Summer Splash Book Blog Tour ~ Author Interview ~ Kristan Cannon
Summer Splash Book Blog Tour
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When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
The better question is when didn't think I was one. I've been writing, and knowing that eventually I'd be published, since I was old enough to know what words were.
Do you write in a particular genre or do you like to bounce around to different ones?
I typically stick close to speculative & literary fiction. Both of them present a wide umbrella, but I strongly prefer the near-future/realistic sci-fi genre, or low-magic urban fantasy and deeper point-of-view. I like to dig deep into the psyche of a character, although... I'll admit... I'm not always the most successful at it yet. I still have a very long way to go before I can stand with the masters of the genre.
I'm not into romance (at all), which makes me a bit of an oddball. Not saying that occasionally there isn't a bit of interplay like that between characters, but it's not the genre I write in or even the main plot. It might be a well-hidden side plot. I have a few readers "shipping" a few pairings I didn't exactly mean to have happen, for example.
Is this the genre that you also like to read?
What books have most influenced your life?
Stone Angel by Margaret Lawrence My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Actually, there's a lot of influence on my writing from her. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale also by Margaret Atwood Hunting Party by Elizabeth Moon. Much of who I want to be as a person is influenced by the main character, Heris Serrano.
What author has most influenced your life?
I'd have to say Margaret Atwood and Tom Clancy.
Do you have a favorite book or series from another author?
I absolutely love the Jack Ryan series by Tom Clancy, which is another author who heavily influenced my writing.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I used to play a lot of video games, but lately, I have been getting away from that and finding more hands on things to do. I've been unable to deal with noise and too much activity around me, so hobbies and activities that are quiet and away from too much frenetic energy. Woodworking, using hand tools... sculpting, painting, riding my bike in the middle of nowhere... or going on long walks or drives (without the radio on... just me and the tires on the pavement).
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Back in 1992 and I was 12.
What is your writing process?
I always start with the characters, with a general feel of how the world they live is different from our own. Why they are the way they are, their backstory. I even write their backstory as if it's a novel--like a biography. I have notebooks full of backstories and biographies of people who don't actually exist except in the fiction I write. Only a fraction of what made the characters who they are make it into the novels, but each character has a novel of their own that leads up to where they are when the novel I release starts.
From that point I figure out the "map" of the world they live in, what rules they need to play by. When things take place.
The drama that unfolds to create the plot of the book comes after.
Do you have a writing routine?
Normally, yes, but lately it's been knocked helter skelter. There's a toddler in my life now, even if he's not my child he spends all day around me.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Planning it can take years.
Once that planning is done I can knock out a first draft, or at least a fair chunk of the first draft, during NaNoWriMo in November. If I don't finish the entire first draft, then a few weeks after NaNo ends I've finished the first draft.
After that is revisions, and, like planning, that can take anywhere from months to years.
After Oil took four, if not five, years to plan and then I wrote 100k words in the month of November during 2012, but it wasn't released until 2014. In total, it took six years to complete, from planning to publishing.
The other books in the series, obviously, only took a year or two but that was because I had already created everything. The characters weren't new after that and neither was the setting. All I had to do was keep the story going.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your books?
Oh, everywhere. I could meet someone in the street and wonder what their story is and then create it from nothing. I could be watching TV or the news and feel the need to wonder what if... and then there's another book or two in the wings.
What does your family think of your writing?
Some are 100% behind it, even if they don't agree with the views I typically present in my writing. I tend to ask some very hard questions about society in general (hence the 'literary' part in literary fiction) and poke at things that people would rather not be poked and I like to rock the boat a bit. Some of my family would rather I didn't do that.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?
Trust your betas. They will see things you don't, even if you don't always agree try to see it from their point of view.
Don't worry about the first draft. All first drafts are mostly crap anyway--you're just trying to get the story out of your head. Let it go, and that's what revisions are for.
Speaking of revisions... some think they're painful. I don't. I think it's easier for me to revise and rewrite than it is to write the first draft. You already know the story. All you need to do is make it so others do, too.
What is the most surprising thing you have heard from your fans?
I think when they see pairings between characters that I didn't intend to happen. Some of the pairings are disturbing, others are just something I didn't see but aren't that bad and, from a fan's view, makes sense when I go back and think about it.
What's next for you/What are you working on now?
