Friday, 12 December 2014

In Defence of Our Dreams: Kristan (Dreamer 2.0)

In Defence Of Our Dreams’ is a project where I interview various people about their pursuit of a creative life. Pursing creativity and wanting to do something different or special with your life can be very challenging and disheartening at times, so I’ve always loved to read how other people are coping with it and how they find the drive to carry on when things are difficult. If you’d like to know more or you’d like to take part, look HERE.

Today I have the absolute honour of welcoming back my dear friend and partner in crime, Kristan Belle, author of THE SONS OF SATRINA: A Sons of Satrina Novel. If you missed Kristan’s first interview about THE SONS OF SATRINA, you can read it here.  Kristan is back today to catch us all up on what she’s been up to since we last spoke, and to give us an insight into what we can expect from her next.

DREEEEAMER! Welcome back! I’m so glad you’re here. What have you been up to since your last visit?

It’s good to be back!
So much! Life has been hectic, but a whole lot of fun! I published my first novel, which was a HUGE step, but one that I was so glad I made. I put it off for so long, and now I’m wondering why!

Yes! You did take the plunge and you decide to self-publish the first SONS OF SATRINA novel. What are three things that you learnt or experienced this past year that you didn’t expect?

1.       Well, the first thing would have to be the good reviews were a welcome surprise. I know that I had to have a lot of faith in The Sons of Satrina to actually put it out there, but to have other people like it also? That’s such a buzz. As a writer (as I’m sure you know yourself!) you are filled with self-doubt the majority of the time, so to have someone tell you how much they love your work, it’s amazing! I’m so grateful to the people that have left reviews, especially the ★★★★★!
2.       I’ve also learnt how easy it is to self-publish! I always found the whole experience to be daunting, but once you get down to it, it’s a piece of cake. The first main issue I had was with the front cover, as that it what usually attracts most readers to a book. I liked the one I did, but that was it – I only liked it. I didn’t love it. So, after much planning, I changed the cover and now I LOVE IT! That was the only part of the process that I felt I wasn’t ready to tackle, but I went away and came back and made the cover into something I was really proud of.
3.       Well, I’ve discovered I’m not much of a promoter! I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but in the world of self-publishing, marketing it key so you kinda gotta do it! Personally, I’m not looking to take over the world and I’m more than happy to wait for word of mouth to spread, but that doesn’t mean I can sit on my bum and do nothing! Of course, I pop up on Twitter a lot with the link to my book on Amazon and if I see someone has a paranormal romance interest, I’ll let them know what I do and what they can check out. I’m constantly checking out other marketing ideas, but for me, the focus is on the writing.

As it should be! What has been the most stressful part of this journey?

I think it was actually deciding to go and ahead and take the plunge that was the most stressful part. I took forever umming and ahhing over whether to do it or not, but when I took that final dive, I realised it was all worth it. Provehito in Altum!*

What has been the most fun?

Realising that people out there actually liked what I did and were looking forward to more!
I’ve always found (when going down the traditional publishing route) that it is recommended that you don’t write a sequel until the first book has been published. So, now that the Sons of Satrina is out there, I had to quickly get my butt in gear and write the next one! It’s been fun to carry on the journey with Ash, Jackson, Kayleigh and Kelton. They’re a fun bunch of people that always have some drama or other to overcome so you never know what’s coming next. Isn’t it great when the imaginary friends in your head come to life?!

It really is just the best thing! Have any fan reactions to SONS OF SATRINA surprised you?

Yes! The fact that they loved it and wanted more was a great surprise to me. As stated, as a writer, we never know how our work is going to be perceived and to have it positively received is HUGE! I’m so stoked that they love it as much as me.
Plus, it’s always a different thing for strangers to like your writing. I have friends that read what I write, but there’s always that thought in the back of your head that wonders if they are only saying that they like it because they’re my friend. There’s that self-doubt rearing its ugly head again!

Yes, I agree completely. I value what my friends have to say, but it somehow carries more weight from a stranger. I guess it’s because the stranger has no investment in me…They don’t care about my feelings. I like to believe my friends would be honest if I wrote something they hated, but there’s always that small voice at the back of my head…
How has the reality from this past year differed from your expectations?

It’s been a journey that’s been a lot easier than I would have ever thought. It’s just made the writing bug worse for me, especially now that I have people that want to read more. I was dreading the prospect of one star reviews, but so far so good!

Not everyone is going to love you, no matter who you are. Don’t fear the one star reviews. Even Harry Potter got a couple of those, which is pure insanity. Seriously. Who doesn’t like Harry Potter?
If you could go back and speak to Kristan from last year, Kristan from before SONS OF SATRINA was published, what would you say to her? What advice would you give her, if any?

