It's here! My first interview on this blog! And I'm super excited to introduce you all to Kiersi Burkhart (@kiersi), a fabulous woman I met a few months ago at a local event for writers. She, like me, is a writer and a freelancer. She also writes about writing and publishing on her blog, The Prolific Novelista. And her first book is coming out later this year. But I'll let her tell you more about that.
Without further ado, the interview:
Q: What do you write?
Young adult [YA] and middle-grade [MG]. I love both--MG is young and carefree, YA gets to be intense and emotional and even get a little sexy. I believe you can have your cake and eat it too.
Q: Tell us a bit about your current work(s) in progress.
I'm revising a middle-grade, high fantasy novel called Gryphon about two kids who are as different as night and day. Rheya is a snobby princess on the run, after the infamous outlaw Thoreus Gray invaded her castle in the middle of the night--who knows what's become of the King and Queen. She runs to the Sky Mountains, a harsh, frozen landscape patrolled by monsters, to try to escape the Gray Riders who are chasing her. The boy, Frost, was raised in the Sky Mountains at the edge of the world by gryphons, with no human influence. Together they go on a quest to get revenge on Thoreus Gray, restore Rheya to her rightful place on the throne--and for Frost, discover what it means to be human.
Q: And your first novel is coming out soon, right?
Yep. The Devil's Fire is scheduled to come out with RainTown Press in August.
Q: What advice do you have for writers who are looking for their first agent or publisher?
Think hard about your long-term goals before you take an offer for publication or representation. It's easy to take the first thing offered to you when it's your first time, but it's important not to let your excitement get away with you. Do you want an agent who spends a lot of time with you, helping you develop your career? Or do you want someone who just wants to get and sell finished manuscripts? If you get an offer for publication before getting an agent, use the publisher's offer to negotiate a deal with an agent. It's easier to hook one with a publisher already on the line.
Q: You and I have talked a lot about getting involved in communities of writers. Why is it important to you to interact with other writers?
Getting involved in a writer community is not only a great way to develop professionally, but writers are now some of my best and closest friends. I think writers are all a little crazy--and people outside our profession don't always get us. Fellow writers, especially ones who have been through the agent and/or publishing wringer, are an invaluable resource to a new author. They can teach you the pitfalls to watch out for, and offer a little reality check when we start thinking that getting our first book published is the end-all, be-all of the industry. (Hint: it's not.)
Q: What communities have you participated in so far this year, and what have you gained from those experiences?
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is an amazing resource for anyone interested in writing picture books, middle-grade, or young adult. I also greatly enjoyed the Willamette Writer's Conference last August, and have made a number of great connections through it. Last, but not least--the Portland Kidlit Facebook group. I met my YA writer's group there, and we've been attached at the hip ever since. They are a wonderful support network.
Q: What other communities are you trying to get more involved in and why?
I've started helping organize Fall programs with SCBWI, because I think they have a lot to offer new writers, and I'll be teaching in the program. I love Wordstock, because it's inexpensive to attend and it's a great jumping-off point for new writers. Seminars are affordable and there are lots of industry professionals in attendance for networking opportunities. I'd love to teach at Wordstock in the future, and give back to the festival that's given me so much (including introducing me to my publisher!).
Q: Final words of wisdom? (Not that they are, like, the last words you'll ever write. Just, you know, "final" for this interview. It wasn't a threat or anything, I swear.)
Believe in yourself. Be brave, both in your writing and in your networking. When you do something, do it with everything you've got. Walk up to people you don't know and introduce yourself. Try everything that interests you. Finish what you start.