Pen Friends~ today’s interview is with YA Author, Kara Swanson, talking about her latest release, DUST, a peter pan sequel/retelling coming out with Enclave Publishing this July (2020.) Kara’s path to publishing is really unique and I believe will be helpful for those in both traditional and self publishing. Her cover art has won awards and guys- she has friends & readers that create the most stunning fan art. See all below!
SP: Hi Kara! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?
Hello there, friend!
It’s such a pleasure to be here with you today!
I’ve been writing since I was a young teen. I grew up overseas in Papua New Guinea as the daughter of missionaries. I was first published at seventeen, and that small taste of being an author was what made me realize I wanted to pursue this as a career. Several years later, while I was dealing with the worst season of having Lyme Disease (a sickness I still battle to this day), I wrote The Girl Who Could See, a novella that helped me process the unique perspective I had as a young person transitioning back to the US after having spent most of my life in another culture. It was a way to work through this sense that I’d had of always standing between two worlds, never quite a part of either. I continued writing and now at twenty-three, I have a Peter Pan retelling/sequel that releases with Enclave Publishing this year.
SP: Dust will come out with Enclave Publishing in July 2020.
Here is a blurb:
The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale.
Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real–since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London… and a boy who shouldn’t exist.
Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.
The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan…and herself.
SP: Can you tell us how long it took you to write Dust and how this story developed?
Dust was originally a concept that I had stumbled upon while brainstorming with a close writer friend. We had originally planned on co-authoring the project, but then our lives went two different directions. Several years passed and the concept was shelved until my agent submitted a list of my potential story concepts to a publisher who loved my writing and wanted to see what else I had — and when they saw the really brief concept blurb for a Peter Pan retelling/sequel, that was the book this publisher wanted to see submitted. At the time, I didn’t have a single page written, and the majority of the book wasn’t even outlined. I touched base with my friend who gave me full permission to run with the concept, and then I outlined the full novel, and wrote and edited it over the course of several months. Once I had the novel finished and well edited, my agent submitted to the first publisher that had expressed interest, as well as to several others. In the end, Enclave ended up being the right fit, and I absolutely adore working with their team!
SP: Dust already has some incredible fan art! How did this come about? What is it like having fans making art of your story characters? (See art on her instagram!)
The Dust fan art was pretty natural, honestly. I had some early readers who really loved the story and wanted to craft some art. I really, really love story-related art and have commissioned character art in the past, but seeing a fan create their own art and seeing the way they translate the characters is so incredible and humbling ❤
SP: DUST is not your first story–Seaglass, a short story, is free for readers that subscribe to your mailing list and The Girl Who can See, which is available on amazon, has won awards and has been praised for that cover! Please tell us your designer!! So, here is my question: independently publishing–how did you do it? What was it like for you? Tips to those in the middle of it?
The cover for TGWCS was done by Jenny at Seedlings Design Studio! (https://www.seedlingsonline.com)
As far as tips on independently publishing— I would suggest to plan well ahead. I created a six-month plan of each step it would take (writing my novella, editing it, setting up preorders on Amazon, getting a cover, creating the back cover blurb, marketing, etc) and then did a lot of research and completed each step to the best of my ability, including having several rounds of solid edits. If you are willing to put in the time, effort and funds, you can truly create a really good quality project and have some beautiful success with indie publishing.
SP: You do such a great job on Social Media! You are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and have website that are updated and beautiful and share helpful tips and interesting parts of your journey. Any tips on marketing? Social media? Balancing time and marketing?
Awww, thank you! That’s so kind of you ^_^
I just try to be honest and authentic, while also bringing something of value to my online friends. I like to genuinely share what I’m doing and what interests me, while also sharing a bit of encouragement and anything helpful for my readers.
As far as marketing goes…again, plan in advance. Don’t rush things that should take time to set into place and build up. A huge part of marketing is just creating valuable friendships and connections and having something to offer in a way that doesn’t feel forced or sales-y. And that just takes time and a determination to be authentic as you go.
SP: Writing style–are you a plotter/pantster? How do you go about writing your first draft?
I am a plotter, for sure! I used to pants, but found that I write a much tighter novel when I take the time to plan things out and really invest in catching plot holes in the outlining stage, instead of having to do a hundred revisions. 🙂
SP: Now to lighten things up:
Last book you read? I’m still reading Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon!
Current dream vacation spot? London or honestly a whole Europe trip 🙂
Would you rather be a professional: Marine Biologist? Spy? Opera Singer? Brain Surgeon? Broadway star? Does that count?
Current fictional crush? Tom Holland’s Peter Parker 😉
Favorite childhood book? Narnia! 😀
SP: Thank you Kara! We wish you the BEST of luck with DUST, Heirs of Neverland!
This was so much fun! Thank you so much for asking me to join you!
Nova, signing off.