Welcome to the latest edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the vibrant voice of Kristy Colley.
What is your ultimate writing goal?
I’ve always had this picture of Future Kristy (she’s cuter, by the way), sitting in her writing room, looking out the large glass windows into the forest, and spending day after day creating stories. I make small goals to help me achieve this vision (such as promising the Universe I’ll dye a strip of hair purple in July if I get an agent), but I wouldn’t say there is one Holy Grail of writing I’d like to find. I want that room, that freedom, those floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
Simple put? I want to write novels full time. I think it’s safe to say that becoming a published author is in that mix somewhere.
I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog often, follow her Twitter and Facebook feeds, and think, “I want to be the mad woman in the forest!” I want to get excited about Skyping with a class in Ohio or Tennessee or New Mexico about my book. I want to know I am opening imaginations, letting people ask questions, and letting them feel things they haven’t before. So, apparently, I want to be Laurie Halse Anderson. Who knew?
Why do you write?
As much as I always loved to read, writing makes sense as a hobby and profession for me. I love books, but I never confined myself to stories already told. In addition, I find myself like many writers: hearing voices in my head. (Good thing my husband is experienced working with mentally ill adults…) I think much like an artist feels compulsion to decorate a blank canvas, I have the compulsion to fill an empty page.
I’ve always been “inside my head.” I spend a lot of time there. While I’m okay in crowds, a good public speaker, etc., I’m introverted by nature. And because I spend so much time up there (er, in my head, I mean, not the clouds), stories matriculate naturally. Some people might walk past something mundane and never think of it again. I find it fun to create entire stories and probabilities around them. In fact, I once wrote an entire story about a door. And you know what? It was pretty awesome! And I’m a fan of awesome.
Your writing is very witty. Have you worked to achieve that voice or is it just a natural style for you?
I think it’s funny you use the word ‘witty’. It’s almost been my trademark. Most of my stories probably aren’t so different, they’re only told differently. By nature, I use humor as a shield. If you met my dad you would understand. (Although my mom is a bit of a question mark, too).
I think when I first began writing, I wanted to be taken seriously, and that certainly translated into my writing. It was too stiff. Once I gave myself permission to have more fun, the writing wasn’t as stilted, and the characters blossomed in my mind. I don’t believe it was something I had to work toward so much as something I have to remember to allow.
Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?
I love talking about other authors!
As I stated before, I’m a huge proponent of Laurie Halse Anderson. I have honestly had dreams about meeting this woman. In one dream, she was even my mother. (Think that’s weird? Tip of the iceberg…) Not only do I admire her beautiful writing, but I admire her as a person. I love that she tackles these big issues in her books. They are relatable, touching, and stick with you days after. They’re the kind of books you have to run around asking if anyone else has read them because you must discuss! And as I said before, if you read her blog, you feel as though you get to know her. She’s always kind, even on politics and the multiple attacks against her books in schools, and very fair-minded. I respect her more than any author I’ve read or personally know
The first book of Maureen Johnson’s I ever read was Devilish. Now, if you’ve read it, you know the MC, Jane, is a fantastic protagonist. I think reading her was the first thing that made me realize that it’s okay to give more humor to my writing. That it was often more fun to have a witty MC than to have a respected one. And they even sometimes go together.
In addition to this, I love many YA authors – Carrie Ryan, whose prose is so elegant it’s easy to forget she’s writing about zombies, or Suzanne Collins, who is so alluring and chilling, even in the same passage. But I can’t forget Jane Austen. Is that cliché? Oh well, cast me in with the lot of them. I’m an Austen fan. Persuasion makes me swoon, and Pride and Prejudice feeds my need to read. (Clearly I’m not a poet. You can thank me later.)
What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
I know many authors don’t like the business side of things, but I’m the opposite. In fact, sometimes I daydream about being an agent. *GASP* I’m also a masochist.
Not only do I love creating these worlds and people and problems and solutions, falalala, but I love making it more than flowery words and daydreams of cupcakes. I want to make my stories the best they can be, sleepless nights and all. And again, I want that room with the glass windows. I’m not afraid of hard work, but I sure do hope it makes me happy when I do it.
If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?
I’d keep it all in the family. I’d still make my way in the world of literature. If I couldn’t be a writer, I think I’d want to make that dream come true for others. As I’ve always loved the editing side of things, I could see myself hopping on one of two trains (both fast moving): The Agent Train, or The Editor Train. The real question is: If Agent Train leaves Submissions platform and 8:03 going 49 mph and…okay never mind. I don’t like math.
If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?
Yowza. No, that’s not my word. Just…an exclamation of having to make this decision.
Perhaps that word would be Honest. No matter what I’m writing, I want it to be authentic. I want those secondary characters to pop in your mind like you’ve seen them before, you just know it. I want that protagonist to have a face and motive so clear, you’d think she was stalking you while you read. I want my villain to be so possible in real life that it gives you shivers down your legs. Most importantly, I want the message to feel real. There’s nothing worse than having a great story, great premise, and destroying it with dialogue and relationships and emotions that just don’t fit. I don’t want anyone to fault me for writing an unbelievable character. Even if what I’m writing is crap, at least it’ll be really honest crap.
What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
I’ve received so much writing advice that I think I hear the little synapses of my brain screaming at me to stop. Much of it’s helpful, but they’re just weaves in a tapestry. There are volumes out there filled with excellent writing advice, and much of it is good.Thank you for reading this edition of Fresh Voices. Feel free to follow the Fresh Voices list on Twitter or nominate yourself or another author as a Fresh Voice.
Not to sound arrogant (although I’m sure I will), but what helps me most is myself. If something isn’t working, doesn’t feel right, sound right, or is plain confusing…I give it time. I try to trust myself. There are days when I want to throw in the towel and say to my manuscript, “Forget it! I’m the only one committed to this relationship!” There are days when I lust after other manuscripts and wonder why mine isn’t as awesome as that. The fact is that I let myself experience these things. If you try to push away the natural feelings that come with writing, they will get worse. This isn’t to say that I don’t wallow or complain. Ask Jen Stayrook. She’s one of my best friends and a critique partner, so there’s a whole lot of honesty going on there. But the fears and insecurities and worries will pass. Trust yourself as a writer. I try to let myself experiment, fail, and succeed in my writing. It’s okay to take risks and come out with a piece of junk. It gets better. If you keep at it.
I grew up in a tiny town in rural Missouri, and I think I’ll probably always be that Midwest girl deep down. I’ll always want to dig my feet in the mud and walk around barefoot and pick apples in September. I’ve lived in Utah for about six years with a short stint in England. Oh, my husband is one of those Hot British Men that Stephanie Perkins is always talking about.
As stated earlier, I’m a huge fan of anything awesome, and Sue London is certainly in that category. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or on my blog. At my blog, I aim to please, so if I’m not on target, please adjust your target. (I also have a wonky sense of humor).
Feel free to check out my current work in progress, a YA high fantasy called SINNERS. A rough Chapter One is posted, along with a description, and links to other novels in, around, or under my belt.