Kristen has just launched the second edition of her book Behind the Glass. We sat together (don’t worry , each at her own desk, thousands of miles apart) and exchanged questions and answers:
Sylvana: Where do you draw your inspiration from ? For me, inspiration comes at first from my own life and experiences, but once I start writing the story usually takes a life of its own.
Kristen: I get inspiration from so many different places, but a lot of my characters are in some way at least, based on elements of different people I’ve known throughout my life. I also will sometimes read a character in a book or connect with one in a movie and it will give me ideas for characters in my own books. Sometimes the story also dictates a type of character that is needed for the story line, so it really depends. I really enjoy getting into the heads of so many characters and perspectives. I want my readers to connect with my characters and maybe find some of themselves in them as well.
Sylvana: Who do you read right now? Who are your favorite fiction writers and do you typically read nonfiction as well? For instance I am reading now a marvelous book by Guy Duetcher (http://a.co/9sGvB4H), about language. It is written beautifully and evokes thought. Regarding fiction, I recently finished Helen Huang’s The kiss Quotient and loved it.
Kristen: Back before I even entertained the thought of becoming an author, I loved reading (and learning from) John Grisham. I think I’ve read every book he’s ever written. He’s an amazing storyteller. Once I began my path as an author, I became a Nicholas Sparks fan, not only because he writes romance novels, but because he has such a great ability to create very distinct characters in his writing. There are about a dozen more authors I could name, but I try to learn from all of them. As of right now, I tend to support the indie authors in my community and also authors that support my book. It’s a wonderful give and take.
Sylvana: Do you like to write about people that are similar to you: in education, beliefs, set of values?
Kristen: I get this question a lot actually (from friends mainly) wondering if it’s semi-autobiographical and the answer is actually no. I may have a scene or two in my book that comes from something in real life, but for the most part, I have a VERY active imagination and I’m always coming up with new ideas. I’m hoping that people come away from my books happy and fulfilled, first and foremost, but I also hope that they understand that every person, fictional or in real life, is who they are because of their life experiences, and that those experiences don’t have to define who they are or dictate the decisions they make in life. We are all ultimately in control of our own destinies.
Sylvana: How much research do you typically do on a story? For instance, the heroine of my upcoming book (temporary title: A Leaf From Her Book) is about a book conservator. I took the time to research the profession, watch videos of actual book mending and techniques and even met with one.
Kristen: It depends on the subject matter and if I have knowledge in that subject. If I don’t, I definitely do a lot of research, but I also write about what I know. The horse ranch in my book was based on one from my childhood (all I did was change the name), I’ve always been heavily into art and photography my whole life and I actually used to have my own dark room and I spent many years developing my own black and white photographs. Behind the Glass, the bookstore café in the book, was based partly on a fun boutique from my college days and a combination of cool bookstores I’ve been to in my life.
On being an Indie Writer:
Sylvana: Were you encouraged to write by your close circle, discouraged, were you inspired by a family member or a friend to write?
Kristen: My father is also a writer (more technical than creative) and he has been my writing coach my whole life. He always pushed me to be a better writer and could be quite tough on me at times (something I’m still thankful for). My family is extremely supportive and understands the madness that is balancing two careers simultaneously. Both of my teenage daughters are writers, so we can all relate to each other when inspiration for a story suddenly strikes! If I’m at my computer, blasting away at the keyboard, everyone leaves me be so I can get the ideas from my brain onto paper. I appreciate their support more than anything! I had the best editor when I self-published in 2014 and she gave me so much confidence as a writer. My friends and family who gave me my first reviews were nothing short of amazing in those early years. My publisher, Tamarind Hill Press, and my editor Kemone, have been absolutely wonderful and welcoming. They have supported me and my book and I’m thrilled to finally have a home there!
Sylvana: What is it like to be an Indie writer? How do you deal with marketing, social media, etc. How much time do you typically spend on promoting your work?
Kristen: Whether you’re an indie author or traditionally published, it’s crucial to do your own marketing. I was an indie author for 6 years before being picked up by a small press and virtually noting has changed in terms of my marketing. I spend at least an hour every day, usually more. I’m very active on social media and try to keep up with it every single day. It’s so important to be present and keep that connection with my readers and with my literary community. As far as conversion to sales, it really depends on your following. Also, the more books you write, the greater your sales and readers. It’s definitely an evolving thing!