Hello! Hello! Hello!! Today Kristen Duvall is joining for an interview. I’ll not bog you down with introductions, but check her and her books out!
Tell us about yourself.
I often tell people that I’m a writer of tales both real and make-believe. I’ve been published in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I have one book out now titled Femmes du Chaos. I’m also a contributor to several sites, including http://www.celebrityy.com, http://www.therichest.com and http://www.urbanfire13.com. I currently reside in Southern California with my boyfriend, my Great Dane, and a rescued calico kitty I lovingly call the KiKi Monster.
Besides writing, I enjoy hiking, going to the beach, traveling and playing board games. I’m currently the reigning champ of Trivial Pursuit, and I play a mean game of Scrabble.
What is one thing not in your bio, something totally random that only a few people know?
I grew up in poverty. And by that, I mean I went without heat and running water as a child. My family still lives this way today, while I managed to work my way through college and graduate school. I don’t talk about it often simply because I don’t want people to assume I’m playing the pity card. I’m blessed with how far I’ve come, and I know that.
Oh, and I’ve been attacked by a baboon. How many people can say that?
I started making up stories before I could even write. I’d tell them to my mom, and she’d write them down and illustrate them with me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been making up stories in my head and creating characters with backstories. What has kept me at it? It’s my escape. I enjoy doing it, and there are few things I enjoy doing more than writing.
Who has been your biggest inspiration and support in writing and in publishing? Doesn’t have to be an author or anything, and yes, it can be your mom or dad.
Kevin Saito, my boyfriend. He’s also a writer and a very good one too. I fell for him through his writing, and he’s always been my biggest supporter. Years ago, I struggled with low self-esteem and thinking I wasn’t good enough. Yet, he never gave up on me and helped me through the hard times. He helped push me to where I am today.
Awwww. I love stories like that!! So, why is it that you are an independent author? What prompted the decision to publish, and how has that experience been?
I like having the control over my work. I haven’t published through a publishing house, big or small. I’m completely self-published. The reason for that is because I see greater earning potential this way. I have the skills needed to publish my book, and I see self-publishing as an amazing opportunity for writers to get their work out there. I may consider submitting to publishers one day, mainly to build up more of a following, but I may not. I’d whether be writing than querying, personally. I feel my time is better spent writing more words.
Tell us a bit about Femmes du Chaos, without spoilers of course. It’s still on my TBR list!
It’s a book of short stories all featuring strong female characters. I simply adore short stories, both reading them and writing them, and I noticed that I wrote from a female perspective more often than not. Even when a character would traditionally be male, I made them female (in the case of a bounty hunter, for instance). Like I said, all the characters have inner strength… and while some of them are villains, they all share some of the same qualities. I think we need to see more strong women who aren’t out just to fall in love, and that’s why I wrote this book.
The stories range from a bounty hunter out for revenge to a little girl witnessing her father killing someone she loves. There’s horror, science fiction and fantasy stories in there, but yes… most have a darker tone to them. There are zombie stories and evil king stories, too. I’d like to think there’s something for everyone.
If you could meet one character in real life from Femmes du Chaos—and yes, I know this is a hard question—who would it be and why?
Sylvia, the bounty hunter. I’d give away spoilers if I said why, but let’s just say she seeks revenge for a reason I can personally get behind. I may not go to her extremes, but her and I are a lot alike in what we value.
What do you do when you get stuck in your writing? What happens when that nasty writer’s block sets down and refuses to budge—if you believe in writer’s block that is?
I don’t really believe in writer’s block, though some days are easier to write than others. I force myself to get through it. I write and write and write… even if I don’t want to. There are days I think everything I write is crap, but I remind myself that I can always go back and edit. I can’t edit a blank page. Most of the time, I look back on the stuff I forced out and it’s actually pretty good.
If a story or scene isn’t working, I sometimes change things around. Maybe I need to change the point-of-view? Maybe I need to start elsewhere in the story? Most of the time, a simple thing like showing the scene from someone else’s POV is enough to get me writing.
I do a lot of those things, too! What is your editing process? Editing seems to be the bane of a lot of author’s existence, so how do you edit and stay on track?
My boyfriend helps me edit. Oftentimes, I do a quick edit, but then I send it over to him and step away. He gives me insight, and I come back to it. Honestly, as far as my novels go, I’ve not been the best at editing those because I keep getting sidetracked with new ideas… But yes, soon. I will put my focus back on them and have them out too. I also seek the advice of other friends of mine and most of my stories in Femmes du Chaos were read by at least 5-6 beta readers before I put them in the book (and they were also read and sometimes critiqued by a writing group too).
