“The memories are lodged in my throat, and a part of me wonders if you can choke on something that isn’t physically there. Can you choke on hurt?” – QUOTE FROM THE GIRL WITH THE EMPTY SUITCASE
I met Krysta shortly after releasing my debut novel, The Island. We connected on Goodreads and soon after became friends on Facebook. The best part of all of this for me was watching Krysta prepare for her book launch – the parties, the signings, the readings. On top of that, she has an active and adventure-filled life that I get to experience vicariously through what she shares! Doing this interview was a real pleasure for me!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
When I was five years old, I decided I wanted to live in the mountains, write stories, and teach people about them. I now live in a small town in the Rocky Mountains of Canada with my husband, two dogs and three cats. I’ve been teaching English Language Arts for ten years, and last November I published my first novel, The Girl with the Empty Suitcase.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m working on entering a few contests for shorter works. It’s something that I want to work on improving in my writing, for both fiction and nonfiction. I think it helps expand my horizons, and makes me venture outside my comfort zone a bit. I’m also beginning my second novel, which looks at a woman in the early 1960s. She’s trying to choose between a career and family, and doesn’t realize how she can do both.
What genre are your books and what draws you to that genre?
I write creative nonfiction and realistic fiction. There are so many little moments that make our lives so dramatic and worth living, and I want to explore reality through my words and characters. The struggles and identities and relationships that make existence so worth noting.
Do you work from an outline or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I’m a “plantser”. I start with an outline, and go from there. I don’t have a full plan, or at least not a very detailed one, but I do have an idea of what’s going to happen.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, it’s time. Despite what many think, teaching is not a typical full-time job. I have hours and hours of marking that I do at home every night, not to mention planning and extra-curricular work. I love my job, but it takes up a lot of time. That whole idea of writing a bit every day does not work for me. I write in huge chunks during Christmas break, Easter break, an occasional weekend, and summer.
Do you ever get writer’s Block and how do you combat it?
Not necessarily “writer’s block” in that I don’t know what will happen next, but more how I want to word what will happen next. When that happens I go back and reread the last section or sections. If nothing else, I get some editing done, but typically it also helps me get back into the frame of where I want my characters to go next.
When you aren’t writing, what are you doing?
Marking. Teaching. Planning. Marking. Reading. Hanging out with my husband. Marking. Reading. Watching movies. Traveling. Marking. Reading. Snuggling with my pets. Marking. Extolling the virtues of Shakespeare. Camping. Reading. And did I mention marking?
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I try to read as much as I can outside of school. I’m pretty eclectic in what I read, but pretty much any fiction is fair game. Science fiction has to be pretty good for me to like it, but I’ll still read it. I love classic literature. I’m a massive Shakespeare nerd. Last year I read all of Jane Austen’s works (well, reread most of them). I’ve also discovered Stephen King, and really am enjoying a lot of his pieces. And Margaret Atwood has always been an absolute favourite.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I actually wrote a blog post about this a few months back. Essentially, I think it depends why you’re trying to be published in the first place. I mostly just wanted to hold a book in my hands with my name on it. I got to do that by self-publishing. I’d stopped and started so many times that I knew if I had any excuse or hesitation, I wasn’t going to do it. Plus, this way I got to maintain creative control. On the negative side, it’s harder to get into bookstores or to be looked at for reviews and awards and such. Still, I was willing to do it all myself – and have the sense of accomplishment of figuring that all out – by self-publishing, and that was what I was after. Plus, I think my book looks pretty darn awesome.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It works out. Someone once said, “Everything ends up okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” All those self-doubts, all those hesitations, all that bad stuff, none of it damages you permanently. You’re going to be fine. Moreover, you’re going to be pretty awesome. You can do this. You’re worth more than you think you are. You got this.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
It’s a toss-up! And they’re all writers. Shakespeare, probably. Or Jane Austen. How cool would it be to have tea with her? Or, living, Margaret Atwood. She just seems pretty bad-ass.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just do it already. Even if what you write is abysmal, it’s better than not writing anything at all. Read and write and read and write and read and write some more. Just get started.
The suitcase sat at the top of Danielle’s closet for years, holding memories, promises, and undeveloped film. From struggling with homework to her final farewells with her parents, this is the story of one woman’s life and loves. Through hopes and laughter, heartaches and tears, Danielle is shaped by the family, friends, and romances around her. This emotional and nuanced story gives us a woman, a window through whom we may see our own realities, our own challenges, our own quiet triumphs.
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