I’m happy to welcome back Kristina Stanley, author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Kristina first visited with me on August 7, 2015, to talk about her debut novel, DESCENT, which was released in July 2015 by Imajin Books. Getting a novel traditionally published is challenging enough. Kristina has managed to get two novels released a few months apart.
Judy: Tell us about your latest release, BLAZE.
Kristina: BLAZE is the second in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. The idea for BLAZE came to me while I was director of security at a ski resort. A set of condos caught fire, and I spent the night very close to the fire doing crowd control, arranging guest rooms, and making sure the firefighters had food and water. This fire was an accident, but later when I was thinking of a crime, arson seemed perfect.
Judy: Great premise. Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Kristina: Instead of exchanging vows, Kalin Thompson spends her wedding day running from a forest fire near Stone Mountain Resort, and the pregnant friend trapped with her has just gone into labor. Meanwhile, Kalin’s fiancé, Ben Timlin, hangs from the rafters of a burning building, fighting for his life. Can the situation get any hotter?
Judy: What are the pros and cons of releasing two books a few months apart, and however did you manage to be so prolific?
Kristina: My secret…I wrote four novels while I was sailing in the Caribbean. This took five years, so I’m not sure prolific applies. As for the pros and cons, releasing two books within three months of each other is challenging. Although it’s exciting, some readers haven’t had a chance to finish DESCENT yet.
In the spring of 2015, I signed a two-book deal with Imajin Books. DESCENT went through the editing and proofreading process first. About a week after the final proofread of DESCENT, I received BLAZE from the editor and started the process again. This took me through to October. I mostly put other writing on hold while going through the process.
From a marketing point of view, I think it’s hard to keep the level of excitement about the second book as high as the first when they are so close together.
Having said all that, I couldn’t be happier about having two books published. When selling at a market or book signing, I think it’s easier to sell two books than one. I packaged two together for a 10% discount and this was a popular choice among people attending the events. With two books on the table, I sold more than at the events I attended with only DESCENT. Now that BLAZE is published, I’m looking forward to spending more time writing.
Judy: What or who inspired you to become a writer?
Kristina: I became writer because I went sailing. That may sound odd, but I left a demanding career for a life on a sailboat. I found I needed a challenge. Years ago I read a Mary Higgins Clark novel, and when I finished the book, the dream of writing started. I wanted to create something that would entertain other people. But life gets in the way, and it wasn’t until I was on the sailboat that I had enough time and mental energy to write a novel. Once I wrote one, I was hooked.
Judy: Describe your writing process and/or a typical day in your life.
Kristina: For me, there are two phases to writing a novel. The creative phase and the analytical phase. During the creative phase, I need to be alone to write. Well almost alone. My dog, Farley, is always with me, and I love to listen to him breathe as he’s cuddled beside me. Sometimes he’s so close to me, he interferes with the keyboard. I wrote DESCENT and BLAZE while living on my sailboat. My favorite spot was in the cockpit, facing aft with my laptop on my knees.
During the analytical phase, I don’t need to be alone. It takes me a few weeks to a month to review each scene and scene element. I use a spreadsheet to do this and find I can work with distractions.
After the novel is complete and it’s been through editing, I need to work in silence again as I proofread. This takes intense concentration. Again, only Farley is allowed in the room.
Judy: Can you recommend a lesser-known author well worth reading?
Kristina: I’m a big fan of Rosemary McCracken, author of SAFE HARBOR and BLACK WATER. McCracken has a gift for bringing characters to life and for creating a mystery where an average person is caught up in a suspenseful adventure.
[Judy’s note: I agree! To read my interview with Rosemary, click here.]
Judy: Do you read your genre when writing? If so, why? If not, why not?
Kristina: I read almost exclusively in my genre. I find it motivating to learn from other writers. If I like a particular passage, I stop and think about why. If I skim a passage, I stop and think. I’m getting better a reading and learning at the same time, and I’m quicker to understand why I do or don’t like something. I think being an author means a lifetime of learning.
Judy: What’s next for Kristina?
Kristina: I’m fine tuning AVALANCHE, the third in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series and hope to have it published in 2016. Here’s a teaser:
On a cold winter morning, deep in the Purcell Mountains, the safe at Stone Mountain Resort is robbed hours before Kalin Thompon’s brother, Roy, disappears in an avalanche.
Under normal circumstances, as the director of security, Kalin would lead the investigation into the theft, but Roy is the prime suspect. The police and the president of the resort turn their sights on Kalin. She’s told to stay clear of the investigation and risks her job to covertly attempt to clear Roy’s name.
Judy: I look forward to reading it! Thanks, Kristina, for taking the time to stop by.
Find Kristina Stanley on her website/blog: http://KristinaStanley.com and on the following: