Interview with KD Proctor, Author of Meet Me Under the Stars

We’re delighted to be talking to KD Proctor, author of the debut novel, Meet Me Under the Stars.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Charlie’s sister has died and left a will with one simple request: she wants a memorial scholarship set up in her name at the summer camp they both attended as kids. There’s just one problem. Charlie has to create the scholarship with Nate, who just so happens to be her ex.

Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.

What do we do now? Hug? Shake hands? My body moves towards him on autopilot. Our chests bump first, and then my mind scrambles. Should I hug him around the middle? Or do I give him one of those wimpy hugs like we’re on a first date? Where’s the how-to guide How to Hug the Ex when you need it?

What do you want people to know about your book?

The setting of a summer camp is based off the camp I used to work at both seasonally (while in college) and full time/year round (after graduate school). Many of the scenes in the book are based on real camp traditions, places around camp, etc. For those who have never been to a traditional summer camp, you’ll get a fun glimpse of what camp is like. But for my friends who I’ve met at camp and who have spent numerous summers on the shores of Lake Hubert in Nisswa, Minnesota—those scenes are my “Easter Eggs” left there for them to find.

What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?

As much as I didn’t mean to, I put a hell of a lot of pressure on myself to make everything about this novel absolutely perfect. As a result, I found that the stress was too much for me and it was having an impact on my self-esteem and those around me. I had to let go and trust my editors, my publisher, my writing friends, CP/Beta readers that I was doing good work and that no author ever feels like their novel is perfect. Once I finally let go of that pressure my confidence soared. I had to tell myself that accepting imperfection doesn’t mean I’m a lazy writer.

What was your timeline from drafting to publication?

March 2015: Idea was born and outline created

April 2016: Publishing offer was accepted

May 2016 – April 2017: Edits

July 2017: Published

What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?

Plotting! My method consists of an extensive, highly detailed outline for the story as well as a deep character inventory/questionnaire. All of this especially helps my CPs know more about my characters should I need their help in fixing a plot point.

Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?

My book ideas pop into my head at the most random of times. Case in point: I was at a work conference in Chicago. I was sitting in a session about federal compliance for financial aid funding (riveting, I know). And out of nowhere, the original idea for the book hit me: friends who met at a summer camp years ago travel around the world spreading the ashes of another camp friend. In their travels, they connect with other camp friends, fall in love, etc.  On my flight home I drafted the outline and the rest is history.

When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?

In the most inconvenient places: on the treadmill, in the shower, driving in the car, in conference sessions when I should be taking notes. And do you think I can remember all the great brainstorms I had? Nope. *sigh*

Share something people may be surprised to know about you?

With all my summers working at camp, I’m quite the practical joker. I also have a set of rules I follow, too (no one is in danger, no personal property is damaged, etc). Of course, you can’t say you’re a great practical joker without SOMEONE challenging you. They try, but they never succeed because the payback is always something they never saw coming. And without fail, they proclaim that yes…I am the reining champion of the practical jokes.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

Colleen Hoover and I had a very kind email exchange very early on in my writing career. She shared a laundry list of writing advice and my favorite was this: Publishing is a really hard industry to break into and the odds of being a best seller are slim. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. She encouraged me to set my end goal to be as simple as possible: write a book that I love and publish it. That way, if any of the cool stuff happens (like movie deals and world publishing rights) then it’s an added bonus. If none of that happens, it’s okay because you still met your goal of writing a book and publishing it.

What’s next?

My editing group has a holiday anthology going out on submission later this summer. It’s a combination of novellas set in a small Vermont town that all weave together—much like the movie Love Actually. A fun mix of genres are included, so there is something for everyone!

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