I met Keira on Twitter and we began chatting. Thanks for coming on the blog, I’m so excited to hear your story!
Let’s get started!
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
I’ve been writing all my life! A few years ago, I thought it might be fun to try and write a novel. I read tons of books about story structure, plotting, stakes, etc., and then wrote what is arguably one of the worst YA sci-fi novels ever conceived. Ha! BUT. It was my practice book. It was where I began to learn that writing is truly a craft, and that hard work and persistence are the path to improvement.
What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?
I write YA fiction (sci-fi and/or fantasy), as well as Middle Grade fiction (fantasy). I was a bookworm growing up; I lived in my imagination (still do!). I want to write books that kids and adults alike will enjoy—books that provide food for thought rather than answers, as well as tears and laughter and all the stuff that makes life so amazing.
Did you decide right away that you wanted to go the traditional route and get an agent?
Oh, yes. From the very beginning, I wanted to go traditional. This was never a question for me. I’m a firm believer that every writer should follow his or her own path; for some, that is indie publishing, but for me, traditional publication has always been the goal.
How was your path to finding an agent? Did you query widely and did you query more than one novel before you had success with the amazing Jim McCarthy?
I queried very widely—80+ queries, billions of rejections, lots of requests, and ended up with multiple offers. It took about five months, and it was a total roller coaster! I had indeed queried another novel before this one—that awful YA sci-fi I previously mentioned. Zero requests on that one. So I wrote another book, a better book. You can’t ever give up. You just have to keep writing.
All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?
Frank Herbert is my absolute favorite writer. He is, in my opinion, the best world-builder in the history of fiction. His prose is beautiful, his characters incredible, and his stories transcend the ordinary. DUNE and GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE are my two favorite books. Other favorites: THE MARTIAN (Andy Weir), OUTLANDER (Diana Gabaldon), the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, anything by Catherine McKenzie, and basically almost all books that tell stories of the sea/shipwrecks/ships.
What are you working on now? Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?
I am working on the sequel to THE CONTINENT, which I queried this year. I am DEFINITELY an outliner—I cannot write without knowing the major plot points. I must have a direction in order to build a story. But I don’t outline every detail—I leave plenty of room for discovery, and my outlines are always flexible.
What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?
I tend to write more productively in sprints. If I sit down and take my time, I become easily distracted and usually get around 1200 words per day. When I do sprints (20-30 minutes each), I can crank out 5-6K. I LOVE sprinting. It sharpens my focus by an incredible margin!
If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actors would you cast to play the three main roles?
I have a Middle Grade fantasy about a little girl who befriends a witch. I’d love to see Zoe Saldana as Beatrix MacTavish (the witch), John de Lancie as Alistair McAlistair (the villain), and a digitally rendered representation of the enchanted, miserable shrub that all but saves the day.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
Criticism is a positive thing—and I truly believe that learning to accept it gratefully and graciously is the best thing you can do for yourself as a writer. Receiving compliments, encouragement, and enthusiasm for your story is lovely, but it is criticism that will push you to take your writing to the next level. It’s important, though, to trust your instincts: sometimes your betas will be off the mark. I have learned to consider all criticism carefully, and trust myself to know which suggestions or notes resonate with my story, and will help me to improve.
I totally agree!!!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?
It’s an old cliché, but honestly: keep writing. Don’t give up. The process of writing is a magical one—we learn so much about ourselves, and about the world around us! In regard to publishing—let the rejections roll off your back. It’s a subjective business, and querying is a numbers game. As long as you are getting requests, you’re on the right track. If you’re not, think about having your query critiqued, and meanwhile, KEEP WRITING!
Anything else you would like to add or talk about?
I just want to say thank you for thinking of me! This was a lot of fun.
Thank you so much Keira!
Where can people find out more about you and your books?
Online at: https://twitter.com/keira_writes