Author Interview with A. Kidd
interviewed on Jan 19, 2020
Q. How would you describe yourself?
Some say I have a youthful exuberance. I'm imaginative, playful, and unfortunately very impatient. But I am also dedicated and ambitious and (mostly) finish what I start. I have a taste for adventure and do not give up easily. I have many talents, but over time I have learned that I cannot be a master of them all, at least not all at once ;-)
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
The Healing Star is a middle grade light fantasy for grades 3-6, although it can be enjoyed by all ages. Those with an interest in stars or dealing with illness may find comfort in this book. The main character, Julia, is quite spunky, loves kickboxing, and has a farting beagle named Pete. Stars with healing powers are falling from the sky, and she needs to catch one to save her dying grandmother. If you like adventure, this book is for you! The idea for this story came to me on a trip to Montreal and Quebec City when I MISSED seeing a shooting star. It was also inspired by my own grandmother who became very sick.
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
Writing is my life. I've been writing stories and poems since I learned to write, and before that, my mother wrote them down for me. It has always been very cathartic for me. Plus I absolutely love fantasy, so writing them gives me more to read ;-). My writing journey has been long and winding, like it is for most writers. I studied writing in school, almost became a journalist, but then opted for creative writing instead. I joined SCBWI, which helped me professionally. I now understand more about how publishing works and have my first book out. I continue to look for champions of my work. I also continue to practice my craft.
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
There's no typical writing day for me. Since I have a toddler at home, I do have to keep a neat and tidy and somewhat frantic schedule. I sometimes hire babysitters and utilize naps to get my work done. I jot notes on napkins and in my phone. I do believe that writing every day is ideal, but I also know that when the muse shows up, it is magic. If I can't get started, I start by making notes or rereading my work from the previous day.
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still new to marketing. My current philosophy is to try everything and see what yields the best results. Word of mouth has been extremely successful. School and library visits have been a great way for me to introduce the book to many children at once. I love connecting with my readers and getting their feedback. I'm considering podcasting and/or video clips of my stories.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
Good question! I think the pitch is very important. Also having an appealing cover and interesting back cover copy. Word of mouth helps. Also connecting with readers. Sharing a little bit of yourself. Writing a great story is ultimately the most important factor, but reading a book is an investment of time, so the more reasons you can give readers to pick it up, the better.
Q. What's the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
That reading part of the story made her cry. This was a young reader. Obviously, I would never want to make anyone sad. But I'm glad to know that the story moved her. That is useful feedback for me.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
Only three? I love the biography and novel-in-verse The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sis for its poetry and magical realism, especially because of the subject, which is the early life of famous poet Pablo Neruda. The Invention of Hugo Cabret was a gift in my hands, such a literary and artistic masterpiece, which helped graphic novels take off. And Edge Chronicles 1: Beyond the Deepwoods is also very near and dear to my heart for its ability to transport me to another world and take me on an adventure and bring me home safely feeling deeply moved and utterly changed.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
Again, only 3? I'm going to choose a few authors where I have read several of their works. I'm rereading the Weetzie Bat series and still adore Francesca Lia Block's use of imagery. I also really like Jandy Nelson for her lyrical language. And Philip Reeve has such great world-building in his sci-fi and space themed steampunk.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
Oh goodness, I'm not good at sharing my works in progress, but I'll try to reveal a little bit. I've recently finished a YA environmental dystopian in dual perspectives. I also have the beginnings of another middle grade featuring a lost girl, an owl, and a fox caught in a hurricane with some fairytale elements.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what's the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
I think many aspects are challenging for writers, but mostly it is hard to receive good feedback on an entire novel, because it is such an investment of time. It is hard to find an agent and publisher, because there are so few of them and so many talented writers. Marketing is also challenging in a shrinking industry that only has time and money for big-name authors.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
I've still promised myself I will run a marathon or at least a half. I'm a longtime runner, but mainly do it for myself. I'd like to illustrate children's picture books as well. And I'd love to go to the Galapagos Islands and visit the wise turtles that live there.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
It sounds like a fabulous idea to me. Writers need readers and readers need books.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
There's a silver lining to the challenges writers face in this industry. It is actually a great time to be a writer if you are willing to put in the time and effort. And if you have the guts to share your work, you WILL find an audience.