... Kristin Battestella
1. Tell me about your books Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family and where you got your inspiration for it?
Fate and Fangs arose as a bridge series between my full length Vampire Family novels- The Vampire Family is available on Kindle now from Eternal Press and Requiem for The Vampire Family is forthcoming. Rather than keep going on all the heavy action and coven wars past and present, I wanted to take time with some of these personal, individual vampire vignettes. Some of the tales in the series were first hand accounts excised from The Vampire Family, and others were new rewrites on older accounts. I’m so glad Muse It Up picked up the whole series so readers can have these private, dark diary accounts amid all the vampy mayhem.
2. Who has had the most influence in your life? What lessons did this person teach you?
Wow, not in a boastful or snotty way, but I look to myself first and foremost when it comes to writing. You have to keep yourself focused, get the butt in the chair- or in my case on the exercise ball. Try to make the writing do double duty there! You have to decide in your own head not to compromise what you are writing, to take the material as far out of your comfort zone as it needs to go, and toughen yourself up for the publishing business that is to come. You have to learn not to give up despite rejections, lots of editing and rewritings, and marketing yourself blue. It’s great to have an inspiration figure or someone whose work you admire, but you don’t want to imitate or follow in the shadow of others. You have to find your own voice, frame of mind, and writing niche. The biggest lesson is a Leap of Faith in yourself.
3. If you could interview anyone from your life, living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t call it an interview, but I’d sure like to ask Jesus a question or two.
4. Ninjas or Pirates?
Hee, right now I’m not really sure. I’ve never been a big ninja fan, but pirates are seriously overplayed right now and just aren’t as fun as they used to be!
5. Do you have a writing process? If so describe it.
In theory, I do have some sort of process, but every book is different. It is critical to have routine, but if you let your process become textbook assembly line, then the writing itself can become same old routine, and that is no good! I don’t outline meticulously, but a good guideline of storylines is a good place to being. Sometimes I have cards on the wall that I will color code and rearrange, other times it’s is big graph or just a list of ideas to check off as I go. The main thing is not to let your notes be so rigid that you have no room to let the work breathe and go with its bad self. In the initial composition, go with it wherever the writing takes you, if there is a tangent, so what. Revisions and editing and all the cutting and pasting can come in the second, fifth, fortieth draft. And yes, I’m sure I probably do a dozen drafts, then I get to be a bit too much of a stickler and probably over edit on every little word and comma before the submission research begins. Folks who just fly by the seat of their pants are probably faster, but if you don’t have any idea where you are going, you can find yourself in a tangent that you can’t dig yourself out of or leave yourself with nowhere to go, and you can end up scrapping what you’ve written and set yourself further back in what you want to write.
6. What is usually your first thought in the morning?
Can I go back to sleep today?
7. You’re given one million pounds/dollars/euros, what would you spend it on?
I’d pay some bills and get some nice housing for our family, and then just bank or donate the rest. Nothing fancy, something for everyone.
8. Are you mostly a clean or messy person?
Haha, you know can I be both? I like things clean and organized and can be very anal about how the books are sorted on the shelves. My clothes are generally sorted and I like things tidy and in their place, but I am also perfectly content in not having everything be so perfect that you can’t live in it. I have a pile of clothes in the closet, and the books and videos get piled up. I tend to hoard those types of things in every corner possible. Cleanliness is next to Godliness but we’re all a little bit dirty, hehe.
9. If someone came up to you and wanted to tell you about an idea or a book they were writing, what would you do? Or what advice would you give?
I’ve got too many ideas of my own that I haven’t even gotten to, but it is important to be a sponge and absorb every iota around you. A Writer has to have pieces of everything and anything to make a story have its proper ups and downs and full embodied characters- regardless of genre. I’ve done several panels and seminars with the New Jersey Authors Network and enjoy having visits with the South Jersey Women Authors, and we always end up talking to new authors with questions. The biggest thing is just to get the writing out on the page and worry about everything else later. Tell your tale to the best of your ability for everything it needs. Read it out loud to get a perspective on what others might think, and then do your research about what type of publishers or publication you desire. With today’s technology, there is a means for anyone to be a writer whatever your goals may be. Just go with it!
10. How do you react to a bad interview of one of your books?
I had one negative review out of the dozens in my initial release for The Vampire Family. When it is a credible source and is a well written, thought out review with some understandable criticism, it may burn a little, but you can also take it as something positive. Yes perhaps that needed work or I know that was a problem spot, and I have trouble in this area. However, on the internet today, there are a lot of review sites that aren’t 100% professional organizations. If an essay is just a summary of your work and what someone disliked about it with no evidence or reason, you can’t let something somewhat amateurish like that halt your writing. My negative review said something about more action and fast-paced material then they might have liked. The point of the novel was that it was meant to be more paranormal action, so reader preference has a lot to do with it as well. I have also worked for various magazines and website doing movie reviews and film criticism articles, and sometimes you can really tell in a review when a Die Hard guy got stuck reviewing Jane Austen!