I am currently working on the final revisions and edits to my third novel in the Kingdom of Walden series, Between Silence and Fire, which will be released at the end of August.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?
I have others, and they can be found on the "About Me" page on my website: http://kristancannon.com/about.html
Tell us about your journey in becoming self-published/Did you always want to go that route?
No, but I also wasn't self-published. I was published by a small indie, but traditional, publishing house here in Canada. I had thought about it because there's more room to be creative, I think, when you're self-published. The indie scene is more wide open and not as distilled down to the same thing over and over again. It seems that all we see out of Hollywood (not that I'm complaining, as some of those movies are adaptations I was hoping to see, and some I loved) is either remakes or adaptations. The former usually falls a bit flat of the original. Sometimes the more traditional can be that same formula over and over ad nauseum.
What would you say is your favorite thing about becoming an author?
Seeing my book in a bookstore. I have to say that sent a certain thrill up my spine. That and meeting people I've never met before in my life who have read my book and want to talk to me. I feel honoured that I've managed to strike a chord with them enough for them to come to a signing or reading.
What has been your toughest criticism given to you as an author? best compliment? How did you handle both?
It seems that much of the criticism are also compliments. It just depends on who you're asking. I've learned to just not look at reviews of my books anymore. Things are so subjective that while I welcome the reviews (what author doesn't?) that I'd rather be surprised by the snippets I occasionally see on the inside of the book.
However, I always listen to my editors and my betas. If they say something needs work, then we work on it until it's done.
Are any of your characters based on real people from your life?
Yes, and we'll leave it at that. He knows who he is.
Is there a particular author that helped influence you to become an author?
While he didn't personally speak to me about it, I'd have to say Tom Clancy.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing?
Finding the peace and quiet to write. Lately, things have been too hectic to concentrate.
What is the most fun part of writing?
Making a world, and its people, come to life.
Can you tell us 5 random things about yourself?
I like boats and I like to sail.
I am a major coffee addict, and I love espresso.
I love horses.
I love the outdoors.
I love cars and working on them. There's just something about bringing well over a million parts to life and keeping something from being a 2000lb paperweight.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans/readers?
I wouldn't still be writing if not for them. Seriously, they keep me going.
Speed Round: 1. Favorite Food: Sushi 2. Favorite Color: Green 3. Favorite Animal: Too tough to call there. I really love animals, period. 4. Favorite Book: Hunting Party by Elizabeth Moon 5. Favorite Movie: Transporter 6. Favorite Drink: Espresso 7. Favorite Restaurant: Don't really have a favourite here. Whatever strikes my fancy, depending on mood and what I feel like eating.
Title: Between Silence and Fire
Author: Kristan Cannon
Series Name/#: Kingdom of Walden, Book Three
ISBN: 9781988124124, hardcover. 9781988124131, e-book.
Page count: 412
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic (Speculative/Literary)
Price: $1.99 (e-book), $34.99 (Hardcover)
Author Bio: Kristan Cannon was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario and educated in North Bay and Toronto. She is a staunch supporter of literacy, reading, and young writer's programs. She also holds a current membership with The Indie Writer's Network and is a member of the NaNoWriMo Ambassador's program.When not researching or writing, Kristan exists for sailing her classic wooden sailboat with her cat, friends, and family... or for video games and books when snow and ice have the boat locked in its slip and she can't get away.
The line is drawn
Four years ago Derek Moss formed the Rangers of Walden to protect the last spark of civilization from those who would see it all vanish into dust.
Now, Colonel Harnet has encroached into the borders. He has one aim on his mind—taking the last barrier between him and total control over the whole Region.
Allies under fire
Communities once free are slowly falling under the tyranny of Colonel Harnet. Those who resist are brutally dispersed. Survivors are forced to flee to new safe havens or into communities who have bowed under the pressure.
One last one remains—the small enclave of survivors led by Russell Wither on the shore of Richard Lake.
The drums of war thunder
When Harnet’s soldiers strike deep into the heart of the Kingdom of Walden, tragedy soon follows.
Fanning the flames of war is the knowledge that they cannot leave their allies with only silence as an answer
How long did it take to write the book?
Because this is the third in a series, not as long as the first. Granted, this one was a bit longer to finish because it was going to be the last book, but the alpha readers and betas all agreed there was too much story for one book and that it actually seemed like the first half of the story wrapped up around the middle, and there was a separate novel after it.
