Today is the final interview of the month. I can take it easy for the rest of January! Kidding. Editing is still ahead. The person who must suffer through my questions today is one of the nicest writers on Wattpad who has a lot to offer her readers. K M Halandras is a rising star in the Romance genre and her stories, as well as her characters, are simply captivating.
KM: Ah, you my sweet, are much too kind. I hardly classify this as suffering, but you might be regretting this by the time we are done here. *laughs and sips coffee*
I can’t tell you how excited I was when you asked me. I think I might have even squealed a little, but I will neither deny nor confirm that. But…I will say I love your writing and have great respect for you as a very talented author and I thank you so very much for this opportunity.
May: Now then, praises aside, it is time for torture, I mean questions.
1. Let’s start with something simple: why did you choose writing?
KM: Why did I choose writing? Hmmm…it’s actually a funny story, I didn’t choose it at all. Once upon a time ago…ahem…we are not going to say how many…I was taking a college English course. One of those prerequisite jobbies that had absolutely nothing to do with what I really wanted to go to school for which was to become a world famous painter. Okay…yeah…I was young once too and had a rather skewed perception of things.
Anyway…My professor would read some of my work and tell me to put down the paint brushes and pick up a pen. She even went so far as entering one of my poems in a small publication just to prove that I had talent. It got published, but I still didn’t listen and went on my happy little way to becoming a starving artist.
Twenty…*cough…some years later…I was sitting with some friends complaining about the last bunch of books I had bought on my e-reader. Not one of my better moments, but it’s the truth. It was after I was done ranting when one of friends told me… “If you think they are so bad, why don’t you write your own?”
The gauntlet was thrown. I started working on “When Roses Collide” a week later, but due to the trolls in my head, I gave up on it. I didn’t think about it again until two years later when I stumbled onto Wattpad for the free reads. Once I finally figured out how it worked, I took that first brave step and started writing again. And now… here I am. Having the time of my life and wondering why I didn’t do this sooner.
May: *Laughs* My tale is slightly different. I was told in school that I’m rubbish at English and should do a lower level of it. I managed to stay in the higher level class, but there was no drive to be a writer at the time. It is a career that’s really hard to be in full-time after all. And you pretty much are stuck with praying that a publisher will pick up your MS and give you an advance most of the time.
When I started college, I did Science. After that, I did Computer Science. All are rather logical and mathematical. I didn’t feel like programming was something I wanted to do, no matter how hard I tried to compact myself into the box thrown at me. I got sick because of that. And, during the 4 months of being ill, I realised that I wanted to be a writer. So, since then, I spent countless hours on trying to improve and share my words with the world.
2. I know you tend to write multiple stories at the same time. How do you manage to separate all the characters, plots, ideas, etc.?
KM: *laughing…It’s not easy. There are days I want to pull my hair out because I decided to come up with all these folks I have to keep track of. Every time I add a new character, I wince!
But, fortunately for me, they all have their own different voices and personalities which makes things a little easier. To make sure I keep track of them, I keep a notebook. Every time I introduce someone new, I write down their name, rank and serial number. Which is basically their name (of course), any nickname they might go by, eye color, hair color, height and any interesting points of interest along with if they do something or have a talent I want to expand on later.
That’s how I keep track of the characters…for the plot though…I am as unorganised as they come. After I come up with a general idea of things, I write from the hip and just go with the flow. I have no predestined ideas or scenarios. Everything comes straight from the heart. The reader is pretty much experiencing it at the same time I do. So we are all surprised when things happen!
May: I, too, keep a notebook and have sticky notes on my laptop screen that probably span over 30 A4 pages of text by now about different story ideas, characters, future scenes, and random rubbish I have to do on a daily basis. I think without those notebooks, having over 50 characters in total in my head at all times will drive me mad. I possibly already am there. *Laughs*
KM: As far as ideas…oh goodness…those can happen anywhere and sometimes in the strangest places. I will overhear a conversation, listen to a song, see something…it could be anything and an idea will strike and thanks to the notebook app…I can quickly jot it down.
