Information about writing and reading for the hearts of children and sometimes for the adults who love them. Book reviews and writing resources that help new and seasoned authors reach their audience and showcasing authors who have done just that.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Interview with Kai Strand, Children's Author
Please welcome Kai Strand. Stay awhile and enjoy her Twenty Questions with Kai Strand interview that I am priviledged to share. She is an award winning author for kids and teens and offers great insight into being a writer for kids.
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I write fiction for kids and teens.
I’m partial to fantasy, but not limited by it. I strive daily to deserve my
husband. We have four awesome kids who blow me away with their coolness and
kindness. Our oldest son goes into the Navy in November – so it’s best to know
there WILL be a sobfest. I’m a compulsive walker. I’d eat pizza daily if I
could get away with it and I’m a Mozart fangirl.
2. Describe your desk/workspace.
My space is in transition. I’m
moving up into the loft. It’s strange because suddenly my desk is too small and
I don’t understand that. The walls are bare. I want to paint them, but haven’t
figured out what color. The floor is a long yawning space of nothing right now,
but I intend to get a chaise to recline on while I write. I need bookshelves
(lots – duh) and surfaces.
3. Do you have a favorite quote?
Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel
as if I should be doing something else -Gloria Steinem
4. What are you currently reading?
I’m listening to Ashes, Ashes, by Jo
Treggiari when I exercise. I’m reading Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn on my
Kindle and the big ole book next to my bed is The House of Velvet and Glass by
5. What is the best advice you've
Editing advice that I ‘hear’ again
and again in my head, came from my dear, sweet ex-crit partner, Susie Sawyer,
who told me, “Don’t just start to do something – do it.” It helped me spot my
passive voice and pre-empt it as early as the first draft. Or most of it, at
Professional advice that I tell
myself over and over is to write the next book. I get so obsessed with
promotion and making sure my books are out there, in front of people so they
know about them, that I eat away valuable writing time. Don’t get so caught up
in it that you don’t have another book coming for your readers!
6. If you could have coffee with
anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
Actually, can I have a coffee
clutch? I’d love to sit and speak with a few authors about specific things I
think they do exceptionally well. I’d pick J.K. Rowling’s mind about how she is
able to portray so much about a character in the first introductory sentence.
I’d grill Jonathan Stroud about how he incorporated so much humor into the
djinn, Bartimaeus. I’d invite Markus Zusak because he’s adorable – oh and to
talk about beautiful language. My goodness, I could go on an on. Maybe I’d
better change this to a cocktail party!
7. What are your top three favorite
books and why?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J.K.Rowling – It’s such a pivotal book in the series and I’m a sucker for
‘turning points.’ The teen dynamics really heat up with the trio and beyond.
There is a ball and epic dragons. Really, the book has it all for me.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen –
The relationships, the humor, the love story. I’ll never tire of this story. I
prefer to listen to an audio book. My mind trips over the language when I read
it and it isn’t as smooth as it should be.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
– This story is so imaginative and funny. It’s odd, I really don’t enjoy the
movie versions at all (except Tim Burton’s – that one rocked) but I love the
8. What was your favorite book as a
child and why?
My favorite was The Black Stallion
by Walter Farley. All of The Black Stallion books, actually. I don’t know that
I recognized why as I poured through them, but it was the journey each horse
took in the different books. Overcoming the odds, the possibility of loss or
worse, death! It was very thrilling for me. Plus I dreamed of owning one of
those powerful stallions and being the one to tame them.
9. What would you say is your most
interesting writing quirk?
This is lame, but I don’t think I
have any. Is the lack of a quirk interesting?
10. Do you write full-time or
This is an interesting question that
I’m not sure how to answer. I’m unemployed, the job search is hot and heavy,
but there isn’t much out there in my small community. I’m trying to take
advantage of being unemployed to get lots and lots of writing done and I
thoroughly value the extra time during the day when the kids are at school.
