Indie Support Sunday: Katia Rose
First things first, this interview with Katia Rose might just be my absolute favourite. Not only because she’s such an incredible person, but also because her answers are so elaborate and inspirational. Katia took the time to put down usable advice for all indie authors—new or old—and she’s explained her journey in the best ways possible. Just reading what she has to say and experiencing her incredible mind has made me feel so privileged to have read this interview before anyone else.
Katia had an interesting start and introduction to the romance genre, but she’s been writing stories and poems long before she started publishing officially. Her stories are inspired by the city of Montreal and her favourite neighbourhoods. While Katia writes full time after working towards it for five whole years, she’s also a pole dance instructor. And if you follow her on Instagram or have signed up for her newsletters, then you definitely know what she’s capable of!
As you’re reading this interview, I want you to pay attention to her five tips for aspiring authors, because I’ve read it three times and every time, it adds another layer of how to handle my own author journey.
I am so excited for you to get to know Katia and to discover her incredible books, because I promise they’re going to blow you away!
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
I’m one of those writers who’s been writing stories in my head since before I even had the skills to physically write them down. There are a lot of adorable ‘books’ little me wrote (and sometimes illustrated, but unlike my writing, my drawing has not really improved since then) sitting in a box in my parents’ house. I ended up going to an arts high school to specialise in creative writing, and while I dropped out of university, I was at one point going to pursue it there too. It’s always felt like a necessary part of how I experience and process the world.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
This one has an interesting story! Basically, I became a romance author because I got food poisoning in Cambodia. The non-basic version: I spent most of my early twenties backpacking to various parts of the world. I used to be really opposed to ereaders (this was way back in the day haha) and refused to read anything that wasn’t a print book, but when I decided to go on a six month trip to southeast Asia, I caved and got a Kindle. I thought I’d just download all the classic literature freebies I could find and make my way through those, but when I ended up with a nasty case of food poisoning that kept me cooped up in a windowless hotel room in Cambodia for several days on end, I somehow decided it would ease my misery if I read a romance novel for the first time in my life? That led to me discovering indie romance and quickly becoming a rampant reader. I fell head over heels in love with the indie romance community, and about six months later, I published my first book.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Because…I am a control freak and like doing everything myself. That’s honestly probably the biggest reason haha. I also didn’t want to wait to get my work out there and was genuinely interested in all the facets of self-publishing, so going indie always felt like the right choice for me.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part is the freedom I was describing above. I see that as a common answer among indie authors, and I think it’s what unites everyone who feels intensely drawn to this kind of a career. We thrive on it, and even on the hardest days when it feels like nothing will ever go right, that sense of creating not just our stories but our entire careers out of nothing always comes through and keeps us moving forward.
For me, the worst part has been the moments of loneliness and isolation. Aside from other indie authors, there isn’t really anyone who genuinely understands what we even do. It can be difficult not only to get people to recognize the sheer magnitude of what it takes to be an indie author (as in, being the entire staff of a publishing house condensed into one single human AND an author on top of that), but also to find the kind of comfort and support you’re looking for in the people around you. The indie author community itself is such a wonderful source of support, but since that community pretty much only takes place online, it can feel quite isolating to close your laptop and realize nobody around you in the ‘real’ world seems to get it. I’ve learned to really treasure the few in-person author experiences I’ve had.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
I’ve been writing full time for almost a year now, after almost five years of work to get there! I knew I was aiming to become a full time author when I started, but I definitely don’t think everyone needs to have that goal, and I also think it’s totally fine to shift your goals. I also work part time as a pole dance instructor.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
As mentioned above, I’m a pole dance instructor, and I am going to go ahead and say I am pretty damn great at pole! I’ve been doing pole for about as long as I’ve been publishing books, and it’s been awesome to see my career as an author and my progress as a dancer move along together. I’ve been coaching for almost a year now, and it’s added even more joy to what pole brings to my life.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I’d love to get back into writing poetry someday!
