1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What were some of your first steps toward making your dream a reality?
I’ve loved to write since I was in early high school. Before that, reading was my escape, and I suppose it eventually morphed into this need to create my own characters and visualize my own stories in the written word. It wasn’t until 2010 though that I really sat down with a lot of determination and told myself that I was going to write a book series. I had always envied authors and wanted to give it a shot and see if I could be one. So I just started pouring out ideas and formulating a plot, and it became the Dryad Quartet. I haven’t looked back since.
2. What 3 things would you like readers to know about you?
Firstly, I’m a die-hard romantic. Anything involving romance in any shape or form will captivate my interest almost immediately. Second, I am obsessed with astrology and signs, and routinely reference my Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs and Love Signs books while creating my characters. Third, my favorite super hero is Iron Man, especially when Robert Downey Jr. is playing him ;)
3. Oh, my! We have two more things in common. Astrology is one of my favorite tools for building characters, and I, too, love “Iron Man” and Robert Downey, Jr. J Tell us about your books. Genre, titles, any favorite characters? What can we look forward to from you in the near future? WIP’s, upcoming releases
My current series that is available is the Dryad Quartet. It is a contemporary fantasy series that blends our world with that of ancient mythology, incorporating characters like Mother Earth and Father Sky, the Muses, the Fates, the Furies, etc. I also introduce my own characters, the Dryads, into the mix. They are beings that control the elements, so there are Air Dryads, Fire Dryads, Earth and Water. Each book in the series is about one of the Dryads, beginning with Air, Capri. My favorite character from this series is Rhiannon, as she was molded somewhat after myself. Plus her relationship with Liam (the Water Dryad) holds a special place in my heart J
The series that I am in the process of publishing/working on is the Vasser Legacy series. It’s much darker, deadlier, and sexier than the Quartet books ;) and falls more in the genre of drama/family saga/romantic suspense. The first novel in the series is called When Empires Fall, and it introduces readers to the Vasser Hotel family empire, and the newest generation of Vasser heirs who run the family business. They fall into scandal as their great grandfather’s suicide is revealed to have actually been cold-blooded murder, and the book highlights the struggles they face as their empire crumbles before them. Toss in more murder, forbidden passion, and even more shocking revelations and you have When Empires Fall! My favorite character from this series is Madison Vasser, and as readers will see when the book is released, she is a very strong-willed, cunning and dark character, and I had a ridiculously fun time writing about her.
Readers can read an excerpt from When Empires Fall on my website: http://www.katieajennings.com/news.htm
4. Is there a common thread in your books? How do your values show up in your writing? What do you want readers to take from your writing?
It wasn’t intentional, but I noticed that when I finished the Dryad Quartet series and began working on the Vasser Legacy novels that I tend to write a lot about family. Namely, the unique relationship between parents and children, and between siblings. In the Quartet books, each of the Dryads have either a strained relationship with their parents, or one that has to begin from scratch. For example, in Breath of Air, Capri spent her life in the outside world, never knowing who she was or where she came from. But she finds her way back home to Euphora, where her family and fellow Dryads are. She meets her father essentially for the first time, and has to learn to trust and love him. In Firefight in Darkness, Blythe’s father returns to her after years of being banished, and she has to adjust to his inherent flaws and temper as she tries to repair their relationship. A Life Earthbound focuses on Rhiannon’s past, and we learn the particularly awful and cold relationship she has with her parents, and the reasons she is so cold herself. Of Water and Madness culminates all of the relationships together, showing both how they have progressed and how some things will never change. It’s quite intense at times, really, and I’m proud of the dynamic interactions I’ve created between the characters and their parents. Same goes for the Vasser Legacy novels, which are entirely about the family and the relationships between the complex and expansive Vasser clan.
I want readers to feel as though they know my characters. I want them to feel like they have just spent time walking hand in hand with them, listening to their troubles and hearing their hopes and dreams. Characters should be so real and intriguing that you feel as though they are new friends that you made while you read the book, ones that you will carry with you for a lifetime. I know there are some really amazing books out there that I have read where the characters are so unique, so special, that I will never forget them (Harry Potter being a big one!). I really hope I have accomplished that with my work as well.
5. What do you look for in a good book?
Romance ;) I have a hard time reading a book that doesn’t have at least some sort of romance in there somewhere. It is what connects me to the characters and makes me want to keep reading. But I prefer romance that’s at least a little bit complex. If the characters get together too quickly I lose interest. I prefer really complicated, messy, dirty and fiery relationships (which readers will see in When Empires Fall…).
6. What are some of the best social media, marketing, and publicity tips you’ve come across?
Biggest and best tip out there is to develop a brand for yourself. This needs to begin immediately, preferably before you even publish a novel, and can include anything from a website with specific colors, logos, text, etc., a Facebook fanpage with similar graphics, a twitter account to begin building followers on, a blog that looks similar to your website to share updates and news about your work, and more. For example, my blog, Facebook page, and website all showcase my book covers from the Dryad Quartet, not only because I’m proud of them but because they are recognizable and people will associate my name with those images.
7. What are some things you know now about writing and being an author that you wish someone had told you at the very beginning?
I wish I had taken a good crash course in marketing and social networking before publishing my first book. Instead, like a lot of authors, I’ve had to learn as I go. When I published, I had no website, no blog, no Facebook page, no Twitter, nothing. I went in blind and stepped off the cliff and, of course, was met with very little success right off. But as I learned and researched the marketing aspect of being a self-published author, suddenly my sales began to rise, I got on bestseller lists on Amazon, established a nice sized base on Facebook and Twitter, and even created a blog to help other Indie Authors share their work (www.ILoveBookTrailers.wordpress.com).
8. Along that same line, what are some of your favorite resources?
My favorite resource is Facebook. It is the easiest platform to use to not only network with the Indie Author community, but to share my work and ideas and successes. There are several really good Indie Author groups on Facebook as well that I am a part of, and the knowledge and inspiration that comes from the people in these groups is invaluable.
9. What lifts your spirits when you’re discouraged?
Talking to my mom, haha. She’s not only my biggest fan, but she is the most supportive person in my life other than my husband. I know I can talk for hours about my ideas and fears for my books and she will listen, encouraging me to keep trying and to not be afraid to put myself out there. I don’t know what I would do without her.
10. What tips can you offer towards building and maintaining a strong support system as a writer?
The best resource for this is the Indie Author community itself. There are hundreds of thousands of awesome people out there who are self-publishing, and the community is so supportive. I did most of my initial networking through World Literary Café, and I strongly suggest any and all authors check them out.
Catch a glimpse of Katie's upcoming release by clicking on the link below!
Thank you so much for participating in Fridays with Friends! J I wish you continued success, and of course we’ll be talking online. Maybe I’ll even eventually build a FB page!