Friday, August 6, 2010

Interview with Karen Hoover, Author of The Sapphire Flute

I met Karen Hoover over a year ago when I attended my very first LDStorymakers Conference. She had won the writing contest for an unpublished manuscript and, of course, she was thrilled. I was thrilled for her. There's nothing like winning your first contest, unless it's having a publisher accept your manuscript--which is exactly what happened to Karen shortly after that conference.

Her first novel, The Sapphire Flute, was published last March. I thought you might like to read more about the author who wrote this wonderful young-adult, fantasy.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Pretty much, yes, I have, though I didn't think I could actually accomplish that dream until I was an adult. I knew I loved telling stories and I adored words, but it took winning a few contests to finally realize this was something I was actually good at and had the possibility of being successful—or at the very least might actually see a book on a shelf. ;)

Tell us a little bit about your book.
The Sapphire Flute is book 1 in The Wolfchild Saga and is the book of my heart. I first had a daydream about the characters when I was a 22 year-old missionary in Connecticut, and it has taken nearly 18 years to learn how to write through fiddling with this book. To tell you what it's about, why don't I give you the summary from my query letter. It says it better than I can say it now.
Rasann is a world in dire need. The net of magic that has held her together for eons is eroding and the mages can’t patch it fast enough to prevent disaster. Volcanoes spew, waters rise, famine and flood and desolation threaten the world as they desperately await the coming of the ‘Chosen One’ to heal their home. Three women begin their own quests for identity and freedom from the ties that have held them: Ember, from her overbearing and prejudice mother; Kayla, from the rigidity of the caste that has oppressed her family; C’Tan, from her dark and evil master, the Guardian S’Kotos. One will discover that she is the first white mage to be born in three millennia, another will become guardian to the first keystone, the sapphire flute, and throughout it all the third will try to destroy them both.

 Tell us about your other books you’re working on..
Well, I'm working on Book 2 in The Wolfchild Saga called The Armor of Light, which is nearly complete. I also have a second YA Fantasy series I've begun and am polishing up for submission called The Misadventures of a Teenage Wizard. It's more urban fantasy and comedic in nature. Beyond that, I've got about a dozen books started that are just waiting for the time to finish them.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
What inspires me? I would have to say more than anything, my mother inspires me still, even though she has left this earth life to continue her work on the other side. She always told me I could do anything, if I wanted it bad enough. That she had confidence in me. Even now I hear her whispering and cheering me on when things get hard.

As for what motivates me, I think it is that all of us are given at least a gift or two in this life we are meant to use to better the lives of others and I have known for a very long time that part of fulfilling my mission in life is by writing and reaching the youth of this world. It's very humbling, but so very rewarding.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
There are several writers I have admired over the years. Madeline L'lengle and C.S. Lewis when I was young. Anne McAffrey. Orson Scott Card. Piers Anthony and Robert A. Heinlein's EARLY works. Probably my greatest influence has been David Eddings, and I think it is reflected in The Wolfchild Saga more than in any of my other writing.

As for mentors, again, there have been several, beginning with my mother and a couple of teachers through the years who made me feel this was something I was good at and encouraged me to keep it up. As I grew older and really started to play with words, my greatest mentor became a friend of the family who was an author and freelance editor by the name of Darla Hanks Isackson. I gave her a hand-bound book of poems one year for Christmas and after reading it she told me the only way I wouldn't get published was if I quit writing. I needed to hear that.

When I started attending writing conferences, I had many cheeerleaders and mentors. James Dashner. J.Scott Savage. Julie Wright. Josi Kilpack. Candace Salima and so many more, but probably the greatest mentor of that time was Tristi Pinkston who took my writing and taught me how to go from being an "ALMOST" to finally getting a contract. She helped me cross that line I'd hovered near for so long and made me understand many of the finer points of writing.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
Wow, that's a fun question! And you are absolutely right in that life experience has a huge impact on writing. I grew up in several places. I was born in California and spent the first four and a half years of my life there. Then three days before we were to move to Kennewick, Washington my father suddenly passed away. We moved anyway, and spent four or five years on my grandfather's hundred acre farm. It was awesome. When I was eight, we moved to Norman, and then Noble, Oklahoma, first to a trailer in the city while our house was being built, and then to the home on forty-five acres. Even after all these years, that place is more home to me than any other. Eventually my grandparents moved there with us, as well as two sisters and a brother. Our own little family commune. Lol I have very happy memories there.

