Hi everyone! This month we are happy to bring back our monthly interview with writers of science fiction and fantasy. Today we have debut author Kara Swanson with us. Kara is the author of several fiction series that span a wide variety of genres and has always had an thirst for adventure and a vivid imagination. She was honored to be awarded the Most Promising Teen Writer Award 2015 at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference.
Having published several magazine articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and a short fiction devotional in the 21 Days Of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Moms compilation, Kara continues to sharpen her craft through freelance writing while several publishers consider her full-length novels. At 17, Kara also independently published a fantasy novel titled Pearl of Merlydia and keeps herself busy through a colorful array of book signings and speaking engagements.
Please join me in welcoming Kara!
1) Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
Well, I was first published at seventeen through a very small press. I co-authored that fantasy novel with another missionary kid while I was living overseas at the time in Papua New Guinea (an island above Australia).
The novella I just released, The Girl Who Could See, was independently published. I’d originally written it for a sci-fi magazine, but then realized the concept was too expansive to fit into a short story. However, it was perfect as a novella. I wanted to familiarize myself in the various aspects of publishing, indie included, and I figured a novella would be a good start. It turned out to be the perfect size to teach myself the ins and outs of indie publishing, and it also helped me to grow an audience and develop my marketing skills.
Plus, it was so much fun to write, and within a few months to be holding print copies of my little story, and see it on Amazon…
2) Tell us a little about your books.
The Girl Who Could See is about a girl who thinks she’s crazy and her imaginary friend who keeps telling her she’s not. It’s about blind faith and realizing that sometimes the very things that you see as a curse—are what make you extraordinary.
The official (short) blurb is:
All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but what if she is the only one who can truly see?
A girl who’s crazy. Her imaginary friend who claims he’s more than imaginary. And the monster threatening both their worlds. To survive, Fern Johnson will have to confront her insanity—and believe in the impossible.
3) How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?
I usually write at night, from 10:00-12:00pm. I can bust out about 3,000+ words in that time (the equivalent of a chapter or two). That’s mostly because I turn the story over in my head all day, considering what needs to happen next, how I want to paint the scene, the pacing, the dialogue, etc. I even figure out the first few sentences of how I want to open the chapter. So that when that 10:00pm comes, I can just sit down and launch right into it. Then, the next morning I’ll edit the previous night’s chapter, tighten it up, and that will help me to start processing what I need to write for the next night.
4) What was your favorite book as a teen?
I LOVED The Chronicles of Narnia…The Door Within trilogy…Anne of Green Gables
5) Star Wars or Star Trek?
STAR WARS BABY! 😉
6) Soft shell or Hard Shell tacos?
I’m *supposed* to be gluten free (food sensitivity related to my Lyme Disease), so I’m going to say hard shell corn tortilla?
7) Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like cocoa, raspberry tea, chocolate?
Chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And chips and salsa 😉
8) Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Yes! Isaiah 40:31 has been a favorite of mine for years now:
For they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.
The idea of waiting on the Lord to be our strength has been especially real to me in the past few years, since I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease three months before I was supposed to start college. I ended up having to pull out of college to concentrate on my health, as I couldn’t function. Couldn’t get out of bed, was in pain constantly. And we found out I’d had it for four years when I was diagnosed—six years now.
Learning to trust the Lord’s timing when I’m a driven go-getter? That was hard. Learning to lean on His strength? That was easy. I didn’t have any strength of my own, where else was I to turn?
Anyway, this verse is just a beautiful reminder that He has perfect plans for me, and will continue to hold me no matter what happens from here.
9) Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?
Yes! Usually I’ll listen to movie soundtracks (LoTR, Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc) or if there’s a song with lyrics that really sets the scene’s mood, I’ll play it on repeat.
10) What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
Where do I start?
Writing has been my saving grace through Lyme Disease. It’s one of the few things I’ve been able to do while bedridden and it has allowed me to still touch lives, despite not being able to leave my room most days.
I’ve also learned that I always weave a bit of my pain and myself into my stories—and in doing so, find a bit of His hope there too. I’ve learned that I not only love to tell stories that entertain, but I love to tell stories that may reach someone else’s broken place and breathe hope there.
With The Girl Who Could See, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wove a lot of my journey with Lyme Disease into it. Fern cannot function normally. Could not finish college, drive a car, get a normal job, etc. All the things I know first hand. Yes, her reasons were different—she had “hallucinations” that would spring up in the middle of her daily life, making it almost impossible to focus. Whereas I physically didn’t have the strength to do most things young people my age would do. It was a depth of story fodder I didn’t even realize I was dipping into at the time.
And, in writing about how Fern overcomes the incapacities holding her back, I was also able to make peace with my own shortcomings, with Lyme—and trust that God was going to use it in ways I couldn’t imagine, even if I was never healed from it.
(Which, if you’re wondering—I am! Getting better. We’ve finally found a treatment that works, and I can start pursuing college (or a journalism internship) again. God is good. And no matter what comes next, I know He will continue to use the story of my life to impact those around me in ways I cannot imagine. Just as He is using every one of us…)
Thank you so very much for having me!
Thank you, Kara, for joining us and for sharing your story and life with us! Here is where you can find Kara online:
Facebook: Kara Swanson, Author
Pinterest: Kara Swanson, Author
Great interview! The Girl Who Could See is on my to-read list and now I’m looking forward even more to reading it.