May: Yeah, I know what you mean. That happens to me when I watch a music video or simply find a pretty picture online and go: “I couldn’t write a story out of that alone.”
3. Imagine a scenario where you got to be a CEO of any company in the world for one day. What company would you pick and what would your first order be?
KM: *Bursts out laughing* Me being in charge of a multimillion dollar corporation could be a dangerous situation. But, I suppose if I had to choose…it would probably be the Apple corp. And my first order would be to have somebody explain to me exactly how all this sh*t works. That…and for someone to fetch me coffee. *grins*
May: That’s an interesting one. I can’t beat your answer humor-wise. I guess I’m stuck with going the other way and turning it a whole 360. I would probably become head of Penguin(publisher) for a day and publish a ton of books on penguin speak.
4. Black or white?
May: Yay! Same.
5. For any romance writers out there, what advice would you give them in regard to plotting a good story?
KM: I really only have one bit of advice. Write what you know and what you love. If you are only writing something because you think it’s popular or because other people tell you to, then chances are you are writing something you are not passionate about. Romances are all about the heart. As a reader, you can feel when an author is telling a story that means something to them. If you’re not attached to the story, chances are…your readers won’t be either.
I have dealt with a lot of doubt and rolling eyes when I started writing “Bending Steele”. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard… “Oh no, not another 50 Shades of Grey”…I would be a very rich woman right now and I could hire a personal coffee fetcher. But, despite everyone telling me not to, I did it anyway. Why? Because I love reading rags to riches type romances. They are my absolute favorite and have been long before 50 came out, so, of course, I had to write one and I wrote it my way. I also spent many years on ranches, around livestock and cowboys, it’s something I know. So…I wrote “When Roses Collide”. Both these books contain a lot of the things I love and are close to my heart.
Sticking with what you know is also important, unless you are willing to spend some serious time researching. For instance…I tried to write a historical romance once. I discovered researching and I are mortal enemies and I killed everyone off with a plague by chapter two. *laughs*
Writing what you know and love will never fail to produce a better romance book. If you have passion about what you are writing and are knowledgeable about it…the plot just naturally falls into place.
May: I don’t mind the research. I find that I learn a lot of new things, especially when I wrote “Alexander”. During the first draft, I had to learn about history of Russia between 17-19 centuries, history of British Empire during the 19th century, and then read up about the World Wars and their effect on England. It was a lot to take in and still have a few things to correct, but I found that I did, in fact, enjoy myself.
6. I swear not all the questions will be weird. But, yes, this one may be bordering on that line as it is another abstract one. If you got teleported into a horror movie, which movie would you rather end up in?
KM: Eeek…I’m a big old chicken! I don’t watch horror movies. I can’t even think of one to be hypothetically transported to, but I do know one thing…I’d be the first to die! *laughs*
May: *Doubles over laughing* well you don’t die in all movies! You could try “Insidious” and be one of the characters that survived. I would pick it because the story seemed fascinating. I would shit bricks while being in it though. Probably would prefer being a character that didn’t get to travel to the land of the spirits.
7. There are a lot of people out there that get the case of “writer’s block”. Have you encountered it before? What helped you get out of it?
KM: Yup…I’ve had my fair share of writer’s block. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat and stared at that cursor and a blank screen. I think it happens to everyone from time to time. I don’t really have the magical answer for it. Sometimes, I get up and go for a walk or start cleaning house. Physical activity usually works for me on the real tough cases of it. But, mostly, I just write. I don’t care if it’s nonsense and I may not be able to use any of it…I will at least type something. Even if it takes all day to write 300 words. It’s 300 more than I had yesterday. You can’t edit a blank page.
May: That’s definitely true. I have to agree with you on exercise, as well. When I do some or go for a walk, my mind wanders and I end up having some good ideas by the end of it. There are times when I do end up looking at the screen and the words come out at the pace of a turtle trying to do a 10km race in an hour; doesn’t really work out well. Like today, the chapters came out slow. Spent 12 hours writing out 4k words, and did 4k yesterday. That’s a lot of work. I can feel my brain slowly melting into a puddle. But, even though they come out slow, they come out, and once I get excited about a scene, it speeds things up tremendously.
