Welcome, welcome, one and all to my first ever author interview! The tea has brewed, so have a seat and join us, won't you? I was fortunate enough to wrangle author K.J. Chapman whilst she is busily working on the release of her next book, Zombie Playlist, releasing September 4th, 2017.
KJ: Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Dana.
D: You are so welcome. It's such a treat to have you. For anyone not familiar with you or your books, can you tell us a little about both?
KJ: My first series is my EVO Nation series. Books one and two are available from Amazon, and I am currently editing book three. It’s an urban fantasy series about evolved humans- superhumans. Society is divided by ignorance and hate, and after living their lives in fear and in hiding, the EVO must now find a way to integrate into society and fight for their liberty.My second series is my Indigo Flame series. Book one, Thrown to The Blue, was published in November 2017. Thrown to The Blue is a high fantasy. Princess Ezrahli finds herself thrust into a life of witchcraft, sorcery, prophecy, and war. She may not be good, but she is great, and greatness is what is needed to defeat darkness.
D: I have both EVO Nation and Thrown to the Blue sitting in my TBR pile. I'm so excited to read them, especially after experiencing the awesomeness that is Zombie Playlist. Speaking of your new book, would you be willing to share anything about what you edited out if it? Was there anything you really wanted to keep but just didn't end up making the final cut?
KJ: As the narrative is very much song based, how about two songs that very nearly made the playlist? 1) Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way and 2) MotorHead - Born to Raise Hell.
D: YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAAAAAY! Oh, sorry. I got excited. Such a great song! Being that the chapters in Zombie Playlist are song titles (which is awesome, by the way), did you have the songs in mind first as you were writing the book or was it the other way around?
KJ: For the majority, I chose the songs after I wrote the chapters. However, some chapters/scenes were so clear in my head, I knew what song would accompany them before putting pen to paper.
D: That's brilliant. I suspect Chelsea Dagger was one of the latter. I love that girl! You've done a bit of genre-hopping in your writing. From dark fantasy to superheroes and now post-apocalyptic...what's that like? Is it difficult to change your writing mindset? Do you do anything in particular to swing between genres?
KJ: I simply go where the inspiration leads. I always knew I would swing between urban fantasy and high fantasy, but the zombie horror genre was a bolt from the blue. I love anything zombie, and when the idea for Zombie Playlist hit, it was a ‘I need to write this’ moment. I have an idea for a space-fantasy book which may be my new direction. Who knows?
D: The sky's the limit! Continuing along that same vein, do you have a process for all writing? A certain place you go to be alone or any rituals to get you into the right mindset no matter what genre you're in?
KJ: A cup of tea is all I need. I mainly write with my laptop on my lap. I don’t have a desk or office, and I don’t have a writing time. Write when I can is my motto. Being a pantser means that I don’t need mountains of notes around me to write. It’s all in my noggin, and a napkin will do if I’m struck with inspiration when out of the house.
D: Personally, I'm a Planster, so I always have my notes with me, but they live on my phone so I can add a new one on the fly. What would you say is the funniest/most curious thing you've ever done for your books (skydived to know what it feels like to fly, acted out a fight scene in your living room, etc.)?
KJ: I act out scenes ALL. THE. TIME, so I don’t see this as bizarre…it’s not bizarre, right? My search history is questionable, though. How to waterboard someone was typed into Google at one point.
D: Me too! I know waaaaay too much about black powder after writing Into the Fire. We're just researching, people! #NotPsychopaths. Moving right along, let's talk places and travel. Is there a location, or maybe a set of locations, that you were so inspired by you had to include it in a book? Where and why?
KJ: Except for Thrown to The Blue which is based in an entirely fictional world, I have mentioned Cornwall, England in all of my books. My main character in EVO Nation, Teddie, comes from Cornwall, and in Zombie Playlist, Dagger is heading for Cornwall. I am Cornish born and bred, I live in Cornwall, and I think it is the best place in the world. If you haven’t visited, you should.
