My good friend Kristen Kooistra has just announced the release of her first book, Heart of the Winterland. Today, I was able to interview her about her upcoming book.
Tell us a little about your book, Heart of the Winterland.
Heart of the Winterland is a journey told primarily from the point of view of Princess Calisandra. Cali and her guardian, Voice, have been suppressed by a spell for nearly 200 years. Their land is constantly covered in snow, devoid of all other humans, and Cali’s not really bothered by any of it. Nothing rattles her, nothing makes her curious, it never even enters her head to question her life or to leave—until her 200th birthday.
For some reason, she wakes up on that day feeling different. She questions things, and a sequence of events lead to her and Voice deciding to set out on a journey to really nowhere but “not here”.
Heart of the Winterland is about people. It’s about the journey they’re all on. It’s a mystery to be unraveled, a puzzle to be solved. It’s about love and loss. Wishing for things, but finding that what you wished for isn’t really what you wanted. It’s about forgiveness, and sorrow, why anger, fear, and pain make people react in strange ways. It’s about one young woman’s discovery of the world outside what she’s always known.
Which of your characters do you most relate to?
Fun little side note, originally I did have a cameo character that was based after me, but found it didn’t fit the story and deleted that scene.
I would say I most relate to Amee. She’s one of the point-of-view characters and tied for my favorite. Amee’s the character I could see myself being if broken. If I lived her life, then I can see myself making the same choices. The big “what if you went to the dark side” question. What would you be like? What would you do? I think I’d be like Amee. And I think she’ll be a character that a lot of people feel conflicted about. You can’t help rooting for her, even when you know you shouldn’t. You want her to win, but she shouldn’t.
What are you writing next?
I’m eight chapters into a sequel for Heart of the Winterland. Since I’m incredibly creative I’m calling it Heart of the Sorceress. *audience oohs and aahs* I know, right!!! Be impressed.
Anyway, I originally planned on having Heart of the Winterland stand alone, but as I was writing the last two chapters, I kept thinking about how many more stories were yet to be told. So Heart of the Winterland does stand by itself. It is a complete story that you could read and not be left with any sort of cliffhanger.
But “Sorceress” does build on that and though it’d be possible (at least that’s the plan) to read it without reading “Winterland”, you would miss out on some things.
After Heart of the Sorceress, I’ve got a sci-fi saga that I’ve been wanting to write for over 10 years and now that I know I have what it takes to finish a novel, I’m going to tackle that challenge because it is the story of my heart. (so many hearts right now!)
I wouldn’t be surprised though if there ends up being at least one more story in the “HotW world”. With release of book two, I’ll be adding a series title and numbering the books.
How about giving us a sneak preview of Heart of the Sorceress?
I can’t say too much without giving away key elements of HotW. I’ll say that it takes place in a new country with three races who isolate themselves from each other. Two characters from Winterland will travel to this country in an attempt to shake things up and bring down a tyrant.
What are your goals for your writing? What do you hope to accomplish with your books?
Financially? I want to support my writing with my writing. I don’t want to feel like I’m taking money away from things my family needs, or things I should be spending on.
Personally. I really, really, really want to get my saga published. I know at my current rate that’s a huge goal, but that’s what I’ve always wanted.
Past that I want people to enjoy my stories. I hope someone out there gets whisked away into my world just like I’ve done with so many other authors’ stories. I want to be on the giving end of adventure dealing for once!
Along the way if someone happens to be truly and deeply impacted by something I wrote, or maybe it resonates with them and changes their life, um yeah that’d be awesome. I can’t say that’s really a goal though as I can’t imagine ever having one of my books make that big of a mark on anyone. It’d be like me shooting for a movie deal.
Why should people read your book? What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
Why? Well, since I’ve mentioned how precious time is I have to say, no one should read it. Goodness knows there are more important things to do in a day than read. And should is a strong word. But if you’re making time in your day to read, then I can tell you why Winterland might grab that slot.
*takes deep breath for pitch*
Heart of the Winterland is a clean fantasy for all ages. It appeals to children, teens, and adults. It’s an adventure that isn’t mired in romance or love triangles. It’s got a diverse cast with strong female characters at the forefront. Heart of the Winterland is engaging, emotional, with characters you can connect with. This is the story for anyone who enjoys characters, regardless of the fantastical setting.
It’s the story that made my fantasy-hating mother cry. It’s a tale that even a historical fiction author who is a non-fantasy reader said she couldn’t get enough of—that I was “channeling Dickens”(best compliment I’ve ever had). Not to mention a writer who told me after reading HotW that she had a book hangover.
I would like to thank Kristen for indulging me in this interview today. Don’t forget to check her out on all her social media outlets and pre-order Heart of the Winterland! Paperback and e-book copies are available for pre-order and will be released June 15!
Kristen Kooistra fell in love with reading at a young age and never resurfaced. She loved solving mysteries, riding across the prairie, and sailing on the open sea. But her favorite books were those that held the fantastical. So when the time came for her to seriously approach publishing a book, it had to be fantasy!
Living in Michigan(her own winterland) with her husband, three kids, and two cats, she has lots of free time . . . Okay, so more like she squeezes in writing time late at night when only the cats are awake to pester her.
“Heart of the Winterland” is Kristen’s first novel, and though it started as a whim, it grew into so much more and has inspired a sequel(in progress), “Heart of the Sorceress”.
Tucked into a quiet countryside, Kristen spends most of her time being Mommy. She loves spending time with her family and hopes that her writing will entertain and inspire them as well.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading(of course!), chatting with her writer’s group, sewing, swimming, gardening, and cooking(please no baking!). She’s also developed a fondness for water gun fights with her three year old. Actually, she’s found that most everything become a lot more fun with little kids.