Interview with August 2021 Diversity Winner - Kathryn Orwig

Kahtryn Orwig interview

How long have you been writing, and what made you want to write in the first place?
My sixth-grade teacher, Patty Anton, was an amazing woman that believed in me, and it was in her class I first wrote that I wanted to be a journalist, a writer. But my creative writing teacher at the University of Michigan, Susan Rosegrant, was the first person I felt believed in my writing outside of my family. She read [my] pages, put them down on her desk, and said, “My God, you really can write.” That was my moment of someone believing in me and my writing. Before this, I had been writing for myself for years, working on short stories, novels, and poems, and had my first publication my senior year of high school and a few other small ones in reviews and journals. I wrote in my high school classes when I finished the work early. I wrote late into the evenings or early on buses. I wrote in any free time I had and I had to learn to write quickly because I didn’t often have free time. I wrote because it was one thing no one could take away from me as long as I had my pen and a piece of paper before I could afford to buy a laptop.

In my senior year of college, I had a friend from LA who read one of my manuscripts and told me how visually descriptive it was and how he thought I’d be great at screenwriting. 11 days later, I had written my first screenplay based off of that story. I found I loved writing in the style of scripts with fragmented sentences, fast, short dialogue, and the ability to show multiple points of view while retaining elements of mystery of the story that I just couldn’t capture the same way with novels.

What genre do you prefer to write in? What draws you to that genre?
I love to write stories that are smart with heart, that capture humanity, strength, love, endurance whether that’s through a supernatural horror haunting a small town, or a kid’s action-adventure where they are battling a shadow monster. There are fantastical horrors and there are the horrors of the everyday that are ripe for exploration through woven narratives. Historical stories are always something I’ve also been fascinated by and love to write because you get to imagine what it was like to be in Norway in the 850s with sailing and shield maidens, or in the 1600s in Ireland with two lovers caught between inescapable odds. Or in my own feature film script, Not My Brother, takes place in the Civil War where my great-great-great-grandfather was injured and his little brother was taken POW by Confederates, and the whole script got started because of a question, an imagining: I have a little brother what if this was me? What would I do in his shoes? How would I go about getting my brother back if he was behind enemy lines? Allowing viewers to sink into an idea, or experience through this entertainment medium that they can relate to, or never had, is so satisfying to me and a reason I write; to explore. Stories are how we experience something new and challenging or work through something painful, even take delight in a joyful situation presented. The whole range of emotions can be felt and experienced by readers or viewers and there is something magical in that. One of my favorite quotes is, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one,” by George R Martin.

Tell us three things you're currently digging.
Currently, I am in love with the colors sage/aqua for everything. I just finished The Fifth Wave Series and really enjoyed Rick Yancey’s writing style. And I’m currently helping to raise the newest addition to the family, a little German Shepard puppy named Blu (he’s a handful! But so loveable!). Okay, fourth thing because I also just recently watched Bridgerton and loved it.

What interested you about the Roadmap Diversity Initiative?
The Roadmap Diversity Initiative really intrigued me because as a creative I write and get wrapped up in story ideas and plot lines to untangle that I forget to spend an equal amount of time on nailing down the pitch in a concise manner. Being able to hone in on presentation is something I am highly looking forward to through the Pitch Prep Program. I’m grateful to be able to gain skills, make connections, and I thank Roadmap for the opportunity, as I am honored and excited!

Where can we find you?
Facebook: @KathrynOrwigAuthor
Twitter: @katorwigauthor

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