However, it could go away at any time, unless my writing starts to earn enough
to replace my previous income. I’m not holding my breath for that, though. Not
yet at least – but that is my goal.
11. If you could do anything in the
world, what would it be and why?
I’d cure pediatric cancer. Cancer is
a horrible disease and no child should suffer the indignities of it.
12. What is the craziest thing you
ever did? This could be as a writer or any other time in your life.
I’m not a risk taker, so I don’t
have any zip lining in the Congo or walking down the street in a cow costume
(Libba Bray) tales to tell. However, my mom sent me to France when I was
thirteen. Alone. To stay the summer with a family I didn’t know. Though it
isn’t a crazy thing in particular, it was most certainly a life-changing event
13. Did you feel like a celebrity
when you held your first published book?
Gosh no! I still don’t feel like a
celebrity. No one recognizes me or fawns over me, or my work. I’m just a girl,
writing books, in a town that might not actually care much. (wink)
14. If you could have a star like on
Hollywood Blvd, who would you want to have your star by? This can be an actual
star on Hollywood Blvd. or someone you just admire.
I’d want my star next to Dwayne
Spiekerman. I went to school with Dwayne back in Wisconsin. He was different,
so everybody made fun of him. Honestly, I was afraid of him, because he acted
differently and I never knew what to expect. He and I used to walk the same way
home. For years, he was either a few paces ahead of me or a few behind. You know
what? He was always nice to me. He’d ask me how I was doing. He’d ask if I had
a nice day. He’d ramble about things I didn’t even understand. But he never
encroached on my space. He was just nice. Yet I remained afraid that he’d
suddenly do something creepy, because that’s what I believed based on what
other kids said. If I could, I’d go back to that time and wipe away my fear and
be nice back (I wasn’t mean, I wasn’t anything!) Since I can’t, I’d
proudly cement the fact that I’m no longer afraid of Dwayne so that everybody
15. Is there anything in your life
you wish you could do over and why?
Well, I’ll expand upon my last
answer, because it’s important. REALLY IMPORTANT. It isn’t easy to realize that
you’re a coward or that you’re one of those who stand by and say nothing. My
daughter was at a music camp once and noticed a girl disappearing after each
meal. She followed her one time and found the girl in the restroom, expelling
her meal. My daughter didn’t know her, but waited for her and then talked to
her about what a bad thing the girl was doing to herself and offered to help
her for the remainder of the camp. When she told me this after she got home, I
was completely blown away by the courage she showed and was ashamed that I
didn’t have that kind of courage. I’ve been trying to be like my daughter ever
since. Not surprisingly my daughter has remained in contact with the girl and
has a friendship has formed.
16. Who has been your biggest
support or inspiration?
One of my biggest inspirations is my
daughter. Not only is she a better person than I am, she is so committed to her
dream. I’ve watched her work hard to earn the necessary scholarships to go to
college. I’ve watched her as she worked three jobs to earn enough money to pay
rent and eat while she goes to college. I’ve listened as she practiced scales
or a specific run in a difficult piece for hours upon hours so that she’d be
sure to score high in a competition, in order to earn that scholarship, in
order to achieve her dream… She’s truly inspirational.
My biggest supporter is most
definitely my husband. I think he believes in my writing more than I do! In my
lucid moments, I understand that he simply doesn’t have to battle a lack of
self confidence like I do, but I turn to him and his solid belief in my ability
whenever I start down that slide and he’s always the first person I share good
news with, because he truly deserves that consideration.
17. Could you share about any
current writing projects?
I am finishing up the first draft of
the second book in my young adult super villain series. The first book in the
series, King of Bad, will be published in 2013.
18. What would be the best way for
readers to contact you?
My one stop shop where readers can
find book blurbs, downloadable documents, upcoming events, social media and
email information is my website: www.kaistrand.com.
19. Where can people find your
Readers can ask their local
bookstore to order for them, or they can get a print or electronic copy at: