I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Ward, who is the author of “After the Green Withered.” I had so much fun with this interview. If you have not checked out her book, do so! You can catch my review here: https://ataleoftwopages.blog/AFTWBT. What a great lady, and author, and I know that we can expect more great things from her in the future! Her books are Young Adult, but they are fun for adults too! Check her out now, but first – grab this awesome interview!
Interview with Kristin Ward
RH: Hi Kristin, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
KW: I’m a southern California mother of three sons living in Connecticut. Weird, right? I mean the California part, not the three sons part. Although… So many people ask me if I miss my La Jolla days! Truthfully, I love where I live! The scenery and seasons are the foundation of my life.
In the sphere of writing, I have been writing poetry, prose, and academia for over twenty years. Although, I didn’t publish my first book until May of 2018.
I love dark chocolate, coffee with creamer, 80s movies, sci-fi, and hiking in good weather. My knitting is terribly juvenile in skill level and usually sits in a drawer, though I do have a decent yarn stash. I’m a classic movie quoter – especially of The Princess Bride – and love spending time with my three kids. Four if you count my husband, which you absolutely should.
RH: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
KW: My ultimate goal is to write someone’s favorite book. I can think of no greater compliment than to craft a story that reaches someone on a profound level.
RH: Which writers inspire you?
KW: Aside from my wonderful English teacher who inspired me many, many years ago, I am heavily influenced by what I read.
In the dystopian genre, it all began when I read The Giver. The world Lois Lowry created had a lot of elements that are reflective of a society under intense control where our very nature as human beings is suppressed. The book reached so many emotional levels. I really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale which I reread recently as I had every intention of watching the miniseries. I have yet to watch it but it’s on my list. I also enjoyed The Hunger Games books and feel that Suzanne Collins touched on some powerful societal issues.
RH: What have you written?
KW: My writing aspirations began in middle school and have steadily grown over the last thirty years. I’ve written numerous poems, the early ones written during my teenage angst being just awful, and actively post poetry on Twitter and Instagram. The first piece of writing that was officially published was a curriculum for a zoo exhibit. I am an active blogger on my website, often infusing reflections from my life as a mother of three sons as blog topics. It’s cathartic.
I was inspired to write my first book while writing a graduate course in environmental education. As I read numerous topics regarding the history of the earth to the present, I couldn’t help but be struck by the incredible responsibility that humans have to the future of our planet. The debut novel, After the Green Withered, won the Best Indie Book Award in the young adult category! Following my first book, I wrote the sequel, Burden of Truth.
RH: What are you working on at the minute?
KW: There are many stories swirling around in the miasma of my brain. But I am focused on one of those ideas for my next book. I am currently writing a YA sci-fi-fantasy titled Rise of Gaia. Interestingly, this book had gone through a series of iterations in its initial inception as I developed the story concepts. I recently revealed the cover. This was an intense process with a designer who worked incredibly hard to bring my vision to fruition. Rise of Gaia is coming out this year!
RH: What’s it about?
KW: Here’s a blurb to get you acquainted with the premise:
Beneath rock and soil, trees and oceans, she lies.
Under concrete jungles and poisoned rivers, she slumbers.
She is Mother Earth.
And mankind has turned its back on its mother.
The visions begin on Terran’s seventeenth birthday. Horrifying images pummel her brain, while a voice commands her to see beyond the world she thought she knew and into the heart of it. Gaia has awakened, brought to consciousness by the greed of a species that has tainted every aspect of her being in a tide of indifference. With this awareness, comes rage. Gaia calls upon her children to unleash her fury, wreaking vengeance on humanity.
Terran will emerge in a world on the brink of collapse, to face a being whose wrath is beyond imagining.
RH: What genre are your books?
KW: My first two books are YA dystopian stories. This genre was inevitable considering the story I wanted to tell. The premise is a future of man’s making. It is the choices humanity made that became the downfall. My main character lives in the aftermath.
RH: What draws you to this genre?
KW: I think, as humans, we have a natural curiosity regarding the future. This is something that is beyond our control, and, as a species, I think many of us are uncomfortable with that uncertainty. So perhaps a dystopian story sheds light on a possible future that human beings can affect in the present. I know that for my books, what mankind is doing to the planet right now lays the foundation for the world my main character inherits. Perhaps if we made different choices, her life would have been different. In a sense, we can prevent this dystopian society from ever coming to fruition.
