I am really excited to have a special post today. I have newly published author Kate Sparkes, of disregard the prologue here to talk about her first novel, Bound, the first book of an exciting new series about a magic-using redhead, and anyone who knows anything of my Aryneth series knows I love me some magic-using redheads. Kate here will be my second author interviewed releasing a debut book (the first being the wonderful Angela Misri), which means I’ve only interviewed Canadians so far. I can’t help it. I’m from Michigan, we basically just wish we were Canadian. Enough about that, though. Let’s move along to Kate and her exciting new release!
LS: So, Kate, before we get to the book, tell us a little bit about yourself.
KS: I’m a writer, a daydreamer, a collector of socks, and a bit of a scatterbrain. I live in Newfoundland (Canada), which isn’t my birthplace, but it’s definitely my heart’s home. I’m wife to a Mountie and mom to two boys, and I act as comfortable seating for three cats and designated walker for a white Boxer named Jack. I blog at Disregard the Prologue, I think puns are hilarious, and I spend too much money on office supplies.
LS: Puns ARE hilarious. I’m with you there. Now, tell us about this book of yours.
KS: Traditionally, my answer to people who ask about it is, “It’s um… well, Fantasy, so there’s, like, magic…” Not cool, Kate. Not cool. Let me see if I can do better for you, without spoilers.
Bound is the story of a young woman named Rowan, who lives in a country where the people have all but eradicated magic inside of their borders. The people are raised to fear magic, magical creatures, and the Sorcerers who live in Tyrea, the country on the other side of the mountains. When Rowan was a child she was isolated from the worst of her people’s prejudices, and has been left with an insatiable curiosity about magic that’s only causing trouble now that she’s supposed to be marrying a magic hunter. When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of a powerful, frightening, and gorgeous Sorcerer, she’s faced with uncomfortable truths about her world, and embarks on an adventure that’s unlike anything she ever expected.
It’s also the story of Aren, a Tyrean prince and one of the most powerful Sorcerers who has ever lived. But telling more of Aren’s story just gives too much away. He tells it far better than I do, anyway.
LS: We’ll have to just read it and find out! “Fantasy” and “magic” are always great starting points; it sounds really intriguing. What would you say were your biggest influences in creating Bound?
KS: In terms of literature, I suppose my biggest influences have been the fairy tales I loved when I was a kid, and anything magical that came after– the Chronicles of Narnia are a personal favourite that I’m sharing with my own kids now. To this day I prefer my books with a dash of magic and a lot of adventure, so Fantasy was the obvious choice for me when I started writing. Piers Anthony’s Xanth series was my introduction to “adult” Fantasy, and to this day I prefer Fantasy books that use occasional humour to balance tension (though I think I’ve managed to avoid puns so far in my own work). I also count Stephen King among my influences. He writes genre fiction that has more depth than many people give him credit for, and his book On Writing was a major influence on my decision to take writing seriously and to stick with this book when things got rough. But really, every book I’ve ever read influenced me in some way, and I’ve learned something from all of them.
My family have influenced me a lot, too. My mom wrote and illustrated stories for us when my brother and I were younger, so writing was never a scary or intimidating prospect for me. My dad introduced me to Fantasy. My Grampa is a master of impromptu bedtime stories.
I guess you could count migraines and the landscape here in Newfoundland among influences on this book, too.
LS: Your influences run pretty similar to my own, which is definitely making me even more eager to read it! How long has Bound been in the making? Have you been working on it for a while?
KS: Bound started in November 2010 as a NaNoWriMo project, but the story was developing in my head for years before then. I had many false starts before I realized that I needed to let go of my perfectionism for long enough to just get the whole thing out. That draft took about a year, all told. Since then, it’s been a lot of revisions, working with critique partners and a fantastic editor, and sometimes just setting it aside and working on other things.
If you’d told me in 2010 that it would take more than three years to publish this thing, I’d have given up. I’m glad I took my time and made this story the best it could be, though.
LS: I’ve got a book that’s taken me over ten years, and it’s still a long way to go, so I can sympathize! Sometimes, the best things take time and patience. Any other advice you’d give other authors, based on your experience with this book?
