Blog Archive

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Staying True to your Characters: Author Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager

Most everyone thinks they can write a novel, but they don't realize the time and effort it takes. When did you start writing your novels? I started writing seriously in college. I took creative writing classes where we had to do a novella as our final project and after my second one, I did an independent study with Prof. Thomas Foster who wrote, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, and that’s when I wrote my first story, which….I lost years ago! No clue where it is because it was on a disk and I moved to Europe and my flat flooded. However, right after I finished that novella, I began work on my first young adult novel, True Colors, which is the first book in the Landry’s True Colors Series. I wrote Next Door to a Star after that, which is the third book I had published and the first book in the new Star Series. I did a lot of rewriting on those first two books, so it’s hard to say how long they took.

What writing experience/credits did you have prior to publishing your first book?
I was a journalist writing news, sports, features and a humor column, I also published essays, humor pieces, articles, short stories, and flash fiction before I went about looking for a publisher. I think that experience helped me a lot in my writing, as well as with my confidence in dealing with having my books out there.

What do you want readers take away from your work? 
I hope they'll take away the idea that we all struggle with self-esteem issues and that being yourself is the only way you can truly be of value and feel comfortable. We’re all made unique for a reason and we should honor what makes us special.

How did you go about finding a publisher/agent? How many sources did you pitch?
I have two publishers, but I don’t have an agent. I did a lot of research on publishers first by going to conferences, going through those writing market books, reading writing magazines, going on websites, talking to people, etc. I don’t recall how many places I sent the first story to because I took time away from submitting during the years I lived overseas. During that time when I was in Portugal, I focused completely on freelancing for newspapers and magazines to build my writing resume and get my name out there.

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
I don’t outline first, but now that I have two different YA series that I’m working on, I find that after you write the first book, you really do need to know where you’re going with the story. I have what many authors refer to as a “bible” for the series with all the info on the characters, setting, plot lines, etc. I do character studies/profiles before I begin work on any novel. I also do Pinterest boards with pics of how I imagine their houses, rooms, style, etc. When the book gets published, I then make the boards public so readers can see what I picture in my mind for the settings, characters, etc. You can check out mine here for reference:

What type of publicity does your publisher expect you to do in promoting your book? 
On my own I do tours, book blasts, tweets, etc. I’ve done radio and TV interviews and podcasts, too.

What did you learn in writing your first book that helped you in writing the second book and getting it published?
I think I learned the importance of trusting your own voice when it comes to writing. Once you begin to build an audience there’s a trust there and you realize you have to stay truthful to the characters. I remember a critique I had at a workshop after the first book came out and someone made a suggestion about one of the characters (Landry Albright) and I thought, “No, that’s not staying true to who she is. I can’t have this teen have a revelation overnight about a situation because it’s not true to life and I felt it would insult the audience if I didn’t have Landry deal with it in her own way. Readers get the feel for a character and so I need to stay true to that. That was the biggest thing that I realized. The second book I got published was Best FriendsForever? (the sequel to True Colors) and now book three will be out January 12th and it’s called Landry in Like (Landry’s True Colors Series: Book 3).
What surprised you the most in writing/publishing your first book?
What surprised me was how much you’re expected to know about the business—I really wish I had taken some business classes in college and while I took some pre-law classes, I wish I had taken some contract law classes. I remember professors suggesting getting a law degree even if I didn’t have the intention to practice law and now I think that would have been useful .

What frustrated you the most? 
I think what most of us find frustrating is the marketing part because all we want to do is write and yet there is so much business admin to do day in and day out that people don’t realize.

What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
What I wish I knew was to have more than one book finished before I started to send them out. Once a book in a series comes out, people want to the next one and if you don’t have it ready, you can lose your audience. I can’t tell you how many times people have the idea for a series, but hold off on writing the books in case no one wants the first one, which I understand, but once book one gets picked up, you will wish you had kept going!

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
Taking literature classes is the best advice I can give someone as well as enjoying the act of writing and the journey and not just the destination. The best advice I’ve been given is to start off publishing short stories, essays, articles, etc. to get your name out there and to give people a taste of your work so they know what to expect from you.

Do you have any other works in the process?
Yes, Landry in Like will be out on January 12th and my YA novel, Competing with the Star, the sequel to Next Door to a Star will be out march 22nd. I’m working on the third book in the Star Series, as well as another YA novel and an adult novel, too.

That's it for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Krysten and her writing, here's some options for you.

Amazon Author Page: