Karin Rathert grew up in North Dakota, close to where Mondak once flourished. She lives in Colorado and is a writer, editor, and mother of three amazing kids. When not writing, she loves yoga, music, travel, and photographing abandoned buildings. Invitation to a Hanging is her first novel.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I had been struggling to find a title for my book, and nothing was sticking. Then, one day, I was going through a book on my family history and found an “invitation to a hanging.” My great-grandfather was invited to be deputized as an official witness for the hanging of a convicted murderer in Roosevelt County in Montana. All kinds of lights went off. While the book isn’t about a hanging per se, the title perfectly captured the tone, texture, and time of the novel.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
I loved it. There were two cover options that I was excited about, and I of course had to survey friends and family for their opinions. It took me a few days to settle on which was “the one,” but I am absolutely thrilled with the results.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
My book is set at the turn of the last century in a town built to sell alcohol, so there would be a lot of outlaw and drinking songs—think Kris Kristofferson’s Sunday Morning Coming Down, Merle Haggard’s Misery and Gin, Poncho and Lefty by Townes Van Zandt, or Bob Dylans’ version of Knocking on Heaven’s Door from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
I love contrasts and the point where one thing becomes another. This story can be dark, desolate, and desperate at times, but the struggle often perfectly frames opportunity and joy. I hope that people see the beauty in the so very flawed humanity of my characters.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I have a bit of an obsession with the turn-of-the-last century circus and with clowns—or the archetype of the trickster of fool—and so am working on a circus story as well as a more contemporary whodunnit.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
Atmosphere Press has been great to work with. Every person I’ve worked with has been super supportive, optimistic, and friendly, and I’ve been impressed by the quality of their work. The cover design and website teams are spectacular as are their editors and marketing professionals.