Greetings!! Today I interviewed the lovely Kristi Cramer! She is the author of young adult historical fantasy, The Bonnie Isles Trilogy. Thank you so much for being here!
Carrigan: What is it about writing that you love?
Kristi: I love being able to create my own worlds with characters who are challenged to be bolder, stronger, and smarter than I feel like I can ever be – at least in real time. (On paper, I can kick some butt, but in a true crisis, I’m the one who stands back and tries to figure out what to do before jumping in).
Carrigan: Why do you write for young adults?
Kristi: It seems like there is so much heartbreak in this world, and so many challenges kids have to face as if they’re adults. As a kid, I loved reading the books that let me escape from the world I saw as too harsh, just for a while, and when I came back to the real world, I felt better able to handle it. I hope to provide that kind of relief to today’s young adults. My reads are kind of throwbacks to the stuff I loved back then, with clear-cut heroes and a subtle, wholesome message woven into the action and adventure.
Carrigan: My sentiments exactly. What is your favorite quote?
Kristi: I’m something of a Shakespeare nerd, and one of my favorite lines is from A Comedy of Errors. Antipholus of Syracuse is baffled when he is mistaken for someone else—the twin he was separated from at birth. He says: “Am I on Earth? In Heaven or in Hell? Sleeping or waking? Mad or well-advised? Known unto these and to myself disguised? I’ll say as they say, and persever so, and in this mist, at all adventures go!”
Basically he’s saying, “I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but I’m going to ride this out and see what happens.” I love the idea of that kind of surrender to adventure.
Carrigan: Haha, I love Shakespeare, too. How many books have you published?
Kristi: I’ve published four adult novels as Kristi Cramer, and two Middle-Grade to Young Adult Fantasies as Kristi L. Cramer. (The 2nd book is up in pre-orders, but won’t be out until July 10th). I’m currently working on the 3rd book of the Trilogy, which I hope to have ready for a September release.
Carrigan: How do you come up with your characters?
Kristi: I don’t come up with characters, they approach me and demand to be heard. At least that’s how it feels, sometimes. It could be in the form of a dream, or more often a daydream. I’ll see a person, and wonder what their story is. Or I’ll watch a movie or a show and think of a “better” way to respond to a situation. But most often, I’ll have the seed of my plot in my head, and the characters take shape in response to what I put them through. It’s very organic, and can sometimes throw my story outline for a loop when they dig in their heels and say “Nope, I wouldn’t do that!”
Carrigan: That’s what I do! My characters tell me the story and guide me throughout. What do you like to read?
Kristi: I mostly read indie work, and I’m kind of across the spectrum these days. I’m only just discovering Young Adult works by contemporary authors. In adult fiction I’m digging a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, although my fallback is always suspense, the stuff that puts me on the edge of my seat. I like Steampunk, and I think that is generally family friendly—at least everything I’ve read so far is. I also like the older Sci-Fi Fantasy stuff—not the stuff I feel like I have to be a rocket scientist to understand, just the fantasy that happens on other planets.
Carrigan: Tell us about yourself:
Kristi: Lordy, I’m 48 years old, so that’s a long story to tell. Let me try to nutshell it. I was born in Missouri, but have lived over ¾ of my life in Oregon, and I love it here. I’ve held some interesting jobs, from cleaning hotel rooms, to cashier at the carwash, to underwriting houseboat insurance, to shipping blueberry plants around the world, to driving truck over the road with my husband in our own trucking company. I flew a Cessna once, I had a 15’ sailboat, and rode my own motorcycle. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states (only Alaska to go!) but I’ve never climbed a “proper” mountain. I don’t have kids of my own, and I’m happy with that, but my husband has three grown sons that I didn’t meet until we’d been married for 8 years. Right now I’m working from home at being a full time writer. I hope to be able to continue living this dream. I also love to garden, and have a great vegetable garden growing this year.
Carrigan: Wow! What a life! I love to garden, too! What inspired you to become a writer?
