Today, I got a chance to interview Kristen Kooistra, author of Heart of the Winterland and my good friend.
If your protagonist was transported to this world, what would she think?
She’d probably crawl under the nearest piece of furniture and hide. Cali’s not used to people, and putting her in a place with a lot of people and all the modern conveniences, I think she’d lose her mind.
What motivated you to want to be an author?
It’s one of those things that’s been on my bucket list forever. I always wanted to put one of my stories on paper and share it with the world. It was just never the right time before and then suddenly it was. I tried again and this time it clicked and I stuck with it.
What was your biggest challenge in writing Heart of the Winterland? What would you do differently, if given the opportunity?
Editing, for sure. There were other challenges, but rereading the same thing over and over and over is BORING. It’d get old doing that for recreational purposes, but doing it while looking for things to fix or improve is so much worse.
If I was doing something differently, I’d get a paper copy sooner in the process. Much easier to read, and you can curl up with it anywhere instead of being stuck at a computer. I also take in information a lot better when it’s on paper, so things jumped out at me instead of me staring with glazed eyes at the screen.
What inspired you to write your book, Heart of the Winterland?
Before my oldest was born, I got into online gaming. After a bit of this and that, I settled on an MMORPG where I started a guild and met a lot of people. I was intrigued by the idea of taking the people I met and putting them in a fantasy story, or rather, creating characters from those people.
By the end, some characters barely represented their doppelgangers and I’d got hooked on the story aspect as well. I feel that by using real people as an inspiration, that my characters have a lot of depth to them.
And as a fun bonus, even though I no longer game, I get to have something special when I read the story because I can be like oh, there’s so and so! And it reminds of me of the good things during my gaming stage.
Do you draw from any of your life experiences when you write?
Oh, most definitely. I’m a people watcher and knowing what makes people tick helps me fashion a character that’s believable. Some pieces are things I’ve directly experienced, and some are simply ones I’ve observed.
One of my favorite lines in HotW is, “People aren’t one-sided, Cali. They’re like diamonds, lots of different facets. Just because you’re looking at a different side, doesn’t mean it’s not the same jewel.”
That line spawned from a real life conversation between me and a family member. The essence of the conversation was, “Just because someone is acting differently than you’ve ever seen, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve changed. Sometimes you’re just seeing another facet to who they are.”
And at some point in the conversation, I blurted out a similar line to the one above and later thought “I have to work that in somewhere.”
You have three kids, so you must not have much time to yourself to write. Do you have any advice for other writers out there with kids or day jobs? How do you juggle your family with your writing?
Advice is hard, encouragement is easier. Every parent has a different situation and what works for one won’t necessarily work for others. I have three kids but lots of people have more or less. I get to stay at home, I have a husband in the picture who helps, etc. Parents with kids in school have more free time, but parents who have kids with disabilities struggle with things I do not.
So I can say, “Don’t give up. Find your open spaces, the pieces of time that are allotted to things you can do without.” I tend to give up my sleep time to write. There’s never more or less time in a day, only how we choose to manage it. If you honestly can’t find any time to write, or maybe just very little(and I have those months), then chances are you have more important things to you that you’re spending your time on. That’s not a bad thing, nothing to feel guilty about. It just means there’s more than one important thing in your life.
I’m taking the summer off writing because I have other important things I want to focus my time on for awhile(that and my 7 month old doesn’t sleep through the night and giving up sleep is no longer working.) So I definitely understand.
In a perfect situation, I juggle writing and family by staying up after everyone is in bed to write. With my baby being a buttmunch and waking me up 4 times a night, I’m squeezing moments into the day, but it’s hard. I told a friend last week that I struggle with feeling selfish. Like I’m taking time away from my kids and keeping the house clean for them, and using it to do something that’s not as important. Writing is important to me, but not as important as my husband and kids. So I do struggle at times with “am I doing the right thing?”
Thank you, Kristen, for indulging me in another interview.
Don’t forget to order Kristen’s book, Heart of the Winterland, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon right now! And be sure to follow her on all her social media.
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.