Interview with author Karma Chesnut
I have previously written blog posts reviewing Karma Chesnut’s novel, Unfit, as well as revealing the cover. I recently had the opportunity to interview her about the book, which is now available to pre-order on Amazon and will be released April 7th! This is a great read, by an incredible author– don’t miss out!
While great fiction is always relevant, Unfit is especially relevant right now. Transmission of disease, airborne like Covid-19, or genetic like in the book, is on everyone’s mind. Also relevant are fears of infection leading to extreme measures, stereotyping, higher burden-of-disease on those in poverty, and separation of those infected. Intrigued? You should be.
Tell me a bit about Unfit. Why did you write it? What did you like about the process? What was hard about it?
I have been toying with the plot of Unfit in one way or another pretty much since high school. I love biology and the social sciences (I ended up studying Anthropology in college) and am fascinated by human behavior, genetics – everything that motivates us and, essentially, “makes us who we are.” So, long story short, the topics in Unfit are all very dear to my heart.
What I loved about the process is also what made it so difficult, though. I wanted to write a book that made people think, that not only resonated with the readers’ current views of the world and each other, but that also made them reconsider those views. The problem with a story like that, however, is it can become preachy or trite very easily. Finding that balance was tricky.
Were you inspired by any books in particular? What do you learn about writing from reading?
I took inspiration from a lot of different books ranging from Harry Potter to Atlas Shrugged. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was probably my main source of inspiration when I was deep in the writing process, though. Whenever I would hit a wall, I would open up to a random page and just start reading. It really helped me get into the headspace for writing – of visualizing the scene and following the characters’ movement within that space.
Your book covers topics like eugenics, cycles of poverty/wealth, and corruption that are symbolized even on the cover with the red line. Why do you think it’s important that books talk about tough topics like these?
If you don’t talk about the problems in the world, nothing is ever going to change. I’ve had several ARC readers tell me just how close to home this story hit, and even had a review that read, “the story didn’t seem that fictitious.” What people don’t always realize is that a lot of this story was inspired by true events. Eugenics was practiced in the United States not that long ago. (Buck v. Bell, the Better Baby Contests, etc.) Individuals were forcibly sterilized because they were too poor, too stupid, too promiscuous, etc. It might sound cliché, but I really believe the saying that unless the cycle is interrupted, history is doomed to repeat itself. And books have the power to break those cycles.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Writing is hard. It is a solitary endeavor by nature and can easily feel isolating. What really helped me was finding my writing group, Writing Through Brambles. They’re a fantastic group of authors with similar goals who not only have great writing advice, but who push me to keep going even when I start to doubt myself.
There are so many resources out there for writers; conferences, writing groups, Facebook groups, etc. Find your people and let them help you refine your craft.
What avenues are you going down in terms of marketing? Anything you especially recommend?
Right now, my marketing plan is pretty straightforward. I’m on social media (twitter, Facebook, Insta, Goodreads) and have an author website (https://karmachesnut.com). Those are always great places for any author to start.
One book that I found really helpful for outlining a straight-forward marketing plan is Buzz!: Your Super Sticky Book Marketing Plan by Polly Letofsky.
If you’re interested in reading more about Karma or Unfit, find her book on Amazon or visit her author website. Subscribe to my blog on the right, if you haven’t already, for more interviews, book reviews, cover reveals, and more.