|Author Kai Strand|
ME: Kai, you were just at a huge book signing event in Oregon, where they were hoping to set a world record for "Most Authors Signing." Was the record set? And tell us what that event was like!
KAI: Yes, I participated in the Oregon Book and Author Fair in Central Point, Oregon. What a fun day. There were over 60 authors there, and the titles ranged from picture book to scoliosis and all points in between. It was fun to chat with book enthusiasts and other authors. My tablemate, Ivy Smith and I got to know each other well, sitting next to one another for 7 hours or so. We did indeed make an attempt for the world record for most authors signing their individual titles at the same time. All the data has to be verified by Guinness World Records, and I can’t wait to find out if we qualify. Wouldn’t that be FUN to be in the Guinness Book of World Records? Now I have a copy of The Weaver with the official world record attempt stamp and my signature.
ME: Yes, being in the Guinness World Records would be a great thing to be able to tell people! Now let's talk about your middle grade book, The Weaver. It looks absolutely charming! Please give us the story summary, target age group and where we can buy it.
KAI: Thank you, Melissa. And charming it is…let me explain: Mary Wordsmith lives in a town of storytellers, known as word weavers. Her mother is the most revered word weaver of them all, but poor Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. She can’t tell a good story to save her life.
One day she meets a strange little creature that grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, Mary is now weaving strange little yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales. Now she has two problems to overcome.
Barnes and Noble
Or direct from Guardian Angel Publishing
I’m excited to say The Weaver is a finalist in the EPIC eBook Awards!
ME: Congratulations! That's terrific! The Weaver sounds terrific - everyone - go buy it NOW!! Tell us a bit about the EPIC award.
KAI: Thank you! It is exciting. EPIC stands for Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition. They’ve been around since 1998. Their purpose is to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing. They hold EPICon annually and they’ve been recognizing leading books in the electronic book industry with an annual awards banquet. You know that saying, “It’s an honor just to have been nominated”, well, let me tell you, it is an honor for my book to have made it as a finalist! I have to wait until March to learn if it has earned the title of winner.
ME: Okay, we've kept people in suspense long enough about your VERY BIG NEWS. So, drumroll ...Tell us about it!
KAI: Yes! I’m thrilled to announce the sale of my middle grade novel, Save the Lemmings, to Featherweight Press. When Natalie’s Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, the media digs until they find a way to smear her goody-goody image.
ME: Congratulations - again! That is such wonderful news, and so encouraging to everyone out there who is hoping to sell their book - it does actually happen! Let's switch gears for a minute and talk about how all this got started. From what I read on your blog, it sounds like you had an idyllic childhood growing up in Wisconsin. Did that affect your desire to write for children, or in what ways has it affected your writing?
KAI: It’s funny that you asked that. I’ve considered my idyllic childhood a hindrance to my writing more than a help. I don’t have any issues or angst to share. It’s horrible. Okay, I’m really, really kidding about it being horrible that I’ve had a great life.
Growing up in Wisconsin instilled a real wholesomeness in me that I’ve never lost. People in the Midwest are so kind and genuine and that really impacts your values. Plus my parents always stressed honesty and being forthright. I try to bring that truth and honesty into my writing. I think it is so much harder and far more courageous for people to be honest and truthful, so it is important for children to be exposed to it in real life as well as through fiction.
ME: Actually, I've seen a cartoon where a girl is writing a letter to her parents, telling them that, because of the happy childhood they gave her, they'd ruined any chance that she could ever become a great writer! There is a lot of mileage to be gotten from angst, I guess! Okay, I also see that you have FOUR children! How often do real events from your daily life with four kids show up in your stories?
KAI: Aspects of real life show up a lot in my stories. Not only events with the kids, but from my childhood and stories I’ve been told by friends, family, etc. But it is usually only bits and pieces. I have so much fun with my kids and I thoroughly enjoy the people that they are. How can I not let that impact my characters and the stories I want to share? Heck, everybody should have as much fun as we do.
ME: Are you working on a project now, and if so, can you tell us a bit about it?
KAI: I’m finishing up edits on another Weaver tale, that I hope and pray meets the expectations of my fabulous publisher.
I’m also writing a very personal story that reduces me to tears every time I work on it. It’s loosely based on a friendship circle in my life. Even though the characters in the book aren’t me and my two friends, it is close enough to us to make me laugh and cry. There is a loss in this story that is especially difficult for me to address. But it is a beautiful, beautiful story and I hope I can do it justice and one day share it with the world.
Then, when I need a break from the heavier topics, I switch out of my middle grade hat and into my young adult writer’s cap and work on the second book in my super villains series. Talk about fun! Teens with super powers who, because they are villains, get away with being bad? Yep, lots of fun!
ME: This is a remarkable time for you - tell us how you're feeling about everything that is happening .
KAI: This is an exciting time for me as a writer. I was laid off from my day job at the end of June and haven’t found any comparable work since. However, the extra time at home has allowed me to really concentrate on my writing career. I’ve been able to write and submit short stories to magazines, which is something I simply didn’t have time to do before and I have more time to research publishers for my completed titles. The extra time has allowed me to really focus my efforts and it feels like I’m finally seeing a forward progress in my career. I think 2012 will be a banner year for the writer me.
ME: It's amazing how things sometimes open up for us just when we're at those scariest of moments? You've taken a downturn and turned into an inspiring story of persistence and success. Let's finish up the interview with anything else you'd like us to know.
KAI: If your readers are interested in finding out more about my wholesome upbringing or learn where some of my shorts have been published or read more about The Weaver, they can visit my website, http://www.kaistrand.com/. I love to hear from readers, too, so feel free to stalk my Facebook page or send me an email. All my contact info & upcoming events can be found on my website.
Thanks for hosting me, Melissa. It has been so much fun chatting with you and your readers.
ME: Kai, you are a gem, a wonderful writer and a kind and generous person. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing your books soar to great success.