We’re very excited to have author Kally Sten with us today! You might recognize her from her QuickSilver Codex, Ward of the Vampire, The Demon’s Age, Special Enforcers, On the Edge, and The Pact series, as well as numerous single titles she has available for your reading pleasure. Welcome, Kally.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m French but I’ve been living in the US for almost 15 years. I wrote my first short story when I was fourteen, and it probably borrowed enough from Star Wars that copyright lawyers would have rubbed their hands together gleefully if I’d shown it to more than a few friends!
And as I’m typing this I have a six weeks old little elf on my lap wondering why I’m looking at the computer rather than giving her the worship she is due!
How many books have you written, and which one is your favorite?
I just went to my site to check and it’s either 44 or 57 depending on whether I count the serials as one book or separate installments.
Part of me wants to say of course I don’t have favorites, I love all my characters equally but... Shhh... don’t tell anyone but Out of the Box, and its sequel Living Out of the Box, have a special place in my heart. Out of the Box started as a very short story about a young woman going out to a dancing club and meeting a sexy-as-hell vampire. It was meant to be a standalone, more erotica than romance... But Virginia, the heroine, didn’t care for a one night stand and she demanded I give her and Anando more nights together, more stories, and something more than lust at first sight. I ended up with two full novels, plus a third one that’s a crossover with another series, and a fourth one is percolating at the back of my mind...
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Yes and no. Yes, I get stuck every now and then when a scene or a plot point aren’t as exciting or as clear as I’d want them to be.
But I always have multiple stories going on at the same time, so if I am blocked on one of them, I generally can switch to another one and let my subconscious figure out how to fix the issue.
What does your writing space look like?
Like a complete mess..! I write sitting on the sofa, with my laptop on a side table next to it.
Right now, on that side table are piled up a couple of congratulation cards, a box of thank you cards I need to finish addressing, the remainders of our birth announcements, an empty milk bottle, a bottle of vitamin D drops, nail clippers for baby, my camera and its USB cord and a box of tissues. As long as the files on my laptop are in their place, that’s all that matters to me and i can write anywhere.
What is your favorite part about being an author? And your least favorite?
My favorite part is the magic moment during the writing process when everything just ‘clicks’ together and the characters get a life of their own. It’s not about following an outline anymore, but about listening to them and letting them guide the story where it needs to go. That’s always exciting.
My least favorite is the promo... I am a deep introvert and I’m very good at telling myself that no one cares to listen to what I say (seriously, is anyone reading this?!). I was also taught that it’s very tacky to toot your own horn so to go out there, climb on an imaginary box and call out to whoever might be nearby ‘I have a new story out and I had so much fun writing it that I’m sure you’ll have fun reading it too’ is something I have to force myself to do...
Do you ever write scenes based on personal experience?
Sort of... but no one would ever recognize them as such. I might pluck a few sentences from a real conversation, or a setting, or the general events, but I always change things to make them fit my characters better.
What advice would you give to an aspiring to be an author? Something you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
My advice would be to write. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in research and think you can’t possibly start before you know everything there is to know about the town where the action is set. Or you start writing, but stop to edit as you go, spending three times longer tweaking a sentence than it took to write the full paragraph it belongs to.
Research is fine, edits are necessary, but there’s a time for both, and a time for doing nothing more than putting words on a page and working toward ‘the end’.
Who are your favorite go-to authors? What are you reading now?
My all-time favorite author – and I’ve been binge-re-reading his stories lately – is a French novelist named Rene Barjavel. He wrote mainly sci-fi, and I bet he would have said he didn’t write romance, but in every one of his stories there’s an enthralling couple and their journey together as well as in the ‘main’ story is always a fascinating one. This is how I aspire to write!
What’s coming down the pike from Kallysten? Any new releases coming that we can look forward to?
Right now I’m putting the last touch to the ‘Serenade Serial’ by finishing up story #5, and once that’s done I’ll start releasing the installments monthly. The way this story came to be was amusing to me, as it centers on a character that gave a ‘villain’ feeling in my previous serial, Ward of the Vampire, but she’s now the heroine of her own story and – I think – much more pleasant than she was in Ward!
Can you share a short excerpt of your newest release, or a sneak peek at something that’s coming soon?
Here’s the beginning of Overture, the first part of the Serenade Serial. Meet Irene...
All the trouble started because of a human. A human. Honestly. After six hundred years, I really should know better than that. I do know better than that. So maybe it didn’t start because of a human. Let me begin again.
All the trouble started because of my idiotic offspring.
All right, maybe calling him idiotic is a bit unfair. Morgan has brains. Before I made him one of us four hundred years ago—four hundred years to the day when this all started, actually—I’d made sure he was smart. Vampire families stay close, or at least mine does, and I’m not one to saddle myself with anyone susceptible to boring me to death within a decade. I’ve had three offspring, and they were all intelligent. Even Ethan, whose vampire life ended much earlier than it should have.
But I wasn’t talking about Ethan, that’s done and gone. I was talking about the most infuriating man I know—or at least, the most infuriating one I knew when this all started, Morgan Ward. Another man may have taken the crown since. Possibly even two. It’s a close race.
Morgan decided a quarter of a century ago that he wouldn’t feed off living humans anymore. He started buying blood from hospitals, blood banks, butchers, and the First Maker knows where else, and starving himself both of fresh blood and of physical contact.
His sister Lilah and I watched him for a while, waiting for him to snap out of it. She worried more than I did—or at least, she worried more than I let her see I did—but I got tired of waiting first. When you get to my age, waiting starts to become really annoying.
I enlisted Lilah’s help and our plan was to come to fruition the very night this story starts. Morgan didn’t want to have close contact with humans, but he wouldn’t have a choice, not when we inserted a carefully chosen girl into his life and forced him to deal with her. That plan was the reason I was in Paris, where Lilah would join me as soon as she set things into motion. If we remained close to New York, Morgan would pester us to set him and the girl free.
Once he figured out where we were, he might come all the way to France to do the pestering in person, but I suspected he would not. The last time he’d been in Paris, he’d almost been outed as a vampire, and he had sworn never to set foot in the city again. Granted, a century had passed since then, but Morgan has a thing about keeping his promises, even those he makes to himself. He and I are alike in that regard, so I can’t really fault him.
And there you have it. I was in Paris because of Morgan, and it’s because I was in Paris that all this started. Frankly, the last thing I was looking for, let alone wanted, was a romantic entanglement. I’m much too old for that kind of nonsense.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Kally for answering all my questions and for being a part of our little community. You can learn more about Kally and her fantastic work at her website, and you can also follow her on both Twitter and Facebook. Thanks, Kally!