Interview with Kristi Strong, Author of The Lady of Steinbrekka

November 23, 2015


 Why did you become a writer?  


Writing has always been something I've done, but I didn't dream about being published until 2011 when I was introduced to self-publishing by my friend and author, Kristina Circelli. I knew that traditional publishing was not my path, at least not initially. I have a full-time job and a child and deadlines are hard, so I was thrilled with finding an option B, even though it is so much harder at times.


What inspires you to write?


Everything. I feel like there is such magic in the world around us and we are all so busy, busy, busy that we let it pass by, so I love writing it into my fantasy novels. I will usually also find inspiration in the people around me, family and strangers alike. I'll see a person, or an interaction, that makes me wonder what their story could be, and then it will turn into a story in my mind. 


When did you find yourself taking your craft seriously?


When I was doing the research for Finding Keepers. It was my first time going outside of the fantasy realm, and once the main character developed into a foster child, the novel took on an entirely new life. Instead of simply being entertaining, it started to have meaning, and I wanted to really show what some of these children go through, and how they need our help as society to pull them out of the dark pit where they have been shoved. It really began to show me how my writing could be so much more.


How many books have you written, and what are their titles?


I currently have 4 novels published. There are currently three books in the Land of Kaldalangra series, The Lady of Steinbrekka, Heart of Kylassame, and Soul of Asimina. I also have Finding Keepers, which is a YA contemporary. I am currently working on an adult companion novel to Finding Keepers that tells the story of Alyssa's "after", and dabbling with the fourth book of the Kaldalangra series.


Who is your favorite character from your book(s), and why?


I fell in love with Darian the moment I wrote him. He's a bit rough around the edges and has some baggage from his past as a warrior, but in the end, he is all about love and loyalty, and will remain true to the end.


Where do you get your story ideas?


I know it sounds cliche, but Lady started out as a dream. I dreamed that I was kidnapped and taken down a glass elevator to a land where my best friend was an evil tyrant, and began to write. I didn't stop until several tens of thousands of words later, when I knew the story was complete, but not over. Heart of Kylassame was the after-story, and Soul of Asimina was the next generation. Finding Keepers started as a back-story paragraph to the book I'm reading now, but then morphed into an entire novel once I began researching. I knew that there was so much more to the story than could be conveyed in a paragraph or as snippits of backstory.


Can you give us a picture of your writing journey,  from the beginning to now?


It's been a slow one, with wild dancing and baby steps. I can't do it full time, not yet, so I always feel like I'm taking two steps forward then one long month to catch my breath, only to take another few steps. I've made so many amazing friends though, and it's been an incredible journey of self-discovery. When I first hit publish, I never imagined anyone other than my family would read my novels, and then The Lady of Steinbrekka became part of a high school reading competition! It's been fabulous.

Do you have any events, book signings or readings coming up?


Not officially, but I am hoping to participate in the Cascade's Library Local Author Fair for another year, as well as attend UtopiaCon for my second year. I'm also planning on connecting with local bookstores in the spring and set up some signings.


What genres do you write in, and what would you like to write in the future?


I love fantasy, but I'm also having a lot of fun with writing YA contemporary lately. For now, I'm happy to stick with those.


What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer?


Really feeling like I was connecting with the high schoolers who read my book last year. I was asked to speak at their competition, to give them an idea of what it's like to be an author, to publish, to write. I started by telling them my story, how in high school I was told by a teacher that writing fantasy was stupid, and how I foolishly listened. I told them, "Never believe those who belittle your dreams, because it's never stupid, and it's always worth it." A student approached me, tears in her eyes, telling me that she had been hearing the same thing, and that it gave her hope that I had shown them all that writing fantasy was awesome.


Biggest challenge?


The darn time! Between work, my husband, my daughter, and life itself, I have very little time to write and it's very hard, both emotionally and business-wise. I have all of these stories in me that I want to share, but no time to do it. But I keep reminding myself, time will come, and it will be glorious.


How do you deal with writer's block?


Usually I float around Wikipedia doing research. With the Land of Kaldalangra series, I would look up a French or English ruler, then just follow the links in the articles about their predecessors, wars, or other parts of their life. Eventually something would give me my "aha" moment and I would be off running with a plot line.


How do you handle marketing? What has worked?


The biggest thing I've learned is to connect with the ones around me, and to really put myself as a part of the community. Not only do I get the chance to really connect with other people who have similar passions (and have access to some amazing books!) but they will help spread the word better than a lot of other methods I've tried.


What hasn't worked for marketing?


For me, it was blog tours, and it was on me. When I signed up for the blog tours I didn't realize just how much work would be needed from me, and feel like I definitely dropped the ball. I think I had hoped for instant exposure with little effort, and that was not the way it worked at all. 


What's next for you?


I'm not really sure yet. I'm working on the next story in Alyssa's world as quickly as I can, and also writing down all of the ideas I have for other stories. This upcoming year I'm really going to focus on myself as an author, because even though I've been published for 3-4 years now, I still don't really feel like I know what I'm doing. To a point, that will always be the case, but I really want to focus on figuring out me and my business.


What do you want readers to know about you?


I am super ridiculously shy, but I also love people. I'm the one who will never ever dare to walk up to a stranger and say hi, but if someone says hi to me and talks about their children, or books, or cats, I will gladly talk all night long.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


I think you covered it all! This has been awesome :)


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