Kristin Ward is one of the shining beacons in the YA fantasy realm. Her work is interesting, exciting and at times scary how important it is right now. For instance, her novel After the Green Withered is a novel that is about the effects of long term environmental change. I said, ‘Author, Kristin Ward did a remarkable thing with the story. She took the environmental disaster story that is very common right now due to all the concerns about climate change and made it fresh” when I reviewed it a year ago. I still stand by that a year later. Her book stands above its peers for character and the very texture of the world-building she creates. Plus, Kristin is a great person to know. She is kind and forthright and always talking and boosting other writers up. The best thing you can do it read her books, but even if you can’t do that, follow her on twitter. She really is great.
About the Author
Kristin Ward is an award-winning author from Connecticut. She embraces her inner nerd regularly, geeking out with SciFi flicks or quoting 80s movies while expecting those around her to chime in with appropriate rejoinders. As a nature freak, she can be found wandering the woods – she may be lost, so please stop and ask if you see her – or chilling in her yard with all manner of furry and feathered friends. Often referred to as a unicorn by colleagues, in reality, the horn was removed years ago, leaving only a mild imprint that can be seen if she tilts her head just right. A lifelong lover of books and writing, she dreamed of becoming an author for thirty years but lazed about and didn’t publish anything until 2018. Her debut novel, After the Green Withered, is the first of other stuff you should probably read.
We already have your official bio, now we want to challenge you to describe yourself in ten words or less…Go!
Witty, nature-loving geek girl and quoter of movies. –*Seeks readers who find those qualities appealing;-)*
Who or what are your inspirations when it comes to writing? Is it a particular author or authors, art, history, culture, current events, something else? How have they influenced your work?
Those are meaty questions! Let me wax prosaic…
It all began when my 7th grade English teacher likened my writing to Saki, the author of the short story, The Interlopers. *Cue the foundation of a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. That feedback started a journey into angst-ridden, poorly penned, poetry – that has improved enormously over the years – and short stories that eventually grew into novel ideas.
I’m an animal lover and nature freak, so venturing into science-related content has always been my thing. Interestingly, my first published work was curriculum for a zoo habitat! When I was developing a graduate course in environmental education, my first book became a possibility. As I wrote the course, I completed an enormous amount of research which led me to an idea about the effects of global drought. I have always been passionate about environmental policies and this comes through in my craft.
My debut novel took a whopping five years to complete. I was busy raising three boys with a full-time career. Wait. I’m still doing that so I’m no less busy, but they’re older now and more forgiving of mom planting herself in her writing chair. The impetus to finish my first book, After the Green Withered, came in late 2017 when I read an article about Cape Town running out of water by April of 2018. I knew at that point that I had to get my book into the hands of readers as I had a message I wanted to convey. The sequel, Burden of Truth, came out five months after book one and I’m proud to say that my debut novel won the 2018 Best Indie Book Award in Young Adult Fiction and the sequel was a finalist in the TopShelf Indie Book Awards.
Being a nature lover, I poured that passion into my third book, Rise of Gaia. In that work, I imagined Mother Earth coming to awareness and wreaking vengeance on humanity. The book has many more fantastical elements and I truly infused a great deal of myself into the main character. In the end, my hope is that the environmental themes that are so prevalent in much of my writing will influence readers to learn more about environmental issues that should be common ground for us all to understand and support. We are all part of the solution.
What do you love about self-publishing and on the flipside what drives you nuts about it? What aspects of self-publishing do you excel at and in what ways do you struggle?
Like anything, there are pros and cons to the self-publishing world. On the upside, I love the fact that I am beholden only to myself and have total creative control. I am under no obligation to write to market unless I want to which allows me to explore themes that are near and dear to me but not necessarily mainstream. Self-publishing also allows me to enjoy this journey on my own terms and my own timeline.
The downside is the amount of work beyond the actual writing and the negative perception from outsiders of the self-publishing world. When I published my first book I did it all wrong. I didn’t know what I didn’t know! Since that time, I have learned a great deal about the many facets of the industry, but I still have a long way to go before I reach anything even remotely masterful.