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
I’ll limit myself to one recommendation for fear of making this way too long. The latest addition to my ‘I will be re-reading this forever’ list is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I read it during one of the particularly dark eras of Covid, and it totally shifted my outlook on what it means to lead a creative life full of joy, even at a time when I felt very far from that.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
1. Show up with genuine passion and engage with the community in an authentic way. Not only do I consider this one of the biggest sources behind my success, but I also consider it to be what’s made this career so fulfilling for me. When I released my first novel, I individually emailed ARC team invitations to over a hundred bloggers, addressed them all by name, and made sure to mention a fun fact I learned in their ‘about me’ section or shouted out a great recommendation post they made. It took ages—and I loved doing it. Connecting with readers absolutely lights me up. I feel honored to have my work be a part of my readers’ lives, and I love getting to know them. When you genuinely seek a connection with readers and don’t just foist ARCs on them any chance you get, it shows. Those connections can bring so much to your life and your readers’ lives—and yes, they will grow your ARC team too.
2. It’s okay to experiment and take time to find your voice. Long gone are the days when indie authors could hit the romance top 100 with their debut novels. Sure, it can still happen, but the truth is that you are probably going to be writing and publishing in relative obscurity for at least a couple years. What I’ve learned (through much frustration and despair) is that that time is actually an extremely valuable gift. It’s your time to go wild and chase all your plot bunnies through the fields of your mind without wondering if your book idea is going to be able to pay your rent (if full-time author life is something you aspire to, which you definitely don’t have to!). Finding your voice as an author takes experimentation. You don’t need to have your style, niche, and brand locked down from the start. You should definitely have a starting point to begin experimenting with, but it’s totally okay for things to shift a lot throughout the early stages of your career.
3. Comparison is truly the thief of every single joy this career has to offer. ‘Stop comparing yourself to other people’ is of course a pretty useless piece of advice since I still struggle with it every day myself and haven’t met a single author who’s completely immune to the comparison game, but I’m giving it anyway. The truth is that no matter how you measure ‘success,’ someone is always going to be doing ‘better’ than you. In fact, a lot of people are always going to be doing ‘better’ than you, but those terms are all so relative you can go ahead and imagine me making air quotes around them. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard for addressing this came from the amazing Kandi Steiner. I was attending a virtual workshop of hers where the topic of comparison came up in the Q&A. She explained that she doesn’t find comparison to be as much of a struggle as a lot of authors do because she’s accepted that somebody else’s success has nothing to do with her. She thinks ‘Good for them!’ and gets back to her work because she’s recognized that our careers can’t be compared. There are way too many factors at play to determine what we can and can’t objectively measure ourselves against. That’s always stuck with me, and when I’m struggling with comparison, I also find it helpful to take a moment to ask myself, “Am I learning anything through making this comparison?” Sometimes there’s a lesson I can implement in my own career, and sometimes there’s not, but either way, I work on moving on from the situation as fast as I can after I’ve asked that question.
4. Commit to celebrating all your progress. This is another one I’m still working on myself, and I think a lot of people can relate to how difficult it can be to celebrate your progress. The indie romance world is incredibly fast-paced, and demand just keeps rising for us to pump out those books faster and faster. When your readers are already asking ‘what’s next?’ on release day, it can be hard to prioritize celebrating actually reaching the point you’re at. If you fail to make time for those moments of celebration, though, it’s going to be extra hard to pull yourself through all the work it takes to Do The Thing because you won’t have taught your brain that there’s any reason to be excited once The Thing is done. We need rewards and moments of feeling good and satisfied, and I believe we need them for the small achievements as much as the big ones.
5. Figure out your ‘why’ and let it fuel you. One of my favourite experiences as an indie author was when my author friend Tanya Gallagher invited me to be a guest speaker at her local chapter of RWA in Seattle. I chose ‘finding your why’ as my topic. Here’s a quote from that presentation:
“What your why should really bring you and where its power really lies is in this sense of assurance, of solidity, of knowing. It’s this feeling of certainty and rightness. It really is a fuel. It’s a source. It’s not a goal or a wish; it’s where your goals and wishes come from. It’s the reason behind them. It’s what made you dream your dreams in the first place, and it doesn’t matter how close you are to reaching those dreams. Your why is just as strong and powerful now.”
I really do believe that having a strong sense of the why behind your work is what makes being an author possible, and I believe it’s vital to spend time thinking about what your why is before you even begin. Your why may change and evolve as you do, but being grounded in that sense of purpose is what will get you through every challenge thrown in your path.
Can you briefly tell me about your books?
