Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on Gregory Scott Katsoulis this week! Gregory is a writer and photographer based in Cambridge, Mass. He is a former educator who has worked extensively with children of all ages across a range of subjects and programs. His likes to write about subjects with a good, juicy concept to explore. When he is not writing, Gregory composes incidental music and enjoys taking photographs of faces, debunking bunk, and confounding children by teaching them about black holes, time travel paradoxes, and the hilarious fallibility of human memory.
Gregory will be at our 65 James Street store on Friday, September 14, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM celebrating the release of Access Restricted, the long awaited sequel to his YA science fiction thriller, All Rights Reserved.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I loved writing about Sera Croate in Access Restricted. She is a minor antagonist in All Rights Reserved, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to both explain her behavior and build a relationship between her and Speth. I wanted to find a way to allow both the reader and the protagonist to empathize with and care for Sera, despite her frustrating behaviors. As you read the book, you start to realize that the systems you’ve read about have been designed to keep people apart and Speth and Sera’s relationship is a victim of those systems.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
Speculative Fiction allows me to use the predictive software we all possess in our minds to fast forward and exaggerate whatever ideas strike me. Both readers and I have good reason to be anxious about where we are headed with our future. Writing specifically about a dystopia lets me run with that anxiety and take it to places that I might describe as gleefully, absurdly miserable. Young Adult books in particular have seen a lot of dystopian stories because teens are, and should be, deeply invested in the future.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I relish imagining possibilities. I know some people fear the blank page, but I love it. That blinking cursor in the upper left-hand corner of the screen could go anywhere and describe anything. Even if I’m writing a story about a future I hope we can avoid, I still enjoy being able to dream up that world and ways to fight it.
One of the great things about the publishing process is that these ideas are then read and interpreted in a myriad of ways, from the first reads by the editor, to the many readers, each of whom sees the book through their own lens. Connecting with readers and hearing their interpretations can be both fascinating and gratifying.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
There are a lot of clues in All Rights Reserved that point to the location of that first story as taking place in a dome in a future Portland, Maine. In fact, I set it inland a bit from where Portland actually exists because of rising oceans. It is possible to overlay the map of the dome in the book with the map of the area and see places that align. Access Restricted is much more overt, with a map I designed based on some of the worst projections for sea level rise. The entire Eastern Seaboard is depicted in the map and early parts of the story take the characters out of the Portland dome and down through what has become of New England.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I used to construct elaborate playlists of music, mostly modern classical and movie soundtracks, to play and inspire me as I wrote. (Never anything with lyrics.) But I found that the mood of each piece would affect the mood of my writing and it wasn’t always appropriate to the scene. I tried to break down these playlists down into very specific groupings so I could have one for the exact mood I required, but it was an impractical use of time. It might even have been a method of procrastination, so I stopped. I can’t say, however, that I work in silence because I live in a city and silence isn’t really an option.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My books can be found at most independent booksellers, public libraries and for sale several places on the internet where books are sold.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Folks are welcome to follow me on Twitter at @gregkatsoulis, on FaceBook at @gscottkatsoulis and on my website: http://gregorykatsoulis.com
Thank you for the great interview, Gregory! We’re looking forward to hosting you at our 65 James Street store on Friday, September 14, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM.