Today’s interview features Kay Kauffman, author of The Lokana Chronicles. I’m very excited that she agreed to visit with us. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading her work, or if you’ve visited her website, you’ll understand why I’m so thrilled. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Kay’s work, I highly recommend that you do so. I’ve provided some links at the bottom of the interview for those who are interested in learning more.
|Lipei (image by Hazel Butler)|
Tricia: Tell us about yourself. When did you begin writing?
Kay: To be honest, I don’t really remember when I started writing. It was probably somewhere around the time I learned how to write. I’ve been at it for as long as I can remember and I’ll keep at it for as long as I’m able.
Tricia: I have four kids and a full-time job, so I can appreciate how hectic your life must be. How do you find time to write and how do you prioritize your writing?
Kay: I usually write during my lunch breaks and while the kids are napping (the younger two, anyway – the older ones are a little old for naps). I sometimes try to write in the evenings, but with four kids and a husband who all need attention and other things that need doing, it doesn’t often happen. I’m not very good at prioritizing, so writing usually winds up at the bottom of my to-do list.
|Vegin (Image by Hazel Butler)|
Tricia: Can you tell us about The Lokana Chronicles?
Kay: When Vegin’s parents are murdered, he assumes a new role as King of Lokana. With his beloved wife, Lipei, at his side, he fights to rid the kingdom of corruption and lead their people through the worst famine in Lokana’s history. Just as they begin to make progress, a threat from Balil, the High Priest, forces Lipei to flee with her daughter in tow.
Left to rule Lokana alone, a devastated Vegin finds himself in a power struggle with Balil. Locked in a bitter feud, tensions grow steadily worse over the years. When Vegin’s daughter, Anná, suddenly reappears fifteen years later, the situation explodes. Caught up in a war she doesn’t understand, she must defeat Balil if she is to help her father save their kingdom.
Tricia: Of the characters in The Lokana Chronicles, who is your favorite and why?
|Anna (image by Hazel Butler)|
Kay: I think Balil would have to be my favorite character. He’s a fascinating individual, very complex. He wants to help people and do the right thing, but the way he goes about it is all wrong. His desire for revenge slowly consumes him, but at the same time, I feel kind of sorry for him because in trying to protect those people and things that he loves, he loses them all.
Kay: I have several goals as an author. First, and most importantly, I want to entertain people. After all, isn’t that why most of us tell stories in the first place? Second, I would love to be able to quit my day job and make a comfortable living from my writing. And last but certainly not least, I hope that by persevering, I can show my kids that with a little hard work and a lot of luck, you really can do anything.
|Aniku (image by Hazel Butler)|
Tricia: Are you strictly an author of fantasy, or do you explore other genres?
Kay: The Lokana Chronicles is actually my first real foray into the fantasy genre. I started off writing soap opera-style chick lit. I grew up watching soaps with my mom and my grandma – they never missed their stories. My early scribbling had little in the way of actual plot and just followed my characters through their daily lives, much like a soap opera. I had some good ideas in there, buried beneath the mountains of crap J, and I hope to polish some of those ideas someday when I have ample time (they’re gonna need a whole lot of polishing). I’d love to write literary fiction and I’m currently working on my first attempt at the genre, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve also written a number of flash fiction pieces, some short stories, music, and poetry. You name it, I’ve probably tried to write it, with varying degrees of success.
Tricia: As a reader, what genres do you enjoy?
Kay: I will read just about anything! I love historical books, YA, fantasy, lit fic, biographies, essays, classics, poetry, horror (Stephen King and R.L. Stine), chick lit…You name it, I’ll read it. Ann Rinaldi and Jane Austen’s novels are some of my favorites and I will forever have a soft spot for Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories trilogy. I could go on and on about what I enjoy, but we’d probably be here at least a couple of years.J
Tricia: I have a slight obsession with websites and like to change mine as frequently as some people change their socks. I’m always sifting through websites and blogs, making notes of what works in regards to an author platform. I would consider your site top notch—it’s visually appealing, uncluttered, and informative. How important do you think it is to build an author platform before launching your novels?
Kay: Why, thank you! I’m flattered. Incidentally, I know what you mean about changing it up – I’ve been guilty of the same thing. I’m always looking through WordPress’s theme options in search of something new. I love their Piano Black and Bouquet themes, but they each have things I dislike about them, too. Since I’m too cheap to pay for the CSS upgrade, though, I guess I’ll just stick with what I’ve got.
Anyway, author platform. Everyone says that a great platform can help you land an agent, a publishing deal, and everything else under the sun. I suppose it’s probably true to some extent, but personally, I find it difficult to plug something that may not be finished yet. Part of the problem for me, I think, is that I don’t feel I’m a very good salesman and I have trouble plugging myself and my work. The last thing I want people to think is that I’m a spammer, so I haven’t been very good about promoting my work. A good platform, though, can help you find your audience and help you whet their appetites for upcoming projects once you’ve built that audience, so I think it’s definitely a good thing to pursue. I just need to woman up, I suppose. J
Tricia: I’d like to link back to one of your blog posts—it’s a favorite of mine and I think others will find it as inspiring as I have. http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/2012/04/03/the-writers-identity/ When you finally gave yourself permission to view yourself as a writer, did it change the way you approach your craft?
Kay: You’re too kind, Tricia! I think the way I approach my craft has been steadily changing since I first joined authonomy. I’ve begun to think more seriously about it, which has led to both hand-wringing and excitement. But my final admission to being a writer instead of being merely aspiring was one that surprised me as much as anyone else. I hadn’t exactly planned to admit that to anyone, but I suppose either you’re a writer or you aren’t. If I might paraphrase Yoda, write or write not – there is no aspiring. I think what changed with that admission was my perception of myself. It helped my outlook on life to realize that whether I have a publishing contract in my hands or not, I am a writer and I will always be a writer. Writing is more than just what I do – it’s who I am.
Tricia: Do you have an advice for those starting out?
Kay: Learn all you can and never assume you’ve learned everything – there is always something more you can learn. Don’t burn bridges – you never know when you may need to cross one you’ve destroyed. Be professional, be polite, be gracious, and be persistent!
Tricia: Kay, thank you so much for your open and insightful answers. For all my readers who are interested in learning more about Kay Kauffman, please visit the following links:
To read a sample of The Lokana Chronicles: www.authonomy.com/books/25729/the-lokana-chronicles