With explosive visuals and roller-coaster corkscrew pacing, author Katrina Monroe packs a heavy punch in her novels. Consistently leading readers down dark paths booby-trapped with comedic insight and razor sharp wit, Katrina Monroe is quickly becoming the next big thing in fiction.
“If I have a secret talent, it’s for knowing when to end scenes,” she explains. “I also take the time to read things out loud. If it doesn’t sound ‘right,’ I fix it.”
Breaking out in the fiction scene, her first published works were stories featured in anthologies. Unlocked: Ten Key Tales was published in 2010, and threads together a collection of short stories from various authors with one common motif: an enigmatic key. When asked about her experience working with other writers, Monroe states: “[My experience] was mostly good…Unlocked was a group effort with some people I talked to pretty regularly on Goodreads. It was fun to go through the process for the first time with friends.”
The second anthology, Terrible Cherubs, combines stories from eleven authors aiming to poke and prod at our moral compasses. According to the author, “Terrible Cherubs was basically the end result of a bunch of Deadpixel Publications authors looking at each other with vacant expressions until someone said, ‘We should probably do something.’ We're all pretty like-minded, so the idea came together pretty quickly. If I found the right anthology (and had the right story!) I would definitely do it again.”
Monroe’s first published full length novel, Reaper, centers around Oz, an employee in the Department of Creative Death and Ironic Punishment—the place where writers go when they die. When Oz is given a second chance at life with a new assignment to become a Reaper in the land of the living, he undertakes a series of lessons from a Reaper named Bard, who makes Oz question whether his new job is a blessing or a curse.
“As writers, I think it’s hard not to put at least a little of ourselves in our characters,” Monroe explains. “Oz is a goofy guy who says what he’s thinking, even if he shouldn’t. He gets that from me.”
What began as a short story centered around the character, Bard, Reaper evolved when a friend of Monroe’s suggested that she write it as a novel. “I had a lot of false starts before finding a storyline that fit,” she says, “and even then it took months to get a decent plot going.”
Setting out with one goal—to finish a novel—Monroe completed Reaper, ascending to the next plateau of her career. According to Monroe, “I used to say I was a short-story writer, which was basically a cop out because I was too scared/lazy to write anything longer than five thousand words. So, yeah, I accomplished what I set out to do. With subsequent work, my goals grow. I'm finally comfortable enough to challenge myself, which is great.”
Reaper remains a high point in the author’s career as the success that solidified her conviction as a writer. In her own words, “It was the first novel I'd written in years and it didn't suck. It gave me confidence to keep writing.”
Her second novel, Sacrificial Lamb Cake, was published in February, 2015—just a few months after the release of Reaper; Monroe credits her editors at Red Adept Publishing for helping her push it out quickly. The comedic novel centers around a waitress, Rain Johnson, who is told that she is the Lamb of God while the apocalypse looms around the corner as Lucy, the devil herself, sets her own plans in motion.
Religion played a major part of Monroe’s upbringing, and even later on, as she went on to teach Sunday school. Now, as an agnostic, she sees religious values and practices from the outside. “The fear of the devil, though, has stuck with me,” she explains. “I used humor not just to deliver a message that’s more palatable, but to work out my own lingering fears.” When asked if those fears still existed, she quickly commented, “Oh, they’re still here. Lucy will undoubtedly make another appearance.”
At home, Monroe is a mother of two. Between the duties of motherhood and daily writing, all Monroe says she needs to get her work done are coffee and the dining room chair that doesn’t wobble. Looking back, she comments that she would advise herself, given the opportunity to travel back in time, “Don’t be so anxious to publish. Worry more about the story. Learn everything you can, write the best book you can, THEN hunt down a publisher. It's not like you'll make money anyway. (That last said with a wah-wah trumpet in the background).”
But with two anthology features and two full length novels under her belt, Katrina Monroe and her wickedly dark humor are sure to entertain and enlighten audiences for many more novels to come.
by Anthony Piceno