KS: Hmm… I don’t usually like giving advice, because I don’t consider myself an authority. But here are a few things I’ve learned:
Respect your early readers by making it as good as you can before you let them read it. Reading a rough draft is a big investment for them in terms of time and effort, so be kind and be grateful. That said, don’t polish the thing forever and only show it to people when you think it’s perfect. It’s easier to take criticism if you already know there are issues that will need fixing.
Flexibility in all things (writing, publishing, promotion) is important. Listen to advice, and then do what works for you and what’s best for your book.
Writing a book is hard work, and bringing it up to professional standards is harder. But it’s worth every minute, every drop of sweat, every headache, and every penny. Don’t half-ass it. You’ll be glad you didn’t.
LS: I never really thought of the criticism being a little easier when you know it’s not perfect, but that makes a lot of sense! Makes me feel a little bit better about my own drafts floating out there with all their glaring imperfections right now! Do you tend to follow a particular writing process, and what was your favorite thing about writing Bound?
KS: I suppose I’d have to say my writing process is still evolving as my life changes and I learn what works for me. In the “plotter vs pantser” debate I’m firmly team Plotting Pantser. Er… Plantser? Plontster? I plan where a story is going and plenty of landmarks along the way, but I like to explore side-roads and am always open to changing things up if it turns out I was going the wrong way. I wish I could say that I’m a focused, consistent, and productive writer, but that’s not always true. I love writing (and I love having written even more), but I always have a hard time starting and am easily distracted. Maybe I’ll be better about that in September when I have more time alone at home to devote to working. Right now, it’s summer, and when the kids are home all bets are off. But I sneak my writing time in where I can.
LS: I liked Plantser; I think I’m right in the same category myself. What was the most rewarding part about writing Bound for you?
KS: Wow, that’s a tough question. There have been so many frustrations and so many rewarding moments. Maybe they go together, actually. My editor had a lot of good things to say about the story, but he had some tough criticisms and questions, too. Trying to fix issues without completely changing the story was a huge challenge, but every time something clicked into place and made the book better than it had been before, it was incredibly rewarding. It was like fitting pieces into what seemed like an impossible puzzle, but SO much better! I’m learning to trust that the answers are always there if I’m willing to do the hard work of figuring them out, even if it sometimes means a re-write. It’s hard, but it’s absolutely the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
LS: I think they’re kind of two sides to the same coin, because the most challenging part was going to be my next question, actually. What’s next for you after this?
KS: Right now I’m revising and editing book two, throwing some surprises in there that even I didn’t see coming and making it as good as I can before I send it out to beta readers. Then it’s on to book three! I also have an unrelated Urban Fantasy novella I might try to release in the autumn if time and money allow for editing, and there will be spin-offs from this trilogy in the distant future. Then… I don’t know. World domination seems so cliche.
It sounds like I’m incredibly productive, doesn’t it? I’m not, really. This is me aiming high. Wish me luck!
LS: Good luck! Though I don’t think you’ll need it. Aiming high is the only place to aim. Anything else you’d like to share with my readers, Kate?
KS: The first thing I’d like to share is my thanks to you for having me, and to anyone who’s read this far. I hope you (readers) have found something in my experiences that will help or encourage you in your own writing journey!
We talked a little about writing advice earlier, and I’d like to add one more tip here, if I may: Write what you love. I could have chosen to write in a more popular genre, maybe contemporary romance. I could have tried my hand at billionaire erotica, which seems to be where the money is right now– not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not where my personal interests lie. I could have tried to impress the old guard who scoff at my kind of Fantasy because it’s not what they like. But that’s not who I am, and the truth is that you can’t please everyone. I wrote the story that I wanted to read, one that’s filled with magic, beauty, adventure, pain, romance, betrayals, heartbreak, hope, and a whole lot of imperfect people (human and otherwise) who I’ve grown to love in spite of their flaws. And so far, it seems like other people enjoy reading that story, too. Write the story that makes your heart sing, and the work will be its own reward.
Or write for the market. Whatever floats your boat, really. I can only speak from my own experience.
LS: I couldn’t agree more! Thanks, Kate, for letting me interview you, and congratulations on the publication! I can’t wait to get my hands wrapped around a copy of Bound, and hopefully my readers will do the same. Right, readers? Well, you can follow the links below to procure a digital copy; the print versioncan be found here and don’t forget to check Kate out at her blog disregard the prologue. Happy reading!