I met K.J. Cales via Facebook. There was just something about her, about her book that made me reach out for an interview. I think you all will connect with her in some way or another. You may even decide to look up the sign you were born in to see how it can help or hinder your writing and style.
Below are the questions I asked her:
1. In your bio you mention that you are a Taurus. How have the virtues of that sign helped you in your writing career?
My loyalty to my father has kept me writing since his passing. A gift that I believe helped to keep me from considering unthinkable options. At our last meeting, he told me in a firm tone to get my book published. Now that I have, I cannot justify going to another career.
Part of what steered me into self-publishing is my stubborn rebellious traits. I really have to hold a person in favor before I take their opinion of my works in high account. The stubborn side of me prevents me from giving up on my projects.
My senses are strong I think from in part my sign and that I am an earth child. This translate into defining emotions and physical touch more than I should in some situations. I had to cut this back much in Rachel’s first book. Next one will have much more.
2. Why should we read Passing of the King?
In a jest? Really, even a child at times can use a release from reality. While not aimed for children, Rachel’s first novel gives the parents a break from the doldrums of reality: the bills, the obligations, and the stress. While a physical vacation often is worse than work, a good novel can give the mind a needed break with no need for transportation or lodgings to get away from the stress of life.
Add on that were the reader to think their life is bad, I believe the twists in Rachel’s life could give a reader time to reconsider.
3. Describe your writing in 5 words:
anti-ordinary, personal, unexpected, stratified, untrodden
4. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
I get up dependent on when I get to sleep, but hate to wake in the early mornings. As with Rachel, I find when I wake early in the morning bad situations like to hit me. Breakfast is a matter of availability and preference. Most of the time, I am grabbing the cereal bowl.
5. Who is your favorite character in Passing of the King, and why?
This is the evil question akin to asking a parent which child would they save if they could only grab one. All of my characters are my children. Yes, even Jennifer and Payne (though they are the children who live in the time out corner).
Not because she holds the camera of the novel’s focus, Rachel has suffered as I have in my life. She has taken her trauma and made herself a better person for the lessons. I find days where I can’t understand what keeps the girl moving forward. Of course, I am concurrent with her timeline and know the fires readers have not witnessed Rachel’s suffering through yet.
When my life falls apart, I see that Rachel holds more to complain about than me. That tends to shut my mouth’s complaints and returns my focus back to work.
6. How has living in West Virginia and Florida influenced your writing?
Living in the mountains, I was the kid you could never keep out of the woods. I also had few friends due to geography and my background. The woods offered me an escape from the trials outside while the places nurtured my imagination.
Still feel those places in my bones far from home. Yet, I learned too that the dictionary does not define our world. Just because people’s titles and situations have a given definition, this is not always how the world will work.
In Florida, I learned the truth about justice before I was out of school. Not in a positive way, mind. This is really where the situation of Rachel finding so many turned against her in the madness. I simply took my life in middle and high school superimposed onto a huge chunk of the world. Just as much, I have learned about finding support in places you wouldn’t expect at first glance.
7. What's the funniest thing someone has asked/ or said to you about your book?
I’m not sure if this counts as funny, as I find the observation annoying. One of my readers mentioned out how the cover does not represent West Virginia.
May I point out that the cover is not an advertisement for my birth state. Rather, I emulated Rowling a bit while upping the value from childhood to the mental exercises for adults. Secrets to the series as much as to the novel itself lie within the cover. The same will be said about the next novel. When the two are compared … I quote River Song here, “Spoilers.”
8. Where does your cat hang out while you write?
Most of the time he is either at my feet or in the window. He likes to protect me, especially since we lost Dad. Excluding, of course, at naptime – then my left arm and leg becomes his bed.
9. Is it easier to find readers? Or more difficult due to all the self-publishing?
I have found this vexing because as a new writer as well as on limited funds, I cannot advertise to as wide an audience as I would like. There is also the first novel learning curve – every writer has this.
By self-publishing, I have this twice over due to learning also the job of agent and promoter. Where an agent has contacts and knows of channels I might not yet have heard of, I face finding the more creative routes to attract readers to Rachel.
10. Explain what NaNoWriMo is to the newbie writer: And how can they get involved?
NaNoWriMo, as in the book, is the short form of National Novel Writing Month. Every November, along with twice in the summer, writers of all kinds join together in an effort to type out a masterpiece only each participant could create.
The goal normally is to find the words The End as close to fifty thousand words or better as possible. Even if a writer doesn’t get that far, by the end of the month those who put out an effort have more than they began with and showed the world they can write a novel.
The only person you compete against is yourself while you connect with other writers who have either have just started or been through this all before.
Getting started is not difficult. Sign up at either nanowrimo.org for the November session or campnanowrimo.org to join either (if not both summer sessions). At the web sites you input your daily word count (1,667 words for a goal of fifty thousand words), chat with other writers in the forums, or even check out November’s comic pages.
November 30th, you validate your word count by pasting the entire length into the site calculator. My advice is go past your goal to ‘the end’ and don’t listen to those who mock writers at the beginning. Even Rowling had to start somewhere.
11. Where's the best place to get a cup of Joe or Tea in your town?
Like Rachel, I hate coffee. My favorite tea spot (and even lemonade on a hot day) is Pies and Plates in Punta Gorda, in the Publix shopping center.
12. What is your blog about?
My personal blog is about writing and life as an independent author. I also have a blog just for updates and clues for Rachel. My third is for my Doctor Who obsession. This keeps the last from overtaking the other two.
13. What has been the best way for you to promote your works?
Talk to people face to face. However, that is my personal opinion along with my crux. I hate initiating conversations and speaking in front of crowds.
However, when I do find the courage to talk about Rachel and her situations, this is better than words on a page or screen. My tone of voice, body language, gestures, and energy level give her life and helps to show the depths of her universe.
14. Do you belong to any writer's associations?
15. What do you think about literary agents? Still needed? Or dying dinosaurs?
In many cases, an agent is needed more than an author is willing to admit. The key is to find someone worthy of trust who will work hard as the writer.
16. Why write?
First answer that comes to mind: why not? The fact is that inside of my head are many universes that deserve to be shared. A state shared with anyone who has an imagination awake with stories only that person is able to write.
17. Please give some writing advice to the newbie writer:
The hardest part of the writing process before editing is getting into your seat and doing the work.
The novel within you another cannot write in your stead. Your novel needs you to come to the plate and press the words into reality.
Everyone can describe a great story in their head they wished someone would write. A few set to the work of craving that story into a manuscript.
Of these, far fewer have the passion for their creation to make a new universe real.
Sit down and do what others will only every dream or talk about achieving one day.
18. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
Tell others about Rachel’s fight.
I have told her story and woven her universe, now others are needed to give this new and often crazy world a hold in reality. The more who read and think about the hidden messages both in the words chosen along with the cover, the stronger Rachel’s world becomes.
19. Who are you reading?
Really it is re-reading. Autumn Sabol’s ‘Elementary, My Dear’ and Laurie R. King’s ‘The Beekeeper’s Apprentice’.
20. What one word best describes you?
21. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My fictive sister and her son in life. Mom and Dad past the veil.
22. What are you working on right now?
Rachel’s next novel. Funny that she is not the one in charge. She really hates the entire ‘princess in need of saving’. But I have a hard time pulling her out of that role.
23. Any big news?
I will be making an appearance at the Punta Gorda Public Library on August 6 from 10 to 1 for their ‘Meet the Author’ program. Hope readers will have some interesting questions.