Here’s the deal: Erin Kottke, publicist extraordinaire, keeper of the contacts, has joined Catapult as director of publicity. Before her recent freelance projects at Erin Kottke Public Relations, Erin directed marketing and publicity at Graywolf. During her ten years there, she worked with many award-winning and bestselling authors, including Claudia Rankine, Maggie Nelson, Eula Biss, Leslie Jamison, Geoff Dyer, Per Petterson, Tracy K. Smith, and others. Needless to say, we are absolutely jazzed to have her on board.
Because we’ve already done all the formal introductions and announcements, I asked Erin the really revealing questions so we can get to know her better. Erin lives in Minneapolis and is on Twitter at @eekottke.
1. Name a book published before you born that you would have loved to work on.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978). Sure, I don’t have experience publicizing children’s books, but think of the fun scavenger hunts and events we could have created! That book holds such a special place in my childhood memories. I’m sure there are a hundred other books I could, or should, mention here, but I’m going to go with a sentimental favorite over something from the literary canon (though I wouldn’t say no to being Jane Austen’s publicist . . .).
2. When’s the last time you remember having déjà vu?
I honestly can’t remember. It’s been a while.
3. Describe the best donut you’ve ever eaten.
Call it good marketing, but the best donut I’ve ever eaten was actually at a place called “ The World’s Best Donuts ” in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Their cinnamon-sugar cake donut is perfection: warm and fluffy on the inside with a slightly crispy outer crust, and just the right amount of sweetness. Believe the hype.
4. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment in a library?
I spent a lot of time in the library during college, and at least part of that time was spent with my head on a desk, napping. I awoke more than once to find that I’d drooled on the desk in my sleep. Not my best moment, but also not my worst. And I don’t believe any books were ever harmed in the process.
5. When’s the last time you remember having déjà vu?
I honestly can’t remember. It’s been a while. Wait, what?
6. What’s the weirdest conversation you’ve had at a book release event?
My memory is hazy here, because there have been so many book release events and so many weird conversations! Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that whatever weirdness came up was brought into the conversation by me, because awkward small talk can quickly lead to weirdness and oversharing. So it’s probably best if we just leave it at that.
7. Have you ever gotten a work-related injury as a publicist?
Yes! I’ve strained plenty of muscles from heavy lifting at book conferences and paper cuts from book mailings, and I’ve also suffered my fair share of bloody blisters from running around town during work trips to New York, because I decided a media trip would be the perfect time to break in a new pair of shoes. My ego has also been bruised a number of times (facing rejection is a big part of the job).
8. Your testimonials page is ridiculously impressive. Let’s make it more impressive: Write a short testimonial for yourself from the perspective of your dog.
“I first began working with Erin in the summer of 2015. I quickly learned that she’s an ace tennis ball thrower, a great belly scratcher, and a pro at sneaking me table scraps on the sly. Also, she’s not very good at enforcing boundaries or rules, so I basically run this town.” —Luna
9. What’s the most recent thing you read on the internet and loved?
I really loved Michelle Dean’s thoughtful piece that ran in BuzzFeed a couple months ago about the strange case of mother-daughter duo and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Rachel Klein’s essay here at Catapult on the strength of the female body was moving and empowering. And though these both appeared in print, I first encountered them online, so I’ll include them here anyway: this op-ed from the New York Times called “If Hillary Clinton Groped Men” was . . . enlightening; and, like everyone else in the world, including the judges of the Pulitzer Prize, I was totally blown away by “The Really Big One,” Kathryn Schulz’s brilliant, nuanced piece on the Cascadia subduction zone, that ran in the New Yorker . It came out over a year ago, but I think about it often enough to still consider it “recent.”
10. What’s a good album to listen to while reading?
Boxer by the National. I’ve listened to it a thousand times so it’s good background music. (I also love sad music, and this album pairs well with the streak of sad books I’ve been reading lately.)
11. What’s a terrible album to listen to while reading?
Best Summer Ever by Har Mar Superstar. How can I focus on reading when all I want to do is dance?
12. How many tabs do you have open right now?
13. Have you ever bought a book that you already received a free copy of?
I’ve done it a handful of times when I received the book in galley form because I loved it and wanted to have the finished copy or gift it to someone, or because it was written by a friend and I wanted to support them. But generally I’m not a big rereader, so sometimes just reading it once and moving on is enough.
14. You’re cursed to read only one book for the rest of your life, but for some convenient and arbitrary reason, you can choose which one it is. What book is it?
A story collection seems like a smart choice: Birds of America by Lorrie Moore.
15. What in the world did you do to get yourself cursed? I mean, yikes.
I accidentally threw a curse at the wrong person during some wicked Harry Potter cosplay and the spell rebounded and . . . this is getting really personal, you guys.
16. On your way to the store, you run into four pigs, nine dancers, eight goats, fifteen bankers, twenty-nine cats, four authors, five booksellers, three event coordinators, and a partridge in a pear tree. How many of them have you invited to a book launch?
All of them except for the goats.
17. You’re now banned from working with books. What do you do instead?
Wander the earth aimlessly, face pressed against bookstore windows. Or, more likely, I’d work for a nonprofit, or with children, or at a nonprofit that helps children. Or maybe I’d just work at the Gap or something? Or I’d be unemployed.
18. Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I see a red bird looking at me, of course! My two kids could recite the rest by heart from here . . .
19. What’s something you loved as a kid but hate now?
20. What book protagonist would play you in a movie?
Jo March, Hermione Granger, Elizabeth Bennet . . . but that’s just a short list of who I would want to play me in a movie. I should be so lucky!