We’re so excited and privileged to share inspiration with you from our conversation with indie author K. M. Shea. With over twenty novels published to her name, K. M. Shea started writing in eighth grade and hasn’t stopped since! She has worn many career hats including journalist, library staff member and newsletter editor, but her most favorite is as a fiction writer which she’s happily been able to do full-time since 2014:
1. Are there 2 or 3 favorite authors that you feel were influential in inspiring you to write? What impact have they had on your writing?
Vivian Vande Velde, C. S. Lewis, and Jane Austen are three of my favorite authors who had a profound impact on me, and consequently my writing. Vivian writes primarily fantasy, but she commonly attacks dearly held fantasy clichés, and her stories are the sort that make you laugh out loud. I learned a lot about presenting humor by reading her books. Jane Austen was the author who taught me romance can be fun, and C. S. Lewis stoked my love of high fantasy—which you can see in all my fairy tales.
2. If you could choose one of your novels to be made into a movie which one would you choose?
Wow, this is a toughie. There are a lot of books out there I would love to see turned into a movie, but I’ve never pondered my own getting such treatment! I think Puss in Boots (Timeless Fairy Tales Vol 6) or Heart of Ice (The Snow Queen Book 1) would be my first picks. Puss in Boots because it’s so funny, and Snow Queen because visually speaking it would be quite beautiful.
3. What are some ways in which you promote your books?
I’ve found that establishing a relationship with my readers and investing time in my craft to make my books as high quality as possible (so getting an editor or hiring a talented cover-artist) work the best. Also, writing a lot. The more books you have out on the market, the easier it is for people to find you. Also, when they do find you, you have all your other books to help hold their attention. Those principals are what I’ve built my career on and it works. I haven’t done any sort of paid advertising yet.
4. Tea or Coffee?
Tea! (Unless it’s one of those iced coffee drinks, but those things are mostly sugar and milk anyway.)
5. What percentage of time do you end up spending on marketing your novels vs. hours you get to spend writing them that works best for you?
I spend an insane amount of time writing and editing because I write anywhere from five to eight books a year. The amount of time I spend marketing is a little harder to define because, as I mentioned, I focus on my reader interactions—which includes things like updating my website and Facebook pages. Percentage wise, it’s probably 75% writing and editing, and 25% reader interactions. Editing takes a loooong time.
6. What do you like to read in your free time? Any favorite re-reads?
I love anything by the authors I mentioned in my first answer, Diana Wynn Jones, Georgette Heyer, Shannon Hale, and more. I love just about all books—although I am partial towards humorous fantasy, sci fi, and historical romance. The only books I’m not into are really gory mysteries, thrillers, and prairie books. I was forced to read too many prairie-themed novels as a child, so now I am allergic to them. Also any book I want to re-read I buy in paperback or hardcover, so I do quite a bit of re-reading!
7. What time of day and setting works best for you to get the creative juices flowing to write?
It’s whatever time I turn off my internet at. Seriously, I am addicted to YouTube, so in the weeks that I’m focused on writing I have to turn off my computer’s wireless adapter. Once that is done I’m pretty productive no matter what time of day.
8. What was your dream job when you were a kid (other than writing?)
I’ve always really loved animals and science, so I went through various phases of wanting to be a marine biologist, or a scientist who studied wolves, or an astronomer. I love learning, which translates well to writing as I try to use some science as a base for some of my magic—like Dylan’s sea lion abilities in the The Little Selkie (Timeless Fairy Tales Book 5) and some of the ways Rakel can manipulate ice in Heart of Ice (The Snow Queen Book 1).
9. Do you work with an outline or prefer to free write?
I outline. I used to freewrite, but you can save yourself so much time and heartache by outlining. I cut back a lot on my editing as a result of creating detailed outlines before diving into each book.
10. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
To begin with, I divide criticism into several categories. There’s the internet trolls who go around and don’t really criticize as much as they rip you to shreds for the fun of it. Luckily I have mostly escaped that.
There’s also people who, for one reason or another, don’t enjoy one particular story as much. In example, a lot of people enjoy my retelling of the Little Mermaid because the main character loves eating and appreciates food, but I did have a few people who didn’t like the book because of that very reason. In these cases it’s not really criticism as much as it is understanding that you won’t be able to please everyone.
In terms of actual story-building criticism, the worst I’ve heard is that a particular book or scene is boring. To me that is a serious issue that needs to be addressed as I try to make entertaining my number one priority, so usually I attempt to go back and fix those sort of things if I have time.
As for the best compliment, my favorites are whenever anyone tells me that I’m one of their favorite authors, or that they’ve re-read my books, or that my books made them laugh out loud. As a huge reader myself, I know those instances are very special, so I’m always honored whenever I hear that.
Many thanks to K. M. Shea for her gracious time and energy in responding to our questions, we hope you enjoyed them as well. Hopefully it stirred some inspiration in you to keep investing time into your dream of getting your writing published and out there for the world to enjoy.
Check out her newest fantasy novel on Amazon:
Rakel, a princess by birth, has spent most of her life exiled on a barren mountain, despised because of her powerful snow magic. Though she longs to be accepted, she hides in her ice-castle and lives with the fear that her brother—the King—will one day order her execution.
Her empty life changes forever when an army of magic users—led by the enigmatic Colonel Farrin Graydim—invade her home country with plans to enslave its citizens. Swallowing her fear, Rakel joins forces with her jailers and uses her magic to save the people who scorned her.
If Rakel cannot defend her homeland, the country will be lost.
What other questions would be helpful for you in our Ask An Author series? We’d love to hear, let us know in the comments below and any other thoughts you might have.