Beta readers and critique groups are sometimes the saviors of the world!! Would you mind sharing some of your ups and some of your downs about writing and about publishing? Any advice to new and upcoming authors?
Advice? Develop a thick skin. When I first started writing, I was sensitive, and it was painful. People can be so mean when you put yourself out there. I’ve been personally attacked by people who don’t like my work. They tore me down and said some hateful things. Luckily, this came as I was already getting stronger or else it would have destroyed me.
My lowest points had me in a constant state of self-hate. I hated my writing. I hated myself for not being good enough. I wanted everyone, and I do mean everyone, to like my writing. But I learned through the years that not everyone will like your writing, and that I needed to focus on those who did. I obviously had people who enjoyed my writing, so why was I ignoring them in favor of those who don’t? Because I was stuck in a negative downward spiral of low self-esteem.
Not anymore. I like my writing. Is it perfect? No, I always have room to grow. But regardless, I’m proud of my work and even if someone else doesn’t like it, I still think it’s good. In the end, isn’t that what matters the most?
That’s some great advice! Here’s a more serious question. What is it like to write in the LGBT realm of craziness that we all support? What’s it like to dip the toe into the rainbow through writing and publishing?
My forthcoming novel (which doesn’t have an official name yet, but I call it The Princess and the Piper because it’s a bad pun) features a lesbian protagonist. The way the story unfolded that wasn’t the plan. I believe I found out she was a lesbian about the same time she did. I don’t know how the publishing world will respond to this story, but I did have two agents already request the full manuscript by me describing it as a utopian Prince and the Pauper with lesbians on Twitter.
If agents don’t pick it up, I’m self-publishing it. I love the story, I love the characters and my early readers have loved the story from my first short story based on the world. Overall, people have enjoyed it, and most say they like that the romantic element in my story isn’t straight.
That’s awesome about the agents! And sometimes romance is just better with two women, not that I’m biased at all. Anyway, back to questions. What is your best memory from the whole writing and publishing process?
A recent one… I just got my first check from a piece I’ve written. My personal essay got picked up for Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I got a check for $200 yesterday. It’s hard to fathom that someone out there found my 1,200 word essay worth $200. Following up with that, someone messaged me on Facebook to tell me they saw my name in the book at their local Target… 3,000 miles away from where I live. How cool is that?
That is ridiculously cool!! Why focus on the LGBT genre? What are the plusses and what are the minuses of doing so?
It’s not intentional. Personally, I just write people. Some of them are gay, and some of them are straight. They are who they are, and I don’t try to change them. I love them for who they are.
That being said, I’m a huge advocate for LGBT causes, and I hope that by including a variety of people in my writing, it can reach the right people and make a difference.
The minuses? I don’t really know. I’m sure some people might not read my work knowing that I write LGBT characters, but that’s okay. Those aren’t people I need to reach anyway. The plusses of writing real people far outweigh the need to please everyone and to play it safe.
1. Dog or Cat? Both? If I have to choose… dog :)
2. Favorite color? Purple
3. Favorite junk food? Peanut butter anything
4. Favorite musician? Too many to pick just one!
5. Favorite curse word? Hmm probably fuck. I know, boring, huh?
6. Favorite quote? I have many, but this is one I like a lot… “A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” ~Paulo Coelho
7. Rolaids or Tums? I’ve never used either.
8. Short or Tall? Both are just fine by me :)
9. Favorite body part? The brain… with fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti, please ;)
10. Favorite holiday? Christmas.
They messed with the wrong girl this time. From heroes to villains, Femmes du Chaos sets out to show the world what the fairer sex is really made of. You’ll meet women of all ages and from many different walks of life… Warriors and schoolgirls, side-by-side in one place. One thing connects them all, and that is their ambition. Whether they use their ambition for good or evil, well that’s for them to decide. Gritty, fantastical and sometimes uncomfortable to read, Femmes du Chaos is a tour de force that holds nothing back. There will be violence and there will be blood. Some will survive and come out stronger in the end… And some will let the darkness consume them. After all, no two girls are ever alike.
Have you ever wondered what really happened in Roanoke or whether Vlad the Impaler was actually a vampire? Within these pages, you will discover a world where mermaids meet up with Jack the Ripper and the undead fight in the Civil War. You’ll explore history from horrific medieval diseases to present day disasters. This is the history of the world like you’ve never seen it before.
Horrors of History is a collection of tales brought to you by both established and up-and-coming writers alike. Each story has a unique vision and voice, combining to bring you a creepy collection that will scare you like the Black Death terrifies a Medici. Gracing these pages are mermaids, demons, witches and sometimes just good old-fashioned humans doing evil things. Be prepared for anything and everything. You will never know what to expect with each turn of the page.
History just got a whole lot darker