11. Are the names of characters in your novels important?
I do think names are important, you have to have a name that matches the time and place of your characters, no Jim Billy Bobs in medieval samurai class, right? The voice- both in dialogue and tone or persona- of a character should match the personality and environment you are trying to create. However, I’m not so sure a lot of authors today do this as well as we hope or as seriously fine as the classic literature greats did. Scrooge anyone? My trouble is often finding a made up name that I like, but is also pronounceable! Another one of those times when reading what you wrote aloud becomes important. Wait, how do I say my character’s name?!
12. Would you rather write for children or adults?
I like writing for adults. Children’s and YA really aren’t my thing. When I was kid, I wrote seriously bad primitive kids books, but as I grew up, so did my writing. There are some heavy YA books and the new inbetween New Adult books out there now, but I am of the old fashioned mind that if you want something heavy, adult, and juicy, then you should read adult books. And of course, in my horror, speculative, and naughty writing genres, it is about how far one can go in exploring the dark underbellies and forbidden natures. So, to write anything other than books for mature readers feels somewhat cut off at the knees for my work. However, we do need writers writing children’s books and for readers of young material to graduate to new authors and the big classics.
13. Have you ever killed someone in a novel and regretted it later?
Forunately, no, because luckily for me in my genre, I can just have a ghost or undead scheme. Fate and Fangs also travels thru history, so flashbacks and writing in or revisiting another time and place is a way to bring back the favored dead. I’ve tried to write straight material but it just isn’t as fun, I always end up doing something spooky.
14. What are the most important attributes to staying sane as a writer?
Not getting jealous about what others are writing and doing, teehee.
15. Do you research your novels?
Yes I think you have to research not just in the area your topic may need, but also authors should read unceasingly and be sure not to write something that’s already been done. I enjoy reading all sorts of vampire legends and studying the original excommunication fears and primitive remedies. Reviving pieces of the past is quite worthwhile, twist it and make something a new twist!
16. What do you like most about being a writer?
I like having stories to tell. I like having an idea that needs to be explored and the ability to put something of substance and merit on the page that might be enjoyable for others. I like the telepathy and time travel of writing. 10 years from now someone will be reading what you wrote and you will be in their head with them. It’s magical. Writing is proof humans are capable of a great many things and I can make a small wonderful little contribution to that!
17. What is one of your favourite traditions from your child hood that you would like to pass on to your child? (or if they’re older, have passed on.)
The love of reading and kindness.
18. Is Elvis really dead?
Yes in body but not in the power and glory of his music. Particularly his spiritual material.
19. How do you overcome writers block?
I haven’t had it in a long time, actually, not since high school when too much work and fatigue interfered with my writing. This is where not having an outline or some sort of notes on where to proceed with your writing helps, too. The main thing for me is to never be too far from the composition, to always be thinking of the writing. This vampire would never do the laundry, and they can’t eat this dinner tonight. To carry the characters and your themes into the daily life. It keeps them in your mind at all times, creating further ideas and developments- what if the vampire put garlic powder in the laundry?- but also keeps you in the world’s mindset and always keeps you ready to go back. I’ve heard some folks like to leave their document open, not just to where they left off, but leave the sentence unfinished so they immediately have something to start up again. I’m too anal for that!
20. How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
Fate and Fangs was a bit tough, because there has to be a series title and the individual book titles. I am stinky at titles anyway as it is. I was also tempted to not have my name on Fate and Fangs, as the series is internally hosted by the Welshire family’s resident occult friend, Professor James. So at one point it was something long and convoluted like Fate and Fangs: A Collection of Tales from the Vampire Family by Professor A. James. So when all that wouldn’t fit it was just shortened to Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family. The titles of each book were easier at least. I wanted each one to have a good punchy word to match the theme of each title- Love, Punishment, Struggle, Debauchery, Lust, Humanity, Resurrection – but they, too have subtitles to name the character and place. Whew. Titles nowadays have more to do with marketing and what fits on the cover and the shelves just as much as if the title matches your book and series.
21. What are your current projects?
In addition to finishing Requeim for the Vampire Family, which I may have to split in two and add The Vampire Family Forever, I’ve been doing more nonfiction for my blog I Think, Therefore I review and numerous articles for various websites. I did more editing work also with Leigh Wood for Horns of Myleness. I like doing nonfiction and some editing or work with different genres- in this case erotica!- just to keep on my toes in my own work. It’s important to break from a material and come back to something fresh. I don’t think I could write about vampires all the time, it would get so generic, so sharing my saucier side with Leigh was a lot of fun!
22. Do you recall how your interest in writing occurred?
Actually, it was from watching some eighties sitcom where the character decided to write a book and get published all in one nice and tidy half hour episode. That and the Stephen J. Cannell icon at the end of those shows, typing away and pulling that paper up and away to magic!
Here’s the link in case you are totally unsure what I mean, hee hee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEPf9BIf_hM
23. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I get asked this question a lot in interviews and at real world panels, and honestly I don’t really know there is one answer for everybody. Folks can’t even agree on whether they are a writer, author, novelist, or something else. I’ve always been a storyteller and had adventures in my mind to tell others. I began writing them as soon as I learned what it was to do so and could no longer keep all the ideas in my head. I suppose one is always a writer, or perhaps born to it, and one becomes an author once the tools of the trade are learned and publication comes. Sometimes I think I am just a writer and folks like Anne Rice are really authors. I just like to write books and tell stories, whatever you call it doesn’t matter so long as you read and enjoy or are perhaps moved by something I’ve said or written.
