Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Q&A with author Kiersten White

You’ve already met Kiersten White from her guest blog postings here, during the past couple of weeks. Now, without further ado, I am pleased to share my interview with Kiersten so you can get to know a bit more about her and her writing.

Hi Kiersten. Can you tell us about Paranormalcy?
Paranormalcy was one of those ideas that strikes out of nowhere and possesses you until you finish. Those always end up being my favorite books--the thrill ride of discovering where it's going.

As far as the story itself, it sometimes takes me longer to come up with a working blurb for a book than to write the book itself, so I'll just plagiarize myself:

Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, faeries, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated.

Of course that thumbnail description leaves out the super-cute love interest, the crazy faerie ex, a prophecy of death and destruction, and her killer wardrobe. Summaries are the bane of my existence.

Okay, but what’s it really about?
Good question. I think at its heart Paranormalcy is about isolation and the deep loneliness that comes with trying to figure out where we belong in a very confused world.

What can you tell us about the Sight series?
Hot boys. REALLY hot boys.

Oh, you mean plot-wise? Sight is my YA action/suspense series. Some women have abilities--powerful abilities. And these abilities attract the notice of powerful corporations who will stop at nothing to use them.

Also, hot boys.

Right now I've got two finished books in this series, Flash and Instinct, that are waiting for edits. I hope to someday sell them so that I can keep writing this world because it's ever so much fun and really satisfies my need to write action. And kissing scenes.

You’re very prolific. How do you choose which project to work on?
Generally the project chooses me. I've had to really focus though, because in the past I tried to juggle all of my finished drafts and keep writing new stuff. I realized I needed to buckle down and take one at a time. So now I try to alternate between editing existing manuscripts and writing new stuff for fun. Right now I'm working on a ghost story; when I finally finish that, I'll probably go back to editing Flash or Instinct.

Unless some sneaky, shiny new idea creeps in and demands my attention. I'm always a fan of following inspiration.

Tell us a bit about your journey as an author.
After my daughter was born I found myself very, very bored. So I wrote my first book, a middle grade novel. It took me over a year. I queried on and off for it for about a year (I'd query one agent at a time--ha!). Then I started writing Flash and completely forgot about it. Poor middle grade novel; it wasn't your fault you were boring. I queried for about three months with Flash, at which point I found my fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson. I was so excited about it I wrote Instinct in about two weeks. Then Flash went on submission and to distract myself I wrote Paranormalcy.

Sadly, editors passed on Flash because the MC was too old (apparently eighteen is the new eighty!). But that gave me the chance to really buckle down and whip Paranormalcy into shape. In a way it's good--I know that Paranormalcy is a stronger book than Flash. Plus I now have plenty of time to really look at Flash and figure out how to make it a better book.

Right now I'm at that fun, fun stage where I try not to check my email obsessively for news on the Paranormalcy sub.

I've struggled with self-doubt and frustration along the way, but I'm very lucky to have great writer friends, a wonderful agent, and a hot husband. After all, someone has to inspire all of those hot guys I write about.

What have you learned about the publishing industry that may help other writers starting out?
It is sloooooooooow. Slow and sometimes infuriatingly nonsensical. If you pin all of your hopes and happiness on any one thing, you will be disappointed. Getting an agent doesn't magically make everything easier. I suspect neither will getting a book deal, although I'd really like to find out just to make sure.

The point is, write because you love it. Write stories that engage your mind and delight you. There's nothing wrong with wanting to get published--it's a great goal. But don't let it ruin writing for you.

Aside from that, find out everything you can. There are so many great resources for beginning writers. You've already found Lori, so you're well on your way, but I also recommend Nathan Bransford's blog. Read as much as you can on the process of querying beforehand so you don't waste your time.

Additionally, fewer and fewer editors have time to really edit these days, so make sure your manuscript is in the best possible shape before sending it out. I wish I had done another good edit on Flash, but I made sure that Paranormalcy is as pretty as I could make it.

How does social media and technology play a role in how you connect with readers?
I've found such an exciting, supportive community through blogging. Up until now I used it as a way to connect with other writers (I've found all of my critique partners online), but I love what writers like Maureen Johnson and John Green do with their blogs and videos. I think if you can really connect with readers and help them feel like they have a relationship with you, you've got them for life. You can't understimate the value of blogs and online communities in word-of-mouth advertising.

Also, blogs, Twitter, and all that ilk are hands-down the best way to waste time I have ever found. Besides Bejeweled 2.

What’s the one question you want me to ask, that I didn’t, and what’s your response?
"Kiersten, is it true that the ghost in your WIP is named Lori?"

Why yes, Lori, it is! How cool is that?
*Lori’s note: aha! Very cool. ;)

How can readers learn more about you and your writing projects?
I blog like a maniac at You'll learn more than you ever knew you wanted to know! I also twitter under KierstenWhite (creative, I know!). Most of my tweets, however, consist of me whining about my kids throwing up. You've been warned.

Thanks, Kiersten. I appreciate you taking the time to talk about your latest news!

Thanks for the blog space, Lori!

Don’t forget to visit Kiersten’s blog at where you’ll find much more info and entertainment. Also, check back on Friday for a guest blog from writer Jude Hardin.

Until next time… happy reading!


  1. FYI, since this interview, Paranormalcy and two sequels sold in a pre-empt to HarperTeen!

    I'm still doing the happy dance.

  2. Nice interview. I especially like Kiersten's answer to this question:

    "What have you learned about the publishing industry that may help other writers starting out?"

    Thanks to both Lori and Kiersten for this!

  3. Great interview. I'm enjoying Kiersten's blog, so it was nice to hop over to this one. :]

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