My author tagline is “Laugh. Cry. Swoon.” I like to think that sums it up pretty well! I write feel-good romances featuring a combination of heat and humour splashed with a dash of angst. Think your Netflix comfort binge show that still makes you laugh and tear up no matter how many times you’ve seen it already. I’m also bisexual and have a passion for writing about love in all its forms!
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
This one is so tough! I feel like a traitor for even picking at all, so I’m going to go with all four members of the rock band in my first ever series, Sherbrooke Station. While all my characters mean so much to me, I think writing the Sherbrooke Station series was when I truly fell in love with being a romance author. The first book came out over four years ago now, and those characters still talk to me almost every day. They feel like they’re inevitably going to stroll up the sidewalk to greet me one day, and sometimes I honestly feel quite heartbroken to know I won’t get to meet them for real.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
Most of my readers won’t be at all surprised to hear I’m greatly inspired by the city of Montreal. The majority of my books are set there. It’s been one of my favourite places in the world for as long as I can remember, and it’s always felt like home, even though I’ve only lived there briefly. Just thinking about my favourite neighborhoods and the kinds of people you can find there is enough to get my story gears going. I also love basing stories around things I have personal experience with that might not be super common elements for romance novels. Highland dance in The Devil Wears Tartan is a great example of that, and I’ve had a surprising number of fellow former highland dancers reach out and let me know how much they enjoyed seeing it in a book.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
I think they all have a bit of me in them somewhere, perhaps some more than others. One of my partner’s favourite parts of reading my books is finding the ‘me’ in each of the characters, so that seems to be true!
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
What I want more than anything, especially since I’ve started writing queer romances, is for my readers to feel seen. I think one of the most powerful things we can experience with any form of art is to see ourselves represented in something someone else made, to know that we’re not alone and that our stories are worth telling. Even if it’s just a small moment or some silly reference, one of my greatest joys is when a reader tells my story made them feel like somebody else just ‘gets it.’
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
In keeping with the theme of writing stories featuring my old hobbies or personal interests, I’d love to one day write a book based around horseback riding. I rode regularly for over a decade growing up and spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years at the barn. It would be so fun to write a romance with that setting!
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
Well, I can tell you it’s not a horseback riding book yet haha. I’m in the midst of another new adult sapphic romcom at the moment and getting excited to share more details with my reader group soon!
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
I absolutely love second chance romances! I’m really interested in seeing more than just the initial phases of a couple falling for each other. While that’s of course awesome to read about too, what really appeals to me as a reader is getting a look at the struggles and triumphs of building a relationship beyond just happily ever after. That part of a relationship can be incredibly romantic too, and I love finding books that showcase it.
I’m not sure if I have a definite least favourite trope, but I do have tropes that I approach with caution on a personal level, namely age gap, student/teacher, or any other dynamic that involves a notable power imbalance. While those tropes definitely have a hotness factor that’s appealing and might even be something I try writing someday, I personally also like to see them address the realities of how easily power imbalances can complicate consent and be exploited even by well-meaning people. Of course, not all readers are going to need that to the extent I do, but it’s hard for me personally to enjoy those stories if the complexities of the dynamics aren’t acknowledged and discussed.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I’d love to do a sibling’s best friend or best friend’s ex romance. All the drama!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
Okay, we’re going to get explicit here. I would absolutely love to see more romances that include sex scenes where a character has difficulty having an orgasm, either in general or from a particular kind of sex. I say that as an author who hasn’t provided much of that representation in my own books and is working to improve on it. Authors who write romances featuring sex scenes have an amazing opportunity to normalize the realities of sex while showing how those realities can in fact make sex more sexy, more fun, more connected, and more consensual. I’d love to see more romances show the reality of what it’s like to have your body not do something you really want it to do during sex, as well as what navigating that with a partner looks like.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
My absolute favourite thing about the romance genre is the community. There is no other genre like it as far as bringing people together to form a sense of belonging and mutual support goes. Time and again, I’ve seen the romance community show up and do utterly amazing things when one of its own is suffering or when the world in general is suffering. Plus, we’re just really great at having a good time together!
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover
All of Katia Rose’s books are available on Kindle Unlimited. She’s written two full series and four full length queer novels out right now, with so much more to come! You can find Katia on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and join her author group on Facebook. Also stay updated on all things Katia at her website.