Chasing Chaos: An Interview with Katie Rose Guest Pryal


Katie Rose Guest Pryal returns to Los Angeles in her in second novel, Chasing Chaos. In Chasing Chaos, screenwriter Daphne struggles to find her way in the changing landscape of her personal life as best friend, Greta, announces her engagement. Daphne jumps at the chance to once again make things right with Greta and plan a surprise wedding in four days' time. Unwittingly, Daphne's choices set off a chain of events that could put them all in jeopardy. This book captures the intricacies of friendship and the chances we all take when we open our lives to others.

The friendship of Greta and Daphne captivates me; they so deeply love and understand each other. Who has taught you about friendship and chosen families?

I always joke that I don't have many friends--I never have had. Everywhere I've lived, I seemed to pick up only one or two. But those one or two friends often became friends for life. So I have my couple of friends from college, from graduate school, and so on, and we'd do anything for each other.


This is your second novel in the series, with Entanglement coming first and the novella, Love and Entropy, in the middle. What draws you back into this story?

At readings for Entanglement--which, by the way, I sold as a standalone novel--audience members often asked what happened to Daphne. Entanglement, in many ways, was Greta's story. I wrote Chasing Chaos to answer those readers' questions: what would have happened to Daphne after things fell apart with Greta?

I had the pleasure of reading this novel while in Los Angeles; your writing shows a clear love and knowledge of the place, though you live in North Carolina; how did you cultivate this deep sense of place?

I lived in Los Angeles for a very, very brief time after college. Let me emphasize: brief. But I loved the city. I immersed myself in it--in the different neighborhoods, the streets, the cultures. I did have family there, so that helped, and also a good friend. (None of these people are characters in my books.) I wrote a lot when I was there, so those notes are a resource, and have maintained my memories over the years. I also have my L.A. family read drafts to fact-check. But the sense of place is important to me. I wouldn't set the books there if I couldn't have L.A. essentially be its own character in the books.

How do you keep the world you have created straight as you go deeper in the series? What advice do you have for writers that are planning multi-book series?

Writing a series is both wonderful and very hard. I recommend a spreadsheet with all of your characters--and I mean all of your characters, not just your main ones. On this spreadsheet, list their "APB details": date of birth (down to the day), height, build, hair and eye color, other physical quirks, family details, place of birth, and more. These details are hard to keep straight book after book. (APB = All-Points Bulletin.) You also need to keep track of time, so you'll need a timeline for your entire series. On this timeline you'll draw multiple timelines, one for each storyline, showing how they overlap and connect, showing how one thing was happening while something else was happening in another part of the series. Between the character spreadsheet and the timeline, you should be able to avoid major mishaps.

Your writing is also a part of We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out. What role do you feel fiction can play in social justice about this important issue?

There is sexual assault in many of my books. It's not something I shy away from writing about in fiction in part because it is so common in real life. I mentioned earlier that I don't have many friends, yet too many of those friends have been sexually assaulted. Writing about sexual assault in fiction allows us to show all of the different ways that women respond to sexual assault, breaking down the cliché narratives that have really gotten tiresome. Woman is raped and withers away and dies. Woman is raped and her manly man avenges her to show his manliness (she still might wither away and die though). There are so many other narratives than those, yet that seems to be all we get. What about the women who just get up the next day and keep going? Because we have to? Fiction can show that, too.


What's next for Greta and Daphne? Do you plan on keeping up this series, or are other projects afoot?

There are other projects afoot, certainly, but I will also be writing more novels in the Entanglement series. A certain mysterious character from Daphne's past appears for the first time in Chasing Chaos--I'll say no more about her other than that. If you've read Chasing Chaos, then you know who she is. The next novel in the series tells her story. She's both infuriating and entrancing at the same time. In other words, really fun to write.