Charlotte Greene interviews Ursula Klein:
New Bold Strokes Books author Ursula Klein’s novel Enchanted Autumn is a contemporary “witchy” supernatural lesbian romance. Ursula’s wife Charlotte Greene, another BSB author, spoke to her about her new book, her process, and some of her other interests.
Your novel Enchanted Autumn just came out. Congratulations, honey! I’m so dang proud of you.
Aww, thanks. I’m so excited to join you and the rest of the amazing folks at Bold Strokes Books. It’s a thrill to finally be a published author.
Can you describe your path to becoming a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a published writer since at least ten years old. It’s always been a dream of mine, and I wrote my first novel on a typewriter in my childhood home right around that age. I’ve been writing ever since. In college I took creative writing classes, and I’ve always been part of one writing group or another. I started doing NaNoWriMo in grad school, so I’ve written quite a few finished and unfinished novels. Enchanted Autumn actually started as a NaNoWriMo novel.
What's your writing process like?
For Enchanted Autumn, I used the snowflake method to plan out some of the major events of the novel and character development. When I queried literary agents in the past with other manuscripts, I often got feedback about how the characters weren’t fully fleshed out, or the action didn’t grab them quickly enough, so I found that the snowflake method really helped me think about how to improve on those issues.
In general, though, my process is to think about what kinds of books don’t exist that I would like to read. I want to write books that I would enjoy reading.
In your day job, you’re a professor, like me, and we also have a nearly two-year-old toddler. How do you find time to write with your other responsibilities?
Oh gosh…recently it’s been really hard because I’ve got an academic writing deadline coming up. Once that article is off my desk, though, my hope is to do an hour of writing three days a week to get back in the groove. I wish I could find the time to do something like NaNoWriMo again, though. That is such a great way to pump out a lot of writing fast!
How is writing fiction different from academic writing (or, if you prefer—how is academic work different from writing fiction)?
There is a lot less research in fiction writing—and no footnotes! I find fiction writing more enjoyable. I don’t have to worry so much about anyone else’s ideas, and I can just focus on the story I’m telling. Academic writing always requires me to think about what has already been said on a given topic, and I find it harder to juggle with my own ideas. I find writing fiction really freeing by comparison.
Are any of your characters drawn from life, as it were?
Mmm…not so much. I do borrow freely from real-life people, but also from television and movie characters, but it’s usually just one small quality or habit that I blend together with others. In Enchanted Autumn, Hazel’s love of chocolate was inspired by one of my favorite queer films, Better than Chocolate. One of the characters in the film is obsessed with chocolate truffles and is constantly eating them after being disappointed in love. Every day needs a bit of sweetness in my opinion, so I decided to give Hazel a sweet tooth.
Your new novel Enchanted Autumn has witches and vampires and ghosts, but it’s also a lighthearted romance. What appeals to you about the supernatural?
I have always loved the idea of a secret world of magic, and growing up, I hated the idea that I lived in a world without magic. I always loved fairy tales and fantasy, and as an adult I find myself drawn to books with those elements, too. It’s just such a wonderful break from the relentless reality of daily life. Witches, in particular, were always my favorite figures in fantasy, and for a little while as a kid, I pretended I was secretly a witch who could escape to an alternate universe and do magic.
Your book is pretty funny, with lots of silly antics. What’s your favorite joke or gag?
I really enjoyed writing Roxy’s malapropisms, probably because I myself have been known to misunderstand a saying or idiom in the past. I still have to remind myself to say for all intents and purposesand not for all intensive purposes. I love puns and wordplay, so I enjoyed trying to think of mismatched idioms for Roxy.
Without giving too much away, what do you love about your characters (or one character)? What don’t you love?
I love Roxy and Hazel’s friendship. It was really important to me to have that as a foundation in the novel. My friendships with other women have always been a huge part of my personal life, and I don’t know where I’d be without my amazing female friends to support me. I wanted to portray a friendship between two women that is real: committed, caring, but not without its rocky moments.
I’m not a fan of Elizabeth’s work obsession. I’ve never been the kind of person to be a workaholic. I believe it’s really important to take breaks and make time for socializing. I’m a real extrovert in that sense. Connecting with people and ample rest make me happier, so it was a struggle to write a character who is energized by her work and so totally committed to it.
Are you working on anything new?
Yes! I’ve started writing Roxy’s story. It will be a standalone novel, so you don’t have to have read Enchanted Autumn to enjoy it, but there will definitely be magic, a mermaid, Provincetown in winter, a brewery, and a friends-to-lovers romance that sizzles amidst snowflakes. I really wanted Roxy to get her own romance story, so I’m hoping this next project will do just that while also telling a fun story about love and magic yet again.
And finally, I’m stealing a question series by James Lipton, which the lovely Aurora Rey asked me, too. It’s a little hard to be spontaneous, but here goes!
- What is your favorite word? Titillating
- What is your least favorite word? Impactful
- What turns you on? Kisses
- What turns you off? Rudeness
- What sound or noise do you love? Coffee maker
- What sound or noise do you hate? Dentist drill
- What is your favorite curse word? FUCK
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Radio personality
- What profession would you not like to do? Accountant
- If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You were right about everything!