Friday, 17 March 2017

Interview - Kim Briggs, Author of Starr Fall

Today I'm hosting an interview with Kim Briggs, author of Starr Fall.

About Starr Fall: 

Title: Starr Fall (Starr Fall, #1)
Author: Kim Briggs
Pages: 192
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Release Date: 4th November 2016

Blurb from Goodreads:
 On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.

Starr Bishop’s the complete package. A perfect smile, brains to match, and a winning attitude. Boys want to date her and girls want to be her. She’s the type of girl you want to hate, if only she wasn’t so damn likable. But don’t worry, she’s not interested in your boyfriend. Boys are one complication she can live without.

When the Organization decides she’s not only the model student but the ideal assassin, Starr’ll need a lot more than high test scores and extracurricular involvement to get herself out of that commitment.

Dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood is the last person she’d expect—or even want— to come to her rescue. From opposite ends of Webster High’s social hierarchy, their lives collide in one electrifying moment. Christian isn’t the Goth loner he pretends to be, he’s a part Cherokee, All-American boy who wants to be a hero, Starr’s hero. Christian makes Starr forget that the Organization is after her, but nothing will stop the Organization from collecting their top recruit.

By the way, the spot for junior class president just became available.


When did you start writing?

It started with a diary when I was eight and the promise I would write in it everyday. I lasted two days, then my dog needed someone to throw him the tennis ball and then a flower caught my attention and then my model horse wanted me to play with it. As the years progressed, I transitioned to the more mature writing medium of the journal. There were times I poured out my angsty teenage soul onto the pages of the journal and there were times I kept it all in. I don’t like talking about myself even in private, but I do like to make up stories.

I’ve been scrawling down imaginary adventures on scraps of paper for as long as I could write. I still have a folder bursting with story ideas, along with character names, plots, and short stories. A couple years out of college, I got ‘serious’ about writing. I quit my job, not as a conscious decision to pursue writing but because I refused to compromise my ethics. I spent the next few weeks writing picture books, bought a publisher guide, and was ready for the brave new world of publication, but like a squirrel at an all-you-can-eat-nut buffet, I got caught up in life—I got a new job, went back to school for my English teaching certificate, became a teacher, and completed my Masters in Secondary Education. All my writing was spent completing assignments for class. All my reading time was spent consuming Shakespeare, the classics, or whatever book I was either assigned or taught. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. For years, I was obsessed with Salman Rushdie, Alex Haley, Malcom X, and Willa Cather—I read nothing else.

It wasn’t until after my third child and all-night binge reading session of Twilight, that epiphany struck. Never in all my life had I read a book that let me slip into the story and become the love interest of a vampire. After obsessively reading the series several times and reaching adequate levels of sleep deprivation, I Googled Stephenie Meyers and discovered she had three kids roughly my kids age and wrote four books. I figured if she could do it, I could do it, and so it began. For the first time in my life, I sat my butt in a chair and got to work. 500,000 words later I sat up in my chair and patted myself on the back for completing the story of Starr Fall. I knew it was a little long, so I broke it up into three books. (READ: naïve and stupid.) I cleaned up the first 75,000 words and sent it off to agents. I figured in no time I’d have agents beating down my door. (READ: naïve, stupid, and completely delusional.)

When the offers didn’t pour in (weird right?) I went back and rewrote Starr Fall. Then sent it off again. (READ: still not ready.) I decided to write a stand alone—no one wanted trilogies anyway. I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators—FYI, the best decision I have ever made) and attended their 2012 Winter Conference. Surprisingly, I didn’t get an agent just by showing up, but I did meet my Writing BFF and InkSister, Alison Green Myers. Fast forward a few months, and I attended my first Highlights Foundation workshop with Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. Harold told be exactly what I didn’t want to hear, my WIP, (and actually my current WIP) was not a stand alone. It needed to be a trilogy. WHAT?!?!

So, I put that WIP back in the drawer and brought out Starr Fall. Starr wouldn’t leave me alone—she’s pushy like that. Since then, I changed the tense, reworked the story arc, developed the characters into a much stronger version of that vomit draft all those years ago.

Since the night I received my first laptop, I haven’t stopped writing and I don’t plan to because I’ve got far too many stories to tell.

Wow, that was a really long answer. Sometimes I’m long-winded, but that should be expected.

What makes you want to write?

Now, that I’ve started writing. I can’t stop. Ideas keep rolling through me. I don’t have enough time in the day (with that pesky thing called work and those awesome things like family) to write as much as I’d like to, but when I get a minute here or there. I grab it.

Do you ever get writer's block and what do you do to get over it?

Sometimes I might have a difficult time with a scene—I guess you could call it writer’s block. To combat it, I try not to stop writing when a passage isn’t working. I push through for better or for worse (usually for worse) and stop when I’m on a roll, so it’s easier to return to. (It’s also more difficult to stop then, but it helps spur a creative start the next writing session.) I also take what I call Brain Dumps—I workout or go for a walk and return to the MS refreshed. What also works, and I learned this from Susan Campbell Bartoletti, is to write for forty-five minutes, stop wherever you’re at in your writing, take fifteen minutes to go for a walk, do laundry, clean, but don’t check emails or social media. You’ll find you’re thinking about your WIP during your break, and you return refreshed and raring to go.  **REMEMBER: Do not check email, text, or social media. Don’t do it! Keep WIP on the brain!

