Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce you all to the marvelous Kendra C. Highley! You may have noticed her sponsor spot on my right sidebar (>>). Hers is the lovely alternating image about Matt Archer: Monster Hunter, her young adult adventure novel. She’s joining us today in order to answer some interview questions I had for her. I hope you’ll check out Kendra’s novels, her social media links, and website! She’s one “highley” talented lady ;-).

Welcome, Kendra! Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a gazillion questions. Not a gazillion? How about 10? GREAT! Here we go….

//1// When did you know you wanted to be a writer/author?

As a child, I frequently “embellished” stories and played with imaginary characters, but it wasn’t until I was fifteen that I thought I might like to write. I had to compose a short story for my sophomore English class and my Mom told me I should write a book. That unlocked an interest I didn’t know I had: writing down the stories I told. It took a long time before I actually sat down and started, though. With college, then marriage, career, and kiddos, I didn’t have the time to start. Once my daughter started Kindergarten, however, the words just starting pouring out. I joke that a gremlin found the key to the cellar of my imagination and unlocked the door. Once open, that door just won’t close.

//2// Are you self-published or traditionally published? What made you decide to pursue that choice?

Self-published. However, I started out on the traditional route. You can read more about that decision here, in an interview with Lindsay Buroker. But the short version is that I had an agent for Matt Archer: Monster Hunter and we went on submission for two years before I decided it would be better to self-publish, so I forged ahead on my own.

//3// Who is your favorite character from your novels? Why? Can you tell us a bit about them?

I love Matt, of course. He’s a blast to write. However, I’d probably say Mamie is closest to my heart. I have a lot in common with her, although she’s very much her own person. She’s a good student, very smart and kind of bossy, but loves her brother fiercely and would do anything—and I do mean anything—for him. Her capacity to love and empathize with others is something I allude to in the early books, but will become more clear as the series draws to a close. Plus, I just think it’s a hoot that she refuses to wear her hair in anything but pigtails, despite being in high school.

//4// What fictional book did you read growing up (or as an adult) that changed your life? Which book was it and how did it affect you?

That’s a tough one, because I read so much. I think the first one would be A Wrinkle in Time. It opened my mind to the wonders of Fantasy.  Then came Dicey’s Song, and other books by Cynthia Voigt, who showed me the world in a very different way. As an adult, I discovered the Lord of the Rings. I know, I know—why’d it take me so long? I read The Hobbit a dozen times as a tweener, but didn’t read LOTR until my son was born, and it swept me away. Just the epicness of it all…the world, everything.  The one bit imprinted on my memory was a 2 a.m feeding, when I read the description of the Ents out loud to my six week old baby. I just felt this sense of wonder, which I still feel every time I read The Two Towers.

//5// What are your biggest challenges as an author?

For writing specifically, it’s slowing down. I tend to right action-oriented stories, and I am a “Hemmingway” writer in terms of style.  Crit partners have to remind me constantly to slow down and add more description, to flesh out the scene more.  As a self-published author, it’s “all the things”. Having to budget my time and resources for writing, marketing, networking, etc—in addition to the day job and my family—can be hard.

//6// How do you face those challenges and strive to succeed in the face of difficulty?

One of my favorite things to do is take a yearly “writecation.”  If I’m really lucky, I get to take two. Essentially, I disappear to a hotel for a weekend and write, write, write. I cut off the internet except for short periods of time and try to plow through as many pages of drafting or editing as I can in those few days.  By getting words on the page, I can use my regular writing time for fleshing out scenes or doing fine tuning.

//7// Do you have any tips for writers who are looking to publish their work?

Yes. First, write the best book you can, then have it torn to bits by other writers or crit partners.  After those rewrites, send it to a professional editor. There’s so much competition, you really need to put your best foot forward when you publish your book.  Second, be prepared to market. You need to have a presence online (Facebook, blog/website, Twitter) to interact with readers.  Authors are now expected to interact with their readers in some way, and it’s a great way to hear what’s resonating with them.

//8// Do you have a dream “writing space”? If so, what would it look like? (feel free to attach pictures ;-))

If I could have a cottage like Laurie Halse Anderson’s, I would call it heaven.  Here’s a link to her blog about the cottage, along with a great picture.

//9// Who is your favorite author? Why?

This is a hard question for me to answer. I’d probably say it’s a tie between Jane Austen and Cynthia Voigt, but there are so many others I enjoy that it’s tough to identify just one.

//10// What writing projects are you currently working on? Can we expect a new book soon?

I’m currently working on the third Matt Archer book, along with readying a novella series.  MA3 should be out mid-to-late summer, 2013.  In addition, I have one more Matt Archer book planned for the series, along with a Sekrit Project. Busy times ahead!

Thank you SO much, Kendra, for joining us today! You have so much wisdom to share and I am so thrilled to know you! You’re a great inspiration to me. 🙂


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Meet Kendra C. Highley! Author and Monster-Maven Extraordinaire!
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