An interview with children’s and YA author Karen Krossing, novelist and short story writer whose first picture book is coming out this fall. Karen has been an editor, a writing coach, and a creative writing instructor. Listen to her thoughts on sad endings, unforeseen plot twists, and writer’s block. 20 minutes.
Read the full transcript:
[1:20] Interview with Karen Krossing
CA: Do you typically know the ending of your story at the beginning?
KK: … I know the major twists in the story but I don’t like to work out the details. … I’m aware of the sort of bones of the story, the structure of the story, and what’s needed …
[3:10] CA: Do you have a favorite plot twist from your own work or others?
KK: … I love when … the characters tell me a plot twist that I didn’t know. …
[4:00] CA: Do you have any advice that you would give to young writers stuck in the middle of a story?
KK: I have so many ideas about how to overcome writer’s block. … reread what you’ve already written … talk with a friend about why you’re stuck. … write outside of the story. …Asking the characters what happens next and where they want to go… get feedback from trusted friends or other writers … take a writing class or listen to a podcast about writing… try the put-it-in-the-drawer method. … And my final bit of advice is to set a daily writing goal. …
[8:00] CA: How do you feel about sad endings or endings where the good guy loses?
KK: I love them. …. If I see my characters coping with loss and disappointment and sadness, then maybe that will help me when I feel those things too.
[9:00] CA:. Are any of your stories based on your own childhood?
KK: …. The one that’s most closely based on my childhood, I would say, is my collection of link short stories, Take the Stairs. .. I have been writing more stories recently that go more into my childhood — the monster in the closet story. …
[11:20] CA: Do you have a favorite point of view to write from?
KK: … I like first person because it’s so immediate…. But my other favorite is third person close, … so you can, as a writer, observe that main character and give insights that maybe they don’t quite see or understand themselves. …I like present tense for its immediacy, but past can … give that place where you can observe or reflect.
[13:35] CA: Have you ever written a story about a transformation?
KK: … every main character transforms in some way
CA: Have you ever written about a parasite?
KK: No but that sounds fun. …
CA: And what about a split personality?
KK: … not a split personality but a many faceted personality…
[14:40] CA: Did you tell stories around the campfire as a kid?
KK: I feel like it was the listener, not the teller around the campfire. …
[15:40] CA: Do you have any favorite scary movies?
KK: One that really creeps me out is Coraline…. Those button eyes – they’re terrifying. …
[16:00] CA: Do you have any phobias? Well, closets…
KK: … Right now I feel like my phobia is germs…I don’t have phobias then. I have large fears…. going to the dark places in our own lives brings great story material.
[17:10] CA: Do you collect anything?
KK: … ideas, dreams, passions, wishes, hopes. …
[17:40] CA: And you don’t happen to be the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter?
KK: But I wish I was because that would feel really special, maybe magical. …
[18:00] CA: And for the last thing, I’m going to say a few words. This is not a psychiatric evaluation. And you just say the first thing that comes into your head. …
CA:. And that’s it. You passed. …. Thank you so much…
[19:00] Karen Krossing introduces herself
KK: I’m Karen Krossing. I’m an author for kids and teens. I write short stories, novels, picture books. I write because I’m fascinated by words, by the way they can make people laugh or cry or inspire them to do great things. And I want to use the power of words to do good in the world.
[19:30] Find out more about Karen Krossing
You can hear more creative writing advice from Karen Krossing on Cabin Tales Episode 1.5, “Author Interviews about Setting,” Episode 2, “Nasty People Meet Nasty Ends,” about Character, and Episode 8, “The Never-ending Story,” about Revision. Find out more about Karen Krossing and her books and her editorial and mentoring work from her website at KarenKrossing.com. You’ll find a detailed description of her author presentations and creative writing workshops, along with email links that you can use to invite her into your school.
[20:30] Thanks and coming up on the podcast
I’ll be back next week with leftovers from my interview with Tim Wynne-Jones, the multi-award-winning author of 35 books who is also a creative writing instructor and a musician.
Thanks for listening.
Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.
Visit the Cabin Tales home page.
Karen Krossing is the author of seven award-winning novels for kids and teens, including Punch Like a Girl, Bog, and Cut the Lights, plus new picture books on the way. Karen encourages new writers through workshops for kids, teens, and adults. She lives in Toronto. Find her online at www.karenkrossing.com.