Q&A with K.R. Mitchell
1. Describe how you felt the night before Lightening Strike came out?For an ebook publisher release night is no where near the fanfare an author with a traditional publisher. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy when the final draft of the book was edited and put online. The thing is nobody else cared but me. I shared it on Facebook and received 26 likes or something like that, but nobody knew I was going to publish it via Amazon.
I’d mail a copy to every publisher and literary agent there is, if I thought that Lightning Strike and its upcoming sequels would be picked up by a traditional publisher. Every writer thinks their book is different and special. I think my book is just quirky. I have a strong female lead with female characters being some of the most important roles in the series, a black character who acts a mentor to the heroes, an extremely brisk writing style and a character who identifies as gay in the second book. It doesn’t seem like any of these issues would be controversial, but the Internet has convinced me otherwise. Getting picked up by a traditional publisher is a goal, but not the final step for me.
2.Your main character, Alison Moody, has amnesia. What challenges did you have while writing her character?
Alison’s amnesia wasn’t much a challenge for me. The amnesiac protagonist is a pretty standard trope, but I think that the reason it’s used so often is because it’s a good method for the writer to have a surrogate for the readers. Alison’s past is a mystery so when she learns something about herself we’re just as surprised as she is. In that regard, I think her amnesia helped with the storytelling. There’s also the fact she lived on a very small, conservative island so even things that are commonplace in the world are new to her.
3. How many books do you have planned for this series?There will definitely be three books in this series including this one, however, after that let’s just say that the stories of the characters may continue onto a new adventure.
4. What do you love about the writing process?The creative part where you’ll put ideas to words. You get into the zone and every fantasy that you ever had for these characters are fair game. The rough draft was fun because I had so much room to experiment with dialogue, plot and characterization. A lot of stuff didn’t make the cut, but even the “deleted footage” helped me understand the characters and world that much better.
5. What do you hate about the writing process? Editing. That is all. Okay, okay I’ll admit I’m not bad at editing. I’m a journalism major and I’ve wrote for several publications. You learn good grammar mechanics, punctuation and what details to cut because you will fail journalism classes forever if you don’t. It was really just the fact that I couldn’t afford a professional editor (can anyone let a writer borrow about $900?) so I had to reread so many times that I can practically recite each 200 or so pages by heart. The coolest thing I did was use Mac OS X’s speech function in Pages and had the story read to me. Robotic droning aside, it helped me catch many typos and mistakes that you can only catch by reading a loud. It turns out that trial and trail look a lot a like when you only read over it.
6. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I might get some flak for this, but ... Christopher Paolini. Yes, yes everything you’ve heard about his writing, I agree with—but he enjoys what he does and you can really tell that he’s into his world and characters. It’s inspirational to see someone who doesn’t care what the world thinks of him or his story. I think all writers should be like that. And to earn back some literary cred, I’ll say that writers like George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman have been influential to me as a writer as well. A Song of Fire and Ice shows everything right with fantasy fiction and Neil Gaiman is really creative and has excellent command over his writing.
7. If you could trade lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?
I don’t think anyone would want to trade with me, but if I could hijack someone’s life for a day I suppose it would be Barack Obama. If I only get one shot at this I might as well go straight to the top.
8.If you could run away with any of your characters, who would it be?why?
It would probably be Ren because his corny sense of humor would amuse me during the journey. Alison would be too talkative for a shy guy like me and Edwin would get us both arrested somehow.
9. What was the last book you've read that you absolutely loved?
I recently read Somebody Told Me by Rick Bragg, a former New York Times reporter. It’s all nonfiction news articles from his career, but the stories inside are powerful stuff. It touches on all the great human emotions and themes from happiness and redemption to grief and optimism. I read a lot of creative nonfiction as a journalist and I find that it’s more challenging to tell a true story with enough humanity in it that readers will remember it. Rick Bragg is an expert at this.
10. Where is your favorite place to write?
I like small, quiet places and I like to be alone during my writing periods. Libraries are usually out of the question because I like to listen to music when I write, so since I’m still in college I like to either write from my bedroom or an empty classroom. Writing is like a solitary journey for me and I need the quietness to keep me focused and immersed into my writing. Of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check Facebook every now and then when I hit a small wall in my writing. I feel like people probably stopped reading this after I told my horrible secret about Christopher Paolini. I’m sorry, everyone.