October 2013


Katie Leimkuehler is the co-author of Shy Town Girls, the first in a series following the journey of four young Chicago women on their search for love and adventure in the city, with M.G. Wilson, Jennifer Yih and Kate Clinesmith. She is also a journalist, screenwriter and social media strategist. (Interview by Asha Chowdary)

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  1. 1. Tell us about how you decided to begin the Shy Town Girls series.

    The project evolved from the idea that every girl has moments, which all women can relate to, where a bond of friendship starts to form. These moments, from sharing a love of fashion to careers and relationship ins and outs, bring women together, even shy girls, creating an instant connection. Women experience things on a much different level than men and we share related stories because we all want to hear one thing from our friends - “I’ve been there.” I loved exploring these interesting moments and wanted to bring them to life in our book series. The books are definitely inspired by true-life events from all the authors because we wanted it to have a very real feel. We wanted our readers to pick up our book and feel like they’re having a glass of wine with their best friend. The series follows four girls as they experience their first dose of competitive office politics and what it takes to get ahead while the crushing reality of working their dream jobs weighs upon them. Ivy and her friends experience a major turning point in their lives - their quarter-life crisis, where they question what the hell they’re doing, who they’re with and how they really define success.

  2. 2. Why did you decide to call the book Shy Town Girls?

    It's a play on the word Chi-Town and since all of the authors are from Chicago, we wanted to incorporate that into our title, while creating characters that are shy and trying to break out of their shells.

  3. 3. Would you say moving to a big city changes a person?

    In some ways, yes, I think the dynamics of the way you live changes greatly and it does impact a person. Moving to a big city makes people become more independent and trust themselves to figure out everything for the first time from riding the bus to navigating a new place. There is a something special and magical belonging to a big city - it's almost like rooting for your favorite sports team that does two things: people instantly connect and identify with you.

  4. 4. How many hours of writing do you put into a day and how do you find the time?

    I typically try and write at least two hours a day or dedicate that time editing and revising to get the story moving forward. Right now, most of my time is spent writing and promoting the book series. It is hard to balance with teaching and everything else I have going on, but if I make it a priority everyday it turns into a habit - developing that took awhile, but was completely worth it.

  5. 5. In the first book, the heroine Bobby seems to be confused about what she should be doing with her life. Is that a trait that you find in many youngsters today or was it just a subject you decided to choose for the book?

    Both, it’s something I've personally experienced along with many of my friends. It's easy to think and imagine this is the job and life I want, but often when we get things we thought we wanted or someone else told us to go for, we're disappointed and lost. All of the Shy Town Girls characters at one point go through this moment - their quarter-life crisis, where they have to ask themselves if they are really on the track in life they want to be on.

  6. 6. The voice of Barbara was both wise and insightful. Was that deliberate?

    Yes, very much so. Barbara is a solid voice of wisdom for the girls. Since she is in her 70s she has already lived a life full of mistakes and can offer real advice to the girls, even though they often don't take it. She is the voice of reason, behind their impulsive decisions that land them in mess after mess.

  7. 7. Writers often unconsciously reveal some of their own personality in their books. How much of yourself is in the book?

    I would say there is a good amount of myself in the character Ivy and some of her struggles. She is trying to find out who she is in the professional world which is a hard adjustment after college and something I definitely went through. Ivy still lives like a college kid in the real world.

  8. 8. There is a lot of girl bonding in the book. Is that something you believe in?

    I think the friendships between women are extremely powerful and can last a lifetime. I've experienced it myself and it is something I definitely believe in. Women friendships are the most honest relationships - anything can be said without judgment. They are the people constantly rooting for you and always there when you need them. I know I couldn't have gotten to where I am today without the help of my two best friends and that's what I wanted to highlight in this book.

  9. 9. What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

    I enjoy a range of books from fiction, young adult to non-fiction. For me, the most important element in a book is that it's intriguing, emotionally engaging and that I can learn something from it.

  10. 10. What books would you recommend as essential reading for those who dream of becoming writers themselves?

    Two really insightful books for me were: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and Letter to a Fiction Writer by Frederick Busch. I definitely recommend them.

  11. 11. What are the next books in the series going to be about?

    The next books in the series will switch narrators to Meryl then Ella and will focus on similar themes of testing friendship and discovering who you are in your twenties, but done in different ways.

  12. 12. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

    My best advice to aspiring authors is to write every single day. The quicker you make writing a habit, the quicker you will have success with it. Read all the books and authors you want to write like and study their craft. And connect with other writers, having a group of supportive people going through what you're going through makes all the difference and keeps you motivated to pursue your dreams as an author.

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