Also, get that goddamn cover right from the beginning and save yourself all that stress!

I have to say, Sons of Satrina REALLY blew me away. Can we expect a sequel in the near future? Say maybe…Hashtag soon?

#Soon and definitely not @JaredLeto’s soon! It’s actually with the proof-readers as we speak, the cover is all set and ready to go and should be out #soon!
It was a lot of fun to see how the story unravelled. Of course, I had a set idea where certain things were going to go, but I love the whole flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of writing so I got a couple of surprises myself!

Oh yes. I’m a pantser for life. Outlines are for the weak! [I don’t mean that. Outlines can be totally cool] Have you been working on anything new?

You know me – working on a million different projects at once! I have written several things over the last year, but none that are anywhere near the publishing stage.  But, hey, writing is writing. That’s what pushes us forward and you never know when the right one is going to hit you.
I’m currently working on a stand-alone novel that I hope to have with the proof-readers within the next couple of months. It’s a Djinn New Adult novel, so still sticking with the paranormal which I love, but something a little different.  Hopefully this will be like nothing you’ve read before. I’ll be letting everyone know when that one’s good to go!

Ooo, I can’t wait!! Has your writing process changed since the release of SONS OF SATRINA? If so, how?

Kind of. I tend more to write in the first person now than I did when I wrote SoS. My actually process hasn’t change – I’m quite set in my ways like that. I love to write the first draft out in long hand (not very environmentally friendly, I know!) and then type up the first re-write. Then type the second re-write and see how happy I am with it. Editing is a necessary evil that we all have to endure, but one that is vital. I often find not only grammatical mistakes during the editing, but the reading flow. It has to flow or readers will lose interest. It can be hard to lose focus on that when you’ve been writing the same novel over and over again. As a writer, you have to remember to see it with fresh eyes and see that it makes sense to someone that doesn’t know the plotline backwards, forwards and inside out.
So, yeah, the process is more or less the same but I’m still learning with every project I undertake.

Wow. Long hand! I am impressed. I make notes in long hand, but I type from the get go. Do you remember the moment you came up with the idea for SONS OF SATRINA series? Can you describe it to us?

Don’t ask!
Well, my best friend had a dream that her boyfriend was cheating with a female friend of ours. That’s it! Can you believe it? This simple dream became an entire novel…
Unfortunately/fortunately, I have such a warped mind that the story turned into the female becoming a stalker, wanting to kill my friend with a pink spotty umbrella to get her hands on her boyfriend…
The dark corners of a warped mind is a scary place!
I know, this sounds nothing like the vampire tale it is now, but this was actually the background story to Kayleigh (as you found out in SoS). The whole vampire thing came into it somehow because I’d always wanted to write a badass vampire novel and voila! The Sons of Satrina was born!
Plus, I didn’t want any wimpy vampires. I didn’t want to focus on drinking human blood and stalking the shadows of the night. So, vampire warriors was something that appealed to me, and a whole academy of fit, hunky warriors sounded even better!

Amazing where our inspiration comes from! I get it from the weirdest places. Okay. Mainly one place…Ha!
I know that with every novel or short story I write, I learn something new about myself. What have you learnt about yourself since you published SONS OF SATRINA?

One of the things I realised how big a part music plays in my life. Re-reading the novels that I’ve written so far, there are so many musical references and mentions of bands that I love (Thirty Seconds to Mars & Bring Me The Horizon to name just a couple!)
I love music (Post-hardcore being my main genre) and I often use the #NowPlaying hashtag on my Twitter account. I think it’s important to show the person behind the storytelling as opposed to simply plugging my book in every Tweet. It shows a sense of ‘real’, if you know what I mean.
My main passions are reading, writing and going to concerts. I’ve got quite a few planned for the next six months (Linkin Park, You Me At Six & All Time Low, Sleeping with Sirens & Pierce the Veil), which is going to be a blast! I’m thinking that my next project should veer away from the supernatural and maybe go for a rock star? That could be fun…
Also, that I shouldn’t have so much self-doubt. Even if everyone else thought the novel sucked, I should believe in myself a little more. Dreams are there for the taking, they just need some hard work and faith.

Oh yes. Anyone who has the misfortune of following me on Twitter knows I incessantly spew song lyrics whenever I write. I can’t even help it. Isn’t that why Twitter was invented? For global sing-alongs? No? 

Thank you so much for stopping by, Kristan!
You can find Kristan on Twitter and Facebook, and you can grab a copy of Sons of Satrina HERE!

Update: Since this interview, Kristan has released Dawn of A New Age: A Sons of Satrina Novel. You can pick it up HERE.

*Latin for launch forth into the deep