MoA&A Interview #25: Alma Katsu

Hello, everyone! Welcome to July, and the Month of Artist and Author Interviews here on the website.

Today’s interview is with my new BFF and friendly neighborhood local writer (whom I have yet to invite for coffee…Alma, we just need to pick a date!) Alma Katsu. I had heard about Alma’s fabulous novel The Taker and its sequel The Reckoning from her publisher…and didn’t realize when I showed up at Nora Roberts’ Mega Signing this spring that she would be sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Alma is awesome. (Seriously–if you don’t believe me, go read the last line of her bio.) We were peas in a pod.

Needless to say, after several hours in the Nora Roberts signing trenches, Alma and I emerged friends for life.

The kind of friends for life that never seem to have time to meet for coffee. (We call those “author friends.”)


Author or Artist?
Author! I worked hard for that title

Who are your professional role models?
I don’t rightly know that I have any. When I was younger I loved Byron and Shelley, and George Sand.

What’s your favorite writing/sketching weather?
Gloomy rainy day. It gives me an excuse to stay inside and write.

Set your current playlist/musical device to “shuffle all” and hit PLAY. What’s the first song that comes up?
Right now, it’s something off Muse’s “Absolution” album

If you could win any award, which would it be?
NYT Bestselling Author. I will go for the filthy lucre. From what I’ve seen in my short time as a published author, awards seem to be mostly popularity contests and don’t have much to do with actual artistic merit.

Would you rather have magical powers, or a spaceship?
Magical powers. Spaceships require a lot of upkeep, and it’s hard to find good spaceship mechanics.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The Golden Deluxe Book of Fairytales

What thing do you wish you could go back in time and tell your 10-year-old self?
Try harder at math and science. And don’t be so serious all the time.

What’s your favorite constellation?
I’m supposed to have a favorite?

What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Beauty and the Beast.

What thing are you most proud of?
As much as I love my books, I’d have to say I’m most proud of the things I was able to accomplish in my other career, most of which is classified and I can’t discuss. But I got to help write a national standard for encryption, I got to chase bad guys, I got to do things that led to the actual saving of lives. But mostly I got to be excited about things that I never thought interested me—math and science—and that changed my life.

The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: Name 3 things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
I would like to travel more—Mongolia, Morocco, eastern Turkey.
I don’t have a list. I am lucky enough to have had a pretty amazing life where I’ve done a bunch of things I never thought I’d do, all through serendipity, so I’m happy to let serendipity continue to call the shots.


Alma Katsu lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. Her debut, The Taker, a Gothic novel of suspense, has been compared to the early work of Anne Rice and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. The novel was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by the American Library Association and has developed an international following. The Reckoning, the second book in the trilogy, was published in June 2012. The Taker Trilogy is published by Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster.

Ms. Katsu is a graduate of the Master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University, where she studied with John Irving. She also attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Prior to publication of her first novel, Ms. Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several US agencies.