My guest today is Kai Strand, a writer whose tween novel has been published by Guardian Angel Publishing.
Welcome, Kai. I’m eager to see what you have to tell us about yourself and your chapter book.
Barbara, thank you for hosting me today. I’m thrilled for the chance to talk with you and your readers about my tween novel, The Weaver, as well as myself. Let’s start with my family.
I am a wife and mother of four. We all live in Central Oregon, except my oldest daughter who has moved away to go to college (a new chapter in parenting that I’m still editing, quite frankly). We are a very close family and do a lot together.
One of our favorite outdoor activities is goecaching. It is like a modern day treasure hunt. Though you can geocache with just a compass and map, it is better to have a GPS. You find cache locations online (www.geocache.com is the site we use). There are different levels of caches, from simple to very difficult. When you decide which caches you want to try to find, you plug the coordinates of the cache into your GPS and make note of any clues the owner of the cache may have given. Then you drive, hike, and/or climb your way to the location of the cache. The search is fun and the discovery of the cache is even better. You usually bring a ‘trade’ item. The cache will have things like dog biscuits, stickers, or happy meal toys in it. You get to trade an item for an item. We’ve left a recipe, a dollar bill and a spinning top for trade in the past. It is such a great activity for the family and we’ve been known to pack the car with the kids’ friends, too.
Here are Kai’s kids Finding the Cache.
What age group did you write The Weaver for, Kai?
The Weaver is written for kids 9 – 12 years old.
About The Weaver: In a town of word weavers, Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a gnome-elf who grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, she’s weaving strange yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales.
If you read my Monday Metaphor this week, you might recall that I used The Weaver as an example of a book with APTRONYMS. Mary and her mother are surnamed “Wordsmith.” And the village they live in is “The Tales.” And there are other aptly named characters.
The Weaver is a lyrical tale with a little magic and a lot of storytelling. It has been nominated for the Global eBook Awards in the category of children’s literature. Here’s hoping it goes all the way. The print and ebook versions are available through the publisher, Amazon.com, B&N.com, Powells.com. Libraries and independent bookstores can purchase through standard wholesale distributors.
Have you visited any schools or libraries to gi book talks? If so, what was the reaction of the children?
I love to do classroom visits. It really inspires me to continue writing. The one thing that astounds me each and every time is how astute the children are. Usually I read and then take questions. There is always a question or two that strikes me as mature beyond their years (whatever their age may be) and really makes me consider my response. Classroom visits are a great reminder to never underestimate your audience.
Do you write with paper and pencil, or exclusively on the computer?
Really it is exclusive to the computer, anymore. Occasionally I’ll be hit with inspiration when all I have available is paper and pen (not a fan of the scritch-scratch of lead on paper). Unfortunately, the transfer of the idea to computer puts me into edit mode sooner in the story than I like and it messes with my creative process. Pen and paper is fine for shorter things, like blog posts.
Do you have an editing tip you could pass on to other writers?
Well, honestly I think editing is my weakest area in the writing process. However, something I can’t do without is reading aloud. I tape myself reading the story. This is especially helpful in novels, since it is so easy to get pulled into the story when editing. When I listen to the recording later while reading through the text, I can see where I’ve made natural word changes and I can hear where I stutter over choppy sentences or where the story line skips a beat.
I know you have said your main character, Mary, has great determination and uses that to solve her problem. Once you knew what you wanted to write about, how did you decide to make Mary a storyteller rather than have a different talent? Or could it be that you wanted to write about storytelling before you created your plot?
What a great question. A “chicken or the egg” type of thing. I think the storytelling came first. I wanted the town to be filled with storytellers. But it wasn’t until my third draft or so that I realized I needed the secondary characters to have their own unique storytelling voice. So, for example, I went back and really considered how Philip might tell his story, “Shame is a powerful discipline,” and what kind of stories the most revered word weaver, Abigail Wordsmith, would weave. So, even though I wanted the story to be about storytelling, I didn’t really figure out how to make that happen until I was going through and editing.
Did you make up the quotes at the beginning of each chapter?
I did. They still really make me smile. It was so much fun coming up with them and then refining them. The only one I didn’t think up myself is “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” That has always been a favorite phrase of mine and fit that chapter so well. I couldn’t find a source for the quote, though.
Do you read your drafts to your husband and children? Have they made any significant contributions to your writing?
I do, over and over. I wait until the first time I think the story is ready. Which, of course, is never when the story is ready! But they are very supportive. Thank goodness my children are so enthusiastic. I’ve written (and read aloud a few times) the first book in a series and they keep hounding me for the second book. That kind of encouragement is really, really good for a writer! My husband is great at resolving plot holes. If I’m not happy with a resolution or a character motivation, he is so good at fleshing it out and helping me to make it more impactful to the story.
Thank you again, Barbara for having me today. I’ve really enjoyed the interview and I hope your readers will enjoy The Weaver.
It’s been my pleasure, Kai. (Now I’m spelling your name right and pronouncing it “K”). Best of luck in the Global eBook Awards.
Now Readers, let me tell you more about The Weaver. You already know the setting is a village of story tellers and you know the main character’s name is Mary Wordsmith. Although Mary’s mother is one of the best story tellers, Mary’s stories are not interesting. She’s way too old to be in Novice Word Weaving, but there she is. All she wants is to weave a yarn as beautiful as her mother’s. When Mary meets a gnome-elf, he gives her a wish. (That’s a cute story in itself). And her wish comes true. But not in the way Mary expects because of the way she worded her wish. (This little parallel theme illustrates the power of words—you better say exactly what you mean, or else). “The else” is what happens to Mary. She is confused when significant little knitted charms start popping up mysteriously when she speaks. As the mystery unravels, Mary’s stories become more interesting.
Both Mary and the gnome-elf feel out of place in their environments. In fact, the gnome-elf’s name is Unwanted. Though Mary thinks the wish went wrong, the two eventually become friends. I’m sure you want to read the book to see if Mary’s wish comes true.
Another nice thing about this book is that other characters get to tell stories. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and fun book.
Get your copy of The Weaver at these locations:
Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book.