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Locally Writ: Katee Robert is ‘mildly obsessed with fairy tales and retellings’

Local romance and New York Times bestselling author Katee Robert has always had a devoted fanbase, but, this past year, her readership has grown to include an ever-increasing number of “BookTokers,” that is, TikTok users and accounts devoted to reading recommendations.

Falling somewhere between Sarah J. Maas’ “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and K.A. Knight’s “Den of Vipers” on the “spice” meter, Robert’s “Wicked Villains” series has been particularly popular. “It went viral, which was a little overwhelming,” Robert said. “It’s really having a moment right now.”

A spinoff of the “Wicked Villains” series, Robert’s latest novel, “Neon Gods,” is a modern retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone. Robert will celebrate the book’s release with fellow romance writers Rebekah Weatherspoon and Kennedy Ryan during an event at Auntie’s Bookstore at 6 p.m. Wednesday (for information, visit auntiesbooks.com).

“I’m mildly obsessed with fairy tales and retellings … taking those core stories and kind of shining them in a different lens,” Robert said.

So, she explained, when she started brainstorming spinoffs for the “Wicked Villains” series, her mind went immediately to Olympus and Greek myths she loved reading as a teenager.

“Take Hades and Persephone … you could line up 10 different authors, have them retell that myth, and you’d get 10 completely different stories,” Robert said.

Robert was inspired to start writing in earnest just as Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series was gaining popularity.

“I was like, ‘well if she did that, I could do that,’” she said. Robert started with young adult fiction and science fiction before moving into the contemporary romance genre and later into the “dark romance” subgenre.

Today, with 10 years of writing behind her, Robert has published nearly 100 novels and novellas. And, clearly, with eight books completed within the past several months, not even the pandemic could slow her down.

Robert writes 2,000 to 3,000 words a day. On average, it takes her four to eight weeks to finish a book.

With the ability to write so quickly, one might occasionally feel the temptation to write toward trends more often than not. But Robert decided a long time ago that she would only write books that she wanted to read.

“The thing that I’ve learned in almost 10 years of being an author is that chasing your joy, rather than chasing the market, is always going to make you happier and give you a better chance of longevity within this industry,” she said.

“As fast as I write, the books of mine that have been most successful in the last couple years are the ones that shouldn’t have worked.”

When she started writing “Neon Gods” a couple of years ago, she said, it went completely against the current market trends. But her publisher was willing to take a chance.

“It’s getting a very enthusiastic response,” she said. Auntie’s already has already sold over 100 pre-orders, and she knows why.

The best books, she said, are the ones where you can feel the author’s giddiness coming off the page. “Neon Gods” is available for pre-order at Auntie’s Bookstore.

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