Exclusive Interview with

Kristen James

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When did you start writing?

I actually struggled with reading when I was really small, but once I started reading stories on my own I also started writing. I was in elementary school when I wrote a poem for a man that died at my church, and it was printed in the weekly paper they gave out each Sunday. My other early memory of writing is from the fourth grade. My class learned about short stories and I wrote one about a girl finding a unicorn in the forest. I saved up my allowance and bought an electric typewriter and subscribed to Writer's Digest. I discovered my passion for art around the fourth grade as well so they've always both been close to my heart.

Kristen James
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What makes writing your passion?

It's always been who I am. People know me as a creative who loves to write, paint, and create. I'm constantly making new stories in my head, so I usually have several ideas for a novel. Sometimes I end up working on several at a time, which can be a little frustrating.

Kristen James
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How long have you been writing?

I started around age ten so it's been a little over three decades!

Kristen James
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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

Excited and scared! it's nerve wrecking to put something so close to your heart out there for the world to judge. I was first published professionally in a short story journal out of Australia. After that I worked with small publishers and then jumped into self-publishing around 2010. No matter how much feedback, editing, and proofreading you do, you're still nervous that someone will find something wrong with your story, or they just won't like your writing style. I always get that nervous feeling, like I'm walking out onto stage, but I've also grown more confident and excited about sharing my characters and stories.

Kristen James
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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

Most of my characters pop into my head along with the story idea. I'll see a set up -- like what would happen if a man walked out the front door to leave his family but he found an abandoned baby there -- and the idea will have the character in it. They go hand in hand because the conflict in the idea is often the very obstacle that character needs to take them to a better place in life.

Kristen James
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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

I dislike all the marketing gimmicks out there. There's so many author groups that game the system to push their books higher in the charts. I wish everyone publishing books had a real passion for storytelling. But, it's a business and many

Kristen James
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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

By writing! I switch stories, scenes, or even interview my character. I might also take that character and drop them in another story and imagine what would happen, just to get to know them better.

Often, however, I take "writer's block" as a sign that what I'm working on is boring or not working, so I might cut that scene and replace it.

Kristen James
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We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

For me, there isn't an option to quit. I have stepped back from publishing for a year or two at a time, but I can't stop writing. That's the advice I'd give others. Follow this path if you can't stop yourself!

Kristen James
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If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Self-publish sooner! Learn about publishing quality and hire quality help.

Kristen James
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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

Sometimes you just have to laugh at them, and remind yourself that only about10% of readers leave a review and often it's because they didn't like the story. So there are many that loved the story but don't like to leave reviews.

I've have awesome reviews that made me feel like I'm making a difference and even helped someone through a tough time.

Kristen James
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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

It's amazing! That's the whole point of writing. I want to connect with readers and take them on a journey. I want my stories to entertain and evoke emotions, and maybe show readers a different world or viewpoint.

Kristen James
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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Authors use real emotions to fuel their stories. So if my character is experiencing something, I have to find an experience in my life that helps me understand how they would feel.

Kristen James
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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

When writing a novel, I always identify with the characters on some level. They might be similar to a certain aspect of me or someone I know. Or I might give them one of my hobbies. I think it's the growth and experience that I identify with the most, and that's what readers want in a book too.

Kristen James
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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

The cover catches readers' attention and is the first step to selling a story. So it's very important. But when I see a book with a ton of reviews or it's by an author I love, I don't think about the cover as much. Many women's fiction novels have generic covers that don't show people or anything about the story, so I go look at reviews or go by a friend's suggestion.

Kristen James
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Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

Writing can get lonely. I connect with the characters, but I really want to know how real people out there connect with my characters and story. So yes, it means so much when a reader reaches out through email, FB, or another site. I like to read reviews for that connection but it's so cool to talk to a reader who enjoyed one or more of my novels!

Kristen James
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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

That's a feeling everyone loves! One writing trick is to use universal fantasies in stories, like having servants do everything or getting rich, or even getting forgiveness from someone you love. Getting recognized is one of those universal fantasies we all daydream about, so it's really a dream come true when you get a raving review or fan email.

Kristen James
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Who is your favorite author? Why?

I have a list of authors I one-click without reading the description: Barbara O'Neal, Karen McQuestion, and Glendy Vanderah to name a few. They write amazing characters that feel super real and relatable and grow throughout the story. Their stories have intrigue, family, relationships, life stuff, and romance, the perfect mix to me.

Kristen James
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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

Gosh, I could make a list! Most authors, if not all, would love to be known to all the readers of their genre. But there are millions of books these days and millions of readers, so you can have a good career writing for your people without ever getting a big book or movie deal.

Kristen James
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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

I'm actually revising my novel More Than Memories to release a 10 year anniversary edition that includes the follow up novella. I feel I've learned so much as an author and wanted to improve the writing and story, and I also wanted to revisit those characters. I have other novels that I rewrote many, many times when I was early in my career.

Kristen James