Today I have fellow Scribophile member and author Kristen Kooistra as my first author interviewee back from my blogging break!
Q: What was the source of inspiration behind your book?
A: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people through the wonder that is the internet. Before my kids were born, a lot of those people I met through online gaming. One day I was thinking about how unique and diverse my friends were and how it’d be cool to put them in a story. Or rather, use elements of who they were to create characters in a story.
I had an idea of writing a story about a princess and her invisible guardian(who by the time I published was no longer invisible) who lived in a wintery kingdom. I started the story and went from there.
It’s fun seeing traces of old friends in Heart of the Winterland. And I feel like my characters have a lot of depth since I took inspiration from real people.
Q:When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
A: I love spending time with my family. That comes in all sorts of forms. Sometimes it’s just sitting there and watching them play, other times it’s going places. I love how excited they get over every little thing. I try to appreciate that now because I’m sure the day will come where they won’t appreciate anything.
I also love reading(of course) and sewing. I just started sewing two years ago, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
Q: What is your favorite scene in the story?
A: There’s a chapter near the end of the book where the villain has “her moment”. That time when I got to let all the evil villainess parts of me run wild. It’s got this certain melodramatic flair to it and it’s awesome. She gets all the lines, all of the body language, all of the downright no-good evilness that we finally get to see in all of its glory.
Q: What did you find the most difficult in writing Heart of the Winterland? What did you enjoy most about writing it?
A: Editing was the most difficult. This is always my answer for what part is the hardest of any story. Editing is a real drag. It’s like cleaning up a little kid’s birthday party. It was a lot of fun to make the mess, but cleaning up is awful and you have to do it anyway.
My favorite part was writing the first draft. I love my first drafts because it’s the closest I ever come to seeing my story like a first time reader does. I’m a pantser, so I have no idea what is going to happen. As I write, I find out where the story is going and I’m like, “No way!! That did not just happen!”
Sometimes I wish I wrote faster so I could see what happens next.
Q: What comes next after Heart of the Winterland? What are you working on now?
A: Currently I’m working on a sequel for my novel “Heart of the Winterland”. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s set in the same world with two of the characters from the first book. The rest is a whole new cast, a new country, new races, new magic, and a new storyline(book 1 can standalone). Sticking with similar titles, this one is called “Heart of the Sorceress”.
I’m focusing on new themes such as prejudice between races and social classes, and fighting for the common good, while still including some of the same ideas that ran through HotW: Friends, self-discovery, and self-improvement.
Bonus: What advice would you give an aspiring author?
A: Persevere. Writing is a lot of work. Yes, it’s work. It’s more than just putting words to paper and being done. At least, there’s more to it if you’re wanting to publish or improve a piece. There’s a lot of learning that’s involved. A lot of nights where you’re staring at a sentence that you’ve seen numerous times before and trying to see it with fresh eyes to make sure it’s perfect. It’s opening yourself up to criticism and learning to separate the helpful from the not-so-helpful. It’s finding out what your style is and when someone’s advice fits that, and also when they’re right about something needing to be changed. And that’s just the start. So I’d say, persevere and never stop trying. Try new things if the old ones don’t work, and be open to change.
Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: Creekside Publishing (June 2, 2016)
Purchase Link: Amazon
Kristen Kooistra fell in love with reading at a young age and never resurfaced. She loved solving mysteries, riding across the prairie, and sailing on the open sea. But her favorite books were those that held the fantastical. So when the time came for her to seriously approach publishing a book, it had to be fantasy!
Living in Michigan(her own winterland) with her husband, three kids, and two cats, she has lots of free time . . . Okay, so more like she squeezes in writing time late at night when only the cats are awake to pester her.
“Heart of the Winterland” is Kristen’s first novel, and though it started as a whim, it grew into so much more and has inspired a sequel(in progress), “Heart of the Sorceress”.
Tucked into a quiet countryside, Kristen spends most of her time being Mommy. She loves spending time with her family and hopes that her writing will entertain and inspire them as well.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading(of course!), chatting with her writer’s group, sewing, swimming, gardening, and cooking(please no baking!). She also loves doing just about everything with her kids and has come to realize that life is a lot more fun when you see it through the eyes of a child.