Today, I’m visiting with K.R. Hulsey, author of Demona, a recently released dark fantasy novel.
K.R.: I’m a 27-year-old mother of 3 (almost 4); been married for about 6 years to my high school sweetheart, which I think makes me extremely lucky. I fully admit that I am an odd duck. I have this obsession with Halloween, so much so that I am the Director of IV Haunt, a non-profit haunted house that I do every year in my little town. We donate half our proceeds to the local Boys & Girl’s club and it’s something that I take a lot of pride in. I make a lot of my own props, which you can view on my Facebook in my photos, but be warned they are kind of dark. Most of my family and friends are pretty surprised that I could think up such darkness but that part has never been hard.
I grew up in Huntington Beach, not the pretty rich side, more like the slimy poor side. We lived in nigh squalor and I was one of those unfortunate kids who went to school smelling of cat pee and filth. My parents at the time were into drugs, and I was one of those kids you see wandering all over the city probably doing things I shouldn’t be. I once rode my bike on the 405. (Still something I never shared with my mom) When I was 11 or so we moved to Oregon, my parents quit cold turkey and became the adults that every child needs. Of course it was hard at first losing all that freedom but I admire my Mother for her sacrifice. Not long after my dad abandoned us to continue his drug abuse. So I was filled with a lot of anger and hate.
T: When did you begin writing?
K.R.: After my dad left, I was in a lot of pain and confusion. I was only 3 months into having my first boyfriend (now my husband) and needless to say the sudden abandonment left me with some serious paranoia. When my boyfriend told me my issues were making him consider breaking up, I turned to writing and Demona was born. I used all the hurt, anger, and frustration to create the troubled hero and her first true enemy.
K.R.: Demona faces countless challenges through out the series, most of them within herself. She is a shape shifter, able to change into 3 different bodies not including her human form, but she has forgotten how to be human. Her time growing up in slavery has reverted her human mind to the animal instincts that kept her alive. She suffers from paranoia, anthropophobia, haphephobia, and sudden bouts of violence. This makes it extremely difficult for her to learn to be a human, let alone a hero.
T: What was your greatest challenge when writing this novel?
K.R.: The biggest challenge really is that I absolutely suck with grammar. Editing took forever and was a serious pain in the butt. My editor did a great job and helped me fix the things that I just didn’t see.
T: Are there any messages or lessons embedded in your novel that you hope readers will take with them after reading?
K.R.: There are so many small lessons I would hope that the readers would catch. Prejudices are a big one, not so much with color as in race but really what’s the difference? Compassion is another.
T: I understand your novel is the first in a series. How many books are planned, and where does the series take us?
K.R.: I am currently working on book six and I imagine the story will spread into a tenth. We follow Demona as she grows up and learns on a roller coaster life. She starts out at what she thinks is her lowest point, then finds life and friendship, only to be thrust into a world war that she is expected to win. But we don’t just follow Demona, one person does just not win wars. The story bounces between the characters that are important to the story, but like a tapestry, every thread has its purpose.
K.R.: Demona is really the only thing I’ve been writing for the last decade or so. It sounds silly but the story is like a child to me, I gave it life, put in countless hours of work, I used every soul deep emotion I had to try to bring it to life, and shed many a tear of it. I don’t know if I would ever be able to write anything but the Demona series. Maybe once it was completed I could embrace some other project but for now, writing anything else just isn’t possible for me.
T: How do you balance the demands of daily life (work, parenting, etc) with your writing career?
K.R.: At the moment I haven’t been able to juggle at all. Working with 3 kids plus trying to keep the house clean takes about all the energy I have. And mostly my house suffers because sometimes you just don’t care. But my editor is hounding me for book 2 and I know I need to put my nose to the grindstone and get it done. Now that school has started I think I can probably sneak in a few hours a day to devote to the series. Which means the house will still suffer but hey, who needs folded clothes anyway?
K.R.: First I would tell them to forget the traditional printing presses. Why would you want to hand over the rights to your book and get the smallest royalty possible for something that you created? Why would you want your book in the hands of people who only publish books from people they know? If you have an uncle’s friend’s brother at DAW that’s all well and good, and they’ll publish it even if it’s complete crap, but hey you knew someone right? Its not fair and its not right and its really just a waste of time and a lot of heartbreak to be repeatedly rejected simply because you are a newbie. Secondly, embrace change. Get an editor and let them tell you what needs to change to help the story along. I refused this change for a long time and it left the story stagnant. Be open and listen to your editor.