Interview with NP author Kristen Stone
A new writer on the block would be a very wrong thing to say about Kristen Stone, who has been writing for as long as she can remember. She is one of the new published authors though, coming from Tim Roux’s stock and finding her way on Amazon and beyond.
When you read Kristen’s stories, you instantly recognise a seasoned hand at writing, excellent story teller, crystal-clear details and sentences polished like mahogany wood. Kristen does not like to be cased in one genre and she’s right; it’s just this one strong voice that is present in her work, propelling it forward. Her voice is both universal and a very personal one.
Last month Edge of Extinction saw the light, Kristen’s first brainchild and one she can be very proud of.
Where do you live?
I live in a little village, 1500 houses so maybe not so little, in the middle of England. If you drew a triangle between Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester you would find my village just inside it with Leicester being the nearest city. I was recently amazed to find that another member of Night, who now lives in Cyprus, once had relatives living in the same village! Small world or what?
Were you born and bred there?
No. I was born and bred in London. And I mean Inner London, not somewhere out on the edge. About four miles north of the City of London (the City of London being something different to London). White Hart Lane was the nearest football stadium going North and the Arsenal ground about the same distance going North/West. I hated living in a city, it was too noisy and too crowded. Although I lived in London I hardly ever made use of the facilities – the theatres and cinemas of the West End. It was probably easier to get to that part of the city from outside than from another borough. When I met the lucky guy who was to become my husband I couldn’t wait to move to a smaller town. It took less time to travel 12 miles to work than it used to take me to get 4 miles in London – and I even got a seat on the bus!
What kind of food do you like?
Anything that someone else has prepared.
Are you a good cook?
Good? Probably, everything I cook gets eaten. Keen? NO. I can cook, I do cook because we have to eat. I CAN make cakes and pies but I choose not to. There are much better things to do than spend all day in the kitchen.
How important is food to you?
In that you need food to survive, it is important. If I could live on tea and biscuits, I would. I enjoy eating out with my husband, because it means I haven’t had to cook; but I don’t really like social eating – dinner parties and meals out with lots of other people. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a dinner party. No, you don’t have to rush to invite me.
Do you do any sports?
Sport? What’s that? I have never been very sporty. When I was at school I couldn’t catch or throw and definitely had not an ounce of speed in me. I had appendicitis
when I was 13 and when I went back to school I was told not to do anything strenuous for a couple of weeks. I went to help the music teacher while the rest of my class did games and never went back. I don’t think the games teacher even knew I existed.
When I got married my husband became very keen on squash and tried to teach me but I have absolutely no hand/eye co-ordination and couldn’t even serve.
I’m not a great spectator, either. I have never forgiven Wimbledon for replacing the children’s TV when there was only one channel to watch (showing my age here) and am dreading July 2012. If anyone wants to offer me a month on a desert island, please let me know.
What does exercise mean to you?
Walking the dog around the local recreation ground twice a day, every day, come hail or shine. Well, maybe not hail, but certainly rain and snow and wind. The only thing that actually stops us is when it gets too hot! When it takes the poor animal an hour to stop panting when we get back I refuse to take her out again. Oh, and cricket. The village cricket team take over the recevery Saturday afternoon meaning Mutley can’t charge around from one end of the ground to the other like she usually does.
I would go on longer walks, through fields and along the canal, but my knees aren’t up to it!
Any other hobbies?
I used to run a Guide company, did it for about 20 years, but have passed that on to someone else.
I play the piano, or should I say, try to play the piano. I actually have lessons, not so much to learn, but to make me practise! I really enjoy this. Great release of tension and frustration.
When I’m watching tele I like to knit or do some embroidery. My daughter gave me a really complicated cross-stitch to do which is proving a challenge.
Do you have kids/grandkids?
I have one grown-up daughter and three grandchildren whose ages range from 14 years to 18 months! I don’t see them very often as they live quite a way away. Her husband works away from home during the week and I don’t like to bother them at the weekends.
My granddaughter, the 14 year-old, is down visiting her other grandmother at the
moment and I took her to see Harry Potter last night, which was great. Both going out with her and the film. (the interview was held a couple of weeks ago, HW)
The middle one is a ten year old boy about to move up to senior school and the little one is a cute little girl, just at the stage where everyone goes ‘ahh’ when they see her.
Do you like travelling?
No. I wish I could teleport everywhere like in Star Trek. I’m not really interested in looking at places. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in London surrounded by sights like St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster and all the other things tourists come to see. Travelling is a chore which I can do without.
With one exception.
What’s that then?
I am lucky enough to spend some of the winter in Tenerife. This year will be the third time and I am really looking forward to it. This year I’m going in December. I spend the time reading and polishing what I have written during the year – although lately I have been doing this all the time!
Do you have another job apart from writing?
No. I have a very supportive husband who works very hard so that I can have the time to do whatever I want.
I have worked in the past. Nothing fantastic, just general office work. I have never wanted to do anything other than write. Now that we are on our own expenses are fairly minimal so I don’t need to work. It would be nice to actually earn a living out of my writing, but we will have to wait and see if that ever happens. I’m not banking on it so anything that comes in will be a bonus.
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer?
Husband – yeah, whatever. He has been living with this dream ever since I met him so it’s not surprising he is not over-awed. He just keeps reminding me I’m not J K
Others – wow, cool, didn’t know you could do that, can I buy a copy?
