In the Spotlight: Kathryn R. King
Futurism. Lately, people think of the worst possible outcome. Anywhere from Mad Max to Big Brother comes to mind. More than likely because we have all been trapped for the past year. But things are changing. In fact, it can even be argued that we live in a society that is on the razor's edge. We can become a utopia or dystopia. Perhaps a bit of both. But Kat King sees a bright future ahead for humanity. Like Gene Roddenberry or even Carl Sagan, she sees a future where humanity finally sheds its tragic past and accepts the greatness of what we can become. She instills this in her work which is why I am excited to introduce you to her.
This is Kathryn R. King.
I’m an Army veteran who primarily writes sci-fi, sci-fi/horror, and human interest stories. I wrote my “Glass Stars” opus quite simply because I wanted to introduce philosophical science fiction back into mainstream consciousness of the genre. So much science fiction is inherently dystopian in nature that I find it too depressing to watch. As a futurist, I am not averse to such condemnations of technology and of human progress. Like Gene Roddenberry and Isaac Asimov, I can recognize human fallibility while still reaching for something higher, more meaningful, and ultimately, much more fulfilling.
Enter “Glass Stars”, a short story I wrote in high school after having been inspired by Asimov’s Nightfall. I had to appreciate the irony of having penned a hopeful, optimistic story of the future that would begin with the downfall of society. But there we are. I wanted to marry together real science into my story, and I wanted to create an epic saga of worlds within worlds for filmmakers to explore and pull apart for decades or even centuries to come. I want to challenge my own thinking, the traditional and conventional ideas of what humanity’s evolution might just actually be, given the evidence before us.
I believe the only way out is through, and so I’m here to say that yes, I do have a few words to say on the human condition and that I want to be the one to say them because I believe the way I build my world is unlike any other, a transhumanist lens most people do not even seek to understand, but a beautiful and transformative one to be sure. As an openly gay woman, I wanted a story that reflects my beliefs on the trajectory of a posthuman society that is, in its essence, as genderless or as gender-filled as is to your taste.
“Glass Stars” is about overcoming our very flawed, very imperfect nature, accepting the hard truths of life and death, and banding together to move forward in spite of the odds. Along the way, there are aliens and black holes to teleport us wherever we want to go, but one thing’s for sure: Andromeda is coming. The only way out is through.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
A: Writing has always been in my blood. Both of my parents are prolific writers. I must have inherited it from them!
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
A: The desire to make the kinds of movies and tv series I wanted very much to see but wasn’t able to find is what inspired me to take the screenwriting path. I wanted to create worlds of possibilities, with seemingly unconquerable challenges for unique characters to rise to and meet head-on, but first I had to clear a lot of emotional baggage out of my life.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
A: Quite honestly, my fiancée is the first one to really believe in anything I do, but especially this. I started out writing songs and trying to start a girl group that was basically a ripoff of Heart, and then songwriting morphed into poetry and short stories from there. I had grown up an avid and ferocious reader and was inspired to create worlds like the ones Tolkien and Asimov had built. I took off from there, even invented my own languages for use in my storytelling. I absolutely loved describing things, which led me eventually to shift toward visual storytelling mediums like visual art and ultimately, screenwriting.
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Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
A: It was when I first sat down to start my very first project. I knew I had things to say and stories to share. I knew there were worlds within worlds within me, but I wasn’t sure I could fully develop an honest story without more life experience. I often felt stuck in my writing but also stuck in a particular period of time in my life. It was at this point, I decided to go to film school and study the entire process. Later, I decided that the best way to get unstuck was to channel all my emotions into the writing of movies and tv shows that would then provide the much-needed catharsis. It worked. Once the stories were on the page, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt accomplished, even if no one ever saw my movie or tv show. I was doing it because I had this intense need to say something, and from there I never stopped writing. In other words, like Rilke said, I’m a writer because I wake up every day and I write. It’s simply in me.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
A: If others enjoy or their minds are piqued, that is success to me. If in the end, people are saying that it got to them in some way, then that is a success. I just want to be able to connect with as many people through my writing as possible. Success is deeply personal for each of us, but for me, it’s merely a tourist trap. One shouldn’t worry about the meaning of the word. One should simply set one’s self about the task of making one’s self heard. The rest will fall into place.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
A: I’m definitely a Night Owl, but I can run on very little sleep and do pretty well.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
A: I kiss my fiancée.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
A: I usually read in bed, apply for work and tidy up for the first part of my day. I suffer from schizoaffective disorder, so I have to make sure I eat something by 11 so I can take my Geodon on time and not miss my AM dose.
What do you do at night?
A: I usually record or work on music in some way, shape, or form in the evening. I just released a Nudisco/Dream Pop EP and I’m working on an electro-pop album as we speak, so that is occupying a large space in my world right now. At night is when I feel most creative and motivated to do anything related to writing or art.
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
A: Every night, my fiancée and I watch either The Golden Girls, AbFab, or Whose Line re-runs until it’s time to wrangle the kitties and assemble in the bedroom for night night time! My fiancée and I usually take time to cuddle, kiss, and just be with each other.
How do you define a successful day?
A: If I accomplish any of the things I set myself about the task of doing, I call it a successful day. If I have no discernible hallucinations, delusions, or other disruptions to my normal functioning, I call it a successful day. If I can write a full page or complete a song, I definitely feel like my day has been successful.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
A: Outlining! Breaking down a whole season of a series is absolutely one of the most important skills I have developed on my path to screenwriting. It has helped me be able to finish what I start. As a visual person, having any kind of outline or even a storyboard has helped me to grow by leaps and bounds. Finally, being able to develop my pitch and materials has helped me grow tremendously because it keeps me in that “big picture” space. I find it helpful to keep everything contextualized so I can maintain continuity of ideas and fine canonical details.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
A: Nailing the pacing and structure in my sci-fi script has been my greatest challenge. I really want to just throw my characters into the world but I have to slow them down every time they make a new discovery, so deciding how much dialogue, when, and where to put it so that it makes sense is my greatest challenge. Also, it can be difficult at times to get feedback from the right kind of people. That’s why I enter my scripts into festivals. One other challenge is how to know when enough is enough. Of course, there are those niggling, burning questions, like: “How many people need to look at my script before I’m done getting feedback?” and, “How much adjusting does my script need?”, and the classic “Have I overedited my script?”. You know, those types of thoughts can actually morph into my greatest challenge of all, which is overthinking.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
A: The fact that I’ve been able to pursue this path is the greatest reward in and of itself. I’m meeting other writers and getting incredible feedback. It’s amazing!
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
A: How to make my specific story strong enough to sell! I want to understand story structure and its importance to the efficacy of telling the story.
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