Five Questions with Kristi Strong
1. When you think of your favorite books, what is it that draws you to them and makes you want to read them over and over again?
The biggest draw for me is having multiple depths to the characters and the storyline. My favorite books are those I can read over and over again and still find a character trait, innuendo, or action where I go, “Huh, I never noticed that one before. It also helps me feel much more connected to the characters, and thus want to go back into “their world” over and over again.
It’s also enjoyable because I can decide how much time or emotion I want to invest in the story. Some days I can just read it as an entertaining story; while other times I can sit and ponder the deeper meaning behind the characters or their interactions.
There is also a sense of suspended disbelief that comes with it as well, because, even though you obviously know how the plot is going to turn out, you can’t help but think, “Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time the meaner/better/other side of their nature will come through and change the outcome.”
2. Did you consciously decide to write the genre you write, or did it choose you?
The fantasy genre definitely chose me. I enjoy taking a trip into worlds that are drastically different than ours and having the ability to challenge what is considered normal. It is also fun, for me, to take all of the myths, legends, and superstitions that I run into and then morph them into reality.
I feel like fantasy stories also give people a chance to address their own feelings or struggles in a way that separates them from their situation, or allows them to step back. Maybe you are feeling powerless, so you enjoy reading a book about overcoming your (literal) inner demons; or you are feeling a strain on your relationship, so you read a story about two people who shouldn’t be together (like an incubus and an innocent girl) but who make it work.
3. If you could sit down for a drink and a chat with any writer, who would it be, and why?
Anne Bishop. Her series (Black Jewels, Ephemera, Tir Alainn) are so varied and intricate that I would love to pick her brains about the writing process and how she came up with the different themes. Whenever I read her books, I wonder what the catalyst was for the various actions or characters, and she has such intricate and poignant characters in all of her books.
I also still haven’t quite forgiven her for the tears that I have cried while reading her books, most notably Twilight’s Dawn and Shalador’s Lady. One event in Shalador’s Lady (I won’t spoil it!) touched me particularly deeply and at just the right time in life as to help me heal a deep wound that had been festering, and I want to thank her for that (while yelling at her for having it happen in the first place.)
4. When you are not writing (or reading) what is your favorite pastime?
Crocheting is almost meditative for me, especially if I am making a blanket or project where I just repeat the stitch and don’t need to count. My mind can clear of all the stress from the day and just focus on the motions while getting gratification from the project. It’s also a way for me to feel connected with my daughter, as she likes to nap on the couch with her head on my lap, which forces me to sit down and take some time to do something I enjoy. If she is awake, she tries to help me crochet, which doesn’t work so well since she is still under 2 years old.
It is also a fun creative outlet for me, and issues a challenge, especially when I see an item online that I like and then try to figure out my own pattern. Making toys for my daughter is my latest obsession. She has a crocheted stuffed octopus, monkey, jellyfish (minus stinging tentacles of course ;) ) and a cat.
5. At what point were you sure that your book was ready to be published, and how did you go about making it happen?
I’m still not sure it’s finished! I have the type of personality where nothing is ever totally finished, or perfect, or just the way I want it. It’s the classic scenario of just needing one more rehearsal before a play, or one more practice before a game.
I reached the point with Lady of Steinbrekka where I just had to say, “I need to let other people have a chance to read this” and let it go. I was constantly fiddling with small word choices and realized that it was time.
I went with the self-publishing route using CreateSpace.com. It required a lot of time and energy on my part, as I had to research, and then do, all of the formatting, make cover decisions, and do all of the legal stuff to turn Lady of Steinbrekka into a real book/e-book.
Then, it was on me to do all of the marketing, monitor my social media outlets, network, and create public awareness of my books.
It was, and continues to be, hard work, but I feel it is worth it. I am able to give the reader’s a truer sense of who I am as an author, and do not have to change my stories or my characters to meet the demands of a traditional publishing company. Self-publishing is also a better fit for me, right now at least, because between my full-time job and my responsibilities as a mom don’t leave much time left to meet solid deadlines or have someone else in charge of my schedule.
Fixing broken computers, wrangling a very spirited little toddler, and creating a world with a tyrant king, are all parts of the average day for Kristi Strong. While she has called Virginia her home for two decades, her head has rested in two countries, three states, and far too many houses to count. She was more than happy to give up her nomadic lifestyle and settle down with her husband, daughter, and the small zoo some people “pets”.
While attending James Madison University, she was given the rare opportunity to work as part of an archaeological team on a variety of dig sites in Virginia, including the homes of former Presidents,James Monroe and George Washington, civil war sites such as The Steven’s House and Fort Evan’s Mississippian Encampment, and a variety of pre-historic hunting sites and camps.
Kristi now uses her extensive studies in human cultures (aka, Anthropology degree), to create her own world in her fantasy novels, beginning with her debut novel, The Lady of Steinbrekka. First in a four part series, The Lady of Steinbrekka introduces readers to the realm of Kaldalangra as they follow the adventures of Rhea, a young woman who gets kidnapped and taken to Kaldalangra for less-than-friendly reasons. While there, readers will encounter a wide variety of characters, both good and evil, supernatural beings, and watch as Rhea struggles to choose her own destiny.
The second book in the series, Heart of Kylassame, is due to be released in the summer of 2013, with a third novel, Soul of Asimina, currently being written and scheduled for a tentative Christmas 2013 release date.
Kristi Strong can be reached through Twitter ( @StrongNovels), Facebook (Facebookcom/StrongNovels), or email (StrongNovels@live.com