Intimate Conversation with author Katrina L. Burchett
Katrina L. Burchett is the third born of her parents’ six children; the shy, quiet one who, to this day, expresses herself better with the written word. As far back as she can remember it felt natural to have a piece of paper and a pen or pencil in hand. In grade school she wrote a play or two that her classmates acted out for teachers and their students.
During her middle and high school years creating poems was what she loved most, and a couple of them were printed in the local newspaper.Burchett launched a small book publishing company in 2007, naming it after her teenage niece, Kapri. Choices is Burchett’s debut novel. She wanted to go deeper than the teen sexual activity and teen pregnancy statistics, so she wrote an emotional, thought-provoking read exploring the reasons why some young people make the choice to become sexually active, and why others choose to abstain…
Shauntice, Angel, Bridgette, LaKeeta, and Hope are teenage girls making decisions about boyfriends and premarital sex. Choices is the first of a trilogy. The next novel will explore teen parenting and the relationships Shauntice, Angel, Bridgette, LaKeeta and Hope have with their parents. It will also delve more into the lives of the guys in Choices. And the third novel will focus on teens and drinking.Once the trilogy is complete, Lord willing, Kapri Books will publish the works of aspiring authors.
Ella: Introduce us to your new book, Choices? What subject does it examine?
Choices is a story about five girls making decisions about boyfriends and premarital sex…
Shauntice Johnston has faith in God but the world of domestic abuse she lives in has left her with very little faith in the male gender. Angel Nichols doesn’t know her earthly father, doesn’t care about the heavenly Father and feels neglected by her workaholic mother. She has had numerous sex partners since she was thirteen, trying to fill the void inside of her. LaKeeta Wilson is a Christian, but instead of doing it God’s way and waiting for marriage she purposefully becomes pregnant out of wedlock. Bridgette Anderson practices abstinence in obedience to God and no matter what she will not compromise her beliefs. Hope Patterson is a plain dressing, soft-spoken, timid Christian girl who’s living a very sheltered life because of mother’s strict rules. The word sex isn’t in her vocabulary until she suffers a loss.
Ella: Where did you pull from to write the book?
I could write the domestic abuse scenes so well because I grew up in that same situation. I still remember that I had to get away from the story for a little while once I finished, because I was angry at Grant, tearing up for Elaine, and feeling so bad for Shauntice and Shannon. So with Shauntice’s situation and the issues Angel, LaKeeta, Bridgette and Hope are dealing with, Choices is a story that will evoke just about every emotion. And with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the mix there is a message of hope and new beginnings for the reader.
Ella: Finish the sentence: I am Powerful because…
I am powerful because I am a walking miracle with life-changing stories to tell. On August 3, 2007, a few days before Choices was released, I was admitted to the ICU suffering from severe dehydration, a staph infection in my bloodstream and failing kidneys. I was dying. Actually, I was feeling sick during the entire self-publishing process. By the grace of God I’m still here today and I will use my writing talent so that He can bless others through me.
Ella: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the city of York , Pennsylvania.
Ella: How did you start your writing journey?
I began writing in grade school. I still reflect on how classmates and I would take toy dishes and other props to different classrooms and act out plays I wrote.
Ella: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them?
There are five protagonists in Choices; however, I consider Shauntice and Angel to be the two main characters. I like Shauntice’s name. I came up with her twin brother, Shannon’s, name first and when I was trying to figure out what hers would be there was a Shanice (remember the song I Love Your Smile?) cassette sitting on the stereo, so I added to her name.
I also like Shauntice’s Christ-likeness in dealing with the domestic abuse situation she’s stuck in; the way she never ceases praying, the way she stands by her mom when she’d rather run away. And Angel – plain & simple, I love her spunk! She’s not afraid to speak her mind, she means what she says, and if anybody gets in her face she will not back down. She might not make the best choices when it comes to guys, but who am I to judge? Angel is my girl!
“Young readers will identify with Burchett’s realistic characters,who are true to life and spare no one, not even themselves, of their imperfections. Hip, hip, hooray to Burchett for not trying to create unbelievably perfect characters, but making a choice to give us real characters we can cheer on instead!” 4 STARS Rosalind Stormer, RAWSISTAZ REVIEWERS
Ella: What makes your book stand out and would entice a reader to pick it up?
