Megan Barnard and Katie Gerhardt met during their freshman year at Hollins University. Both were determined to graduate with English degrees and spend the rest of their days in the blissful agony that is writing for a living. One serendipitous tea conversation spiraled into three and a half years of adventures together and many more cups of caffeinated beverages. Having earned their degrees, they are now focused on furthering their writing and paying off student loans.
Megan Barnard has a B.A. in English from Hollins University and writes fiction, with some poetry sprinkled in. Her favorite thing about writing is getting to know each character and over-describing landscapes. She is married and is currently working as a copywriter, proving that English majors can indeed, get jobs.
Katie Gerhardt is a writer from Virginia, recently moved from Ohio to the Baltimore, Maryland area. She holds a B.A. in English and French from Hollins University. Her portfolio also includes a smattering of poetry, short stories, and essays., and she is now working on a science fiction novel. An admitted rambler, she enjoys the concept of synesthesia and character musings. She works as a Legal Writer and as a Volunteer Assistant Editor at Unsolicited Press.
How does a story start for you?
M: Mostly, I have an idea for a story or dialogue, or a character pops into my head. I write because I want to know how that story ends. Finbar, one of the main characters in “The Lights of Portballintrae” was in my head for years, and I felt he needed to become real to more than just me. It’s my way of having imaginary friends when I’m too old for them.
K: My ideas spring to mind usually around action sequences or tense character conflicts that develop into full-fledged scenes. If I don’t write them down, they stay in my head and continuously morph. I can actually trace my fantasy novel back to concepts I started picturing when I was 9 or 10 years old. I kept writing bits and pieces down, though the entire idea grew and changed with me until I was able to dedicate my senior year of college to bring the work together. Only one of those pre-written scenes actually made it into the book, but the years of development gave the main character a force of will and a voice that is now a constant companion.
What do you love about writing?
M: I love description, sometimes to a fault. Setting is incredibly important to me, if I don’t get that right, I can’t get into the story. I also love the idea that my writing could add some happiness or beauty to someone’s day.
K: I love the thrill of feeling a story hook me. To be completely immersed in other worlds and minds is a potent experience. That’s what I want to do: capture someone with my stories and make them feel as intensely as I do or to think about something from an angle they may have never considered.
What do you hate about writing?
M: The waiting. I’m not a naturally patient person… rather a bad thing in the publishing industry, as it can take 3 months to get a “no.”
K: The waiting is pretty terrible. I also hate the self-doubt. There are days when I sit down, read over my work, and think to myself, “Yeah! This is great and people are going to love this!” And then there are other days when I’m trying to work out a scene or dialogue, and it doesn’t click, days when the words feel dead. Those are moments when I feel like I’m an imposter with no real ability.
What three authors have had the most impact on your writing?
M: Jane Austen. L.M. Montgomery. Patrick Rothfuss.
K: Tamora Pierce. J.K. Rowling. Anne Bishop.
Favorite cup of tea?
M: Earl Grey de la creme. Loose leaf. Don’t try to get me to drink bagged tea.
K: I’ll try anything. Right now, I’m enjoying London Fogs, earl grey tea with steamed milk. In my cupboard, I keep a stash of ginger-peach black tea.
M: Hmm… Difficult. So I’ll pick three: Rilke. Seamus Heaney. John Rybicki.
K: Rilke. I also specifically enjoy “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams. This poem makes me laugh every time.