Monday, January 28, 2013

YA & MG Author Spotlight: Kai Strand

GRAFFITI PROMOTIONS is a regular feature on Writer's Alley, where authors and aspiring writers, editors, publishers, and anyone from the publishing world, to share their journeys, valuable wisdom, and to promote their work along a road of humor, encouragement, and inspiration. Features include Author Interviews, Book Promos, and Character Introductions.

Today's feature is an author interview with YA & MG Author Kai Strand. Kai writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She's a staff writer for Knowonder.com, where you're guaranteed a story a day. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do the dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

What or who inspired you to start writing?
There are two people responsible for my writing. J.K. Rowling and my son. My oldest daughter and I had read the first four Harry Potter books and were waiting for the fifth to come out when I realized I could entertain myself by creating a world of my own. So I wrote my first middle grade novel. At the same time, my son had gone through vision therapy to fix his double vision issues and had to catch up with his classmates in reading level. He wasn't crazy about reading, so I decided to write 'his' story for him, knowing it would capture his interest best of all and make him want to read. Hence, I wrote my first few short stories.

In your opinion, what are the three most important elements to writing a novel?

Relateability - Whether you are writing fantasy, contemporary, memoir or literary, your readers must be able to relate to the subject matter. So go ahead and make your characters blue and able to shoot poison darts from their fingernails, but be sure they've got teen angst or romance issues or problems fitting in at school or SOMETHING your readers will truly understand.

Pacing - This is especially important in children's books. Stories are competing for your reader's attention with interactive gaming and real time social media. Plus children are naturally more active, faster paced. The story must continually move forward or the child will become bored or easily distracted. There can be quiet moments in the book, that's a natural part of pacing, but the story still must be moving forward even during the quiet times. If a character is taking the time to reflect, they must be doing it in order to take the next step, not simply to take a breath.

Real emotions - Characters are the most alive when they experience all possible emotion. It is important for your reader to feel when the character is frustrated, inappropriately giddy, or apathetic. These things happen in real life. Readers can get a better idea of how to deal with their own emotions by watching their favorite characters work through it.

What are your thoughts about self-promotion, author platforms, and the ever-changing publishing world?
It is absolutely critical for all authors to have a platform from which to promote and to be actively involved in the promotion of their work. Okay, that said, how active is a really hard thing for me to define personally. I can spend far too much time obsessing over whether or not my books are 'out there' enough, which takes away from the time I should be spending writing new material. I know I'm not the only author with this challenge. I'll get myself in line and be balancing things well, and then suddenly the obsession hits again and I can't stop cyber stalking my poor books. I'm wondering if there is a support group. Though it's probably online, which really won't help.

Share what it's like working with your publisher(s).

The Weaver and The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale are with Guardian Angel Publishing and Save the Lemmings is from Featherweight Press. I really love working with small press publishers. The editing experience is personal, like a conversation. I have input on the covers. They've even made sure my books were available before my appearances. It is a true partnership.

What can your readers expect from you next?
My young adult super villain novel, King of Bad, will be published in 2013. Everybody loves a bad boy and when you're a super villain it's not only okay to be bad, it's expected.

Thank you so much for joining us, Kai!! 

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her Website or blog Strands of Thought. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author or on Twitter @KaiStrand. 

Interested in being featured? Just click on one of the three links under Graffiti Promotions Submissions in my left sidebar.

28 comments:

  1. It's amazing how many are going with small presses nowadays. I love that.

    The books sound great. I'll have to check them out.

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    1. I know. Me too! I've kept my smaller options open, even though I decided to go with my agent's advice to sub to the larger ones.

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    2. I do love the small press experience, but I'm not closed to working with a larger one or even to self-pubbling. Depends on the book, I think.

      BTW, I'm giving away a copy of Save the Lemmings on my blog for anyone who is interested.

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  2. Great interview. I think Kai really hit on what's important in a novel, especially one for kids.

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  3. Great learning more about Kai and her book. It's reasuring she thinks authors still need to have a platform in some capacity and take an active roll in promoting their books.

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    1. That active role of promotion...time consuming but necessary in today's industry.

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  4. Thanks, Kai and Sheri, for the great interview. I've never heard of a support group for cyber stalking your own book, but maybe that's not a bad idea. :D

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  5. Great interview Sheri and Kai :) I just love learning about authors and all the different paths we take.

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  6. Thanks Sheri for letting me doodle on your wall. Funny thing, when our kids leave the house to go out with friends we always say, "Don't graffiti!" No joke. And here I am...

    Thanks everybody for reading and commenting. Always fun to see familiar faces. Even more fun to meet new ones.

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  7. Terrific interview! I love how Kai got started and even inspired her son to love reading more. Wishing Kai well with her writing!!

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  8. I love the three elements you cite as critical! They are so important, and so rarely discussed! Thanks for the great reminder. And I love the inspiration for your book. I'll bet it is so much more vivid because of the personal connection to your son!

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  9. Fun to learn more about Kai! I read her blog, but you get a different taste when it's on someone else' blog. Thanks, ladies!

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  10. What a neat person! Thanks for introducing us to Kai. :D

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  11. I'm seeing Kai around the interwebz more and more. Cool! Nice post!

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  12. Great interview Kai and Sherri. It's great to read about other author's journeys.

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  13. And the awesome continues! Thanks everybody for reading and for the kind words.

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  14. Great to learn more about Kai. Rowling inspired me to get back into writing too. I was like, "I should be doing this!." And I haven't stopped since! :)
    Thanks for the great interview, ladies.

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  15. I agree with everyone: I love learning more about authors. Thanks for the lovely post, Kai and Sheri.

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  16. Awesome interview! Nice to meet you, Kai! Cool name!! :-)

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  17. Great interview! So glad to hear her thoughts about small press. ;)
    Thanks Sheri!

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  18. Awesome! I hadn't heard of Kai or her books, so I'm happy for the introduction!

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  19. Hi there---I love those three points and I totally agree! *waves*

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  20. Great interview, Kai. Relatability is very important, and fast pacing. I would also say that a writer's job is to fully ENTERTAIN.

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  21. I totally enjoyed this interview, especially how she got started, what she thinks is most important in storytelling and what she likes about working with a small press. So..basically the WHOLE thing! Christy

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  22. I especially like what Kai said about real emotions. That's my fave part of reading, taking the emotional journey! :)

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  23. *waves to Kai* It's wonderful seeing Kai here. I enjoyed Save the Lemmings and I'd like to get to my copy of The Weaver. Great interview. Kai brings up important points.

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    1. She really does. Great points! And she's so nice.

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