Interview with Author, Poet, and YouTuber Katie Wismer
Interviewed By: Jackie McMahon
Katie Wismer first rose to prominence in 2016 with her successful book-centric YouTube channel, Katesbookdate, where she quickly gained a following for her book review videos and video blogs. Her channel now has almost 30,000 subscribers. In 2018, Wismer released her first poetry collection, The Sweetest Kind of Poison, which deals with relevant topics such as toxic relationships, heartbreak, self-love, and other issues plaguing young adults. After the success of her first poetry collection, Wismer released her debut young adult novel The Anti-Virginity Pact in June 2020. The Anti-Virginity Pact follows Meredith “Mare” Beaumont, a high school senior with religious parents who finds herself the subject of social ridicule after her plans to lose her virginity are publicly revealed by a school bully. The novel addresses topics of bullying, female sexuality, sexual assault, and oppressive religious beliefs, and a sequel following the side character of Johanna is set to be released in 2021.
This October, Wismer released her second poetry collection, Poems for the End of the World, which addresses coming of age and the struggles of young adulthood. On her YouTube channel, Wismer continues to post bookish content and weekly vlogs that follow her life and writing process. She also runs her freelance editing business through her website, www.katiewismer.com, and describes herself as “a diehard pig-lover, semi-obsessive gym rat, and longtime sucker for a well-written book.”
Jackie McMahon: You self-published your 2018 debut poetry collection, The Sweetest Kind of Poison. What attracted you to self-publishing and what was the process like?
Katie Wismer: The Sweetest Kind of Poison was definitely a just-for-fun project at first. I posted some of the poems on my Instagram from time to time and accidentally gained quite the following doing that. I’d compiled it into a collection just for myself, so when my followers started asking if I could release the poems in a book, it was already ready. Self-publishing let me keep that personal touch and just-for-fun feeling with the book. A viewer of my YouTube channel offered to design the book cover, and I just kind of stumbled around on the internet as I researched each step of the process until it was ready to go!
You recently released your debut novel, The Anti-Virginity Pact. How is the process of writing a novel different from writing a poetry collection, if it is different?
This process was vastly different. At this point, I’d graduated college and realized I wanted to pursue self-publishing my work as a career path and not just a fun summer project anymore. So I treated that whole process a lot more seriously. There were also more people involved—beta readers, editors, etc. The writing process itself, however, isn’t much different. Just have to get the words on the page however you can!
You have shared on your YouTube channel that you are writing a sequel to The Anti-Virginity Pact from the point-of-view of the main character’s best friend, Johanna.
What can you tease about the sequel?
This one is much more romance-centered! But it definitely still has those same strong coming-of-age themes the first book had.
Your second poetry collection, Poems for the End of the World, was released on October 1st. What were your major inspirations for this project and what can fans expect?
Poems for the End of the World actually started out as an experiment. I started writing it for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2019—the first time I’d really written poetry again since The Sweetest Kind of Poison came out in August of 2018. I wasn’t even sure if I liked writing poetry anymore. Early reviewers have said this collection is darker and heavier than the first, which I’d agree with. I think it’s just more mature. I wanted to capture that lost, stumbling-around feeling a lot of young adults got through when they first graduate college and have to figure out what’s next.
Do you think that your experience as a Booktuber has helped you as a writer?
I’m not sure if it’s helped me as a writer, but certainly as an author. I have a thicker skin than I did before I started my channel, which you definitely need if you want to share your writing with other people.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t get too married to the idea of a book (especially the first book you write!) being the one. Sometimes you have to let ideas or projects go, even when you really believe in them. It’s never a waste. You learn and improve from everything you write. But staying caught up in a project that’s just not working might be holding you back from the next great idea. And hey, maybe you’ll go back to it one day!