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I go out most weekends with my husband. We usually go to the local pub where we meet friends from the village. I also belong to a craft group, a writing group and a recorder group (forgot to mention I also try to play the recorder. Believe it or not, a group of recorders sound really good). But I am really a solitary person. I am happy with my own company, which is why I am happy to jet off to Tenerife for a month more or less on my own. Mind you, there’s still the internet and Skype so I’m never completely out of touch with home.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
I usually write, on my laptop, sitting somewhere in my living room. The view? There isn’t one really, a few roof tops and that’s it. There are some parts of my village that have fantastic views of the countryside, unfortunately I am not in one of them. In fact I try not to look out of the window as I tend to get dazzled and then can’t see anything for a few minutes.
I do my thinking in bed or the bath!
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work?
Cup of tea. In fact there is a cup of tea beside me when I’m doing most things.
If I’m writing something new I prefer to do it in complete silence but if I’m editing or
reviewing I have the radio on tuned to Classicfm. I like classical music because it has such variety and when you listen to Classicfm you don’t hear the same piece of music on every programme, every day. In fact it can be weeks before you hear something repeated and even then it might be by a different artist so you get a different interpretation (not that I’m knowledgeable enough to spot that. I have to be told by the presenter.)
What genre do you write in?
Pass. When I start a project I never think, ‘this is a whatever’. I get an idea, a story
develops and, hopefully, a book appears.
So far nothing I have written has been in the same genre as something else. I don’t know whether this is good or not but I can’t help it. I suppose if I were with an established publishing house they would want everything to be in the same hole so that I would attract a following. But I’m not and I’m pleased to say Tim encourages everything so long as it’s good enough. I hope my next books will be.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
My first book, Edge of Extinction, appeared as an e-book at the end of July 2011 with the paperback following in August. It felt fantastic. I’m still getting over the
feeling of people saying they like my book.
The last person to say my writing was any good was my English teacher at school. Although I have tried several
times during my adult life to get published, because what I write doesn’t fit into neat little boxes I have never had any luck getting an agent or publisher. I think the idea of e-books and print on demand is the best thing to happen for indie authors. There is a lot of competition but you have as much chance as anyone else if you can find the right way to get the attention of all the Kindle owners out there.
Can you tell us some background information on the book?
This story started off as an experiment trying to see what it would be like to be born
with a tail. The idea came from a song I came across when working with Brownies.
The song asked – if you could have a tail what sort would you choose. Having decided I wanted someone with a prehensile tail I had to decide where this was likely to occur and how. Kianda Mala grew and suddenly I had a story about a tribe of Amazonian Indians who were being wiped out by pollution from a mine.
In one form or another it has taken me 20 years and three to finish it. The first draft was written 20 years ago but, although an agent showed some interest for a while, no one wanted it. I’m glad now because the story has changed, for the better. About three years ago I decided I really, really wanted to write for more than a hobby. I fished this out of the loft and have been polishing it ever since. I put it up on
Authonomy and received lots of encouraging comments. People liked it! Brendan Gisby (Bookie’s Runner) suggested to show it to Tim and the rest, as they say, is history.
It is a ‘stand-alone’ book. My next one is completely different. I have enough ideas in my head to do a ‘prequel’ to Edge of Extinction should anyone ever express an interest in learning about Kianda’s early life, but I think that will probably stay in my head.
I think I am satisfied with the final result, although I’m very nervous about reading the proof, not for any typos I might find, but because I might want to change it!
What are your writing habits?
I’m a definite owl. I get up when I wake up, which is usually eventually. I potter for much of the day, doing housewifey things and stuff (sometimes I even practise the piano but not often enough). The computer goes on as soon as I am ready for the day, check emails and gossip on FB. When the cleaning, shopping, dog walking or
whatever has been done I might start looking at editing if I am at that stage. The real work, the writing, usually starts about 8pm in the evening and goes on until I decide to stop. I don’t set any targets. I rarely go to bed before midnight, hence the late start to the morning. But nothing is fixed. If I have nothing else to do and the ideas
are there I could spend all day writing or checking something.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
I don’t think anyone in particular has inspired me to write. It is just something I have wanted to do since I first discovered the wonders of books. I have been a fan of many different authors but I have never felt – I want to write like him, or he/she is the best. I take every book I read for what it is, not what I think it should be. I don’t compare a thriller to a biography or romance to historical drama.
Other writers on Night have given me encouragement and confidence for which I am very grateful. They have been more inspiring than any published author because they are real and ‘talk’ to me via the website. And Tim’s encouragement
has been awesome.
What does Night Publishing mean to you?
Where writing is concerned Night Publishing means a great deal to me. I have met someone who has put my book out there. I have met lots of friendly, supportive people who say nice thing about my work. Sometimes I wonder if it is all a dream and I will wake up behind the checkout at Morrisons, back to my old boring life of
mundane work and no dreams. I hope I can return the support Night has given me by being a success and helping others to join me on the Amazon ladder.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
Hopefully, working on my fourth book somewhere warm in the winter. If the dog doesn’t last that long my husband says I can spend all winter in Tenerife, till then I have to walk the dog in the snow.
Final fun question. If you had to choose: are you a Houdini or an Edison? This is for the official NP tally.
Escape artist? No. Inventor? No. I think I am more a Buddha – thoughtful, meditative, caring and compassionate. Hope this shows in my writing.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, Kristen Stone!
Links to Kristen’s sites:
Links to Kristen’s book