28 February 2014

Interview with author Kristen Strassel

This week's interview is with my friend Kristen Strassel, whom I met on Twitter. Kristen is one half of The Undead Duo who runs deadlyeverafter.com, the other half being Julie Hutchings, whom I interviewed back in July.

I love Kristen not only because she and Julie helped introduce me to some important writing communities on Twitter and have supported my writing on their blog but also because her tweets are interesting and often hilarious. Unlike some authors on Twitter who are just there to push out tweets about their writing, Kristen engages with people and interacts as a whole, real person.

And so it brings me great pleasure to present Kristen's interview, in which she talks about her books, her unorthodox approach to self-publishing, her marketing strategies, her writing process, and more. Enjoy!

You have two books out so far, and you have another one coming out this summer, no? Tell us a little about what you write in general and what your forthcoming book is about.
Hi, Sione!  Because the Night and Seasons in the Sun are already available, and Night Moves is coming March 26, which just happens to be my birthday.  They are the first 3 books in The Night Songs Collection, a contemporary/paranormal romance series.

Seasons in the Sun is the story of the summer my main character, Callie, met Tristan. She'd heard about his famous family all of her life, but nothing in her own sheltered life prepared her for falling for him, no matter what trouble he brought.

Because the Night: Four years later, Callie has lost touch with Tristan. All she knows is he's the star of Immortal Dilemma, a "vampire" band in Las Vegas. She always knew his excesses would get him into trouble, she never dreamed they'd lead him in to immortality. To try to help him, she must weave her way through a world of rock and roll debauchery that not only she didn't know existed, but does not welcome her.

Night Moves: We meet a new couple. Melanie always thought she was doing the right thing, but her job ruined everything. Ryder Maddox of Soul Divider also gave up everything for the band. The two meet and the connection is immediate and otherworldly, even before they discover they share another kinship: murder.

In the next book, We Own the Night, which is coming this summer, the Callie/Immortal Dilemma crew team up with the Melanie/Soul Divider crew to solve the problems they have. The bands are members of the same vampire clan.

I know from stalking- uh, I mean following you on Twitter that you're an incredibly busy person who travels a lot for work. When do you find the time to write?
It's all about making hay while the sun shines. I travel a lot, even on days when I'm working "locally."  I do makeup for commercials, corporations, film/TV, and weddings, so all of that work is on location. My schedule is erratic at best, and I never know what's coming next. I have to treat every day like I may never have a day off again, so I write whenever I'm home.  When I'm working, I voice text myself notes while I drive, write in the car, and write when I get home.  It's not hard to make time for things I enjoy. 

On Amazon, your book descriptions list Foreward Literary and Fast Foreward as your publishers. How did you find them? Did you consider self-publishing?
Foreword Literary is my agency. Fast Foreword is a division of the agency that publishes novellas like Seasons in the Sun to help clients with marketing. I published with the help of my agent. I know, you're not supposed to do that. But I wanted to put out Because the Night, and we hadn't had a publisher bite on it yet. I told her my plans, and she thought I was an excellent candidate for self-publishing. I still wanted her assistance and publishing expertise, so for my first series, it was the right decision for me. I don't have any regrets. I call all the shots, and I have an agency full of resources when I need them. I will publish traditionally in the future. I'm working on a contemporary romance now that I plan to have my agent pitch to publishers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of Night Moves?
About three months. I try not to take longer than that on my first drafts.

How often and from whom do you get feedback on your writing-in-process?
I write the first draft with the door closed now, unless I'm really having trouble with a scene. I'll talk it over with Julie, my writing partner, and go from there. I use betas when I'm done.  

When I Googled you, the only writing-related website I found with your name on it was Deadly Ever After. When did you and Julie start that project and why? How do you use that blog?
I have considered making a separate website, but it would all be a repeat of everything on Deadly Ever After. Julie and I started the blog almost two years ago to get our names out in the world as writers.  We blog often, and we use it however we see fit, to be honest.  We don't hold back on our personalities.  The blog evolves as our careers do.

About how much time do you spend per week or month marketing your books?
It depends on what's going on. Coming up on a release, I'm in full pimp mode: contacting bloggers, asking for reviews, writing blog posts that are all about the books, setting up blog tours, local media. I honestly have no idea how much time this takes. I' m a work-'til-it's-done type of girl. In between books, I've always got an eye on opportunities to reach people who might be interested in the books.

What have you found to be the most effective strategy for selling your books?
Just being me.  People know if you're fake or you're using them. No one wants be friends with a spam machine.  

What advice do you have for new/aspiring authors who want to publish traditionally?
Patience, grasshopper!  Everything in publishing seems like it takes forever. You need to be open minded. Everyone is trying to help you. 

Thanks for having me!!

Find out more about Kristen Strassel and her work on Goodreads and on her blog, deadlyeverafter.com. Kristen would also love to connect with you on Twitter.


  1. Good guest post, Kristen. I love your point about the most effective strategy for selling books: "Just being me." Too many writers automate their social media. I want to chat with fellow writers on Twitter, not just be asked to buy their books or visit their blog posts. And yes, being a writer does take a lot of patience. Writing has probably taught me more about patience and persistence than any other aspect of my life! :)

    1. I agree with you, Denise, re: wanting to interact with people who are being themselves. It bugs me to no end to follow a writer who then sends auto-DMs and never tweets about anything except their own work.

    2. @Denise, Ya, patience and writing go hand in hand, well learning patience, that is. I am the worst at being impatient if I am up against a deadline and things aren't flowing as (I feel) they should be, I get so weird and freak out (i.e., call my sister up crying, am very short with everyone, have to turn off Pandora and/or any other noise). Haha! It's at those times that I employ yoga breathing. =p