This is an interview with the incredibly talented K.C. Neal. She is the author of one of my favorites Helia’s Shadow Part one and Helia’s Shadow Part two, which comes out later this month. I have had the great opportunity to talk with K.C. Neal on social media accounts and she is so incredibly nice.
Why don’t we start off by you telling us a little about yourself.
5 random things about me!
- I’m obsessed with popcorn. I order gourmet popcorns online, and I like to experiment with different ways to flavor it (a light spray of olive oil and some truffle salt is my favorite!).
- I don’t think it would be possible to own too many colored pens.
- I think TV is far, far superior to movies these days; some of the best writing out there comes to us on the small screen. I spend way too much time with Netflix and HuluPlus. :p
- I have an irrational fixation with Los Angeles. I have no desire to live there, but looove to visit.
- I attempt to organize far too much of my life on Post-Its; if I could write a whole book on them, I probably would.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I started meditating a couple of years ago, and I’m a daily practitioner. I love to read, and watch tons of series on Netflix and HuluPlus. I’m kind of a hermit, but I have some good friends who keep me from being a total recluse. Recently, one of them hosted a pajama party and everyone brought breakfast foods – it was great! I also love to hang out with my boyfriend – we’ll call him Sexy Engineer to protect his anonymity 😉 – we’re both nerds at heart. We talk books quite a bit, and he makes me laugh all the time, which I love.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think it first occurred to me shortly after I started reading chapter books, maybe around 2nd grade? Recently at a high school reunion, one of my long-time friends told me that in 4th grade we all had to write on the board what we wanted to be when we grew up. I don’t even remember this, but she said I wrote “author!”
What inspired you to write Helia’s shadow?
I LOVE science fiction, and I always wanted to write it. The story evolved over several years, so I honestly don’t remember what first inspired the idea. It started out a much different story than the one I ended up publishing, but it’s by far the best thing I’ve written. I love the world of the Starlight Age (Helia’s Shadow) Series – I could keep writing stories in it for a long time.
Would you like to share anything about the next book in line, Helia’s Shadow part two?
It’s dramatic! In the first half of the book, Helia faces imprisonment on the moon, where there are horrifying cannibal aliens who keep the prisoners in line. No one has ever escaped the lunar prison, but Helia has to make it back to earth. That was actually the first part of the Helia’s Shadow story that I wrote, and it’s still my favorite part.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re very supportive! They’re not readers of YA books usually, but they indulge me and read my books.
What do you think makes a good story?
A main character who has a lot to overcome, and a plot that never lets up on suspense and tension.
Is there a subject you would never write about as author? If so what is it?
I don’t think anything is off limits!
Do you create an outline before writing?
I do create a framework, and often a more detailed outline. But inevitably the details that come to me during the writing process are much better and more suspenseful than what I outlined. I think it’s important to have the main story points outlined before starting, but I give myself quite a bit of freedom with a lot of the details.
Any advice for getting through the dreaded writers block?
I don’t actually believe writer’s block exists. I think what people call writer’s block often comes from lack of clarity about the story you’re writing. You need to know where you’re going with it—at the very least in a general sense—before you sit down at the keyboard. So-called writer’s block can also come from simple lack of discipline. If you’re serious about writing in the professional sense, you have to train yourself to do it even when you don’t really “feel” like it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors, like myself?
One, read a lot of books and be critical as you read—what makes you root for or despise a character? What is it that makes you want to keep turning pages, or stop reading? What makes your heart beat faster? Two, cultivate the habit of writing and creating stories. And three, get okay with criticism. When you write and publish books, you open yourself up to a LOT of criticism. Editors will tear apart your story. Reviewers will call out your weaknesses in reviews that anyone with an internet connection can read. You have to learn to be okay with criticism, otherwise the process will be emotional torture.
How is the publishing process? Any advice?
Learn as much as you can about the publishing process and the industry in general. And keep refreshing your knowledge because these days the publishing industry changes in big ways every few months.
What’s next for you?
My next releases include Arrival Day, a novella prequel to Helia’s Shadow, and the third book of the Pyxis Series, Arise. When I finish writing Arise in March, I’ll be moving on to writing a new series. I have a few candidates, but at this point it looks like I’ll be starting an adult suspense series under a different pen name. I plan on drafting four books in that series before the end of the year. Also in 2015 Season Two of The ‘Naturals, a YA supernatural sci-fi serial I write with three other authors, will be released.
Okay now for some lighter questions.
Coffee or Tea?
I was a tea-only girl until a couple of years ago. Now I’m hopelessly hooked on my morning cup of Nespresso!
Do you write more in the Morning, Afternoon or at night?
Usually morning – I like to make sure I get my writing in before moving on to other work.
Are you an early bird or night owl?
I love being up early—something about it just makes me feel like I’m accomplishing a lot!—but lately I’ve been more of a night owl. I think there’s something about the creative life that just makes you want to stay up half the night, haha!
What is your favorite genre to read?
Probably science fiction, though I read in many genres.
Is there a book that you wish you could have written?
I thought The Hunger Games was brilliant – I wish I’d come up with that idea! ☺
What is your favorite book at the moment?
I have a short list of all-time favorites, but nothing I’ve read in the last year or two made my all-time list.
Is there anything else you would like for your readers to know?
Thank you so much for chatting with me. It’s always great to talk to you and you always have great advice. I understand what you mean about writers block and from this point on I will make myself write everyday! I can’t wait to read more of your books in the future and hope one day you’ll read mine…once I actually finish it.