Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Kristie Cook Interview
1/11/2011 7:36:51 AM
For today’s guest blog, I’d like to introduce you to Kristie Cook, author of the ‘Soul Savers Series’. I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Kristie. Where do you call home and what do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
KC: First, thank you so much for having me!! I currently call Southwest Florida, aka Paradise, home. When not writing, I'm working or, if I'm lucky, sleeping. I have three teen boys and don't have much time for anything else, but I do love to read, cook, hang out at the beach and ride on the back of my husband's motorcycle.
Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
KC: I wrote my first story at eight years old and have loved writing ever since. It's always been a part of my life in one way or another. I was looking for more than just "published author" because I've had many non-fiction pieces published over the years. My dream has been to be a published novelist.
Let’s jump right into the ‘Soul Savers Series’. Judging from the trailer on your website, the books are a little too steamy for the YA reader. Was it written for an adult audience or is it suitable for my 12-year-old daughter?
KC: This series definitely targets the adult audience. Older YA readers – 17 and up – love it, but I wouldn't actively promote to a younger audience. Of course, I started reading Stephen King and other adult books at about 12 years old, because my mom never censored my reading. But that's a decision for parents, not me.
Your debut novel, ‘Promise’ is the first novel in the series. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Alexis Ames?
KC: I've been thinking about angels and demons for years, but never had a full story present itself until I started a character sketch of who became Alexis Ames. The inspiration for ‘Promise’ actually came from starting on ‘Purpose’, the second book. A pivotal scene in ‘Purpose’ came to me first and I had to work my way backward to figure out how the characters got there. This brainstorming took me back to the beginning of ‘Promise’, when Alexis was 18 and starting college. She'd been a loner for years because of her and her mother's "quirks" that kids teased and even seriously harassed her about. She'd always been curious about her background, but she had a bigger motivation to be "normal" and tried everything in her power to live a normal life. So she tried to ignore the weirdness…until she couldn't anymore, which is where ‘Promise’ begins. Once Alexis embraces who she really is and what her life has in store for her, she grows and strengthens tremendously. I'm excited to see her progress through the series.
Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the reader when they crack open ‘Promise’?
KC: ‘Promise’ reads like a young adult book in many ways because Alexis narrates in first person and she's 18 years old, but this is somewhat a coming-of-age story. As she discovers all these things about her, her love interest and her family, she grows and matures into a real young woman. The reader can expect an emotional ride along with Alexis, from her first encounter with strange creatures to the passion of first love to what feels like the ultimate loss.
In the sequel ‘Purpose’, Alexis is back. Can the readers expect Tristan to make a re-appearance? How is this story different from your first novel?
KC: ‘Purpose’ packs an even bigger emotional punch than Promise. It picks up seven years after Promise's ending and Alexis is faced with tough decisions that seem to have no right answer, pitting her beliefs against her destiny. She's dealing with loss, with trying to be a good mother and with an emotional breakdown that, it turns out, isn't what she first thinks. She grows even more in this book, becoming the strong woman she'll need to be for the rest of the series.
The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
KC: I don't have an agent, but I can tell any writer that if you let rejection stop you, you were never meant to be an author. If you're truly passionate and driven about your writing, you won't give up…so don't.
Great advice, Kristie! Becoming a published author is truly a difficult road to travel, so I’m always pleased when a fellow writer is plucked from relative obscurity to land a book deal. Can you share that moment you sold your novel to Ang’dora Productions?
KC: I'm a partner in Ang'dora Productions, so it's not exactly like that. It was the day that my team, specifically my business partner, said, "Yes, I believe in you and us as a team. Let's do this!"
I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
KC: I'm curious, too. Haha! With ‘Promise’ and ‘Purpose’, I had to discipline myself to not write and to actually work, take care of the family and house…you know, have a life. I've been working so long on rewriting, revising, editing and polishing those two for publication, though, that I haven't seriously worked on a first draft in a long time. I'm getting ready to start, though, so we'll see if it's the same. If not, then I'll have to be more disciplined in setting word counts. Readers are waiting for the next book.
Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
KC: I'm more of a hybrid but lean heavily toward pantser. With these first two books, I had an idea of what happened at major points, with the shell of the climactic scene in mind. But I let the characters tell me the story and it changed quite a bit from what I'd originally thought had happened. When writing a series, though, you have to be more of a planner. For everything to flow as one story and lead up to that final climax, you need to have a better idea of what happens down the road, along the way. And in fantasy, especially, you have to know and follow the rules you've created for your world. So I've had to do more planning and preparing before continuing with the series, but I'm sure Alexis will correct me where I'm wrong. It's her story. I'm just writing it down.
Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
KC: When I’m full-out writing, I’ll read what I wrote in the last session, making edits if they strike me, but mostly to get my head back into the world. If I’m not quite sure where things go next, I’ll listen to music and play Minesweeper. Something about that number game, counting and the tediousness of it allows the creative side to ramp up. Oh, and I try to always have chocolate by my side.
At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
KC: I usually find that I can’t move forward because I’m trying to go down the wrong road. In other words, I’ve taken the story in the direction that I thought it should go and the characters rebel by going silent. I might have made someone do something out of character, which changed the entire last scene in a bad way. Or I might have had some great idea that I made happen when it really didn’t. I let the characters tell me the story so when they shut up, it’s usually because I tried to take over and force something. Other times, the characters just aren’t loud about what happens next and I have to work it out of them. This happens while taking a shower, taking a walk, doing dishes, etc. Or playing Minesweeper. Anything that gets my brain off the topic usually leads to it coming back with the “aha!” I needed.
Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
KC: I can’t really say I have a favorite. There are several authors that, when they release something new, I’m definitely going to read. Stephen King used to be such an author, although I’m not into him as much as I used to be. Dean Koontz and Judy Blume, as well. I’ve learned from Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton. J.K. Rowling has probably inspired me more than anyone. Every book I read, though, I try to take something from it for my writing, as examples of either what to do right or what not to do. I’ll often read books twice (or more!)—first to enjoy the read, then again to really study it from a writer’s perspective.
What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
KC: Wow, deep stuff here. I know several people who have told me ‘Promise’ is the first book they’ve ever read—mostly family and friends who read it just because I wrote it. And not only did they love it and ‘Purpose’, but now they can’t get enough of reading. They read more than I do now! I love that I have somehow been responsible for opening this new world to them—a new world in each book they read, actually.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
KC: When my kids were little, I used to pray to God, asking Him for patience. Don’t ever ask for that, because He teaches you patience by giving you situations that test it. The road to publication has been one of the biggest such lessons. Every step of the way, from polishing the book to a beautiful shine to publishing to growing sales, requires patience. I’m still not the best in this area, but I’m getting better.
What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
KC: I’m reading City of Glass and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare for the second time. Like I said, I read it once for enjoyment and now I’m reading it to learn from it. Although it’s Young Adult and my books aren’t, many people have said “if you like The Mortal Instruments, you’ll love Promise and Purpose.” I finally decided to read it to see why people said that.
What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out into other genres? Can your fans expect book three in the Soul Savers Series in the near future?
KC: I hope to be writing full-time within the next five years, but we’ll see. I might branch into YA and a couple book ideas I have might be more mainstream/commercial than fantasy/paranormal. But I’m focusing on Soul Savers as long as the muse wants to. The third book will be released in about a year, but I might have some related short stories or novellas out before then.
Thanks again for hosting me! This has been fun!
Thank you for being my guest, Kristie! It was kind of you to share in your writing wisdom and experiences. I’ll have to include the ‘Soul Savers Series’ on my to-read list. In the meantime, I’ll catch you on Twitter!
For more information about Kristie Cook and her novels, check out:
Follow Kristie on Twitter: .kristiecookauth
Where to buy the book:
Also at BarnesandNoble.com, bookdepository.com and indiebound.org
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