Please drop in. Today I’m visiting with Kai Strand, a fellow author with MuseItUp. She writes young adult and middle grade books. I don’t know about you, but I love to discover the story behind the story, especially when it comes to writers like me. We are a diverse lot. There’s no telling what you’ll find us doing when we’re not writing. We have day jobs, families, hobbies and various and sundry activities that keep us busy.
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.
Tragedy has left Cara Cassidy broken and the only thing keeping her from giving in completely is her guilt. Until Nik Rock.
Nik stirs up feelings in degrees she has never experienced, and causes her to do things that most assuredly give him the wrong impression – like kiss him before their first date. Somehow, he breaks down the walls around her emotions until she has no choice but to forgive herself and feel again.
But a mysterious, troubled past follows Nik, and Cara may prove to be his weakest link.
When a royal princess shows up looking for Nik, and an international gang arrives looking for missing jewels, Cara lands in mortal danger. Will she be able to save herself? What will happen to her newly repaired psyche if she loses Nik?
Romance, mystery, and high stakes – just another day in high school.
The veil dropped over Nik’s expression so fast, it told her exactly what she didn’t want to know. Nik had indeed seen her mom. Cara turned away from him again intending to trudge back into the classroom.
“By the crown, will you stop already?” Nik begged.
The exasperation in his tone and the odd choice of words piqued her curiosity. Cocking her head, she asked, “By the crown?”
The frustration melted away and Nik pursed his lips, which almost distracted Cara enough to forget the thread of conversation, but she tore her eyes away and asked, “Is that what they say in Seattle?”
Nik’s eyes lit with appreciation. “Aren’t you clever?”
He nodded. His appreciative appraisal and half smile wreaked havoc with her supposed cleverness.
“Nik?” she breathed.
“Yes?” He tilted toward her giving her the impression he hung on her every word. His eyes were glued to her lips, which she realized were parted and ever so slightly panting.
She gulped. “Can we perhaps do this after school?”
When he raised his gaze to meet hers she almost liquefied under the heat of it. “Can I trust you?”
“Trust me to do what?” Cara asked. She was losing the ability to think.
“Show up.” He slid closer and she held her breath hoping he would take her in his arms.
“Show up where?” she asked.
A full-blown grin curved across his face and she thrilled with the knowledge she’d put it there. Then she realized she couldn’t remember how.
“Actually, I was going to ask you that,” Nik said. His eyes roved her face.
“Wait. What?” Cara’s voice was so breathy she wasn’t sure if she spoke or gasped.
“Where should we meet? After school.”
She itched to rise up on tiptoe and kiss that stellar grin off his mouth.
A low chuckle rumbled through him. “Why don’t you tell me in gym class?”
She nodded slowly. Was he a drug? Or maybe the male version of a siren. Did they have those?
He tipped further forward and she caught her breath. Then he sighed.
“See you next period.”
Her mouth fell open as he walked away. He hadn’t even touched her and she was burning with need.
At the end of the hall, he glanced over his shoulder and grinned when he saw her still gaping after him. When he walked out of view she let out the breath she’d been holding. It stuttered and shook, but was relieved to escape her burning lungs. How long had she been holding her breath?
By the crown, Nik Rock was dangerous!
Okay guys, help yourselves to another cup of coffee and more cake, while we get to know Kai better. How long have you been writing? Like most writers, I’ve been writing in some format (angsty poetry, overly dramatized shorts, etc) most of my life, but I decided to pursue publication when my third child started Kindergarten (he graduates high school this year!) I have four kids and when he started school and I was left with only our youngest daughter, it felt like I had ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to write. Rather liberating actually. It was six years before I received my first book contract. Not so liberating after all. But very rewarding.
That’s a familiar story. I finally got serious about it when my youngest graduated from high school. I decided if I was ever going to do it, I’d better stop procrastinating and get with it. Like you, it took me a while to get there.
Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both? I consider myself a pantser. When I start a new book, I also start a notes document, a place for me to make note of things like names, ages, physical characteristics, family trees, plot points I want to make sure to cover or circle back to, etc. However, the creation of the story itself mostly happens by the seat of my pants. Every single time I’m writing a story there is some point between the middle and the end when I wonder how the heck I’m gonna make it all come together. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I can assure myself (over and over again) that it will come together – that it always does. However, because I refuse to outline, I always hit a point in the book where I doubt my ability to find the path through to the end. It makes the discovery fun for me, actually. I feel very clever each time I succeed. Creating an outline seems to use up my creative juices for that story and then I feel like I’m editing through the whole thing. Even the first draft. I’m not a fan of editing.
The same thing happens to me! About 2/3 through the book I’m suddenly wondering what on earth I’m going to do to get my characters out of this mess. Nice to know I have company.
Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series (one we couldn’t possibly know).The concept of Finding Thor evolved from me wanting to write a YA mash up of the movie National Treasure and Wuthering Heights. I wanted the suspense and mystery of National Treasure and the tragedy and love story of Wuthering Heights. I wanted a kind and respectful male lead that made me sigh and fan my cheeks, and a female lead that grows and discovers her strength. Putting that all together was both fun and challenging.
Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.
Beyond the main characters, Cara and Nik, I think my favorite character in this story is Cara’s best friend, Kelly. She’s loyal and strong and funny. I know that if I met Kelly IRL, I’d want to be her friend. She isn’t really patterned after anyone in particular, but I guess her outgoing personality and her impressive height is reminiscent of my sister. Being shy and short myself, I’ve always admired both qualities in my sister, so it isn’t too surprising they should show up in a character.
I LOVE supporting characters. Especially when they evolve into characters with stories of their own.
What is the best compliment you ever received as a writer? It was in the most unexpected place. I was attending a funeral, giving my condolences to the family. I hugged the girl who had just lost her grandfather and said that I wished I could do something to help her through her grief. Her answer was so unexpected.
“Keep writing. It helps. It helps a lot.”
I completely agree. What a wonderful thing to know your words have had that effect on someone.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I’m pretty obsessed with walking. I love to walk. I love the motion of it. Soaking up the greater outdoors (regardless of weather conditions) is therapeutic for me. I wish walking didn’t take up so much time. At least I can multitask and listen to an audiobook at the same time. The two birds thing!
And who knows what ideas might pop into your head while you’re walking!
This has been fun. Come back again anytime Kai. Good luck with Finding Thor.
Thanks for stopping by everyone. Check out the links below to learn more about Kai and her books. If you get a chance today, check her blog. I’m doing a character interview on one of my characters in Xander’s Tangled Web, due out April 26th.