8. Some writers listen to music or like to be all alone in a room while writing. So, what is your routine?
KM: I’m a little OCD and ADD…which is not always a fabulous combination. I find schedules work best for me. It satisfies my OCD side and keeps my ADD one from running after squirrels and shiny objects. I do all my chores in the morning, since I get up with the chickens, this is fairly easy to do and I am sitting with my laptop no later than noon. What I am watching or listening to depends on my mood.
If I am working on FANGED…chances are I am listening to 80’s pop. If I am working on WRC…then I’ve got my boys Luke Bryant and Trace Adkins crooning to me. If I am working on Bending Steele…well…I listen to more classical or new age.
But, then there are times I don’t want to listen to music. Those times, I have the TV on and the channels vary from the History Channel to Food Network or whatever my hubby is watching. The only time I do quiet is when I am editing and even then…I am not too quiet because I am reading it out loud. The dogs love it!
May: I’m glad your dogs are happy. I can’t write when there are people talking nearby or in the room. It drives me mad. I would say, to an extent, I’m a bit ADD as well. I get distracted REALLY easily, especially if I’m working on a build-up chapter where you have to explain everything and build tension but not much is actually going on. They drive me bonkers. I have consumed a bag of marshmallows and 5 cups of tea today just to get through one of those chapters. Now that I’m back into action, I’m extremely excited and don’t care if I have to get through another 57k.
OCD-wise, the editor in me constantly tries to correct my text while writing it. *sigh* It causes more work when I know that draft one should just come out and edits come later.
Short answer: my routine would be to sit my ass down and work somewhere quiet.
9. The previous question lead me onto this one: if you had a chance to dance with a man of your dreams, what song would be playing through the speakers?
KM: Awww…that’s the best part of being me. I get to dance with the man of my dreams every day because I married him. My husband is and has been for the last 25 years, the love of my life. As far as what song would be playing…I am going with the song we danced to the other night in the kitchen. Lee Brice’s “I don’t Dance”.
May: Aww, I am so happy you managed to find someone you love so much. I’ve been together with my bf for about 8.5 years now. I’m amazed we stay together. But after about 2 years pass, the time afterwards just flies by and I no longer pay much attention to it. Still trying to wrap my mind around the whole “It’s actually been eight years” thing. As for the song, I would pick “Accidentally in love” by Counting Crows.
10. And, lastly, please tell us about current and any upcoming projects you are planning in the future.
KM: Well, as you know, I am working on three right now on Wattpad, “Bending Steele”, “When Roses Collide” and “Fanged”. Those take most of my time because I update each one every week.
But…yeah…I’ve got a couple of other projects cooking on the stove. When I am not busy working on those three, I have another Paranormal in the works and, of course, another cowboy romance because I just don’t believe there could ever be enough hot cowboys running around. I am also tossing around some ideas for sequels, but we will have to see on that one. *zips lips*
May: Thank you so much for sticking around and answering my questions! It was a great pleasure to have you here and I can honestly say that I laughed throughout most of your answers. So, I do hope the readers liked the light mood you have managed to summon with your answers.
And, as always, I am going to provide the readers with a blurb of one of your books! Check out “Bending Steele” below:
Life for Abigail Lane started off as the all American typical childhood. True Abby never knew her father, but her mom made sure that she had the most wonderful childhood a kid could ask for. Until the day her mother fell in love, that was the moment Abby’s life turned upside down. Her mother was captivated with her new man and he obsessed with her. The whirlwind relationship cultivated into marriage and Abby found herself with a new stepfather. When her mother dies unexpectedly, Abby is left floundering with a man she barely knows who can’t handle the loss of his wife and soon finds solace in the bottom of a bottle. Heartache and grief turned to anger, obsession and insanity. Leaving Abigail with only one choice…to run. New York seemed like the perfect place to hide, until she meets Adam Steele, the one man who wouldn’t let her run.