What genre do you write? Would you consider writing anything else?
I mostly dabble in speculative fiction and horror, with elements of science fiction and fantasy. I go back and forth between regular adult fiction and young adult, depending on the story. I'm always open to writing in other genres and have written some romance for freelance work. The editors liked it, so who knows... Maybe I will try my hand at romance one day too. Though if I do, it will be slightly darker with elements of the above genres in it. I can't seem to write in the real world much, I need something magical or mystical in every story I write.
Do you outline and plan or do you let the plot unfold?
I don't outline, but I probably should with some of my longer works. With my first novel (that's currently in editing), I wrote it as a NaNoWriMo novel and I let myself have fun with it without any outline. Mostly, I go in with a general idea of everything and let the story unfold. Sometimes I stick to my original ideas, and sometimes the characters have a mind of their own and go in another direction. That's one thing I love about writing.
What do you like most about writing?
I love creating new worlds and characters. When I was little, I enjoyed making up people and telling their stories. I loved choosing names, giving them a past, and just imagining what they might do in a given situation. When I was a teen, I was a Sims addict. Still would be if I hadn't deleted it from my computer. I don't know what it is... I just creating characters and telling their story.
What do you find most difficult?
My inner critic. I'm a perfectionist and I really, really care about what others think of me and my writing. I've had to stop that, and it hasn't been easy. I used to participate in a writing contest and I always did very well... But then the trolls stepped in and tore me down, telling me I wasn't good enough. Eventually, I had to learn to laugh at them and move on. It's easier now, but we all have our bad days. My skin is getting tougher and honestly, I find myself not listening to the negative folks as much. Still... it's been the most difficult lesson I had to learn in order to get where I am today.
What makes a good plot?
That's a hard question! Personally, I prefer stories that allow me to fully escape reality. I like a plot that is literally out of this world... New planets, different time periods, you name it. I like very imaginative worlds.
What are your pet peeves in fiction?
One thing I see far too often is the use of coincidences to get characters out of trouble. Or not making them go through with a difficult choice. If the entire book is written about the character needing to choose between two things and in the end they can have both, I feel that's usually cheap. I read all that tension, I couldn't wait to see what they'd choose and then they didn't have to. And even worse... too perfect characters. I've read a lot of books that feature "chosen ones" and it's usually not for me. I usually hate those characters when everyone liked them (except the bad guys who are only bad because, well they don't like the main character), I like seeing depth. I like seeing good guys with bad traits and bad guys with good traits. And I don't want characters who always get what they want. The real life doesn't work that way and it seems like an easy out to help the story flow better rather than making things difficult on your character. I feel some writers get too attached to their characters and don't want to make them choose or for them to suffer and it shows in their writing sometime. Then again, I tend to prefer darker fiction where happily ever afters aren't the norm, so maybe I'm just cynical.
What experiences have inspired you?
Shockingly, the time the troll tried to tear me down and tell me I wasn't good enough. I realized in that moment that I'd had enough silliness and started taking my writing seriously. I got involved in the indie writing community online and found everyone to be supportive and friendly, encouraging me to finally finish my book and publish it.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I don't really know. I've been writing and creating stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used to create fantasy worlds in my head to help me escape the pain of being bullied.
What are your current projects?
I have my first book of shorts coming out very soon, "Femmes du Chaos". It's currently in editing and formatting at the moment. The stories all feature strong female characters both in good and evil roles.
My completed YA novel (tentatively called "The Caged Girl") is going to be edited and serialized. It's a fantasy/horror story about a girl who is locked away from the ugliness of the world and the boy who has to prove his ability to protect her in order to marry her. It's in a very dark world full of cannibalism, starvation and just a teensy bit of magic.
I also have a novella that's completed and ready for editing. It's called "The Devil's in the Details" and it's about a very ambitious man who no longer wants to be the devil's advocate, but the devil himself. It's a series of intertwined shorts based around the deals he makes in exchange for power and souls.
And finally, I have another YA (maybe NA) story that I need to finish soon that I liked to call "A utopian Prince and the Pauper with lesbians."
How important is dialogue and how do you use it?
Dialogue is very important to me. I've been told it's one of my strengths. I tend to have a sparse style, focusing a lot on action and dialogue to tell the story. It needs to feel true to life otherwise it falls flat to me.