Kristi: I don’t remember NOT being a writer, although I’m sure I haven’t always been. I wrote my first complete story in 6th grade. I think it was after reading Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara, as there are some similar elements to my story. It wasn’t very good, but it had a beginning, middle, and end, and more to the point, it got me hooked on sharing my imagination with others in the form of the written word. It was also a place to immerse myself away from what I perceived as my troubles—it was an escape. (Not to say I had a bad childhood. On the contrary I think mine was better than most, except that my family didn’t know how to deal with emotions and when puberty struck me, I had nowhere else to dump my angst).
Carrigan: What is your favorite young adult book and why?
Kristi: I haven’t read much recent YA, but the books that have stuck with me since childhood is Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall Trilogy. I thought Menolly was so brave and talented, and I very much wanted my own fire lizards or a dragon. The world building of Pern is brilliant, and I really related to Menolly as a kind of social outcast who comes into her own.
Carrigan: How did you come up with your ideas?
Kristi: I touched on this above, but so far all of my stories have grown from the smallest seed of an idea, usually in the form of a question. I couldn’t tell you where the seeds come from—there is no one source. For my YA Trilogy (mild spoiler alert), I was thinking of twins separated at birth, but what if they actually grew up together and just didn’t know they were twins? I went on to answer the question of how that could have come about. The second book just begged to be written, because…well…spoilers! And for the third book, my mom got done reading the second one and said, “Now, you know he’s going to mess things up, right?” So #3 is courtesy of my mother. LOL
Carrigan: Haha That’s awesome! We should thank your mom for that! Are you self-published? If so, how did you decide to become self-published?
Kristi: I am self-published. I had tried to get an epic time travel adventure romance published when I wrote it waaaaay back in the early 90s, and was rejected just enough that I thought I would never get into one of the big houses. I never really stopped writing, but I’d pretty much given up on the dream. Then along came print on demand and eBooks, and I decided to give it a try. The rest, as they say, is history. Except for today, and the future. 😉 I’m pretty much still working on each day as it comes.
Carrigan: Do you have any pets?
Kristi: Not anymore. We always had dogs when I was growing up, and when I moved out and finally bought my first house, I got a dog I named the Artful Dodger. He was a “used” dog who lived up to that name. I had the darnedest time putting him out! I’d put him out the door, turn around and he’d be inside again, looking at me. Then my husband and I got Buddy, who stayed with us for 6 years, until we started driving over the road. He liked being in the truck, but he wouldn’t sleep while it was running, and since we drove team, it was always running. He lives in Texas now, on a 15,000 acre ranch where he lives like a king. We haven’t been able to convince ourselves we want another animal—although the guy we had as caretaker for our house left his cat behind when he moved out, so we feed Mr. T. He’s almost feral and stays outside. Lord, did you really want all that history? 😉
Carrigan: Aww that’s so sweet! What music do you listen to while writing?
Kristi: I have to have near silence when I’m writing. I find the older I get, the harder it is for me to multi-task, and I have the blessing of having the house to myself during the day, and the only sound is the humming of my computer. Bliss!
That being said, I always have a song in my head. Always. Usually the last song I heard. (Right now I have the theme song from a TV show running through my mind). When I do listen to music—while cleaning or working on a non-writing project—I like 80s pop, my favorite of which is The Police, and rock like Boston, REO Speedwagon, Toto, Kansas…
If I’m feeling mellow (which is most of the time) I like folk music like Craig Carouthers’ Airmail Blue, Martin Sexton’s Black Sheep, or Joni Mitchell’s Turbulent Indigo. I also like Sting’s solo work. It’s not all oldies, though. I’m very fond of Crystal Bowersox’s Farmer’s Daughter. In other words, songs that tell a complete and meaningful story in 3-5 minutes.
Carrigan: I love 80s music! What was the moment in your career that you knew this was what you wanted to do all along?
Kristi: There was never any question that I was a writer. Even when I wasn’t writing fiction, I was always putting my writing skills to use writing business letters for my bosses, and procedure manuals, stuff like that, which served to teach me how to be clear and concise in my writing. But as far as actually publishing my work and putting it out for the world to see…?
