Author Kate Chaplin is one busy girl.
She has been described as “one of the most talented writers around today.” Known as a “Naptown notable resident” (INtake Magazine) and “A Powerful Woman” (The Indy Star), Kate Chaplin’s works have been seen on popular television shows, such as The Discovery Channel, VH1, and MTV, in numerous film festivals, on local television stations, in print, and online. Along with being a talented writer, director, and all-around multi-tasker (just to name a few), she is a family woman, a friend, the President of the Indy Writer’s Group, and the owner of Karmic Courage Productions.
In 2008, Chaplin won the Audience Choice Award in the Indy Awards, the Official Selection Award in the Really Big Short Film Festival (RBSFF) for “First They Came For…”, and the Official Selection Award in the IUSB Independent Video and Filmmakers Festival (IVFF). Last year, Chaplin completed her film, "Ingenue," an inspiring story about a human analog who appears to be in her early 20’s but with a toddler’s intelligence.
We recently discussed her latest project, Mystic Waters: Shoki’s Bag (which has a release party due date of January 25, in case you were wondering), a little about her background and personal life.
Andi: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
Kate: The inspiration came from my therapist, actually. She asked me why I was carrying around my past like baggage. That night, I had this dream that became the story of Shoki's Bag.
Andi: Tell me a little bit about Shoki, your main character.
Kate: Shoki has had a hard life. He was abandoned at a monastery doorstep, bullied in seminary school, left to join the circus, then left again when his child was born. He feared the baby would have the same disfigurement and couldn't deal with [it]. So, he spent years wandering, living in the woods where no one could find him and where he couldn't hurt anyone else.
Andi: What is Shoki's facial disfigurement and how did he get it?
Kate: It would be medically considered a "Mongolian Spots." They are large birthmarks. Shoki was born with them.
Andi: Why Shoki? Why create this character?
Kate: I believe that deep down, we all can relate to Shoki hating the way he looks, hating the choices he made, and feeling that there is no way out. He represents an ugly side of ourselves that we hide and push away. Nix shows us that Shoki is beautiful, kind, compassionate, and able to forgive himself.
Andi: What is Nix like? Did you create her out of someone you know in real life?
Kate: Nix was created from looking at fairy and nymph mythology. She's feisty like Tinkerbell but tough like Katniss (“The Hunger Games”). She's a combinations of my daughters and little bits from strong women of history and fiction.
Andi: One other question: Is Shoki a likeable character? What about Nix? (Okay, two questions)
Kate: Both are extremely likable. You feel Shoki's loneliness right at the start. You feel Nix's desperation and fragility right at the start. They are both good people who have made a mistake and are trying to right it. I had a few readers love Nix's character and call her a superhero that young girls have been waiting for. At the start, they don't really like each other's company but they know they need each other.
Andi: Why is this book on forgiveness and finding strength?
Kate: It's something we all struggle with at some point in our lives. I wanted it to be about finding the strength to let go of the baggage of the past. I loved the idea that a strongman who has amazing physical strength struggles with this emotional strength of letting go. A big part of having the strength to let go of your baggage is forgiveness, and that itself is not an easy journey.
Andi: What do you hope the readers will take away from this story?
Kate: I hope that they will see a part of themselves in Shoki and Nix. The perseverance, the longing, the "what if's," and then be able to turn that around and see the strength within themselves. I also hope that they see what when we work together we are stronger.
Andi: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from Shoki's Bag?
Kate: Gavin Rulon, who is a professional Strongman (he can really turn horseshoes into hearts and roll frying pans) will play Shoki. I wrote it for him and to me, there is no other Shoki than Gavin. As for Nix, I'm not sure. It will be a great casting search.
Andi: Did you start Shoki's Bag as an outline or did you just let the story take you?
Kate: It started as a short film script. In pre-production meetings, people really wanted to know more about his past and his journey and not just the end of it. I wrote the screenplay, worked on it some more, and then decided it needed to be a novel first to so that the reader could get into Shoki's head. For the novel, I used the screenplay as an outline, but let the story take me to new places - a lot of new places. I know the beginning and end but the journey in the middle was fun to explore.
Andi: Who edited Shoki's Bag and why did you choose them?
Kate: Ellen Tevault was our copyeditor. I love her. I know her from the Indy Writers' Group and she's edited my work before. My mother also helped me a lot.
Andi: Do you compare these characters to anyone you know in real life?
Kate: When I see Shoki, I see Gavin but that's because I've been writing this with him in mind for so long. Most characters are a beautiful combination of people I've had the pleasure of meeting, but no one in particular.
Andi: Where do you intend to take the story from here? Do you see another book in the works or are you already working on a continuation?
Kate: Shoki's Bag is the first of a trilogy. Next up will be Nix's War were so goes back to the Water Realm and faces her sister who tried to imprison her. After that will be Waltzing Matilda where Shoki goes to find his wife and daughter. This fall, we will be making Shoki's Bag into a feature film.
