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An Interview with Kathie Giorgio, author of Hope Always Rises

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Kathie Giorgio is the author of a total of fifteen books: eight novels, two story collections, an essay collection, and four poetry collections. Her newest novel, Don’t Let Me Keep You, will be released on October 3, 2024. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and poetry and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Silver Pen Award for Literary Excellence, the Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence, and the Eric Hoffer Award in Fiction. Her poem “Light” won runner-up in the 2021 Rosebud Magazine Poetry Prize, and her work has also been incorporated into many visual art and musical events.

Kathie is the director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop LLC, an international creative writing studio. She lives with her husband, mystery writer Michael Giorgio, and their daughter Olivia, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Three of her adult children, Christopher, Andy, and Olivia, live close by, along with her solo granddaughter, Maya Mae. One adult child has wandered off to Louisiana and lives among the mathematicians and alligators.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Words captured me at an early age, and I particularly loved taking my picture books, tracing the pictures, and then rewriting the story the way I thought it should be. It wasn’t until the fifth grade, when I read one of my stories in front of the class, that I realized I was doing what the authors I loved so much were doing. My teacher said, “Oh my god, Kathie. You’re a writer!” And it just fit. It fit me like my skin. Writers who have influenced me include John Irving and Ellen Gilchrist, and so many more.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I worked for years as a weight loss instructor. During those years, I had to look like I stepped right off a magazine cover. I was so afraid of losing my job, I ended up about 30 pounds below my ideal weight. I wore the most recent fashions, I spent a lot of time every day doing my makeup and my hair. And I just lost myself in the scale.

Today, I am a “plus-sized woman”. My favorite clothes are leggings and a big warm sweater. I wear sneakers. And forget makeup. I just want to be me.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

My titles almost always jump out at me from the book itself, as I’m writing it. In this case, my character Hope is approached by her art teacher in high school. They have a discussion about the depression that Hope feels. The teacher tells her to always remember her name. When Hope asks why, the teacher says, “Hope. Hope always rises!” And there was the title!

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

This particular cover was actually drawn by a student of mine. I sent her my favorite scene from the book, and this is what she created. When she sent it to me, I cried. It was so perfect.

My fifteenth book will be released in October of 2024. Even with fifteen books, that feeling of holding the book for the first time in my hands is just as intense, just as wonderful, just as validating as the first book. Some people liken it to holding your child, but it goes beyond that. I made my children with someone else. But my books—they all come just from me.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

For Hope Always Rises, I hope people come back with a broader understanding of what drives people to choose to end their lives. I want people to understand, so that they don’t judge.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

My new book, Don’t Let Me Keep You, takes on a very broad, but intense subject: parenting. Specifically, being able to let your children be who they want to be, and also being able to let them go as adults. It’s a parallel story that shows how a mother continues growing, right alongside her kids. With everything that I’ve written about, I found parenthood to be the toughest subject to explain and portray. It’s an experience like no other.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.