Thursday, September 19, 2013

H.S. Kallinger Interview

Today I am very lucky to be interviewing my friend, and local author, H.S. Kallinger.  Mrs. Kallinger calls the Kansas City metro area home, and currently resides there with her husband and three daughters. She is currently writing the sixth book in her “The Lost Humanity Series,” while book three of the series is currently undergoing the editing process. I sat down with Mrs. Kallinger to find out a bit more about her as an author, how her series is coming along, and just how difficult it is to juggle being an author and a fulltime Mommy.

1.       Do you remember how your interest in writing began?

Thanks, Katie! I’m happy to be here. Well, I wouldn’t call it an interest so much as a compulsion. I’ve been telling stories since I was a little kid. Creative writing assignments were always a strength. But I’d say I started writing regularly when I was 14, following an assignment the year before in my art class to pair a poem with a drawing. I slapped together something silly about unicorns, and the next year, started writing poetry regularly.

2.       What were some of the first pieces you wrote?

Poetry and song lyrics. I often wrote a tune to go along with the lyrics, but as I couldn’t write music, all of those were ultimately lost. I wrote some prose and short stories as well. When I was 15, I started writing my first book, which eventually went in the trash, where it belonged.

3.       How would you describe yourself as an author?

Hmm… Fond of first person. I like to really get into my character’s head. Ridiculously detail-oriented. I research every little thing. I’d also call myself… straightforward. Not necessarily blunt, but definitely not flowery.

4.       Who are some authors you draw inspiration from?

Laurell K. Hamilton was a huge influence on my writer’s voice. My editor is always on me for sentence fragments, which are something I love about Ms. Hamilton’s writing and something my editor would call a bad habit. I’ve been influenced by every author I’ve ever read, I’m sure, but I can see her influence in my works.

5.       Are there any books or authors you believe have changed your life?

Read above. Seriously--Ms. Hamilton is the mother of the urban fantasy genre. Without her, I would have the stories, but they would be dangling in horror, which they don’t quite fit into. They are psychological horror, definitely, but that urban fantasy tag is very important. At least to my current series.

I would add Beverly Cleary for being my first ever favorite author, and Bruce Coville for fulfilling my love of sci-fi and fantasy at an early age. Stephen King, of whom I am the antithesis stylistically, gave me the best writing advice I have ever received. Jim Butcher as an inspiration on how to treat your readers (plus, I love his books).

6.       What are you reading currently?

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, under recommendation from my aunt. I’ve also got Cold Days by Jim Butcher sitting waiting for me.
7.       What’s the one book you think everyone should read during their lifetime?

Mine. Haha, okay, so definitely not mine (not everyone enjoys horror or urban fantasy, after all). That is such a hard question. I don’t think it can really be answered for everyone. I’m sure people would be shocked that I’m not waxing poetic about some classic, but which would I pick? I loved and hated so many of them, while others hated and loved the same books. I would say: just read. Find something you are interested in and read it. Then read another book. Don’t ever stop.

8.       For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Well, as a mother, I prefer ebooks because when my ereader gets knocked out of my hand, I don’t lose my place. I can start a new book without having to dig it out from storage (where my kids can’t damage it). I can hold it one-handed without hurting my thumb keeping it open. As a book lover? Physical books. Touching them, smelling them--it can’t be replaced. I prefer hardcover visually, but paperbacks for my wallet and multiple-readthrough pleasure.

9.       How do you think the availability of ebooks has changed things for authors?

I think it has expanded the audience greatly. It’s also expanded the options in authors. As someone who feels that creativity and entertainment should be accessible and is one of the most important things people can do, I support it completely. Sure, I make more money per physical book, but I sell more eBooks (and in more countries!).

10.   How do you think Social Media has changed what's expected of you as an author? and How is it a  tool you can use?

I think that social media is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it is a wonderful tool to connect with your audience directly--to talk to them, post updates and generally be accessible. On the other hand, anything you say can and will be held against you. I try to keep my personal and professional social media presences somewhat separate, but maintain an active presence on both.

11.   What gave you the inspiration for “The Lost Humanity Series”?

I had a nightmare. My husband and I had just decided to try to conceive, and unbeknownst to us, we had succeeded that night. Something woke me up at the beginning of dreaming that I was on a train, just enough to throw me into an entirely different dream, where I wasn’t me and had no memory of ever having been me.

When I woke up, I had to tell my bestie (whose second choice for college had been editing, but she figured being a fancy schmancy psychology doctor would pay the bills better — read that in Zoidberg from Futurama’s voice) about the weird dream, but she wasn’t available, so I typed it all up quickly and sent it to her. She said that I had to make it into a book. After I was done laughing at the absurd notion, I did as I was told. Three weeks later, I had my first draft.

12.   Can you give us some insight to the main characters? What makes them special?

Zack is the main character. How is he special? He’s not. He’s just an average guy who was studying to be an EMT with maybe some above-average empathy who gets kidnapped and abused. He’s a bit of a geek with a touch of a hero complex.

Sarah and Jamie are two college students he met on the train. Sarah is an artist with low self-esteem getting her early education degree (and Zack has the hots for her). Jamie is a psychology student, computer geek and linguist.

Lukas is the vampire who destroys all their lives to turn them into food slaves for his pleasure. Zack’s hero complex just adds to the perverse pleasure he gets in molding them into his flunkies.

13.   Is this series now complete or can the readers expect more?

I am currently writing the sixth (and final) book in the series. Two are published, and the third, Bridges, is in editing.