24. If you couldn’t be an author, what career would you chose?
There are other careers? I’m not even sure I’d call writing a career, I don’t perceive it as a job or really care about all the professional technicalities or finances that come with it. However, I’ve not really been any good at other professions. I don’t think I quite qualified for anything else. Although I think it is critical for folks to have real bottom jobs and can the knowledge and experience of those positions. I’ve spent time in retail and spent most of my work time in senior healthcare, and both are invaluable experiences and treasure troves for writing!
25. What’s your favourite love story? (movie or book)
Lady Chatterley, hehe. It is a great book both in the romantic sense and in the social reforms in the writing and its publication and censorship history. All these people talking about mommy porn stuff and this new wave of sex in books seriously need to check on their literary history.
26. If you had your own talk show, who would the first three guests be?
Living? Hmm, right now I’d have to say, Christopher Lee, Michael Fassbender, and JK Rowling. With an appearance by Sean Bean probably. I would say Anne Rice, but she’s really awesome with speaking with folks on her facebook page.
27. Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers?
Writing wise I do love ebooks, and have been e publishing for almost seven years, back when before it because as cool as it is now. I simply write stuff that is just more un-mainstream and acceptable in small press and epub, that’s what drew me to it in the first place. I haven’t gotten an ereader yet, simply because I’m still unsure of the way all the formats and readers may end up. I also kind of don’t really want all my ebooks in one place. It’s convenient, but I’d drive myself crazy if I lost the equivalent of entire bookshelves over a glitch or something. I suppose I still get the most from paperbacks. I like reading them because they fit in my bags the easiest. I suspect hardbacks may go away- no one is going to continue to pay $25 or more for a new hardback when they can get the ebook for $5. However, I do like nice hardback first editions and collectible, coffee table, art type books. I think there’s room for every medium. Antique books and collectible and used shops are coming back now and I think will find their niche again as new readers value the glorious history of books, and some people will always like the smell of a good paperback to read in the tub when they can’t use a reader.
Forward by Professor A. James
In 1975 I acquired a collection of antique, but damaged manuscripts after a mysterious fire beguiled the dim British authorities for four years. Somewhere along the frontier between England and Wales, in a crumbled vault beneath a burned mansion; dozens of leather bound journals, diaries, and books were rescued. Their contents were fantastical: histories, ages of vampiric accounts, coven wars, and abstract chronicles. The police, of course, uneducated in such matters of the occult or the unexplained, found the material rubbish against their modern case in need of evidence and forensics.
Fortunately, in my subsequent studies and adventures, I have found that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. You must forgive me the cliché, but my analysis and preservation of these personal antiquities has brought me to new heights of bizarrity, both on the page and in the flesh. I thought I was a wise, aware professor knowing beyond the day-to-day world before I came to read of this twisted Vampire Family. My pride was in err.
After several lengthy years of study and a very slow restoration process on the oldest documents, I succumbed to an offer of assistance from a student named Theodore Plunkett. A scholar of ancient languages, Theodore’s detailed list of degrees and credentials were too numerous for his youthful appearance. His intelligence was vast; yet he was a personal master at comprehending and restoring the fantastic tales of Antonio Welshire and his mad family’s descent into the dark world of vampirism. From patriarch Antonio’s brutal human days to the coven’s near destruction by the rival Lilithan vampires and the ambiguous Mestiphles’ meddling appearances and disappearances; this Vampire Family’s history is very well documented through some centuries and bare and bleak in others. Some journals are utterly disturbing in their tales of blood and mayhem while other diaries are strangely heartfelt, bittersweet, and uncomfortably endearing.
The fire that brought these texts into my possession was education blessing enough-the lifetime epitome of Tut and Troy to most scholars. Some library men would be content to sit behind their musky parchments and read the decades away. I, however, have had the unique privilege of authenticating these documents as truth. Of course, that wasn’t until many years later; when Theodore arrived at my office door looking as young as the day we first met. On the plane to Philadelphia, I never suspected I would arrive at the doorstep of sisters Samantha and Victoria Welshire. I had read over five hundred years of their tall tales; yet here the startling beauties were, living and breathing before me fangs and all. Only then did I begin to realize the full extent of this familial coven.
Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper The Cumberland County Reminder in New Jersey and has been writing non fiction speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for fifteen years. She enjoys being at home with her family, collecting records, and creating web pages in her spare time. Along with numerous sports articles, online reviews (Her review of the film 300 earned 11,000 hits and crashed the Fire Fox News server!), the South Jersey Books Column at Examiner, and fiction work; Kristin's first eBook was published in 2005. She is a member of EPIC, the Friends of the Mount Laurel Library, and has her eyes set on joining the Online Film Critics Society. Kristin's first full-length work The Vampire Family has been re-released with Eternal Press; and in addition to numerous reviews, interviews, chats, and blog appearances, Kristin recently attended the Philadelphia and Collingswood Book Festivals.