About Femmes du Chaos
They messed with the wrong girl this time. From heroes to villains, Femmes du Chaos sets out to show the world what the fairer sex is really made of. You’ll meet women of all ages and from many different walks of life... Warriors and schoolgirls, side-by-side in one place. One thing connects them all, and that is their ambition. Whether they use their ambition for good or evil, well that’s for them to decide.
Gritty, fantastical and sometimes uncomfortable to read, Femmes du Chaos is a tour de force that holds nothing back. There will be violence and there will be blood. Some will survive and come out stronger in the end... And some will let the darkness consume them. After all, no two girls are ever alike. Here are a few of the femmes you'll meet in this thrilling collection:
Sylvia: The bounty hunter with a dark past who is hellbent on revenge. When the justice system fails her, she sets out to correct their mistakes.
Layla: The ballerina who wants to be a star who's spent her life being overshadowed and under-appreciated. What happens when she stumbles across magic that makes her sister the star she's longed to be for so long? Let’s just say, you’ve never seen sibling rivalry like this before.
Daphne and Delia: Identical twins who share a painful secret. Confined to a lab and tortured in the name of science for most of their lives, they managed to escape once. But when their past catches up them, can they escape from it again? There may only be one way out and these are girls who are willing to do anything to stop their torment. And I do mean anything.
Mikayla: When a curse falls upon their town and the children end up dying left and right, it appears that Mikayla is next. Except, there’s one thing that no one, not even her family saw coming... Mikayla is too smart for her own good and knows how to make a deal with the devil.
Liz: A servant girl forced to work for the upper class people living in a dystopian future. All she wants is an education and the chance to better herself. In a world where she’s not allowed to read a book without fear of death, she breaks all the rules. Until she comes face to face with the punishment awaiting those who disobey, that is...
Mallory: A young girl who can see the future in her dreams. She’s saved lives in the past, and her dreams are warning her to not return to the world they all left behind. Faced with starvation, no one wants to believe her about the multitude of horrors that wait for them above. After all, monsters don’t exist... Or do they?
Melody: A girl who knows nothing but religious fanaticism. Her father and her sisters are the only people she's ever known. But what happens to the “mothers”, those who are chosen to sacrifice for the greater good of the family? Melody needs to find out and stop it, or else she may just be the next to go.
A Fate Worse Than Death Lisette was pulled to the edge of the pool first. Gag firmly placed in her mouth, her eyes were wide with fear as tears fell in thick droplets onto her favorite dress, the pink one with white lace at the collar.
Lisette struggled as the guard effortlessly shackled her feet to the large weight. Kicking and squirming, she fought for her life, but her slight frame was no match for the strength of the guards. The mechanism was as cruel as it was simple in design. Lisette’s feet were chained to the weights on a platform that would drop out from under her, dragging her down into the murky depths of the pool below. Chains were attached to both sides of the weight, and on a whim, the executioner could shorten or prolong a prisoner’s life for the pleasure of the crowd by simply raising or lowering the weight. "Two minutes. I give her two minutes unless old Ira decides to have some fun with her,” The guards wagered amongst themselves as the one beside Meredith winked in her direction.
Bonnie and Clyde The dream was always the same. A single yelp of pain that forever echoed in Sylvia's ears. A streak of crimson where Bonnie had tried crawling for help; help that didn’t arrive soon enough. Even in the dream, it never did. Bonnie was dead. Murdered. Sylvia woke up drenched in sweat, just as she had that hot July morning when she’d heard the awful cry followed by peals of drunken laughter. She’d tried to chase the bastards down, but the cops had gotten to them first. They were lucky. Two years in prison. Two measly years was all they’d served.
Kristen Duvall is a writer of tales both real and make believe. Originally a Midwestern girl, she now resides in Southern California with her boyfriend, her Great Dane and a her rescued calico kitty. She dabbles in horror, science fiction, fantasy, young adult and speculative fiction. Femmes du Chaos is her first foray into publishing her own work, but she has one YA novel and a novella completed and ready to be edited. She also owns a small publishing company called Fey Publishing where she publishes other people's work because while it's a lot of work, there's nothing she'd rather be doing with her life.
The release of Femmes du Chaos has been delayed a little, but currently it's expected to be finished at the end of August or early September 2013.
To keep up to date on Kristen and to read more of her work, please follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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