King of Bad
by Kai Strand
Very special treat today having Kai here. She is a bunny person just like me. Scroll down and see a picture of her bunny. She sent that especially for today’s post. To enter the contest ask Kai a question about her bunny. Thanks for being here Kai.
Hello and thanks for stopping by and visiting with me and the bunnies. It is so nice to have Kai Strand here. Readers I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Oh, hold on Kai, every time someone new stops by the dogs and bunnies go crazy.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? I had received years of rejections on my novels. An author I knew, who hadn’t been writing as long as I had, got a contract and that green eyed monster of jealously took me down. So far down, I quit writing completely. I couldn’t bring myself to bounce back again. However, I’d made a couple commitments prior to quitting that I had to follow through on. One was to attend a dinner for a slew of visiting children’s authors and illustrators and their publisher. After so many years of writing in my small town bubble, I was thrilled to meet multiple writers and artists – even if I had chosen to give it up myself. Turns out, it was the best thing to happen to me. Since I had nothing to pitch, I was relaxed and enjoyed my evening getting to know everyone. About two months later it struck me my manuscript, The Weaver, was likely a great fit for the publisher I’d met. I groaned, dusted off the story and submitted it. While I waited for a response, I started writing again. When Guardian Angel Publishing offered a contract, it was official, I was an author again. I’m not proud of the fact that I let my jealousy get the better of me, but I did learn it is okay to take a break when you need it.
Do you ever write in your PJ’s? I am right now! I wake pretty early in the morning – against my will – stupid mind won’t let me sleep in. I usually sit with my laptop and coffee and get to work. Next thing you know it’s 10 am. Since I have a glass front door, I’ve been caught a couple times in my ratty robe and bed head. I finally got wise and invested in some pajama pants and shirts I’m not horrified to be seen in. Still haven’t figured out the bed head issue, though.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose? Since my book is filled with superpowers, I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’d want to be able to be in more than one place at a time. There are so many times I’m on a writing roll and suddenly it is time to pick up the kids or make dinner or go to a meeting. It would be so great to be able to continue writing while a part of me runs off to fulfill my duties as wife/mother/author at large.
Pet Peeves? Mean people and (grafitti) taggers. Both are so disrespectful.
One of your favorite quotes – “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
― Gloria Steinem
Do you prefer to live in a big city or in the country? I love the country. When we first moved to Central Oregon we bought a small ranch and had a couple steers, pigs or sheep, chickens and a big old vegetable garden. Just enough to feed our family of six. That was favorite place I’ve lived so far. It was a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding in so many ways.
What types of books do you write? I write fiction, mostly fantasy. I like writing for middle grade readers because it is such a formative time in life and books can really help kids navigate the craziness of those years. I write for young adult readers because there are no limits to what you can write about or how you do it. Plus the readers are so passionate about their favorite books and characters.
When it comes to writing- what are your strong points? What are your weaknesses? I feel I do emotion well and I think a have a natural proclivity for strong word choices. Unless it’s a homophone. I’m completely homophone challenged. I will ALWAYS have to have an editor for that reason alone.
How many books have you written? I think I have seven complete novels and at least four partial novels.
How many are published? I have five books published and one under contract.
Are you self published or traditionally published? So far, I’ve chosen the traditional route. I like publishing with small press. I like the partnership to put the book together. I appreciate that they know more than me about the publishing business. I like that they publish at a much faster rate than larger houses. That said, I hope my career will extend out to a large publishing house and to self-publishing. I like to idea of being a hybrid author and when I have a book that I feel will work better in a different environment, I won’t hesitate to give it a try.
What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you? My own personal editing. After I’ve finished the first draft, before I send it to crit partners. It takes so long. It’s so boring! I want to be creating new stuff or working with an editor to make my work stronger.
What type of books do you enjoy reading? I read almost all middle grade and young adult – for research! And because I truly like them better. In that target audience I really enjoy reading coming of age, dystopian, fantasy and romance. But I read everything I can get my hands on because it really does help my writing. I can even learn about how to write good drama from a historical fiction, a genre I would never write.
What does your family think of your writing? They are incredibly supportive. I read my work to my kids first (when I think it is ready for the first ‘public’ viewing) and make note of their reactions and questions. Using all that, I revise again. They attend most of my book signings with me. I love the support and they get to visit new towns. They bug me to write the next book in a series, which is great inspiration.
Do you manage to write every day? I do something writing related everyday. If it isn’t writing, it is editing or critiquing, promotion, research. There is a crazy amount of work beyond the actual writing.
What’s the latest news you’d like to share? King of Bad has been on the Top 5 Bestsellers list for my publisher since it released in July. I’m really excited about that and very, very appreciative to readers.
What is your favorite part of a book? In young adult romance, I like the first meeting. You know when Bella walked into the science room and Edward had to fight so hard against the hunger the scent of her blood elicited. When Clary watched Jace stalk and eventually kill the blue haired guy in Pandemonium. When the first impressions hum with tension or conflict or even desire, it sets a great tone for the soon to develop relationship.
When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning? I can spend hours pouring through a thesaurus, and baby name books and looking up definitions. Or I can choose Jeff because a guy I had a crush on in middle school is named Jeff.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)? I had decided to write a middle grade novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). But when I woke up on November 1st, I had this question in my mind, “Who trains the bad guys?” For some reason, I just couldn’t let go of it and even though I was far more prepared to write a completely different book, I ended up pursuing that question instead and wrote about a boy recruited to Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good and being bad.
What kind of research did you do for this book? Because I write fiction, I generally don’t have a lot of research, but for this book I found myself having to do some fact checking for the villains’ powers to make sure the way I described it was actually believable. As an example, the blue flame they learn to produce has an electrical base. I had to figure out how a villain might tap into that and was thrilled to discover that magnesium, found in muscles, lends itself well to the blue electric flame I hoped to create. Plus, even when I make up fictional towns, like Ransom, Idaho, I still want to make sure the climate and topography of the area is correct. If it isn’t believable, you lose the reader.
What is the best thing about being an author? Meeting the readers. I love getting messages from readers, doing classroom visits, book signings – where I have a little more time to chat, and blog visits like this! I love, love, love to talk to readers about what they like, don’t like, want, what their hobbies/interests are. I’m inspired by every one that I meet.
Any last words? Thanks for having me today! I appreciate you letting me share my book and my writing with your readers!
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today Kai. It’s been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.
He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?
Sitting front and center in math class the next morning was the Amazon. Jeff almost stumbled when he saw her. Even folded into a standard classroom desk, her body went on and on. Her olive skin glowed under the fluorescent lights. Miles of wavy sable locks tumbled to her waist. A short skirt revealed a never-ending expanse of legs gracefully wrapped together under the desk. They seemed indecent. Jeff wasn’t attracted to her, per se, but she intrigued him. And scared him to death.
Amber colored eyes gleamed when they met his. She looked him over from head to toe and a half smile curved her full lips. Jeff fought the urge to scurry past and with all the casual aloofness he could muster, he sauntered to his desk at the back of the room. He heaved a loud mental sigh when he was safely behind her. He might understand Pyro’s claim that something wasn’t right about the Amazon. Though he doubted that he and Pyro were referring to the same thing.
To Jeff’s dismay, the math teacher had the Amazon introduce herself to the class. She stood at the front and stared pointedly at Jeff most of the time. When she spoke he groaned. Her voice was warmed butter rum—soothing, comforting and intoxicating. Jeff made the mistake of glanc-ing at her while she spoke about her home in northern Italy. As soon as they made eye contact, Jeff was transfixed. Though she continued to speak aloud to the class she also spoke directly to Jeff in his mind. It wasn’t in a language that Jeff understood, but he knew she was hypnotizing him.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
When the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died, the end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for younger children Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Visit Kai’s website, www.kaistrand.com, to browse her books, download companion materials or to find all her online haunts.