Inspired Chicago | Layne Fargo

I met Layne recently when she reached out for me to photograph the author headshot for her book cover (literally, the coolest thing ever). After we had had her session and were at our final meeting where we went over her photographs together, she mentioned that one of the things she connected with me about before we even met was the Inspired Chicago feature series. I'm always ridiculously happy to hear that a creative woman in Chicago feels like the series resonates with them, but to have an author tell me that my interview series was good almost made me faint - it's like sending a contract to a lawyer and them telling you you did a good job. Such a cool experience. Once Layne had said that she liked the series, I knew I had to interview her and share her super cool and unique journey of being a creative woman in Chicago!

Thanks to you Layne for letting me get to know you and your work and for letting me share your story. :)

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Inspired Chicago | Layne Fargo

Q. What is your creative business or creative hustle?

I'm a novelist who writes dark and twisty books starring difficult women. My debut novel TEMPER, a feminist psychological thriller set in Chicago's storefront theater scene, will be published by Gallery Books in 2019.

Q. How did you get into writing?

I've been writing in some form since I was a little kid (storybooks, fan fiction, plays, etc.), but I started seriously pursuing it after doing National Novel Writing Month in 2012. Even though that first book didn't go anywhere, NaNoWriMo was just the kick I needed to overcome my perfectionism and actually finish a draft.

Q. How did you decide you wanted to make a career of writing?

I love books more than anything! I always wanted to write one of my own, but for years I convinced myself it was too daunting. Even after I started submitting my first novel to literary agents, it took me awhile to admit that I wanted to make a career out of writing, rather than treating it as a just-for-fun hobby. I don't remember exactly when the switch in mindset happened - it kind of snuck up on me!

Q. What's your favorite part about running your own business?

I have a full-time job, working as a Knowledge Manager for a data company, so writing provides a much-needed creative outlet in my off hours. I'm not dreaming of leaving my day job anytime soon, though. For one thing, I like not having to rely on my writing for all my income; it makes me feel freer to write what really speaks to me. Also, I think my two careers feed each other in interesting ways. Like my Type A, super-organized corporate side helps me meet writing deadlines, and my creative storytelling capabilities help me come up with innovative solutions when I'm managing projects for my employer.

Q. Have you ever hit a roadblock in your business? A specific struggle that stuck with you?

I got over 100 rejections on my first novel, which as you can imagine totally sucked. There were times I definitely questioned whether I should stick with writing. But the day I finally gave up on that novel was the same day I got the idea for the book that would become TEMPER, so I'm convinced it all unfolded exactly as it should.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?

Music is my #1 source of inspiration. When I come up with an idea for a new book, the first thing I do is start making a Spotify playlist for it. Figuring out the "sound" of a book also helps me clarify the characters, the world - everything!

Q. If you could give your 16 year old self advice, what would it be and why?

Don't be afraid to fail. There's still a part of me that wants to get straight As on everything in life, but I've learned so much through failure and rejection - I wouldn't be the writer, or the person, I am today without those experiences.

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Want to be featured on Inspired Chicago?

Katharine Hannah

Chicago, IL

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.