Monday, April 14, 2014

Interview with YA fantasy author Kristen Taber

Today's guest is young adult fantasy author Kristen Taber. She's talking about her Aerenden Series, which currently has the first 3 of the planned 5 novels: The Child ReturnsThe Gildonae Alliance, and The Zeiihbu Master.
Kristen will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour as Grand Prize and an audiobook will be issued to 10 runner-up commenters. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too!

Kristen spent her childhood at the feet of an Irish storytelling grandfather, learning to blend fact with fiction and imagination with reality. She lived within the realm of the tales that captivated her, breathing life into characters and crafting stories even before she could read. Those stories have since turned into over a hundred poems, several short tales, and five manuscripts in both the Young Adult and Adult genres. Currently, Kristen is completing the five-part Ærenden series from her home office in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

Welcome, Kristen. Please tell us about your current release.
The Zeiihbu Master, released March 24, 2014, is the third book in the Ærenden series. In the first two books, Meaghan must learn how to survive in a war-torn kingdom on a world far different than the one she considered her home. Although she learns how to become a leader and a soldier, she has trouble understanding her true strength. In The Zeiihbu Master that begins to change. On a suicide mission to rescue a powerful Spellmaster from her enemy, and with the prophecy of her death hanging over her head, she knows every moment could be her last. Yet she steps out of her protector’s shadow and begins shaping her own future, determined to protect those she loves even if the cost is her life.

What inspired you to write this book?
I conceived the idea for the series in high school, a long time ago. It’s changed a lot since then, but the theme of the series has always been the same. In a typically male-centered genre, I wanted to create a strong female character who could serve as a good role model for young women. But instead of creating a character who already knows how to fight or wield a sword, I wanted to write about a typical teenage girl from a suburban family, someone who could represent my own sister, niece or daughter. This way, I could also show how strong we can all become when facing adversity. Meaghan isn’t just a character women and girls wish they could be; she’s a character they could actually be if they wanted.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the last two books in the Ærenden series, though I can’t really say much without giving away any spoilers. I will tell you that the Ærenden people are not as innocent in their war against Garon as they’d like everyone to believe. The truth will come to the surface and with it, our main characters will have to make hard decisions. But not all of the storyline will be dark. Like in real life, joyous moments will keep hope alive. Love will blossom in unexpected places. Beloved couples will welcome new family members of the crying sort. And Earth will make another appearance. I promise readers will enjoy plenty of surprises.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been a runner for seven years. I’ve run in biting cold weather, in snow storms, in the beginning stages of hurricanes, and on cruise vacations. I’ve run at midnight because I felt I had to and I’ve even run instead of sleeping when deprived of both. But I never considered myself a runner until I attempted my first half-marathon in February. When the pure (and crazy) thought “Oh, it’s not bad; it’s only five more miles” floated through my head, I realized I could no longer deny my identity as a runner.

I honestly haven’t reached that moment as a writer yet. I’ve been creating stories since I was five. I’ve just published my third book. I’ve received good reviews and fan mail from people all over the world. But every time I pick up a Stephen King book, I can’t fathom how anyone could be considered a writer next to someone like him, least of all me. I suppose I’ll have my pure/crazy thought moment with writing someday, as I did for running, but for now I’m just a storyteller who likes sharing the tales that occupy my head.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I did, but no. I write whenever I can between taking care of a one-year-old, working as an Executive Admin and training for races. “Whenever” is typically nights and weekends a few times a month (as my saintly husband’s schedule allows), during naps (as the baby allows), and driving or running (this is when I map out plots or sort out “puzzle pieces”). It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I bought stick-on white board material and attached it to the wall in my office so I could write out character traits, future plots for upcoming books, themes that have to be closed out—pretty much everything I need to remember as I’m writing the Ærenden series. I color code notes and connect them all with numbers and arrows. It’s old school, but it works. I’m so attached to this process that I actually bought a blue tarp specifically to transport the sticky paper when I moved. I had to carefully peel the board off my old office wall, roll it up, and reattach it on my new wall without rubbing off the ink. Somehow I managed to make the move with minimal damage.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m sure it’s hard to believe, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I remember telling my mother that when I was in first grade and often entertained my friends with stories, assigning each of them character names and dialogue. In hindsight, I can see why they called me bossy, but it served me well.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
A few years ago I had a serious scare that might qualify as a near-death experience. That moment catalyzed me to start writing again and to take a chance on publishing my work. As cliché as it sounds, life really is so short. Don’t wait for a scare to do what you love. Don’t allow excuses to get in your way. Find time for what matters and enjoy every moment of your life being the person you want to be. 

Buy Links for Book 1: Amazon | BN

Buy Links for Book 2: Amazon | BN


Kristen Taber said...

Thank you so much for having me on your site, Lisa! I really enjoyed the interview :).
I'll be hanging around today if anyone has any follow-up questions.
Happy Monday!

Mary Preston said...

Is there a meaning to the word "Ærenden"?


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Kristen Taber said...

There is. I wanted to name the kingdom something representative of the people who lived there, so I spent a lot of time Googling adjectives that I felt suited them. I eventually stumbled on the word "Ære", which means honor in Danish. "Den" translates to "the" or "of the" in a few languages, so the Kingdom essentially translates to "The Honor". I added the extra "n" because I thought it sounded better.
Ærenden is pronounced Air-en-den for anyone curious :)

Unknown said...

Very nice interview Kristen. I too am a huge Stephen King fan and have been so since I was a child. While he is known as one of the modern 'greats', just remember that you have potential as well. You've already proven it in your interview: humility and humbleness are marks of greatness all on their own. Thanks for sharing.

ilookfamous at yahoo dot com

Kristen Taber said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my interview :). It's always nice to meet a fellow King fan (although I know there are a lot of us out there :)).

MomJane said...

This sounds like such an exciting series. So few really good fantasy stories anymore.

Kristen Taber said...

Thanks! I'm such a huge classic fantasy fan, too. What are your favorites?

bn100 said...

Informative interview

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Andra Lyn said...

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Kristen Taber said...

A bit of both. I have a basic outline I go by, but my characters tend to head in their own direction much of the time. I find as long as I stick to key elements from my outlines and follow my characters around taking notes, we all have a better book in the long run.

Kristen said...

Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I love that you created Meaghan from someone who could be that girl next door. We can see a huge trend on social media of people taking more control of their lives and their destinies, creating and fighting for the future they want and yet here is Meaghan, a normal girl, with her normal plans, who is dealt a very crappy scenario and actively decides to grow. To push herself. Perhaps if I weren't so caught up in trying to solve the war while pacing my living room I would have noticed that. I did notice however something else. Meaghan's strength is amazing. There are people who completely shut down after dealing with a traumatic event, and while Meaghan can keep to herself, she determines to live her life and sets about doing it. It's very inspiring.

Kristen Taber said...

Wow! I love how much you understand Meaghan :). Who's your favorite character?

Becky Moon said...

very informative interview, love how you research to come up with these names!

Kristen said...

Thanks, Becky! It's a lot of fun :)