.
Here’s Katherine reading an essay at the book launch for The Lost Husband at Brazos Bookstore in Houston:
Here’s a 3 minute video about Katherine’s writing process. Videography by Karen Walrond.
Here’s Katherine in a Public Service Announcement in support of creative writing classes for children:
And here’s a video that Katherine did based on a letter she wrote to her daughter that’s had a whole bunch of views on YouTube. (That’s Katherine talking, by the way!)
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Here are a few features and interviews from around the web:
Houston NPR • Katherine’s radio interview on Houston Matters
EFFING Shakespeare Podcast • Katherine talks about writing
Authorlink • Q&A on Happiness For Beginners
Bookreporter • Q&A on Happiness for Beginners
The Girlfriends’ Book Club • Interview about Happiness For Beginners
1/2 DOZEN with Julianna Baggott • Interview
The Houston Chronicle • Katherine Center Gets–and Gives–Inspiration From Famous Words
USA Today • “New Voices: Katherine Center”
Houston Chronicle • “Katherine Center’s First Book Delivers”
Brené Brown • “Katherine Center: The Lost Husband”
Culture Map • “Love on a Goat Farm”
The Dallas Morning News • “The Lost Husband”
WDAY Radio Interview with Christopher Gabriel
Traveling With T • Interview with Katherine Center
LitJuice • “Katherine Center on Book Clubs, Social Media, and How to Beat Procrastination”
Indiana Wonderer • “It’s Katherine Center!”
Success Diaries • “Interview on Writing, Publishing, and Success”
Fargo Green Living • “Four Questions for Katherine Center”
Divine Caroline • “Talking Books with Romantic comedy Author Katherine Center”
Angie Mizzell • Interview with Katherine Center
Readers Read • “Interview with Katherine Center”
Maw Books Blog • “Nicki Richesin’s Interview with Katherine Center”
Trashionista • “Interview with Katherine Center”
Ryan Rice • “In the Car with Katherine Center!”
BlogTalkRadio Interview • “Katherine Center”