Thank you for having me on the Imajin Books blog today. We’re celebrating the launch of my third novel, AVALANCHE. It’s a pleasure to answer questions about Imajin Books and my writing process.
Kristina - How did you sign with Imajin Books?
I had an agent for a couple of years, but when she retired, I decided to try finding a publisher without an agent. My break came in 2014 when the Crime Writers of Canada shortlistedDESCENT for the Unhanged Arthur award, and the Crime Writers’ Association shortlistedBLAZE was for the Debut Dagger. Both awards are for excellence in crime writing by an unpublished author. Having two novels shortlisted garnered interest from publishers.
One day I read DEVINE INTERVENTION and thought my writing style was similar to the author’s (Cheryl Kaye Tardif) even though the genre was different. I decided to check who published the novel and discovered Imajin Books. I submitted both DESCENT and BLAZE to Imajin Books and was awarded a two-book deal.
I believe being shortlisted for the awards pushed me to the top of the slush pile.
When you conceived of the series, did you map Kalin’s character arc for each book?
Not at the beginning. Because I finished DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE before signing with Imajin Books, I was able to go back and work on her character arc. In fact, I wrote AVALANCHE first, then DESCENT, then BLAZE. On the advice of my agent, I reordered the novels so DESCENT was first. That meant the character arc had to change quite a bit.
Kristina—Your education is in computer mathematics so how did you evolve from that to writing novels?
As with anything, time and dedication go a long way. I first took an online Writer’s Digest course, then I attended the Humber School for Writers correspondence program. Joan Barfoot, was my mentor. Joan is a Scotia Giller Prize and Trillium Book award shortlisted author. I participated in the Crime Writers of Canada mentorship program with Garry Ryan as my mentor. Garry is the award-winning author of the Detective Lane Mysteries. Having professional authors critique my manuscripts greatly improved my writing. I still reference the material I collected from them. I’ve also read hundreds of how-to-write books. I love to study the craft and believe I’ll always have something new to learn.
Can you describe your writing process?
For me, there are two phases to writing a novel. The creative phase and the analytical phase. During the creative phase, I need to be alone to write. Well almost alone. My dog, Farley, is always with me, and I love to listen to him breath as he’s cuddled beside me. Sometimes he’s so close to me, he interferes with the keyboard. I wrote DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE while living on my sailboat. My favorite spot was in the cockpit, facing aft with my laptop on my knees.
During the analytical phase, I don’t need to be alone. It takes me a few weeks to a month to review each scene and scene element. I use a spreadsheet to do this and find I can work with distractions.
After the novel is complete and it’s been through editing, I need to work in silence again as I proofread. This takes intense concentration. At this point, only Farley is allowed in the room.
The backstory of characters play a part in the plot. Was it plot first or character first?
Character first. I love to write about characters and then see what they are going to do. For each book, I decided what the crime was. Often, I don't know who committed the crime until I’m two-thirds of the way through the first draft. I’ve even completed a first draft and then gone back and rewritten it so a different person committed the crime. For the novel I am currently writing, I’m creating an outline first. I’ve be a true panster and thought it was time I tried something new.
A Little About AVALANCHE (Released TODAY!):
On a cold winter morning, the safe at Stone Mountain Resort is robbed, and Kalin Thompson’s brother, Roy, suspiciously disappears. As Director of Security, Kalin would normally lead the investigation, but when her brother becomes the prime suspect, she is ordered to stay clear.
The police and the president of the resort turn their sights on Kalin, who risks everything to covertly attempt to clear Roy’s name. As threats against her escalate, she moves closer to uncovering the guilty party. Is Kalin’s faith in her brother justified? Or will the truth destroy her?
A Little About Kristina Stanley:
Kristina Stanley is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her first two novels garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated DESCENT for the Unhanged Arthur award. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated BLAZE for the Debut Dagger. Her short stories have been published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Voices From the Valleys anthology. She is also the author of THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES.
Before writing her series, Kristina was the director of security, human resources and guest services at a resort in the depths of the British Columbian mountains. The job and lifestyle captured her heart, and she decided to write mysteries about life in an isolated resort. While writing the first four novels, she spent five years living aboard a sailboat in the US and the Bahamas.
Find out more about her at www.KristinaStanley.com.
Links to the Stone Mountain Mystery Series: