Interview with Katrina S. Forest

I’m delighted to welcome Katrina S. Forest to my blog. Katrina and I have been in the same critique group for many years, along with Laura Selinsky and others, and Katrina is the first of us to release a novel! It’s a very cool-sounding middle grade sci-fi called My Best Friend Runs Venus.

cover by Crystal Rose

You can buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Katrina’s site, or order it from your local bookstore. I ordered a copy from my local Barnes & Noble – I got Free Shipping to my home and it arrived in only about 2 ½ days. (It looks even more cool in person – so cool, in fact, I ordered another copy from my local indie bookshop for my great niece!)

To celebrate this great news, I’m taking part in a blog tour for Katrina’s book; the tour runs until June 16th. This blog tour is hosted by Lola’s Blog Tours. You can see the full tour schedule here.

Be sure to get to the bottom of this post, as there’s a tour-wide giveaway for the blog tour. One winner will win a signed copy of My Best Friend Runs Venus along with a $25 Amazon gift card.

Here’s what the book is about:

“At 12.9 years old, number-obsessed Kade Walker has never heard of death. Literally. But neither has anyone else he knows. Kade is one of hundreds of kids “living” across the solar system through robotic avatars while their real bodies sleep in pods on Earth. Unfortunately, robot bodies can be hacked.

One day during an (innocent!) experiment, Kade unwittingly breaks a major security wall and releases an infamous hacker. The madwoman targets all the royal avatars, including Kade’s best friend, Princess Tamika of Venus.

If Kade and Tamika don’t want to become the hacker’s puppets, they’ve got to stop her fast–even if it means waking up on Earth to fight with bodies they never realized could be hurt.

Kade and Tamika illustration by Crystal Rose

Sidebar: after a quick peek inside, now I know why Kade looks the way he does – I think.

 

Welcome, Katrina! What a fun story this sounds like. Can you tell us something (non-spoilery!) about what first gave you the idea for it?

Katrina: It started with me trying to take a fantasy-based idea I saw on an old TV show and imagine how it could conceivably work as a science fiction setting. The show’s premise was that a group of teens were secretly interstellar royalty and drew magic powers from their respective planets. I think a lot of sci-fi starts with the “what ifs.” So in this case it was, “What if we could live comfortably on other planets without magic (or magic-like levels of terraforming)?” “What if we had kids and teenagers in charge?” and more importantly, “Why would we do that?” I came up with the concept of the robot avatars allowing people to live across the solar system. And since kids are much more adaptive to new technology, they’re the only ones that can use it 24/7. Hence, they’re in charge. The characters who would inhabit this world were then developed, which is actually the complete opposite of my usual brainstorming process.

Gemma: I love the thinking behind this! Tell me a little more about one of the characters. For instance, which of them would make the best friend?

Katrina: Princess Lorelei of Mercury would make a great friend, as long as you can understand her unique way of talking. (She’s trying to create a simplified language and throws a lot of invented words into her speech.) She’s very open and accepting and tends to see the good in people. She’s also a creative type, and let’s face it, they’re awesome. 🙂

Gemma: oh, she sounds like a lot of fun!

Lorelei illustration by Crystal Rose

Gemma: I’d like to know a bit about your writing past. What’s the first story you remember writing?

Katrina: The first story I ever wrote was called “The Prettiest Flower.” I think I was five. Old enough to sound out simple words but young enough to go pester my mom for spelling helping every two minutes. I guess technically it was a non-fiction piece and included such impressive insights as, “Flowers are pretty” and “Bees like flowers.” I stapled together pieces of construction paper with only a mild attempt to straighten them out first, and my cover was an extra-wide sheet of paper from a dot matrix printer. I knew that “real” books had logos of some kind on the back of them, and because I was making a “real” book, mine got one, too. It was the Chiquita banana logo. I took the sticker from the fruit basket. My mom still has this book, and a few years ago, she showed it to me. It was a totally surreal experience. ^_^

Gemma: I love this! And it’s awesome your mom kept it to show you. When did you realize – or decide – that you wanted to be a writer?

Katrina: Pretty early. My mom got me a school memories book when I entered kindergarten. Every year had the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (It changed to, “What do you hope to do after graduation?” for 8th grade and up.) Every year, without fail, I wrote “writer” or “author.” In kindergarten, apparently, I was also open to the possibility of being a ballerina.

Gemma: it’s always good to keep an open mind about such things. And it’s quite impressive that you’ve followed this dream for so long and now have brought it into the world with a novel! What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Katrina: The hardest part is admitting when I’m stuck. I like to try to push through problems, and sometimes what’s really needed is a quiet step away with a long walk, a cup of tea, or a good book. Or, you know, all those things, because they are all awesome.

Gemma: I totally agree – and those are good ways to get unstuck. What’s the best part for you?

Katrina: The moment of breaking through the aforementioned stuck-ness.

Gemma: yes – that’s a wonderful moment! I think many writers can relate.

A lot of writers when they start out emulate other writers, consciously or not. Can you think of any authors you emulated?

Katrina: Not specifically, although I’m sure I have subconsciously. I do remember being a kid and writing a line I thought sounded totally awesome and way better than what I normally wrote…only to realize shortly afterward that it was a line from Charlotte’s Web. Apparently I’d read the book so many times, my brain just sort of internalized it. ^_^

Gemma: well, that’s an excellent book to absorb! What are you reading presently?

Katrina: I’m currently reading The Merchant Princess series by Charles Stross. My friends are all reading the Laundry series by the same author, but I just really latched onto the protagonist in this one. She’s a very analytical character who finds herself in what’s essentially a magical portal story. Characters really make or break a novel for me. I’ll sit through the most predictable of plots and the most uninteresting of settings if the characters are good. Thankfully, The Merchant Princess has good characters and an intriguing setting and plot to go with them.

Gemma: that sounds like a great combination, and I know what you mean about good characters. If I don’t like at least one character, I can’t make it through a book.

What are you working on now?

Katrina:  I’m finishing up a YA novel called How to be an Immortal. It’s about a gorgon and a vampire forming an unlikely friendship as they try to find the gorgon’s sister and stop a mysterious entity from stealing a bunch of humans’ life energy.

Gemma: I’ve been enjoying reading this in our critique group, and I’m very excited to hear you’re close to finishing it. I can’t wait to read the finished book — and, of course My Best Friend Runs Venus! I think it will make a great summer read.

Thanks so much for joining me on my blog, Katrina – and congratulations on your new novel! 

 

Find out more and connect with Katrina at:

– Website: http://www.katrinasforest.com/

– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkatrinasforest/

– Twitter: https://twitter.com/forest_paterson

– Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14369266.Katrina_S_Forest

– Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katrina-S.-Forest/e/B01M0DPFIA/

And you can find My Best Friend Runs Venus on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44549693-my-best-friend-runs-venus

 

Here’s the link to that giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3ede45711/

And hats off to Lola for hosting this blog tour.

 

Our Anthology Featured in Gift Baskets to 2019 Golden Globe Nominees and Presenters

You read that correctly: the Running Wild Anthology my stories are in will be given to nominees and presenters of the Golden Globes!

This awesome, jaw-dropping fact is due to the amazing work of Lisa Kastner, founder and executive editor of Running Wild Press. Our anthology (I cannot possibly call it mine when my stories are just two among so many wonderful tales) will join Suzanne Samples’ “Frontal Matter: Glue Gone Wild” and (if my eyes don’t deceive me) Running Wild Novella Anthology Vol. 2 pt. 1. And with them, many other gifts.

Have a look: is this not one spiffy gift basket??

Golden Globe Weekend Gift Bag

Now, let me be clear: these are not official Golden Globe bags. They are “Red Carpet Gift Bags honoring Golden Globe nominees,” to quote Hollywood Swag Bag, who will place these gifts in the celebrities’ rooms, working in conjunction with the hotel management. How amazing is that!

Here is a partial list of who will be receiving these excellent books among all the other cool gifts:
Glenn Close
Bradley Cooper
Lady Gaga
Benedict Cumberbatch
Hugh Grant
Elisabeth Moss
Emma Stone
Justin Hurwitz
Tina Fey

UPDATE: thanks to Lisa, here is the full list! 

I’m excited that not only my stories will end up in these talented hands, but also the stories from all my RWP Anthology colleagues I’ve interviewed plus many more from the Short Story Anthology, including Suzanne Mattaboni (who I got to meet at the Pennwriters conference) and Cindy Cavett and Laura Selinsky, (who I shared my first book signing with), and still more from Running Wild Novella Anthology Vol. 2 pt. 1.

