Saturday, August 27, 2022

Q&A with Katherine Center




Katherine Center is the author of the new novel The Bodyguard. Her other books include Happiness for Beginners, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including USA Today and InStyle. She lives in Houston.


Q: What inspired you to write The Bodyguard, and how did you create your characters Hannah and Jack?


A: I heard a podcast a while back about women bodyguards—and how they were in demand these days because they didn’t look like bodyguards. Not fitting the stereotype actually made it easier for them to get their jobs done and move around undetected.


That idea stuck with me, and I found myself looking for ways to write a story about a woman bodyguard. So I that’s how I came up with Hannah—but then I needed someone for her to protect.


I tried a couple of different ideas for Jack before deciding to make him a movie star. At first, I worried that writing about a movie star would seem too implausible. But my editor encouraged me to try it, and as soon as I gave myself permission to write a dashing, sexy, hyper-famous character like that, the story took off.


It was just fun. It was fun to learn about fame, and acting, and that world. It was fun to go behind-the-scenes. And it was fun to see the two characters clash, and argue, and eventually team up and look after each other. Everything about writing this story was delightful.


Q: The writer Christina Lauren said of the book, “As always, Center’s writing wallops readers with wisdom, wit, and a deep understanding of her dimensional characters. And The Bodyguard is pure, unvarnished delight. It sparkles bright with flirtation, banter, and the all-encompassing thrill of falling in love over a thousand tiny moments of connection.” What do you think of that description?


A: I love it! It very much captures what I’m trying to do with stories. Because I’m trying to write stories about three-dimensional people who have to struggle with real, hard things—and find wisdom in that struggle . . . but I’m also trying to write about, and savor, the joys that show up even in the midst of it all. So that quote really captures so much! 


Q: The novel is set in Texas--how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: It depends on the book, to be honest!  Sometimes the setting is totally essential—and other times I’m focused on other aspects of the story.


For The Bodyguard, the ranch setting was crucial, because so much of the dramatic premise is about two people whose lives would never ordinarily even cross paths winding up in a situation where they have to live together in isolation from the rest of the world. And not only live together—pretend to be dating each other!


So the intensity of being removed from their normal lives is essential for creating events that drive the plot—and also the energy that brings the story to life.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I’m always kind of quietly making the argument that joy is just as important as sorrow. That living a rich, full life means honoring our sorrows and struggles—not ignoring them—but also really savoring our joys and blessings. I hope The Bodyguard is a story that lets readers do that in real time—laugh and swoon and feel hopeful and inspired.


In the end, I’m hoping that people come away satisfied and nourished—with some thoughts about what really matters in life that they can bring back to their own lives.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I turned in my summer 2023 book a few weeks back, and we’re just finishing up final edits. Next week, I get to start working on my summer 2024 book—a story that is so fun and so yummy I can hardly wait to start writing. 

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Another of my books is headed to Netflix as a movie! My novel The Lost Husband got adapted into a film in 2020 and hit number 1 on Netflix—and now that same director, Vicky Wight, is adapting my novel Happiness for Beginners as a Netflix original. It stars Ellie Kemper, Luke Grimes, Nico Santos, and Blythe Danner.


Not sure of the exact release date yet, but I got to do a cameo in the movie—so look for me drinking champagne with Blythe Danner in the wedding flashback!!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Katherine Center.

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