D: I want to! I've seen pictures of Cornwall, and it is beautiful. When starting a new book, do you choose your genre first or do you focus on the story and then figure out the genre?
KJ: Story all the way. Sometimes, a character spurs the narrative. Genre is never at the forefront of my mind. It all comes down to what story I want to write.
D: I tend to agree. So what do you think is the biggest pitfall for writers? To what habits or weakness do we fall prey most often? Conversely, what do you think we can utilize or do to best help ourselves?
KJ: Editing during the first draft! It took me a long while to get out of this habit. In all honesty, I didn’t finish a novel until I finally ditched the idea of a perfect first draft. Just write the story without fretting over the grammar and spellings etc. Get it down, and edit later. Making notes about looking up facts or consistency issues as you go along may help the editing process and calm stresses a little.
D: Ooooh, I know what you mean. Hearing someone refer to the first draft as a the "vomit draft" changed my life. What would you say is the toughest scene you've ever written (emotionally or otherwise)?
KJ: In Thrown to The Blue I wrote a heartbreaking scene for Ezrahli. It was tough to write because I wanted to capture the emotion and loss perfectly. I wrote it only months before the same thing happened to me in real life. I found editing that scene much harder with my first-hand knowledge. I changed many aspects to reflect my experience.
D: I'm so sorry. Do you think people are born writers or do some people eventually become writers?
KJ: I think we are readers first. A love of books from a young age is what ignites passion in our bellies. It is certainly a job you have to love because most writers rarely see a lot of monetary reward. However, I say I was born to write because I simply have to do it. I think my love of writing was born from my love of books.
D: Interesting. As you mentioned money, what was the best money you've ever spent as a writer?
KJ: Laptops will always be essential to my writing process. I type more than hand write my manuscripts. I can’t go without one. Just the thought of it makes me sweat. Another important cost is books. I read as much as I write. I believe that good writers are avid readers.
D: I couldn't agree more. Reading definitely makes us better writers. Okay, pop quiz time. You're stuck on a deserted island. What three books do you want with you? Jane Eyre. Harry Potter series. (If I’m not allowed the series, I’ll have book one.) Can I say a notebook? It’s the writer in me.
Coffee or tea? Tea.
One male and one female character you most relate to and why? Can I choose my own? Female: Dagger, because her humour is my humour. Male: Adam Lovick, because I find his strength and attitude incredibly motivating. (Just wait for book three, folks!)
Bacon. Yea or nay? Yea!!!!!!!!
Enemies who become friends or friends who become enemies. Go! Enemies who become friends.
Gryphons or Phoenixes? Gryphons.
Unicorns or Pegasi? Unicorns.
You’re a student at Hogwarts. What’s your favorite class and why? Defense Against the Dark Arts, because I’d be an Auror in training! Just saying.
And finally, favorite sweet and favorite savory food? Sweet: Chocolate fudge cake. Savoury: Mash potatoes (comfort food).
D: Awesome! K.J., thank you so much for visiting my little corner of the interwebs. How can people learn more about you, find you online, and/or help support your writing?
Got it! Gathered friends, thank you so much for spending this time with us. Remember, Zombie Playlist releases September 4th, so go preorder it from Amazon! If you'd like to read my ARC review of that incredible book, you can find it here.
Who is K.J. Chapman? In her own words...
My name is Kayleigh (KJ. Chapman). I am a writer. It’s what I do, what I enjoy, and what keeps me sane. Embarking on the crazy journey of indie publishing was a fantastic experience for me- one I continue to share via my blog posts. My science fiction and urban fantasy series, EVO Nation, is available on Amazon Kindle, alongside my writing prompts ebook, Prompt Me. I am currently working on book three in the EVO Nation series, EVO Ghost. Did I say writing keeps me sane? Yeah… perhaps it just balances my crazy.
My most important job role is Mummy to one scrummy five year old. Keeping a little human alive and healthy just adds to my crazy, but she’s a fierce, intelligent, loving beauty, and I look at her and think – high five to me!
Thanks for reading!