Hello Monday peeps! I have a new person for you to meet today! I have just recently started talking to Kari Ann, and she graciously agreed to do an interview with me! So sit back and learn a bit about her with me!
Kari Ann is a Seattle space nut, creativity junkie, and science enthusiast. Cloudy days and rainy evenings suit her, so the Pacific Northwest may be her permanent home. She spends many a-day in an elementary school library. Book enthusiasm is a virus that spreads from one host to another, without much care that the infecting agent may be a many century-dead author. Kari Ann is a school librarian by day and cares for aging horses in her off-hours. We don’t talk about the black cats in her home.
She has written short stories for Robot Cowgirl, 444 Project, and is author of the Olivia’s Field urban fantasy series, and will soon release the Trojan War space opera cycle.
Now for our interview!
Christina: What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.
Kari Ann: Rock Hopper is set in a future a few hundred years from now where people have left Earth and are establishing governments as well as social customs out in the solar system. We all know that people will go into space, but we will take everything that we are with us. We have our ways of governing and our religions coded into our behavior. I believe that when we leave Earth, we hug tight to the things we’ll miss when we leave so much of our lives and families behind.
Like a lot of writers, I have a several works in rotation. It helps to take some time off and work on a different project while the last one (or the book from two books ago) percolates. I’ve spent three years editing Rock Hopper and just as I was about to release it in a flurry of sci-fi wonderment, I received a new submission opportunity. To that end, the other books in that universe are underway and should be able to release this much closer to the Rock Hopper eventual release date for that publishing delay.
My sequel to Olivia’s Field is written! This urban fantasy story followed Olivia from her ordinary life into her life with the faeries. The new story is in the revisions stage, and may be for another half year. Olivia returned to her parent’s home, but what happens when you learn that there’s another world out there, effecting our own daily lives? Just wait and see.
C. What has been your favorite scene to write so far?
KA: I love writing snark. It’s safe to say that there’s a special place in my heart for Vits from Rock Hopper. He’s never so much my character as when he’s telling the truth and making you question it.
C. Who or what has inspired your writing?
KA. I read prolifically, but for the longest time it never occurred to me that my day dreams could be written down for other people to read. I even spent hours talking about book plots and what I would do in that situation. I think we’ve all been there. It took a step to go from thinking about plots to writing them. The “epublishing revolution” made me realize that I can write, and submit my writing to publishers, too.
I want to reiterate: seeing other people, regular people who aren’t official writers, publish made a huge impact on me. “I, too, can write.”
C. What is your biggest goal with your writing?
KA. I want to find my people. There might be only ten of us out there, or there might be more. But we like a good story and want to talk about what makes it good. That’s my goal. Finding my people.
I’m hoping that the short story “We the People,” will impact society’s view of the Bureau of Land Managements’ horse and wild burro supervision programs. I’d love to see animals treated with more respect and horses given the space they have come to occupy in our ecosystem, rather than having the horses removed and the grasslands given to free-range cattle at pitiable prices. Don’t get me wrong. Better prices aren’t the issue.
C. Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
KA. I need a really long stretch of time to focus on writing. It’s not a ritual, just a sure knowledge that I can choose my end-time.
C. What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?
KA. I write and edit in my kids’ after school classes and in hallways between lectures. If we’re writing short stories, we can outline anywhere.
C. How do you handle writer’s block?
KA. If I can’t dream, I can’t write. After large projects, I get drained. The ideas are still there, but the ability to follow through leaves me. It’s hard to ad might that I need a recharge, but sometimes, that’s what it takes. I need to get excited about something, anything again before I can write.
C. How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?
KA. Writing is the best job ever. I get to read about so many things and use that new knowledge to create something that no one’s ever seen before. I love research. Most recently I did a short story where I needed to know the conductivity of gemstones.
C. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
KA. I’m a big-time plotter. The plots are layered over one another, just as the textures and tones are multidimensional. Characters still take off and do their own thing, but it rarely changes the central plot.
C. What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?
KA. Getting edited by professional editor creates a huge difference in my work. It takes some scrimping and saving, but it’s amazing to see what a few tweaks can do! There are professional editors out there who can guide you in how to make a difference to your next manuscript before you send it to them. Don’t simply send to an author who is giving advice, find a professional you can work with.
C. Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?
KA. Patience isn’t enough. Try, try again isn’t enough. Push through the rejections, and know that there is an audience out there but it will take a lot of open minded listening to criticism and applying what works for your piece and your audience.
C. What’s next for you?
KA. I hope to get a positive response from the group reviewing Rock Hopper, but the responses from my pre-readers have given me the strength to believe that my people are out there. I’m going to work on the other books in this universe. I can’t begin to express how much the world means to me. After this, I will build the framework for a new story while revising the next Olivia book.
C. Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences.
KA. I’ve watched a number of online writing lectures and received valuable feedback from editors and traditionally published authors. I’ve taken very specific writing classes I’ve taken beyond the freshman comp from way back when, but those classes were “how to teach to write.” I took classes that were intended to teach a teacher how to open up a student to let them write their first drafts or memoirs. I’ve taken a good number of grammar classes beyond this.
C. What’s your favorite part about writing science fiction?
KA. I love finding out what is possible now, what is probable in the near future and then extrapolating how we might use that information or habit as people. The humans in Rock Hopper are using a propulsion system that I’d read about in some technical papers my husband brought home from work. Sure, humans would be squished to jelly using it, but imagine what we could do if we found a way around that!
C. Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?
KA. Most of us wish we could sell ourselves better. We sit in rooms by ourselves for hours on end, writing about other worlds or lives. Sometimes I think, “If I could write a better blurb, I could reach my agent.” Or “I wish I could see my own messed-up grammar.”
In the end, it all comes down to sitting in front of the computer and putting your dreams onto the screen. I wish I had the ability to focus for extended periods of time and not care about the dishes or the barn or some more tactile form of ar.
C. Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?
KA. I read certain books once every five to seven years. I just need to feel that texture in my brain. Annie Proulx’s short stories, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, and a decade and a half of watching anime in minute detail had huge impacts on my writing. I can’t pass up a new version of a Jane Austen novel. I can’t say that I’m an “old classics” type reader all the time, but I really do consume tremendous quantities of media every year.
C. When writing a poem, do you have a set word count you aim for or do you wing it?
KA. Only in a haiku. When I write poems, I ensure that the feel and the story are there. That’s the end goal. If I want to make a deep impact, the poem is velvet on your cheek. If it’s funny, the poem should be dandelions in sunlight: something you appreciate if you stop to look at it without judgement.
C. Has any life experiences landed into one of your novels?
KA. I take being told I can’t do something as a challenge. I had been turned away from studying sun spots in high school, but I’ve discovered I can synthesize information and turn it into a consumable, relatable experience. That’s what my experience has brought to my writing.
C. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KA. A writer or a veterinarian. I assumed we would be living in space stations by now. I like to think I’ve achieved or contributed to many of these goals, in my own way.
C. Have you pushed yourself to write in a genre outside of your comfort zone?
KA. I have! Off and on I read for an amazingly talented woman who writes slice-of-life short stories. She can take a glance on the bus and turn it into 2,500 words of longing. I truly want to do that and have made an effort to bring the same qualities to my writing. I still need magic or to talk about my inventions, but that’s part of what I hope to achieve.
C. What scares you the most?
KA. Confinement in all forms. I don’t like being told what I am or where I should be. I don’t like small spaces or high peaks that I can’t navigate away. I don’t need to be in control, in fact, I dislike taking charge, but I want to have the opportunity to find my options and the sure knowledge that I can follow any one that I chose, and that I can determine my own restrictions.
C. When did you start to feel like an author?
KA. There are special milestones in a writer’s life that I’ve experienced:
The first submission.
The first rejection.
The first contract.
The first piece of fan art.
The first professional request for a re-write.
Writing still isn’t my day job, though. I expect to “feel like an author” when I prioritize my writing above my other jobs. I’ll get there. Just wait. ^_~
C. Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.
KA. A long, long time ago, I wrote a judo scene and wasn’t sure about how a character would get up after being defeated by a throw. I was in good shape and needed to know how to push myself off the tatami like I was hurt. I’m sure it was hilarious, but only the cats will tell.
Thank you Kari Ann! It was great getting to know you and learn about writing.