That would be you 😉 I have been writing short stories and poems my entire life, but never really thought of other people enjoying them. Your constant excitement kept me writing and made me realize that this is something that should be shared. My mom actually got pretty emotional when I told her that someone was encouraging me to write, and then publish. I had given up on it in college because “I was no Emerson/Tolkien/Rowling” and had forgotten why I write in the first place.
I also hit some spots where the characters or events totally surprised me by taking a different path than originally intended, and that is always exciting. After one fight scene I found myself going “Oh wow, I wonder what will happen next and if everything will be ok!” Then I realized I would have to actually write that and figure it out as the story evolved.
3) LoS is filled with many unique characters and places. Do any of them come from specific inspirations, or people?
Mateo is actually the only one based on a real person, although more so his nicer side. Also, many of Rhea’s college experiences she refers to late in the book were pulled (and embellished a bit) from our friendship.
Many of the terms, names, and creatures do pull from a variety of languages (mashed together in many cases) or loosely resemble myths and folklore stories told throughout the world.
4) In the book, Rhea loves horses and has a strong connection to nature. Does she reflect a part of yourself? If so, how much of yourself is reflected in your main character?
Absolutely. I was an avid horse rider when I was younger but had to stop due to time and lack of funds when I went to college. I find myself re-living those days a lot in my writing.
I have always felt a close connection with nature and grew up in the middle of a cornfield, surrounded by a forest. When the average teen was playing video games or hanging out at the mall, I was exploring the woods and trying to sneak up on the resident deer population. I worry that the current youth of the world are going to greatly miss out on the joy that can be found in the woods, and in untouched natural places. Hopefully they can get that connection from the book, and then go camping for a weekend or just sit in a park and feel the breeze.
5) Now that LoS is done, what are your plans for the future? Sequels, a new series, any signings or book events to look forward to soon?
I have two other books currently started, the sequel to LoS and a different fantasy story for another series I would like to write ( sort of a “how the gods came to be” series for a new cosmology).
I am hoping to do some local events as well but have nothing scheduled as of yet. I will keep all of those updated on my Facebook page (Novels by Kristi Strong) or Twitter (StrongNovels)
6) What’s been your biggest challenge in publishing your first novel?
Letting it be finished. I feel like there will always need to be one more edit, one more re-write, etc. I think there is also a touch of apprehension/ anxiety when releasing characters that I have known and loved for so long into the public. I can only hope others love them as much as I do.
7) Describe LoS in two sentences (and yes, I know how hard this is).
The Lady of Steinbrekka is a book about creating your own destiny, and finding the strength to change a world that isn’t the way it should be. It isn’t your typical fairy tale and, I hope, gives an aura of reality to the classic story of good meets evil.
8) Okay, you have to choose. Rowan or Mateo?
Rowan all the way. I fell in love with him as the book evolved. He did not start out nearly as lovable (in my head) as he ended up being. I can’t wait to focus more on his side of the story and emotions as I get further into the second book.
9) We know that you love to write, so how about reading? If you could sit down right now and pick up a just-released novel, who would it be written by?
I have The Devil’s Diadem by the late Sara Douglass ready for reading in my Nook. Also a copy of The Sour Orange Derby by yourself, and a million “How to raise your toddler” books. Also any of the series by Anne Bishop. My paper copy of her book, Dreams Made Flesh, just literally fell apart from being read so much, so I need to re-buy it!
10) Some authors say that writing is just as frustrating and stressful as it is cathartic and beautiful. How would you describe writing, and the writing process, for you personally?
Writing is just…everything. It releases emotions, it is therapy, it is joy and celebration, happiness and grief. I love to create these worlds and create characters, and love even more when they take paths that were not originally intended to be taken. It can be incredibly frustrating at times, especially when you know what is supposed to happen several pages away but just can’t make the connection between “this page” and “that page”, but it is a wonderful and incredible thing.
11)You have the chance to be any animal for a day. What do you transform into?
My cat. I have a toddler at home so spending the day sleeping in a sunny spot and only waking up to go get petted seems like a nice thing. It also seems incredibly fun to be able to just randomly jump five times higher than my height, or to have a fluffy tail. Really, it’s all about the fluffy tail.
12) Post-apocalyptic stories are all the rage right now. How do you see the world ending? Zombies? Worldwide plague? Giant soul-sucking black hole?
I would say financial ruin, followed by the shut down of all electricity which leads to complete chaos and sends us back a couple thousand years as we try to figure out how to grow crops, hunt, and survive in a world where there are too many people for the resources. It would definitely not be a pretty sight, but would definitely make a good story…
13) Any parting words of wisdom to share?
To all writers out there, just do it. Keep writing your stories and letting your characters live. If it is something you enjoy, just keep writing. Even if no one reads your words until years and years later (I wrote my first “book” at age 8 and my mom still has it, printed on the old school printer paper with the perforated edges), just let yourself enjoy getting lost in worlds and characters that you have created.
Read and draw inspiration from others. I have running storylines in my head that I play out if I am bored, or can’t sleep, that revolve around the characters of my favorite books, but take place completely outside the actual book plotline. That is a great place to start and many times I can take those events and re-work them into an original story.
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