I was searching for an image to use on the cover and I came across this guy and girl sitting on the couch talking. He looked like he was pleading his case, whatever it may have been, and it reminded me of the scene in Choices where Terry stops by Shauntice’s house and tries to get her to give him a chance. The book designer got creative and changed the image. She took away the background and made the girl the main focus. I’ve received quite a few compliments on the cover. I believe the unique image along with the earth tones catches a reader’s eye.
Quick Overview of Choices for Parents
Choices tackles the issue of teen sex in a realistic way, so some characters do have sex in the story. However, when consensual sex happens the scenes are not graphic, but left to the reader’s imagination. Sadly, there is an acquaintance rape and it is vivid. The author had a difficult time writing this scene in detail, but she wanted every girl who read this to learn from the mistake made by the character who is raped. Burchett didn’t think anything would be learned unless the reader could really feel this character’s pain.
To feel her pain, the reader needed to know everything this girl went through. The character’s mistake: She felt something was wrong. She felt she should ask this guy to leave her home, but she didn’t because she didn’t want to offend him. The domestic violence scenes are also vivid and intense, and there is a little profanity – the “d” and “b” words are mentioned once or twice.
Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I wrote the first draft of Choices many years ago. At that time, I was regretting choices I had made… Okay, I’m gonna tell a little bit of my personal business. I allowed myself to be used more than once because I didn’t know how to say no. It was good to know that God loved me, but still, I didn’t start making better choices until I learned to love myself. My story shows that consensual premarital sex isn’t always about the sex; life’s circumstances, low self-esteem, peer pressure – there are many reasons why teens make this choice. I hope that what I wrote will help young women to make better choices than I did. There are quite a few messages in Choices for parents as well as teens, but the main message is that when we girls mess up it’s never too late to begin again.
Ella: What is the most surprising thing you have learned in creating books?
Well, I thought about self-publishing for a long time before I actually stepped out and did it. There was fear because I really didn’t know if I could do it. The surprising thing was that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be.
Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual, Rob and Terry Adams’ Start Your Own Self-Publishing Business and The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom & Marilyn Ross were all very helpful. And there are plenty of talented book designers and professional editing services out there. All it took was a little research to find the ones I felt at peace about.
Ella: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
There was a reader -a teen reviewer, actually – who said something like ‘I appreciate life more after reading Choices’. I knew immediately what she had read to make her feel that way. I don’t think I should elaborate, because my answer would contain a spoiler, so I’ll just say that through me God sent an important message to this teen. Glory to God!
Ella: How did you do it?
I wrote the story and then found the courage to make it available for this girl and others to read.
Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
I’d like to advise new writers to be open to “constructive” criticism. We can be so close to our work that we don’t want to change anything, but flaws that we can’t see seem to jump out at others. A writer needs a few pairs of fresh eyes to read their work. Once the manuscript has been written and then rewritten as many times as need be, let others read it, get feedback and then there may be more rewriting. After that, it’s best to pass the manuscript on to a professional editor.
Ella: Would you change anything about your journey?
I sure would. I was trying so hard to make Choices perfect that I was making changes during the interior design process. A manuscript should be ready when it gets to that point, but I always found something I just wasn’t satisfied with. I ended up paying a bit more for the service because of the changes.
Ella: Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author, in your opinion?
If an author writes a story with a message that can change a person’s life for the better in some way, whether big or small, that’s a success story. God wants us to use our gifts to serve others (1Peter 4:10). Entertaining the reader is great and necessary to gain a readership, but, in my opinion, there should be more. A lesson to be learned, some kind of knowledge to be gained, something meaningful. Sorry, that’s the only thing that comes to mind.
Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?
Choices is the first of a trilogy, because this premarital sex thing isn’t the only issue I have in my heart to write about. The next book will focus on teen parenting and the third will focus on teens and drinking.
Ella: Share with us your latest news, events or upcoming book releases.
I have started the second novel. I’m hoping for a release date at the end of this year, but I can’t say for sure right now. When I have a date, I’ll be sure to have it posted on my website.
Katrina L. Burchett, YA Fiction Author
Choices: Five teenage girls make decisions about boyfriends and premarital sex.
Shelfari Bookshelf: http://www.shelfari.com/kapribooks
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