So, I went back, split the book into two, and completely rewrote both books (now it's Between Silence and Fire and Ghostwalker, instead of just Ghostwalker, which was the original title) to stand on their own. They no longer feel rushed but match the pacing of the first two books, even if the stakes are raised yet again.
What inspired you to write the book?
Well, this one is a continuation of a series that my fans wanted. So, you could say my fans did. If not for them I wouldn't have even written the second book.
Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
Oh yes. I spent many hours in the archives and genealogy section of the Greater City of Sudbury Public Library poring over the topographical maps of the area, as well as the historical maps of the area to find out how things were before it was all built up the way it is now.
I also contacted quite a few of the professionals I depicted in the novels, asking how they would personally react if they were in the situation presented. Some answered me, some didn't. Others didn't personally contact me, but had an assistant reply with leads on where I could find the answers on my own.
For much of the medical & paramedical scenes, I talked to more than one ER doctor and a few front line workers who were happy to assist in making the scenes realistic.
I also have a massive folder about the history of the area, and policies in place in case of an emergency. Granted, to make the story work some of those had to be bent a bit to make the story work, and to be interesting to readers.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I could say something deep here, but the reality is I just hope they enjoy it. Anything else is a bonus.
Where can we go to buy your book when it comes out?
Almost anywhere. The e-book will be in wide distribution (all major retailers) once released, as will the hardcover. Anywhere a bookseller can look up an ISBN. I even hope to see it in a few libraries.
Any other links or info you'd like to share?
The pre-order is currently available here: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Silence-Fire-Kingdom-Walden-ebook/dp/B01G7TTKW6
The GoodReads Giveaway is here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/187612-between-silence-and-fire
And the Book Trailer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cenGEN7G4KY
Excerpt from book:
“This isn’t funny.”
Victoria Piacentini continued to laugh, bent over in her mirth. Chewing his lip, and trying—and then failing again—to get his feet back where they belonged which was on the ground and underneath him Henri Lescelle finally released a breathed, “Calice tabrenac.”
“Hang on a second…” said Victoria.
“No!” She stopped at his barked reply. “You’ll end up ass over tea kettle like I just did.”
“Then what do you want me to do, Henri, leave you down there?” she asked.
Lescelle sighed heavily, as he did need to get out of the ditch, but with mud up both sides and little else but scrub grass and twiggy trees to hold onto he could not pull himself out. Thankfully, the ditch was mostly dry and what water there had once been—the evidence being the line grass in the caked and hardened mud surrounding him—had long since evaporated or soaked into the ground. All that remained was the hardened reminder of it, along with the rot at the bottom which was also—thankfully—equally dried.
Granted the landing after slipping, and falling, into the ditch had been painful. He was lucky… nothing felt broken but he knew he would be sore later. The trick was getting himself up and out of the ditch. “Dammit,” he finally sighed. “Vik, can you pick your way down here?”
“I think so,” she answered and a few minutes later she was beside him but thankfully still on her feet. “Come on, let’s see if we can get you untangled.”
Victoria began to cut at the tangled weeds around Lescelle’s legs but they both stilled at the out of place sound of wheels on the road. Victoria ducked down so they would not be seen as the carts rolled by. The carts were not big and able to be pulled, or pushed, by the people walking beside them. Once the carts had gone past them, Victoria set to work cutting Lescelle free. “What do you make of that?” he asked.
Do you have a Favorite Quote from the book or series?
From The Last Iron Horse; Derek finally regained his wits from the surprise hug from Aidan—and then he grinned, “Rumours of my demise were greatly exaggerated.”
What is in store next?
I have another book after this one which will wrap up the entire story arc regarding Colonel Harnet. After that, I would like to take a short break and write something I have been trying to finish for over 20 years and perhaps get it published.
What was the inspiration for your book?
The city I live in, as well as a game I was involved with a few years back. I play creative games and tabletop roleplaying, and one of the campaigns was like running around in the Walking Dead. I don't particularly enjoy the zombie genre. Okay, I don't enjoy it all. I couldn't get into the Walking Dead or anything of that nature while it was all the rage. I suggested we find another reason for civilization to fall that didn't involved zombies or a world ravaged by nukes, or alien invasion... basically anything that totally destroyed our natural world. the other players were game.
