Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with novelist and scriptwriter Kristen Reed. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kristen. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Kristen: I was born and raised in the Dallas area and currently reside here as well. I’ve been writing literally since I first learned how to read and write at the age of three.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write?
Kristen: I usually write in the fantasy / supernatural / horror genre, but the movie I recently wrote and produced, The Dahl Dynasty, was just drama. There were some supernatural elements because one character was a ghost, but the rest was straight drama. The movie is actually a modern re-imagining of Hamlet.
Morgen: That sounds like fun. What have you had published to-date?
Kristen: The Kings’ Council is my first published work of fiction.
Morgen: How exciting. You’re self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Kristen: I have always been a do-it-yourself girl. I had already self-recorded and released my own CD and produced my own movie, so I automatically decided to self-publish The Kings’ Council as well.
Morgen: That does make sense – I’m self-published too. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Kristen: The Kings’ Council is available as an eBook, and I did all of the designing / illustrating for both the paperback and eBook edition, but I only read paperback books. To me, nothing can replace the novelty of cracking the spine of a book for the first time and seeing the dog-eared pages of a book that has been read multiple times, but I definitely see the appeal of eBooks.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Kristen: I’m very fond of my protagonist, Alazne, because of her inner strength and flawed nature but I have a bit of a soft spot for Nikola as well. If I could cast any actors I wanted in a movie version of The Kings’ Council, I would cast Lyndsy Fonesca as Alazne, Henry Cavill as Garaile, and Aidan Turner as Nikola.
Morgen: Which authors would you compare your writing to?
Kristen: I don’t know if I could necessarily compare my style to that of any of these authors, but my two biggest influences are Anne Rice and Laurel K. Hamilton.
Morgen: You mentioned you designed the cover, did you choose the title of your book?
Kristen: Yes, I came up with the title myself. I’m an artist and have been drawing since I was a child, so one week I just started drawing portraits of how I envisioned the characters and wound up editing one of my drawings to look more graphic and used that as the cover.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Kristen: Right now I’m working on a sequel to The Kings’ Council and two screenplays, one of which is a comedy in the style of The Hangover called Taking Back Cali. It’s basically a crazy road trip movie that’s based on a trip I went on with one of my best friends.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Kristen: I usually do write every day. On the rare occasion that I suffer from writer’s block, I can usually overcome it by re-reading portions of what I’m working on, watching a movie, or reading a work by another author.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kristen: I tend to write out a rough idea for the plot when I first decide to write something, but by the time I’m finished, the plot usually winds up being changed drastically.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kristen: I love the website Behind the Name (http://www.behindthename.com)… it is a godsend for naming characters. I’m very big on making sure that my characters’ names have meanings and origins that are relevant to their backgrounds and personalities. For The Kings’ Council, since it takes place in a fictional land, I wanted the characters to have romantic sounding names that were grounded in reality, but weren’t completely commonplace, so I wound up using mostly Basque names.
Morgen: I’d not heard of that site before but it looks great. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kristen: For this particular book, I read / edited it about five times before I was satisfied with the finished product and even had someone else read it for me. I want to put my best foot forward as a writer, so I think that editing is a must, even if it’s just to check for correct grammar, typos, and readability.
Morgen: Absolutely. And every writer should have someone else look at it. Many don’t have that option so I set up http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/feedback and five online writing groups. Do you have to do much research?
Kristen: I did a lot of research into 14th and 15th century England for The Kings’ Council because that is what the world of Faerie is loosely based on. So, I read about everything from clothing to food to ceremonial language to make the world I created seem more believable.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Kristen: I’m a big fan of first person writing, and most of my writing is in that perspective. I’ve never written in second person before, but it seems like it would be an interesting point of view to write from.
Morgen: I love it but I tend to write short pieces which it suits best. I have a page on the blog http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2ppov which explains it (and gives an extract from one of my stories). Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Kristen: The only mediums I heavily write in are fiction, song lyrics, and screenplays. When I was younger I would write short stories, but the things I write have elongated over the years into novellas and novels in some cases.
Morgen: I’ve developed that way too, although I write both now. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kristen: Definitely. I wrote an almost 300-page novel when I was in high school that I doubt will ever be read by the general public. I might tackle it again one of these days and do a massive re-write, but that it one of many works I have written that is collecting virtual dust on my computer.
Morgen: It’s always worth having a look at older pieces because even if it can’t be edited into shape it usually shows how you’ve developed as a writer (everything’s about practice). Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kristen: I sent in some screenplays to literary agencies when I was in high school and got nothing but rejections. I basically just threw the letters away and took them as a sign that it wasn’t the right time for me and that I needed to hone my skills more.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kristen: Unfortunately, I don’t have an agent at the moment, but I’m sure that their guidance and services can be very valuable.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Kristen: My favourite part is hearing / seeing people’s reactions to my work and my least favorite part is editing.
Morgen: My least favourite too, and research (although the internet’s made that so much easier). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kristen: Don’t give up and don’t be afraid of your ideas. Sometimes the most insane ideas that you can possibly think of can turn into amazing, memorable pieces of work.
Morgen: They certainly can, especially if inspired by quirky truths. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Kristen: I would invite Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Mary Shelley to dinner and serve pizza. I don’t know why, but the thought of those three great writers sitting around, eating pizza, and talking shop just brings a smile to my face.
Morgen: :) Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Kristen: I recently got into filmmaking and finished my first film, The Dahl Dynasty. It has been submitted to its first festival and will premiere later this year (2013).
Morgen: How exciting. I hope that goes well. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Kristen: I love fashion and makeup, so I am constantly playing with more wearable versions of runway looks and creating my won jewellery. I’ve also been known to make my own clothing on occasion. I’m also a huge music fan so I go to concerts whenever I can and write / play / sing my own songs every now and then.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Kristen: I frequent some of the writers’ groups on LinkedIn. Some of the posts are very informative, but some of those posts get lost in the shuffle because of the job postings and book promo posts.
Morgen: They do unfortunately, and some groups are worse than others but it’s worth trawling and I find it a wonderful resource. What do you think the future holds for you as a writer?
Kristen: I’m not sure, but I’m very eager to find out!
Morgen: :) Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Kristen: I have a Facebook fan page for both myself and my book. You can visit The Kings’ Council’s page at www.facebook.com/thekingscouncil and my page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kristen-Reed/464643683581087. My book is available via http://www.amazon.com/The-Kings-Council-Kristen-Reed/dp/1479188239 and http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Kings-Council-Kristen-Reed/dp/1479188239.
Morgen: Thank you, Kristen.
I then invited Kristen to include an extract of her writing and this is the opening of The Kings’ Council…
If a lioness spends her hours pacing back and forth in a cage of gold with the finest meats at her disposal, does that make her any less of a prisoner? If that same feline’s fangs are filed down to blunt, un-tearing teeth and her roar is silenced, can she still be called a lioness?
Those were two concepts that I pondered on a daily basis because I was that lioness and the remote Abaroan summer castle of the Hestian royal family was my pristine prison.
I had spent my entire life imprisoned in the sprawling estate with handed down silks and velvet on my back and roasted duck with fresh baked bread on my plate. Many people would have been more than happy to live in such a place with servants and attendants, who lived only to serve them, but the castle was nothing more to me than a gilded cage and my seemingly obedient attendants were my jailers. Nothing emphasized my station in life more than the amulet that hung from the silver chain around my neck. The amulet—a gem of swirling blue hues—ensured that the fire in my blood stayed within my veins and that my brother, Mikel, stayed on the Hestian throne as the undisputed Fire King.
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