Marketing is perhaps the hardest part of self-publishing as it falls entirely on the author. While I love creating ads and I think I have a talent for it, it is so time consuming that I could easily spend two hours on Canva and get nothing else done. Actually, I have done that many times. Yeah. It’s a problem. The monetary part of marketing is equally challenging. If I had unlimited funds, I would pour them into ads and I know I would see a good return over time. But the reality, like so many of us, is that we have tight budgets and must find avenues that enable us to get the word out with breaking the bank. I have found some good outlets for this while also continuing to dabble in ads.
What does your daily writing process look like? What do you do to get in the writing zone? How many hours do you write or do you go for a word count? Tell us everything!
I perch myself in my writing chair in the heart of the house when it’s time to get down to business. The chair itself is a stuffed recliner that used to belong to my grandmother who saw one hundred years in this earth. In fact, we picked it out together when I was in my early twenties. Located next to the woodstove, I spend my writing time reclined at the perfect angle to rest my laptop on my thighs and create. Of course, I am rarely truly alone in this process and am often interrupted by boys or animals. As I write this, Floyd the cockatiel is perched on my knee and keeps poking his head out from behind the screen while trying to bite the laptop cover. He’s naughty and has the mind of a toddler which means he will never learn. Sigh.
Time is the biggest challenge I face as an author. While I long to write full-time, this is not my reality. Instead, I grab snatches of time after work and on the weekends and focus more on word count than hours I could log. However, you must understand that this productivity all depends on how motivated I am. Basically, I have a doctorate in procrastination. I should probably teach online courses in this underappreciated art.
What do you think makes a good story?
I feel that realism is an important aspect of storytelling. As an author, I infuse real events or issues into my work to enable the reader to develop a stronger connection with the story. This doesn’t mean you can’t write fantastical stories that take place in a multiverse, it simply means that grounding the work in realistic elements can bridge the gap between the world you create and the one in which the reader lives.
Show not tell is another important element and I have to work very hard to monitor myself with this. As a rather new author, I struggle with this and can easily slip into too much telling. When you show, the reader becomes part of the story on a much deeper level and this is what I strive for.
When did you first learn that language had power?
I learned about the power of language back in 7th grade when my English teacher inspired me to take my writing further. I keep in contact with her to this day and she has been begging me to publish a work of poetry as she reads the poems I post on Twitter and is a huge fan☺
Are you a reader, and if so, which book inspired you?
Delving into the dystopian genre for my first books was a necessity. The story I slowly developed over the years was always going to be a dystopian tale due to the very context of it and the overarching message I am trying to convey. I also happen to enjoy the science fiction genre, especially dystopian. I suppose this appreciation began with one of my favorite books, The Giver by Lois Lowry. Her story introduced a society that strove to smother human nature. The characterization was phenomenal and as I read, I felt a strong connection to Jonas. I also really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games. I find myself gravitating to books that have powerful themes and this is evident in my own work.
Do you have a set writing schedule?
Nope. I write whenever I can but do try to snuff out the procrastination monster that lives in the recesses of my mind when it’s clear that I can and should be writing instead of mindlessly reading Twitter feeds and creating stuff I don’t need on Canva.
Do current events affect your writing, or do you try and keep life and your stories separate?
Current environmental issues are major themes of my work. I have a message to convey in a way that isn’t preachy but still carries weight. We have one planet and it is our responsibility to protect it for future generations.
If you could have dinner with any three figures from fiction, who would they be and why?
My answers may surprise you as I have a rather eclectic taste in books!
Erick from Phantom by Susan Kay – He would be a top choice as I love the stage production of Phantom of the Opera and read her book every couple of years. He is a tragically romantic figure and I would relish the opportunity to break through his angry façade and see the passionate artist beneath.
Jonas from The Giver by Lois Lowry – I would relish opportunity to visit with him and learn about what happens as he and Gabriel slide down the hill to Elsewhere. Did they survive or was it all a hallucination?
Johnny from The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton – The Outsiders was the first book that I truly fell in love with and Johnny was the character that I longed to take away from his harsh life.
*Clearly, I’m somewhat of a romantic and have a thing for tragic characters! LOL
Enter to win a physical copy of Rise of Gaia by Kristin Ward!
★ International ★