Andi: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Kate: I'm a writer, filmmaker, public speaker, and mother of two incredible daughters. I went to UCLA for screenwriting and indie film making. When 9/11 happened, my husband enlisted in the Army, that got us traveling, and I kept writing. We moved to Indiana after he got out of the service and I started making Indie films. I've produced 14 films and won a few fantastic awards in Indiana and in Hollywood, CA. I do workshops on screenwriting and producing indie films and I also speak out about the importance of women in film.
Andi: When did you decide to become a writer?
Kate: I've always written but the stigma of being a dirt-poor writer was hard to get over. I was also a big fan of movies growing up and I loved that way or storytelling. I felt it reached more people and connected better. Lately, I'm not so sure. I think we need a healthy mix of amazing movies and books in our lives. There is something you can get out of a movie that you can with a book, and vice-versa. The decision was made when I turned 29 years old. I set out two things I wanted to accomplish before I was 30: Make a short film and publish a book. I did both in that year. The Belief Test was the first book published and “Laundry Day” was my first short film.
Andi: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Kate: Full time. I break up my work with film, then book, then film, etc. I like going back and forth.
Andi: Have you always been a writer?
Kate: I have. I have a copy of Wizard of Oz that I scribble in, wanting to write in cursive but not knowing how, the cute crayon-filled pages of swirls is a prize possession of mine. In school, I was the one writing stories for extra credit. I'm always writing something.
Andi: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Kate: I'm going to keep writing. The Mythic Waters Trilogy and also more nonfiction books about women in film and media literacy. My goal is to get copies of my books into as many libraries as I can so that people can share the stories at no cost to them.
Andi: Which writers inspire you?
Kate: Neil Gaiman is a big one. I love how he brings into these worlds and I never want to leave them. I also love Debra Kemp of The House of Pendragon Series. I'm proud to say she's a friend of mine.
Andi: What other books and stories have you written and where can readers purchase your stories?
Kate: I have three other books out. Two are non-fiction list books: The Belief Test: Questions to Ask Yourself on the Journey of Life and The Celebration Diet: Ways to Celebrate that Don't Involve Food. The other is a movie companion book to my feature film “Ingenue.” The book has the full screenplay, photo's behind the scene tidbits and stories from the cast and crew. Shoki's Bag and Belief Test are on Amazon. Celebration Diet, Ingenue and Belief Test are on Lulu.com.
Andi: What is the genre you normally work on in your books?
Kate: Normally I'm in non-fiction. It was personally challenging to write fiction prose. I'm not a flowerly writer, screenwriting classes kick that stuff out of you. I like character and plot driven books. Shoki's Bag reads more like Young Adult novel in that way.
Andi: Does your writing involve any research or is it all from your imagination?
Kate: Lots of research. I even research names. Shoki and Nix's names are from Mythology. I even have the language that the Water Spirits speak in Serbian, so I had to learn a little Serbian.
Andi: Where do your ideas come from?
Kate: That's the burning question, isn't it? I really don't know. I know I have more ideas than I could ever complete in a lifetime. They are sparked by so many things. Music sparks it, my children playing sparks it, a news article sparks it, talking with friends sparks it. I'm just always open to great stories. Sometimes I hear them and sometimes I'm compelled to write them. I do know that when I need to decide what project will be the next project I think of my kids. There are not a lot of strong female characters who have flaws and solve their own problems in the media, so I do make an effort to pick the projects where I feel that my daughters would appreciate or learn from. Also, if it makes my mom laugh or cry, I want to get it done.
Andi: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Kate: The hardest thing about writing is getting people to read what you've written. The writing itself can be hard but that's the job. The editing, formatting, and cover design - that's all a lot of work. But, there is an excitement there. Convincing people that a book like this will be a joyful experience and not 2-4 hours of their life they can't get back is a hard one. There is a lot of media out there vying for our attention.
Andi: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Kate: I wish I read more for fun. I read a lot for work. This year, I've been doing a lot of gender studies. I've been reading books on leadership like Sheryl Sandberg's Book: Lean In, women in leadership books on brain studies, like Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, and books about women all over the world, like Half The Sky.
Andi: Do you have anything additional you feel you would like to add?
Kate: Not a whole lot, just that the release party is Jan 25th. The book is on Amazon and Kindle. It can be requested at your local library and casting will be getting started this summer for the movie.
For more information on Shoki's Bag, Kate Chaplin, and Karmic Courage Productions, visit these following sites:
Karmic Courage Website
Kate Chaplin's Website
IMDB: Kate Chaplin
LinkedIn: Kate Chaplin
YouTube: Karmic Courage
Facebook: Shoki's Bag
Facebook: Karmic Courage Productions
Twitter: Kate Chaplin
Click on the link below to purchase your copy of Shoki’s bag (Mythic Waters, Volume 1):
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