14.   Will the characters from this series make future appearances in any of your books?

I don’t see that happening, no. My next book is intended to be a standalone, in a totally different world. I’ll be leaving behind vampires for a dystopian semi-near-future society in my next book.

15.   How did writing about vampires become important to you? Do you plan to continue with vampires or move away from that?

I have loved vampires since I was at least seven. That was the first year I dressed up as one for Halloween. That’s the year The Lost Boys came out, so it may have had something to do with that. I used to watch it over and over. As I got older, I continued developing my love of vampires. I even considered getting a minor degree in vampirology just for fun, since it seemed like it would be easy with the number of books and movies I’d enjoyed.

I very well may write vampire books again in the future. I have one partially written an outlined, but I’ve found that outlines are my enemy as an author, so I may have killed it that way. Another book in the same universe is started as well. I’m concerned that the vampire mythology may be too similar to the one in The Lost Humanity series, but I’ll have to decide later if I’m going to pick them back up.

16.   Are any of the characters, places, or events in your books based on your life?

Well, I had a miserable train ride once upon a time from California to Missouri, bringing my then-boyfriend to live with me so we were no longer in a long distance relationship. One of my best friends is a blonde psychologist. I like some of the same bands, videogames, movies, shows, etc. as Zack. I gave him a name that is very personal to me. But that’s about the end of it. I do have a few alt-universe friends in the series. Mostly to have names to use, but also just for fun.

North California makes an appearance at the end of Hotel of Lost Souls, and I have been to a few of the cities I wrote about, but for the most part, no. While real places and people are used and mentioned, they are fictionalized.

17.   You have 3 adorable little girls. How do you juggle being an author and a mommy?

Well, I dedicate each night from 10pm-midnight to writing, though I do it through the rest of the day when I have time, too. They just know that that’s Mommy’s special writing time… not that it means I don’t get interrupted constantly. I spend quite a bit of my writing time with a little girl in my lap. I’m often writing (in my head) while cooking dinner or picking up after the kids.

18.   Do you set daily goals for the amount of words you write?

Yes. My minimum goal with my first book was 5,000 words until I read that that was absurd and that it should never be over 2000. So I made it 2000 after that. I typically wrote around 5,000, which was my ‘ideal’ goal. Since I long ago went past the content of the dream, I lowered both goals. My current minimum is 500 words with 1,000 ideal. I typically write between 1,000-3,000 a day now. That’s after I throw out the parts that don’t work.

19.   Do you have a special place or time you use to write?

While I have a laptop (named Quill and optimized for writing), I prefer my desktop computer. Largely because my toddler can’t fling herself onto it, but also because it can handle me having 17 tabs open for research purposes. I write in the living room so that I’m available to my family whenever they need me. I prefer to write at night.

20.   Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

Pretty much the same as now, only maybe with one more kidget, a slew of book titles under my name and a continually growing audience to love.

21.   What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

I wrote a whole blog post on that:
However, it can be summed up to the same advice all writers give: Just write. Don’t overthink it. Find what works for you and do it. Don’t be afraid to fail. When someone hates your book--remember that everyone has different taste. It’s not a reflection of you as a writer, but their taste as a reader. But also don’t dismiss it for that reason--unless they dropped a hateful mess of “I can’t do it, so I just bitch about other people not doing it the way I want,” there’s likely some kind of growth as a writer you can get from the criticism.

And no matter how frustrated you are with your editor, remember that they’re doing the job you asked them to do. Buy them something pretty. Or tasty. Or boozey. And never let your pride get in the way of apologizing for any tantrums you throw.

22.   What has been the hardest part of the writing and publishing process?

Believing in myself. I know I’m a good storyteller, but getting the courage to actually put my work out there? Hoo boy. Oh, and commas. Remember: even editors need editors, and writers are not editors. I’m still learning obscure writing rules and how to apply them.

23.   What has been the most rewarding part of the writing and publishing process?

Reader feedback! Every time someone enjoys my book, every time it makes them happy--it’s like every sacrifice, every hour spent, every hour of sleep missed, every meal skipped--they’re all worth it. My life is dedicated to the service of others--helping them in difficult situations, entertaining and nurturing. The absolute best compliment I have received or can receive, as a writer, is when I give or return the love of learning to someone.

24.   What are 3 surprising facts about you?
I never considered becoming a writer and fought the urge to do it for years. Every profession I seriously considered was scientific:  veterinary medicine, paleontology, cetacean biology, forensic pathology, forensic psychology and finally, child psychology.

I hate 90% of poetry.

I can’t drive. I know how, but due to an eye condition and severe PTSD, I can’t do it. I do, however, enjoy working on cars mechanically, can change a flat tire in under 5 minutes and enjoy steering without power steering.

25.   What else would you like the readers to know about you?

I love reading, and since I stopped fighting it, I love writing. I don’t love sticking to one genre. I have the beginnings of a soft sci-fi post-cyberpunk romance (yeah, I can’t wait to genre tag that on Amazon), an elfpunk novel, two urban fantasy books (during unmasking), a horror novel and a pre-to-post apocalyptic fantasy novel. I also have a book of poetry, but I doubt I’ll ever publish it.

26.   Where can people go to find your books or contact you? is my website and is my author page on Facebook. You can use either medium to contact me or find my books. My website has links to where you can buy my books either digitally or paperback.

I want to thank H.S. Kallinger for taking the time to give us this interview, and to all of you for checking it out. I encourage you all to visit some of the sites listed above to find out more about this wonderful author, and to pick up one of her fantastic books.

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