Katryn Bury is a lifelong true crime nerd who loves writing mysteries with heart.
KATRYN BURY wrote her first mystery at the age of six, and has been writing ever since. By day, she is a library technician who is lucky enough to work with middle grade readers. By night, she writes the books she always wanted to read growing up. Katryn also has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminology. Her short and serialized fiction can be found in Suspense Magazine and The Sleuth. Her debut middle grade mystery, Drew Leclair Gets a Clue, deals with sexual identity, chronic illness, and bullying with a true crime twist and was acquired in a two-book deal by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s for publication in Spring 2022. She lives in Oakland, California with her family and a vast collection of Nancy Drew mysteries.
Visit katrynbury.com to find out more and follow her on Twitter and on Instagram at @katrynwrites.
When and how did you start writing?
I wrote my first book in the first grade—an epic tour de force called Amy and the Stolen Pumpkin and a sequel Amy and the Elf Who Stole Christmas. Both earned rave reviews . . . from my parents. I’ve been writing ever since.
Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?
Once I was handed a Nancy Drew book, I was a goner. I still have over two hundred Nancy Drew mysteries, a collection I co-own with my sister. However, Bunnicula was the first book I loved. James Howe was my writing hero with his humor and never-ending cleverness. As a San Francisco Bay Area native, my Loma Prieta Earthquake story is actually forever intertwined with the Bunnicula series. I was on my way to get my copy of Howliday Inn signed when the quake hit! I got my signed copy a year later, but also a great story.
Can you talk us through your writing career so far? What were the key moments?
I think the first highlight of my career came when I complained to my mother that I had nothing to read. I’d finished all the Nancy Drew books, all the available Babysitters Club books and I was desperately bored. My mom simply looked at me and said: “well, if you want a new book so badly, write one!” That’s when I wrote my first novel at twelve, and I’ve been writing books ever since. For most of my life, I was content to write those books just for me. But, once I decided to give publishing a chance, I was lucky enough to connect with my dream agent, Chelsea, and the rest has been a non-stop ride!
Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?
As the mother of a young child, I have to get creative. I sneak in writing before my daughter wakes up, when she’s watching Frozen (thank you, Elsa!), or when she’s outside with her dad. I’ve gotten so used to writing in five minute increments I’ve turned it into an art form. I can write anywhere, but my muse and lifelong inspiration is coffee!
Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?
Anyone will tell you that you have to have a thick skin to make it in this business. Well, I’m going to respectfully flip the script on that. Rejections hurt, and you don’t have to pretend they don’t. You can be sensitive as long as you don’t give up!
Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you’ve developed as an author?
My greatest strengths as a writer have always been voice and dialogue, but it took me a long time to realize that I needed to study plot. You can write great scenes, but you also need to craft a well-paced story. When I decided to pursue publishing, I studied the plot of everything, from books to the Pixar movies I watched with my daughter. The “Save the Cat” method was extremely helpful in helping me get a handle on how to best pace a story arc.
Which favorite authors would you invite to a dinner party? What fictional character do you wish you’d invented?
I think I’d invite Meg Cabot (whose books are so delightful and bingeable I can’t stop reading them!) and James Howe, since I’ve met both of them before at author events, and the earthquake story could be great conversation over dinner. Sadly, Carolyn Keene couldn’t possibly RSVP to my author party. But, on that note, I absolutely wish I could have invented Nancy Drew. She made me believe I could have all the adventures in the world.