RH: Do you write full-time or part-time?
KW: While I would love to write full-time, I am currently a part-timer. The number of hours I write is dependent upon the day of the week and what demands I have at home. If someone is hungry or the laundry pile has become a sentient being bent on haranguing me until I put it away, then I’ll be lucky to get thirty minutes of consecutive time. On a good Saturday, I can write for six or more hours, assuming I am left to myself. However, this is an anomaly, not the norm.
RH: Where do the ideas come from?
KW: I was inspired to write After the Green Withered and the sequel, Burden of Truth, while completing research for a graduate course I wrote in environmental education. My course included concepts regarding earth’s history and, within this, I learned a great deal about the impact humans have had on the planet. As I studied and composed the course, an idea began to germinate:
What if there was a global drought due to the impact humans have had on the planet?
That seedling idea sat with me for a year or so as I finished my course writing and began to teach a few graduate courses. Eventually, I began to write the story but it took a whopping five years to get it from draft to publish!
The final push to finish was due to the myriad of issues that are going on environmentally. When I read a stunning article about Cape Town’s water crisis, I knew I needed to get my book published so I buckled down and finished the first draft, finally publishing in May of 2018.
RH: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
KW: When it comes to writing, I’m a classic ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ girl. The idea of creating an outline makes me crinkle my nose and immediately change the subject. It may be how I was taught to write in the good ol’ classroom, but my creativity doesn’t flow through Roman numerals and bullet points. Those things would strangle my thoughts before I even had time to write them.
A panster to the core, that’s me.
An exciting outcome of this approach is that my characters often surprise me. Yes, I know that may sound strange. To put that into perspective, as I write I am creating storylines and characters that all become pieces of the world that was born out of my mind (I know. That’s kind of scary.). Since I am developing this entire world and narrative as I go, while aligning it to a prominent theme, new characters and events are woven into this tapestry of thought and, eventually, into a complete novel.
RH: What is the hardest thing about writing?
KW: There seems to be a strange time warp that occurs in my life. This is evident when the workday crawls by, painfully, slowly, hour by hour. But writing time? I get in my groove and two hours have flown by and it feels like I just got started. I think I need to analyze this phenomenon because this whole time thing is the biggest challenge and my greatest downfall in productivity. Well, I may get lost in the internet playground from time to time. Then there’s Twitter. I might spend too much time scrolling through tweets. And Instagram. Fine. Facebook too.
RH: What is the easiest thing about writing?
KW: I wouldn’t categorize any part of writing as inherently easy. However, when the mood strikes and the fingers are flying across the keyboard, the writing flows like a river, filling the pages with imagery. It is at times like this when I feel like the craft is easy. I only wish I experienced it more often!
RH: If there was one author that you could spend the day with, who would you choose?
KW: I would love to hang out with Suzanne Collins! Though I’ve never met her, she actually lives in my town, which is completely awesome! Hanging out with her and picking her brain about her inspiration for The Hunger Games, while in the context of my own town, would be utterly fabulous. I can picture it now! We’d meet up at my favorite local coffee shop that overlooks a small river and discuss everything from our favorite local haunts to books. Sigh. A girl can dream…
RH: Where is your ideal writing spot?
KW: Before my grandmother passed away, I inherited a lovely, upholstered recliner that I park my butt in when I’m serious about a writing marathon. It’s gotten rather worn over the years, but it reclines at just the right angle and allows me to prop my computer up on my lap, just so. In general, unless they’re hungry or someone has gotten injured or they just can’t seem to stop themselves, my boys leave me in peace for chunks of time so I can enjoy writing in my favorite chair. It’s also next to the woodstove. So, in the winter I’m toasty warm as I click away on the keyboard.
RH: What is your favorite quote?
KW: My favorite quotes of all time come from The Princess Bride. It’s so hard to pick just one quote though. In fact, I can’t. There are just too many. I will subject you to a few of my favorites!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
And other online retailers: https://www.books2read.com/b/after-the-green-withered