Today we are happy to welcome debut author Kristen Stieffel. Kristen is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She has edited a variety of projects, including business nonfiction and Bible studies, but she is a novelist at heart and has edited novels for both the general market and the Christian submarket. Kristen is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Kristen! Now onto the interview.
1) Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
Hoo-boy. That’s a long story, and it’s a lesson in perseverance. Can I point you to this blog post I wrote for Rebecca LuElla Miller that tells the story? rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com
2) When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
As long as I can remember. Mom tells me my cousin and I were making up stories when we were little. I have a memory of making loops on paper with a pen before I actually knew how to write.
3) Tell us a little about your book.
The storyworld of The Prophet’s Chronicle is a study in contrasts: patriarchy vs. egalitarianism, monarchy vs. democracy, polytheism vs. monotheism. Each book of the series focuses on a different country and Alara’s prophecy for its leaders. This usually gets her into trouble, as she’s targeted by those who disdain her message.
4) What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and Anne McCaffrey, among others.
5) How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?
I tend to spend most of my workday on client work. Then I’ll spend an hour or two at the end of the day writing. I try to write at least 500 words a day (which is a little less than an hour’s work for me), but I prefer when I can do 1,000 words a day.
6) Who are your books aimed at? If applicable: What are some of the challenges of writing for your audience?
I usually describe my target market as “professional women” because those are the protagonists I tend to create. The challenge is finding people who fit that demographic and still have time to read.
7) What was your favorite book as a teen?
Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey. It’s actually the second book in the Dragonriders of Pern series, but I like it better than the first. I think because the relationship between the hero and heroine is less fraught than in the first book.
8) What do you want readers to take away from your book?
The apostle Paul wrote that “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NRSV). I hope that Alara’s Call and the other books in this series will show people what life might look like if people lived as if this verse were true.
9) Star Wars or Star Trek?
10) Favorite season?
Spring. It comes early in Florida and doesn’t last long, but it’s nice to have days that are no so hot and sweltery, with trees in bloom.
11) Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). I loved this verse for years, but it took a long time to figure out that it’s not about me and my giftedness. The heart of that verse is to serve others.
12) Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?
I love to listen to instrumental music. Anything with lyrics is too distracting. I love classical and new age and soundtracks. Some of my favorites are Mozart, John Tesh, and Lindsay Sterling. I also like to listen to the Epic Soundtracks station on Pandora.
13) Does anyone else in your family have musical/writing/artistic skills?
Background: I used to be a graphic designer, then I became a news writer, and I’ve always been a novelist. My son started college studying graphic design, then he changed his major to journalism, and this year he decided to write a dystopian novel. I am thrilled to bits about all this. 😀
14) What is your favorite thing you have ever written?
I think it’s still Alara’s Call. This is the book that grabbed me and would not let me go, even though I went through many seasons where I kicked it to the curb because I thought I couldn’t write well enough to do the story justice.
15) Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
Jeff Gerke. And not only because he read the long, rambling boring seventh draft of the book that became Alara’s Call and give me the direction I needed to make it publishable. Jeff also founded the online forum where I learned that I enjoyed editing other people’s stories as much as I enjoy writing my own. That forum was where I first met many of the people who now form the core of my writing life, including most of the folks from New Authors Fellowship and Realm Makers. It is not an exaggeration to say that I would not be where I am now with out Jeff.
16) What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
That my heroine inherited her fatal flaws of pride and performance mentality from her author.
Great interview! Here is where you find out more about Kristen and her new novel!
Book: Alara’s Call