Furry sexy biopunk arctic witchery? That’s just one of the awesome reviews to describe Kirsten Imani Kasai’s wonderful, wickedly-inspired and imaginative books. Learn more about this creative author who is zooming into the writing stratosphere.
Q: How did you come to be a writer?
A: I read a lot when I was younger. I’ve always written and enjoyed the art of story-telling in almost any format. Looking back, I think my interest in horror, mystery, pulp, sci-fi and the supernatural formed when I was young. My family would take cross-country car trips and to keep himself entertained, my dad would listen to old radio shows, “The Shadow,” “Suspense,” “CBS Mystery Theater,” etc. I have very fond memories of listening to those spooky tales while lying in the back of a station wagon and watching the stars. It’s always felt natural for me to tell and write stories. I don’t think I have a choice.
Q: What are some of your current projects?
A: I’m about halfway into the first draft of a new novel. It’s a Gothic horror novel (similar to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”) about a family on a Creole plantation in the 1850s and a contemporary narrator. It looks at mental health treatment in the 19th and 21st centuries and explores the intersection of voodoo, Christianity and spiritualism in the South. It’s dense and complicated, but so much fun.
I’m also the co-founder of a new online literary and print-on-demand mag (called) Body Parts Magazine. We’re ramping up to provide e-Book versions for Kindle etc. soon too.
Q: How much do you incorporate your own intuition into your writing?
A: I’ve really learned to listen to the characters and to allow the story to develop at its own pace. It’s a dance, a romance. There should be a constant edge of surprise and hopefulness in the process of discovering the characters, their desires, motivations and flaws. IPoet and English professor Don H. Bogen writes that authors should have a “growing awareness that the [story] is not so much coming out of nowhere but revealing its inner architecture, its own sense of how it wants to speak.”
Q: How do you handle rejection?
A: Probably as well as most writers, which is not very (well). At my desk, I have a cartoon of Snoopy getting a rejection letter that reads, “Don’t take it out on your mailbox.” It makes me laugh. I just keep writing, sending stuff out and trying not to think about it. On a related note, I learned after publishing my books that it’s very useful to have someone filter your reviews and comments and just send you the positive ones or those that provide truly useful critiques. I developed a bit of a block after “Ice Song” came out; the negative criticisms and nitpicky comments ended up replaying in my brain and stifling my creative spirit for quite a while.
Q: What has been the response to your work?
A: Overwhelmingly positive. I love when people get it and get hooked. It’s exciting. It’s weird and fascinating to hear strangers and friends interpret your writing and talk about what it means to them. It’s such an incredibly intimate and subjective relationship.
Q: What do you see as the most worrisome trend in publishing and how have you overcome it?
A: We’re at an important crux in the evolution of the industry. It’s easier now for writers to share their work with readers, build an audience, find their niche and be in charge of their own careers. But, the market is absolutely flooded. It’s harder for readers to find quality books amid the mass of traditionally and self-published works available. There are new challenges for authors, such as having your works “pirated” on bit-torrent sites and offered as free downloads, or having to shout even louder to make yourself heard among the din of Internet voices. Yet, we can also directly connect to and converse with readers, and that’s amazing. Authors are much more accessible than ever before. There are also hundreds of new channels available to promote our work in innovative ways, using video, art, multimedia, social media.
Q: What is your daily writing ritual?
A: I don’t have much of one, besides trying to write whenever and as often I can. It’s easier now that my children are older. I need a beverage at hand, either a Venti-sized cup of Yorkshire Gold tea with cream or a glass of port when the scene demands it.
After so many years of writing, it’s much easier now to sink into the creative state at will, rather than having to court the muse, so I’m more productive overall. I like to listen to music while I write, too. Ambient electronica is best: Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Murcof but sometimes Bjork is helpful.
Kerri S. Mabee is editor at EducatedWriter.com. Learn more about her at kerrismabee.com.Kerri S. Mabee