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An Interview with Author Katy Metzger

Recently I saw a post by author Katy Metzger on Twitter/X. It stopped me cold when I saw it. I asked if I could interview her about the idea, and she said yes. Below is our conversation about what it means to be a “book godparent".

 

Ben:    Different cultures and communities have all sorts of ideas about what a godparent should be, but what they all have in common is the role of the caretaker. Growing up, did you have a godparent? Are you a godparent to anyone? Did you know anyone who had a godparent? 


Katy:   My familiarity with the term "godparent" really just comes from movies and TV. It was always understood that my grandparents would take care of me if anything happened to my parents prematurely, assuming they were still around themselves. 


Ben:    I have to admit, when I saw your post about becoming a book godparent on Twitter/X, I was really struck with the originality and the intimacy of the idea. Could you tell us how you first encountered the term “book godparent”?  Also, now that I see the term here on my screen, I’m wondering about the term itself. Is it “book godparent” or “godparent to the book _____”? How would you recommend referring to the idea?  


Katy:   I think you could phrase it either way. I can’t say for certain that I came up with this term, but that’s how I chose to phrase the concept when I posted on X/Twitter because of how my friend asked me to do it. She sent me a DM over Instagram out of the blue that started with, "Can I tell you something morbid and ask you something difficult?" Which, of course, intrigued me. She then proceeded to tell me about how the friend of one of her daughters lost her mother, that the woman had only been 49 years old. She told me how that had been upsetting on multiple levels because, as a mother herself, she grieved that this little girl would now grow up without her mom. She then said she wasn’t going to ask me to raise her children if something happened to her, but she did want to ask me to "raise her book baby."This "things I could leave undone" fear was something I’d felt while querying, that idea that my books might never make it into the world. But, fortunately for me, my mom is a self-published author and could’ve handled that for me. Not everybody has that backup option. I knew we couldn’t be the only two people to ever worry about this, so I decided to post about it. Thinking about a solution like this one might relieve some of that anxiety.


Ben :   Wow! I was completely surprised by your answer because my own experience with godparents is that they’re sort of like co-parents. I mean, yes, the godparent is prepared to assume the role of guardian if the actual parent passes away prematurely, but there’s also a special relationship that exists between the godparent and godchild, sort of like a having a special advisor or confidante. So with that in mind, I really thought that a book godparent would be someone who would champion the book and help support it as it worked its way through the publishing process. 

But now with this new perspective, I’m starting to see that this idea has even more potential. I don’t about you, but I’m sitting on three unpublished manuscripts right now, all of which I’d like to see in print someday. What happens to them if I die? I mean, a lot of folks have wills, but do writers with unpublished manuscripts leave their manuscripts to a certain friend or family member?

Something else I’m wondering now, based on what you said about your mom being a self-published author, is the extent to which an author might ask someone to publish the book. I suppose it depends on the individual situation. But it makes sense (to me, anyway) that the person chosen to be a book godparent should be someone who had enough understanding and experience in publishing to get the job done. 


Katy:   Yeah, I wasn’t thinking about that aspect of godparenting when I decided to use the term. I was more focused on the function that I’d been asked to fulfill. I’ve worried less about my manuscripts being unpublished since my series got picked up by Future House Publishing. The books are all written, so there would be some editing involved, but I feel pretty confident at this point, all five will make it into the world. And yes, I think a person’s writing credentials should matter if you’re going to ask someone to play that role. The average person has no idea what goes into publishing a book. It still mystifies my husband how many editing passes I do, and I have a publisher taking care of most of the process. Self-publishing is so much more involved. When Anna asked me to do this, she told me that the book was in beta, so if something happened in the near future, the book would need editing, but that she would have funds set aside to cover the process. I think that’s fair. If you’re going to ask someone to finish the task for you, don’t make them pay for it. The more preparation you can do beforehand would be helpful as well. Pick out your editor, cover designer, etc. if you can. That makes it far more likely the book the godparent sends out in the world will match what you envisioned. She put me into her formal will, so this is very official.


Ben:  What is Anna’s book about? How did you meet her? 


Katy:   Anna’s book is about a young woman named Abby who (according to Anna herself) is "trying to move past a bad break-up by filling her plate with activities and doing things to make her parents proud. When her brother moves across the country, she makes a rash decision to follow him. She falls in love in the process. Her decisions continue to go wrong until she learns to make choices based on her own desires." I met Anna through the #writerfriendschallenge on Instagram, which provides posting prompts for writers who need content ideas. When I posted that I was looking for ARC readers for The Talismans of Teregrin, the first book in my YA urban fantasy series, she volunteered. She loved it and supported me a lot on Instagram, and that led to more interaction. I found out we had a lot more in common, like being close to the same age, having kids, enjoying running, reading some of the same YA fantasy books, etc. We just really connected, even though we don’t write the same genre, and she’s become one of my closest writer friends.


Ben:    It’s so cool that you met Anna through Instagram, and that she was an ARC reader for The Talismans of Teregrin. Do you remember what she liked about the book? 


Katy:   Anna said, "I was immediately taken in with the book cover for TOT. I just knew by looking at it that it would be a great story. I was right. I was immediately drawn into the excitement from the start of the book. I kept reading it to find out what would happen to the two main characters that I strongly connected to. The promise of the premise has kept me hooked thus far in the series."


Ben:    So Anna’s character wants to make her parents proud, but eventually learns to make decisions based on her own desires. Does she eventually reconcile the relationship with her parents? I’m wondering because all this talk about godparents has me thinking about parent/child relationships. After all, the parent/child bond is forever, and I think the same sense of permanence applies to godparents/godchildren. 


Katy:   I asked Anna. Here’s what she had to say: "Abby realizes pleasing others doesn’t make her happy. She learns this partly through seeing choices her parents make that surprise her. They make some big changes that rock Abby’s sense of stability. By the end of the book, their relationship changes in that Abby doesn’t run home for all her problems. She grows up and handles them."


Ben:    As we draw to a close, do you think the idea of a having a book-godparent is somehow connected to found-families? I know that when I was growing up, it was frowned upon in my family to choose a godparent who wasn’t directly related . 


Katy:   I think that having a book godparent would have to be a found-family thing unless you have writers in your family. I’m fortunate to have my mom who knows the ropes, but most of my supports come from friends I’ve made on social media in the writing community...my betas, my ARC readers. I don’t think you can ask this of someone who doesn’t get it. Maybe a spouse who’s really wired that way and wants to do that in your memory, but it’s such a big undertaking. I wouldn’t want to put that on my husband.


Ben:    Finally, could you tell us the name of Anna’s book? Is she looking for a publisher at this point, or maybe an agent?


Katy:   Anna let me know that there isn’t a title yet, but said, “I will probably self-publish, but I’d like to explore my options first."


Ben: Thanks so much for your time, Katy! 



Benjamin Ludwig is a New Hampshire public school teacher and a writer. He is the author of Ginny Moon, published by HarperCollins | Park Row Books. The book, inspired by his experience adopting a teenager with special needs, was an Indie Next and Library Reads pick, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and one of Amazon.com’s 20 Best Books of 2017. To date, it has been published in 19 countries. His novella, Sourdough, was the recipient of the 2013 Clay Reynolds Prize.

He lived in Alaska for six years, an experience that in part inspired his latest book, Outside, which is forthcoming from Conquest Publishing in November 2024. He believes strongly in the importance of experiential learning, and that teaching is an art, not a science. He holds an MAT in English education, an MFA in creative writing, and loves hearing from fellow teachers and writers.

You can connect with him here, and on Twitter (@biludwig).

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