At 14 we moved to Roosevelt, and then three months later to Bountiful, Utah, and that is where I finished junior high and high school, and have remained in different cities in Utah ever since. Currently I live in a fairly small city west of Salt Lake, very near the city limit. It's about as close to the country as I can get without actually being on a farm, and it's the only place that's felt like home since I left Oklahoma.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I recently claimed the basement for my office and painted it in Disney colors. Fairy Godmother Blue and Forest Sunset Orange. It is a bright and happy place, but has enough of the blue to be soothing as well. I am surrounded by books on nearly every wall. Books stacked on book-cases I built myself and painted that lovely sunset orange. It's like being surrounded by my friends as I write. And the colors are like living in a sunset sky. A very happy place.

I write one of two places. Here in my office, or out of the house. When I'm home I tend to get distracted by all the other things I'm supposed to be doing or by the internet. Or games. I'm very distracted by games. So, during the day, at least when it's not ridiculously hot or cold, I love to go up the canyon and sit at a picnic table and write. That's my favorite place to be. The sound of wind through the trees is all the music I need. When it's late at night after the kids go to bed, I tend to do most of my writing in the office. I like all the lights out except for one lamp and put in earplugs more often than not. I get distracted very easily. Did I mention that already? But late at night, when the world settles into sleep, my mind comes awake and I write. I have my computer desk, then another table for writing by hand.

I must admit, my process is kind of time consuming and a little out of the ordinary, but it works for me. I get my ideas by hand and flesh it out on the computer. But this time around I went the extra mile. I printed out pictures of all my characters, all the places, and all the actions they do and made basically a storyboard for my book. I also added a little index card with a brief description of what goes on in the chapter. I did that for all four of the viewpoint characters in The Armor of Light. I know it seems like a lot of work, but it gets me excited to write, and sometimes that's just what it takes.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
Oh, absolutely, yes! I am a huge movie fan and actually take one day a month and go to the movies and spend the whole day there. I watch 4 or 5 shows, take myself to lunch, and just spend the day with me. It is a huge way to fill my creative well. I also watch tv on Netflix and Hulu. We used to have Sattelite but nobody was watching it so we cancelled and just do it all the other way now.

Favorites? I'm just going to go with TV shows here. Lie to Me. Fringe. Sanctuary. All the CSI's. Bones. Doctor Who. To name a few.

They inspire my writing, but not the stories, if that makes sense. I don't take their stories and make them my own, they just fill my creative well. The same way I write better when I read, I also find that I write better when I take the time to watch TV or a movie.

How has being published changed your life?
Well, the biggest difference is just the way people look at me when they find out I'm published. It's like I'm suddenly important. It's very strange. I haven't changed any just because I have a book out, except that I'm busier now, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Mostly it's changed me in that I have achieved one of my three life goals and that is very satisfying.

 Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
I'll be in Eagle Mountain at Dragons and Fairtales Bookstore on August 21st at 5, I believe, and the following Saturday, August 28th, I'll be at the Tooele Children's Book Festival along with Jessica Day George, Becca Wilhite, Ann Canon, Lisa Mangum and more. It is going to be a blast!

I'm available for school or book club visits and would love to do more things with youth groups. After all, the whole reason I do this is for the youth. That's where my heart is more than any other.
To keep up on current events, my blog is at http://karen-hoover.blogspot.com and my website is www.karen-e-hoover.com.

Thank you, Kathy, for the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on your blog. It's been a lot of fun. 

Thank you, Karen!

2 comments:

  1. Great interview! Karen's book sound terrific. I've added it to my to-read list!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Laura,

    Karen is an amazing author. I saw her at a booksellers event just yesterday. You should see her story book that she uses while she writes. It's amazing. Thanks for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete

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