Do you have a special way of going about writing?

I’m pretty strict about my forty-five minutes on, fifteen minutes off writing routine (see above answer). It really helps. I also run writing sprints with my writing BFF Alison. We set a time (mostly on weekends because of our work schedules and always early in the morning before the demands of the world are upon us) and text “GO!” to each other. I write for forty-five minutes, but I might do fifty or sixty minutes because it’s the weekend and I might not get another chance to write. We end with, “I’m out,” and plan our next sprint session. These sessions are extremely productive.

I also outline and plan the basic direction of the story. I don’t get too tight with my planning because more often than not, my characters take over and tell me who they want to try a spell on or whose butt they want to kick or who they might want to kiss. For instance, the other day after I finished a scene I sat back and said, “Huh, that’s not what I thought was going to happen.” To accommodate this new direction, I re-outlined a few chapters and I scheduled a therapy session with two of my characters to make sure we’re heading where they want to go. I think they’ll agree with me.

Do you have any works in progress?

Oh yes. My current WIP is a Celtic Mythology retelling combined with the original mythology for the werewolf. Think Antigoddess Series by Kendare Blake meets Avril Lavigne before she got pretty.

There’s also my YA contemporary in letter format I’m dying to get back to. In that WIP a boy examines his friendship with another boy and realizes that he may have committed the greatest crime of all, the act of doing nothing. I also have a young YA series about a book nerd forced to spend her summers in the Poconos while she’d rather be reading.

By the summer, I’ll also have Book Four of the Starr Fall series completed.

What are your hobbies? 

Aside from writing, I love to read. I love to camp and play outside with my kids. We spend the summer traveling the country road-trip style. I also do some rug hooking and other crafts. I play with our horse a few hours every day—that’s my therapy session.

Who is your favourite character in Starr Fall?

Oh, that’s a hard one. I love so many of them. I like Starr because she’s the main character and pretends to have her stuff together but really she’s got a lot to learn. She kicks ass when she needs to. I love Christian. He is my book boyfriend crush for sure. I’d love to spend a weekend in the cabin with him. Coda is wildly entertaining to me. He always makes me laugh. Di and Frank don’t play dominate roles in Starr Fall, but in Starr Lost, Di becomes the second POV and she is a kickass heroine for our times.

How did you get the idea for Starr Fall?

The inspiration for Starr Fall came in the form of a dream. I’m always chased by bad guys while I sleep—I blame an overactive imagination combined with consuming one too many action and adventure movies. One night I woke up in a cold sweat. A secret organization wanted me as an assassin. Me? No one wants to read about me, but Starr Bishop? That’s a character readers can get behind. I added Christian, because who doesn’t need some kissing and a dreamy hero in their life?

What was your favourite part of writing Starr Fall?

The entire process. I love the storyline. Once I started writing Starr Fall, I couldn’t stop.

What are you currently reading? 

Today, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” by Mildred Taylor. I plan to read Bone Gap next (I know kill me for not reading it yet.) I also want to read a few witchy fantasy tales.

What is your favourite book? 

Impossible question. Watership Downs by Richard Adams fed my hunger for an incredible story. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel got me hooked on engrossing characters, complicated storylines, and series arc. From these two, I fell down the rabbit hole.

The simplest answer and the truth: Generally, whatever I’m reading.

Who is your favourite author?  

Honestly, I become enamored by whatever author I’m reading, but I will read anything by Maggie Stiefvater. Alex Haley, Salman Rushdie, and Willa Cather are still some of my all-time favorites.

What is your favourite film? 

Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter Movies.

What is your favourite TV show?

Right now we are addicted to Heartland—it’s a wonderful family friendly show. I also love Pretty Little Liars and the 100—I can consume them on Netflix.

Quick-fire questions:

Chocolate or ice cream? Chocolate. Always chocolate.
Paperback or ebook? Paperback.
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
Go out or stay in? Ooooohhhhhhhhh, secretly I would rather stay in and curl up with a book.
Summer or winter? Both, Summer reading and writing outside. Winter, reading and writing by a fire.

About Kim Briggs

 Kim once smashed into a tree while skiing. The accident led to a concussion, a cracked sternum, temporary notoriety as a sixth grader returned from the dead, and the realization that fictionalized accounts are way more interesting than just slipping on the ice.

An unhealthy obsession with conspiracy theories combined with a love of travel and happily ever afters led Kim to write her YA novel, Starr Fall, where a secret organization decides 17 year old Starr Bishop is not only the model student, but the ideal assassin. While in hiding, Starr meets dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood. Cue the swoon worthy music. But it’s not all happily ever afters for Kim. Her NA novel, And Then He, explores the dark and scary corners of the human psyche. Following a night of innocent flirting with a handsome stranger, Tiffani finds herself in the midst of a nightmare she can’t escape. And Then He is available now through Amazon and other major book retailers. Starr Fall will debut November 2016 with Inkspell Publishing, followed by Starr Lost in January 2017.

When she’s not doing something writerly, Kim can be found jumping into snow drifts with her three kids, husband, and dog. She’s careful to avoid trees.

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