Two of these authors have blogged about this rather incredible thing: Christa Miller, whose story The Kings of Babylon appears in Running Wild Novella Anthology Vol. 2 pt. 1and Julie Doherty, whose story Justice is in Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 2I hope you’ll give their thoughtful posts a read.

And check out this newsletter from Running Wild Press:

In our third year of publishing, Running Wild Press has had an impressive year. Already nominated for several awards including the Pushcart Prize, the executive editor, Lisa Diane Kastner, is excited for two of the press’s books to be included in gift bags to 2019 Golden Globe nominees and presenters. The bags will be gifted to actors, actresses, and presenters for the 2019 Golden Globes the weekend of January 7, 2019.

“When we were informed that both ‘Frontal Matter: Glue Gone Wild’ and ‘Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2’ would be included in the gift bags, I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Lisa Diane Kastner, Founder and Executive Editor of Running Wild Press. “This is the perfect tribute to our authors, our readers, and the stories of 2018 as well as a gorgeous beginning to 2019.”

Lisa founded Running Wild Press with the vision to bring great stories and great writing that do not fit neatly in a box to readers worldwide.

“In 2018, we published nine books with stories ranging from personal narratives to cross-genre fiction and non-fiction,” said Lisa. “These two books represent a great compilation of our narratives.”

Never one to shy from an opportunity to feature talents who don’t necessarily fit in mainstream media, we chatted with Lisa about the press, the Golden Globes, and anything else we could fit in.

How Did You Get Into The Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards Gift Bags?
A dear friend reached out to me and mentioned that there was an opportunity to be included. There are only a handful of companies authorized to provide gift baskets for events such as the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars, and SAG Awards. I figured, heck, can’t hurt to have a chat. That chat resulted in our stories being included in 50 gift bags for both Golden Globe nominees and presenters as well as SAG Award nominees and presenters. We couldn’t be more excited. Only a select few are invited to be included in these baskets so this truly is an honor.

Who Among the Recipients Are You Most Excited to Meet?
Admittedly, I doubt that I’ll personally meet any of the celebrities or nominees during the weekend of the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but I am incredibly excited to have the likes of Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Spike Lee, Constance Wu, Charlize Theron, and Lin-Manuel Miranda read these amazing stories.

I have admired Bradley Cooper’s rise and strategic choices for years. Lady Gaga continues to broaden and expand her repertoire. Her ability to tap into her own meager beginnings in “A Star Is Born” was truly breathtaking. Spike Lee’s true gift to bring forth real life situations and demonstrate their relevance to today’s society is beyond phenomenal. Constance Wu and the rest of the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” not only brought theatrical houses down but showed the world how a Rom-Con should be done. And Lin-Manuel’s gifts for storytelling – no matter the form (Have you seen his Twitter account? Oy!) continues to inspire. I could go on and on. Needless to say, we’re proud to have these stories in such amazingly talented artists’ hands.

What Inspired You to Start Running Wild Press?
I had spent over a decade studying the art of storytelling from New York Times Bestsellers, such as Jonathan Maberry, Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Da Chen, Pulitzer Prize nominees such as Luis Alberto Urrea, National Book Award winners such as Julia Glass, Ha Jin, and PEN Award winners such as Percival Everett. I studied fiction, non-fiction, memoir, journalism, screenplay writing. Each experience and interaction brought greater knowledge and understanding.

I ran several writers workshops including Running Wild Writers Community out of Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. I often found writers whose writing was on-point – truly magical stories with great writing; the pieces simply needed a little tweaking. I gave the authors feedback and recommended that they send the pieces out for publication. I checked with each one and was often shocked when they said they couldn’t find home for their work. When I asked why, they informed me that the publications said the author’s writing was wonderful but didn’t quite fit. The more I heard this, the clearer it was that tons of great stories with great writing simply don’t fit into the mainstream media. So, I created Running Wild Press for great stories and great writing that don’t fit neatly in a box to find worldwide audiences. I’ve been humbled by the public’s enthusiastic response to our stories. We’ve been nominated for several “Best of” collections, the Pushcart Prize, and several more honors that are currently in the works.

To find out more about Lisa and Running Wild Press, go to runningwildpress.com 

Previous articles about Lisa Diane Kastner and Running Wild Press include:
Small Town Gal blog: Editor Profile – Lisa Diane Kastner 
JMWW blog: Running Wild: An Interview With Lisa Diane Kastner By Curt Smith
Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
The Speculative Fiction Cantina 
Books Chatter blog
Littsburgh 
Additional audio interviews are available on Soundcloud

As for me, Gemma – I’m still gobsmacked by this whole thing! Thank you, Lisa and congrats to all the talented people involved!

Interview with Author Laura Nelson Selinsky

Laura Selinsky, Author and Teacher

As I continue this series of interviews with my Running Wild Anthology colleagues, I’m particularly pleased to welcome Laura Selinsky; she and I have been members of the same critique group for many years. Her story, “Sea Wall,” touched me with its bittersweet poignancy.

Welcome, Laura!

Our Anthology’s cover has gotten comments that it evokes a sense of many varied stories inside.

 

Does any part of the cover remind you of your story?
I’m not sure the cover reminds me of my specific story, but it does remind me of a library. There is no place where I feel more at home than a library…except maybe the library of my childhood. My hometown library was over the fire station and when the alarms went off- Phew!

Would you add anything to the cover to hint at your story?
I’d add a sifting of sand across the cover. Nothing hints at slow passing time like the imperceptible movement of a sand dune; that’s why the protagonist crosses a sand dune in my story.

What do you like best to write?
I love writing YA high fantasy, so much flexibility in writing magic, alternate species, new cultures, etc. Conversely, all that world-building requires many self-generated rules, and a passion for consistent application of the rules from page to page.

What’s the biggest stretch for you to write?
The hardest thing for me to write is a contemporary teenager; I am excruciatingly careful not to pirate my high school students’ lives. I used to teach adjudicated teens, and I have a novel that considers the juvenile justice system. When I work on that particular novel, I have to be cautious to limit what I know to generalizations, not specific experiences.

Where do your stories fall on the plot-driven vs. character-driven spectrum?
Character-driven! I love tossing two characters in a room and seeing what happens. In the anthology, the story is actually “Image-driven.” I started from the image of a seawall and wondered how it affected or reflected the people who pass it each day.

What authors did you love most as a kid? Now? What authors have influenced your writing most?
When I was read-aloud aged, I loved Kipling because my mom read me the original JUNGLE BOOKS. Later I loved the mythology that I found in my school library, and I still teach elective mythology to high school students. My adult fantasy writing is influenced by the usual suspects, Tolkien, Kay, Mallory… In a practical sense, my writing is influenced by my critique group, which calls me to account for my nonsense and encourages me through my discouragement.

Is there a place that you’ve lived or visited that most influences your writing?
We used to camp in Maine when I was a girl, so I have to watch myself or I’ll write endless cool misty mornings.

What’s the first piece you wrote that you’re still proud of/happy with?
Of my adult writing, I’m proudest of a magazine article about working with high-functioning autistic students. Advise magazine,  where the article appeared, has a run of 50,000. I loved the idea of seeing my students fairly portrayed and offered every option for fulfillment in their school lives in a magazine that landed on the desks of 50,000 teachers.

What have you been up to since the Anthology came out? Any other news?
Since the Anthology came out, I signed my first contract for a novel with Anaiah Press. Very exciting!

What do you plan to work on next?
I’m editing the contracted novel under the supervision of my publisher. I am always editing some portion of my fantasy trilogy. I’m also goddess of grammar on my son’s doctoral dissertation…the only part of that I understand is whether the commas are in the right place.

How can readers connect with you?
Twitter- Laura Nelson Selinsky, @huzzahlns
Facebook- Laura Nelson Selinsky

Anything else you’d like to add?
At my first writing conference, I was advised to find a good critique group and stick with it. Best. Advice. Ever. Nothing has contributed more toward making me a thoughtful writer than the critique group I’ve attended for the last eight years. Gemma Brook, the owner of this website, is also the leader of that critique group under the auspices of Pennwriters. Kudos for your leadership, Gemma!

Thank you for the kind words, Laura! Our critique group is really a co-operative effort, and I’ll vouche for you as being not only a goddess of grammar, but a most beneficent one!

Congratulations on your upcoming novel! And thank you for taking part in my blog (and for all your excellent critiquing).

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