Getting To Know Our New Literary Fiction Author
Join us as we chat with author Kris Faatz, the newest member of the Blue Moon Publishers family, about her writing and poignant debut novel To Love A Stranger!
Which aspects of the writing process come most naturally to you?
I love to brainstorm. Often I like to start with a character and get to know that person while I do other things: cook, drive, hike, play the piano, listen to music. I’ll think of scenes and sketches involving that character, often scenes that will never be part of any written story, but they always tell me something about the person and help me see him or her more clearly. I like to flesh out my characters as fully as I can, because when I feel like I’m writing about someone I know, the words and the story come much more readily. I don’t have to wonder how my character will react in a given situation. What I know about the character leads me forward.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Not quite, but almost! I started telling stories when I was about three. Back then, I remember I had a long ongoing story about a character – named Allergic; I didn’t know what it meant but I liked the sound – who was always going across the ocean (I don’t know why; maybe to get to the other side). In first grade I wrote and illustrated my first original “book.” It was called “The River,” and it was about an evil king who dammed the river that was his subjects’ only water source. I don’t remember what his subjects did about it, but they won in the end, as they should. The dream of being a real published author came along in about fourth grade. By then I had a few author heroes, including Albert Payson Terhune and J. R. R. Tolkien. I loved to imagine doing the kind of work they did, and fantasized about holding a real book with my name on the cover.
Do you have any quirky writing habits, such as a favourite snack or music playlist?
Favourite snack: pea crisps. Also tea, especially lavender-chamomile. I always like to have a cup of tea on my desk while I’m working, though a lot of times it goes cold before it gets consumed. During a writing period, sometimes I need to give my brain a few minutes’ break, and in that case I’ll pull up one song on YouTube. Lately it’s often been Elle King’s “Exes and Ohs,” or Sheppard’s “Geronimo.” Playing the piano is also really helpful; if I’m totally stuck, I’ll practise for a while instead of writing. Pieces by Bach and Scarlatti, in particular, let my brain start working again. I think their precision and cleanness, and the way my fingers have to work to play them, give my creativity a jump.
Are you working on writing anything currently?
Right now I’m between projects and am playing with a couple of different ideas. The one that seems to have the most energy, and the strongest grip on my imagination, is a new novel that’s inspired by some family history. I like a story to have a big picture, in addition to the characters’ day-to-day lives and interactions, and in this case I’m looking at the women’s lib movement in the United States. My main character is in the vanguard of liberated women, though she isn’t in that position because she chose to be. She ends up there when her life takes unexpected turns. I’ve only done a few very preliminary sketches for the project, so I’m not sure how it’s going to go, but I’m having fun playing with it.
What have you learned through your writing?
This is really a terrific question, because when I look back at the time when I started To Love a Stranger, coming up on ten years ago, I see what a different person and different writer I was then. I hadn’t planned on writing becoming such a driving passion, much less my major professional aspiration. When I started the book, I thought I would have a draft in a couple of months. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The process of learning to write, and learning to write this book in particular, has taught me so much about how to be patient in learning, and especially how to listen and absorb feedback. In order to learn – which was hard – I’ve needed to let go of a lot of pride and a LOT of insecurity. I wanted to think I was better than I was. I wanted to be right; but eventually I understood that the work was much more important, and that I had to ask what the work needed and be willing to make mistakes, because that was how I could get better. I’ve also learned about committing to a project for the long haul. It’s like growing a tree: it won’t happen quickly, but the end result is more than worth the time.
What have you learned through your writing?