While hubby and I were on the truck together, we had a lot of down time, and time I was in the sleeper with nothing to do. I started going back through my old manuscripts. I saw one I liked and updated it, polished it, and read it to my husband one day while he was driving from LA to Phoenix. It took about 6 hours, and by the time I was done, he said I should see about publishing it. I agreed, feeling flush with the pleasure of having shared something I’d written. After a professional edit, that book became my first release, an adult romantic suspense called Knight Before Dawn.
Carrigan: Wow. That’s so awesome! Do you like cheese? What’s your favorite kind?
Kristi: I’m partial to Sharp Cheddar, but one kind I loved and can’t find anymore is a good Goat Cheddar. (I’m allergic to casein, but I’m still okay with Goat products) Despite my allergy, I’ll still chow down on some cheddar when I feel like living with the consequences.
Carrigan: I would be a sad panda if I couldn’t eat cheese. What’s one fact about yourself that is unique?
Kristi: I don’t know about unique, but I’m super good at spotting misspelled words, wrong word choices, and missing words in books—not so much my own manuscripts, but other people’s. It’s kind of my specialty, and I mark them in books even when I’m not being paid to do it.
Carrigan: Haha! That’s a good thing to have though! Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Which ones make you screech and hide?
Kristi: I follow the “live and let live” theory most of the time. I can’t think of any that make me screech and hide, though a critter suddenly appearing on my arm will definitely make me jump. Exceptions are sweet ants that get in my kitchen, but that’s not from fear, more from disgust. They die.
While I consider spiders a helpful critter that eats flies and other pests, I will confess that I don’t like getting bitten by them. I also really dislike walking into their webs. They make me itchy!
Carrigan: LOL. I hate walking into webs! Do you have any strange writing habits?
Kristi: Writing in silence is strange, right? Other than that, I am happy to report I spend most of my writing time in my pajamas.
Carrigan: Haha nice! What book do you wish you had written?
Kristi: Any of the ones that have made their author a millionaire. LOL Um. I’d like to have Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books in my catalog. They’re brilliant!
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Can I have all of them? 😉 I’d probably want something where I could fly, although being able to move things with my mind would be cool, and something I’ve often tried to do. (I just read Kyra Dune’s interview where she said the same thing, LOL). I’d also love the super power of being able to eat whatever I want and not get fat!
Carrigan: Haha, don’t we all wish we had that power? Have you ever gotten in trouble with the police?
Kristi: Aside from a few speeding tickets (from a long time ago, now) I’ve got a clean record.
Carrigan: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
Kristi: As a rule, I try not to lie. I’m a big believer in personal integrity.
That being said, I’m sure I’ve told a few whoppers in my time. The one that comes to mind was telling Mom and Dad that my sister and I were spending the night at the neighbors, when we were really going downtown Portland to wait in line for Scorpions tickets. I was 14, she was 13. We got busted, which was a good thing, because by 7pm we were already drinking rum and cokes with a bunch of older guys when Dad walked up to bring us home. Who knows what would have happened had we gotten away with the lie?
Carrigan: Wow! Busted indeed! What are you working on now? Any future releases?
Kristi: I’m about halfway through an adult suspense that’s #4 in my Boys of Syracuse, Kansas series, but mostly I’m working on book 3 of the Young Adult trilogy, which is tentatively called Should Monarchs Stumble. I haven’t been able to get much done on it lately, since I just released book 1 (A True Prince) and have been trying to get the word out about it, and also put up book 2 (To Make a King) for pre-orders. I’m very excited to be finally publishing this trilogy. I originally wrote the first two in the early 90s, so it is about time I got them out there!
Carrigan: Wow – you stay very busy! I love it! I had such a great time getting to know you today. Thank you so much for taking the time out and answer some questions. 🙂 For those of you who would like to learn more about Kristi and her books, below are her stalker links. 🙂
A True Prince, Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E32OVJG
To Make a King, Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F0TFYP6
Thanks for sharing this, Carrigan! It was so fun to exchange interviews. For anyone interested in her answers to MY questions, find them on my blog: http://inanutshellbound.blogspot.com/2016/06/interview-with-ya-pnr-author-carrigan.html
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Thanks Kristi!! 🙂