A few weeks later I happened to be watching the Discovery Channel and there was a documentary/dramatization called The End of Oil, and I thought, "That's it."
I brought the idea to the other players, and we played that. Some of the characters in the book came from those players, but much of it is all new. The story arc is something I created as the games were more about finding stuff to survive and bringing it back to the farm. I included a bit of that, but I didn't think people would want an entire novel of scavenging runs.
How much of yourself is reflected in this book?
Some, but not as much as people think. I borrowed quite a bit from my family background to create a family for a character but even then the people in that background don't recognized themselves when they read the book... so not as much as I could have reflected ended up in there.
Tell us about your cover - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
I wanted to have fire and the wilderness reflected on the cover. This cover was created by my father, who is a talented indie artist himself. The next cover will be designed by another indie artist.
Why should we read this book (or series) and what sets you apart from the rest? / What makes your book/series unique?
I bend some tropes in my series.
The first is the main character, or one of them, was supposed to die so that the others would be inspired to move forward. However, instead of dying he became the protagonist. He's still the mentor "Obi-Wan" type, but instead of being a side character he's lead. He trains the others, set them on their track, and continues on his own. He's a salesman, and one that's thinking retirement is in the near future but he finds himself far from home and decides he's going to go out and help others survive. Usually that's the territory of the younger and more "hip", where his character would be the mentor who dies. But Derek proves to be a very tough mentor to put down permanently.
Also, instead of wandering the survivors are settled into one location they need to defend. This changes the survival paradigm from one of constant wandering and wondering if and when they will find safety to knowing they have it... they just have to fight to keep it. This gradually grows into fighting to keep it... and those who have joined under their banner. It grows from mere survival to rebuilding in the first book, and then holding onto it.
The other books continue this and the characters continue to grow and change based on this. Some change, by the end of the books, into something they never thought they would be. Things that used to be important just aren't anymore because their own paradigm and core has been completely rewritten by years of war in their own home.
Who would you recommend this book to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good book, and series, about survival and protecting what's important. There's an undercurrent of political intrigue, despite being post-apocalyptic, that will take some readers by surprise and those who love that kind of story will love these books. I go right into depth with my characters, so readers who love to think of new characters are people are going to love this too.
There is some swearing, and violence, in this book. I never drop the f-bomb, but there is some strong language. While there's no gore or graphic depictions of violence, the central core to the series is the war with Harnet and readers should expect what is normal for a military action story.
If you could turn this book/series into a movie, who would be your dream cast? Dream director? They can be dead, alive or fictional!
I have a list of actors and actresses. I would love for either Peter Capaldi or Mark Harmon to play Derek Moss, and Helen Mirren as Marissa Moss. Sara-Lys McArthur as Sheridan and Tom Jackson as either her father, Daniel, or as Garrett.
How did you come up with the title?
A whole lot of discussion with betas and others in the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook.
How did you pick characters’ names?
I used the phone book. I suck at names, so I have to find them and then play with them until they fit.
Who is your favorite character? Why?
I don't have a favourite, but the easiest to write is Derek.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
I have to say that after I split it into two books the most difficult part was filling in the gaps and holes where I had glossed over things to make it fit as one bigger fit. I had to completely rewrite it from scratch, and then again in revisions. It was like starting completely over.
Do you have a favorite line or two you’d like to share with everyone?
The exchange is between Gina, who is Derek's "Second", or Second in Command... also known as his right hand, and Derek, who is the Master Ranger of Walden. Derek is the mentor character from the previous questions, and before the "First Winter" and fall of civilization he was a salesman who was hoping to retire early. That didn't happen, and neither does what usually happens to "mentor" characters in other books. Here, Derek has finally been cleared as healthy enough to return to his normal duties, and the first place he heads is the new outpost of the Rangers. Derek is still, despite the fact that the "First Winter" was a few years ago, not used to the pomp of his position. Being treated as a "general" makes him uncomfortable, despite the fact that he is one.
“Would the Master Ranger like a tour?” she asked.
“Stop that,” he chided, but his grin betrayed his amusement with her use of his title. “You make me sound like some sort of general.”
“Well, honestly…” she drawled. “You kind of are.”
Thank you for stopping by and checking out the interview! Be sure to check out Kristan's books.