Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Author Interview: Elizabeth K.

As part of her blog tour in honor of her most recent book (Traitor's Knife), today we have an interview with author of the Five Gems series, Elizabeth Kaiser.

Can you give short summaries of your books?

I've finished two so far, both in the same series. In the first, Jeweler's Apprentice, a bookish country lass, Fia, stumbles onto a court secret while trying to save the princess (and the princess turns out to be in no danger at all). To get her out of the way, the Chancellor sends her on an apprenticeship to a high mountain jeweler, but he is unaware that the civil war in the neighboring kingdom is spilling over into the jeweler's house.

The sequel, Traitor's Knife, picks up where JA left off. When the loyalist cause enlists the mountain house into a weaponry, we find our apprentice Fia confronted with refugee children, a disturbingly upstart former messenger, and accidents happening everywhere. Are saboteurs out to nix the weapons works, or is it the incognito crown prince they're after?

I'll be reviewing Traitor's Knife soon. So far I'm enjoying it!

What genre are your books?

I'd classify them as Fantasy, though they're very Low-Fantasy, and a lot of feedback I receive says that they feel like Historical Fiction. I love that, since I want to bring a lot of realism and down-to-earthiness to the Fantasy genre.

In fact, readers say they wish my settings were real, 'cause they want to visit! Super love that!
Who is your books’ audience?

I'd like to say everyone with an imagination! Primarily I'm targeting the older YA crowd, (teens-to-twenties,) but I think Fia's books would be great to read aloud to the whole family. They're a clean, streamlined narrative with enough action to appeal to a broad audience, while still being "thinking books" with great vocabulary and scope of experiences.

What first inspired your books?

I wrote the first book for my sister as she turned 16. I wanted to give her a story about an ordinary girl who, by doing ordinary things very well, ends up in extraordinary places. My sis is a stickler for cliches, so I tried to avoid them altogether in the first book. The plot heats up in the second, and it could be argued that it has a few more cliches than JA, but I think I successfully tilted them on their head enough to make them fresh again.

How long have you been writing, and why did you start?

I wrote my first piece at seven; it was from a dream I'd had. I have always had an active imagination, and active dreams, and my family didn't always want to hear about them. That particular day Mom said, "Why don't you write it down?" just to get me out of her hair, I suppose. So I did.
Where do you write most often?

I write on a computer, and I try to keep it down to one computer because things just get too confusing if I've got multiple drafts scattered hither and yon. I recently scored a great laptop off e-bay, and I'm looking forward to concentrating on that. I like silence when I write, so my room is often a great place for that. If there's too much noise coming through the wall, I can always put in a CD, though I tune out the music.
What are your ‘author quirks’?

Hmm... author quirks? I'm not sure I have any interesting author quirks. I do not write every day. Is that a quirk? My creativity runs dry, and I have to let it rest up. Then when it's good to go I can churn out the words in amazing quantities... my personal best is 13k in one day. (It did take all day. )

When I work like this I find I don't end up with much junk, so it works best for me.
What advice do you have for other authors?

I'd really like to see more realism in authors offerings... It just seems like there's so much basically "sappy" writing going on, especially by first timers, but even by people getting traditionally published. Fiction should be a mirror of real life, so that we can see things clearer after reading it.

It shouldn't be a muddling effect.

If I ruled the writing world I'd give three decrees:
1) Every writer must take in-depth psychology classes, and also undergo sessions themselves. Two reasons: you can't write real characters unless you understand what motivates 'em, and character consistency would be increased with this. I think it'd help with recognizing the writer's own breakdowns in logic as well as wish fulfillment, and leave both in the therapists office.

2) Every writer must spend at least a day and a night out in the wild, with no tech support. There is nothing that "gets real" faster than sore feet, scary noises in the dark, and sleeping on the ground while the temps drop. 

3) I'd give them a bad tempered horse to help them get back to civilization. That'd wipe out the "cute horse loves people" trope, and anybody who can work themselves around a selfish steed can now write a book I'm interested in reading.

What do you do when you lack motivation?

Sleep. Or take an iron supplement. (Every morning, except when I forget! Which I do.) Or I also read...which is lower on my priority list than I'd like it, but Real Life is very demanding at this stage. So I cope as best I can.

I also talk with my youngest sis, who is my brainstorm group, muse, and in-house editor all in one. (I know! I'm so lucky to have her!)
What do you most want your readers to know?

Wow! That's a big one. I'm not sure what to say to that. Maybe I'll just share something that books have taught me... I believe that the Lord is writing my life just as surely as I am able to write fiction, and by exploring the steps necessary for a good story I'm able to come to grips with my real life better.

Loss? Increases depth and character development.

Disappointments? Building up for the payoff later on.

That crushing moment when everything seems hopeless? You guessed it, False Defeat!

Ha! Gotcha buddy! I know my Author only writes victories. So go False Defeat on somebody else... while I pull myself together.

After all, I do want to be the best story I possibly can, right?

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