Author Katie Andraski of Kingston decided to submit her novel to a statewide contest on a lark.
Last month, she received a Google Alert notifying her that her book was selected as a semi-finalist.
Andraski’s self-published novel, “The River Caught Sunlight,” was selected as one of 15 semi-finalists for the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project.
The project aims to discover, recognize and promote indie-published fiction by Illinois writers.
Andraski met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss the book, contest and the importance of communication and finding common ground in politics.
Milton: What is “The River Caught Sunlight” about?
Andraski: It is partly based on my life, because I worked at a Christian publishing company. The book is about a woman who had to do a job she didn’t care to do while grieving. It is also about the roots of Evangelical Christians gaining political power. A lot of stories are told from a man’s perspective, this is from a woman’s perspective. Some topics it touches upon are family, politics and religion. It’s about a young Christian woman on a journey, hitting rock bottom and going up from there.
Milton: Who is the book’s target audience?
Andraski: I think it’s a book for everybody. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, from Christians, atheists, nuns, people who don’t go to church. I think young people enjoy it because there’s a story of first love, there’s a romance in it.
Milton: How did you hear about the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project?
Andraski: I came across the statewide contest via email or on Facebook and I applied on a lark. I sent in a form, my book and a biography, and it came as a total shock that I was selected as a semi-finalist. I was selected as one of 15 semi-finalists from 57 entries in the adult fiction category. I actually found out I was a semi-finalist through Google Alerts.
Milton: What is your reaction to being chosen a semi-finalist?
Andraski: I think it goes to show that you don’t have to be a big, fancy, best-selling author. Small can be OK, hidden can be OK, and your book is still valuable and it has meaning. It’s just nice to be read. I always try to offer what I can offer to the best of my ability.
Milton: What was your writing process like?
Andraski: The book took about 30 years to write, there was a lot of revision and rewriting. I had a professional editor, I attended workshops, I tried to get as much writing and editing help as I could, but I wanted to make sure the book had its own voice and I let the characters speak.
Milton: Why did you incorporate Evangelical politics into the book?
Andraski: I’ve always been interested and fascinated with politics. I try to always have a balanced view. I like to think about what’s going on. It’s why I like the National Review, where people talk back and forth and it’s respectful. Assorted viewpoints are discussed. I think it’s important to find common ground, build a bridge and bring people together.
Milton: Do you discuss politics in the community?
Andraski: I have been featured on WNIJ Perspectives. Every five weeks, I record a 90-second take on a topic. One was reflecting about the idea of Trump being called a prophet, another about being afraid of my horse at first and the commitment and love I have for her now, and one on how thoughts and prayers are more powerful than you might think.
Milton: How else do you communicate with the public?
Andraski: I also have a blog and update it every couple of weeks. It’s a lifestyle blog, about whatever I’m thinking about at the time. The blog first taught me how to have an audience and how not to be afraid of my readers. I published my book to find my audience and get out there. I was originally published by Koehler Books, then I bought the rights back two years ago and am publishing under Light Catcher Press.
Milton: Are you working on any projects now?
Andraski: I have ideas for two sequels and several prequels are in draft form. I also have written three books of poems, one is out of print, the two others are manuscripts. I keep up with my blog, I do WNIJ Perspectives. I’ve also thought about starting a podcast. I think I learned a lot through my years teaching for 20 years at the [Northern Illinois University] Chance Program. I helped young people get ready for college with tutors, helped them develop skills needed. I think that helped set them up for success. It was very rewarding, I learned a lot from my students, like the importance to do your best and never give up.
For information about Andraski or to order “The River Caught Sunlight,” visit https://katieandraski.com.