How long were you writing before your first publication?
I spent fifteen years as a professional writer and speaker before my debut novel was published in 2014. The years spent as a corporate trainer, instructional designer, and communications consultant for a Fortune-100 Company helped me gain experience that I hope will make me a better fiction writer. As for pursuing publication? That journey began in 2011 when I pitched my work at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference and signed with an agent about a month later. It was almost two years down the road before I signed my first contract with my publisher. The Butterfly and the Violin was the first book I’ve had published, but it was the ninth full-length manuscript I’d written.
Have you published any of your early works since?
I haven’t, mainly because I feel called to write historical novels, and I actually started out writing contemporary fiction. Interestingly enough, those early manuscripts always had some sort of vintage inspiration or a tie-back to history (such as Jane Austen’s England as the back-drop). I decided to give historical fiction a try after that and felt at home almost immediately. As for publishing those earlier works – who knows what the future could bring?
Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds?
Absolutely! You’ve probably heard that writers have their quirks. Well, one of mine is that I have a “reading” voice. That is, I regularly read my manuscripts aloud – only with a British accent. (I know, I know. #majorwriterquirk) But it works for me.
What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you?
I think it’s feeling brand new at something all over again that holds the biggest challenge. There’s a certain amount of vulnerability that accompanies stepping out of your comfort zone. I’d been in my corporate career for quite a while, so I was used to traveling and speaking for that role. To enter a brand new industry – even if it is for your dream job – brings a measure of uncertainty with it. You have to be okay with living in a “fail fast” environment for a while, and try to learn as you go.
What steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle?
The best advice I can give aspiring authors about overcoming the rookie hurdle is to be teachable. I learned a tip from my time in Corporate America that has been indispensable in my first year as an author: develop your own “board of directors” to help guide you. Seek wise counsel from author friends, mentors and industry professionals who understand where you want to go. Rely on your agent, the sales, marketing and editorial teams at your publisher, and other authors who have experience in the industry. They’ll help you learn and will provide invaluable encouragement along the way.
If you’re a pantser, have you ever given plotting a try?
I am a self-professed hybrid writer. I’m mostly a pantser, as I love the unanticipated flow that a story can have when you’re free-form writing. But because I’ve spent so many years developing within the structure of curriculum design in a corporate setting, I storyboard through the editing process. I also map out my story timelines to stay consistent between novels. I guess that makes me a part-time plotter?
Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more?
I enjoy both, but there’s a certain magic in meeting your characters and telling their story for the first time. I wrote The Butterfly and the Violin during the eight weeks I was on maternity leave with our youngest son. Because I was up late most nights to feed him his bottles and wanted to use all the writing time I could, I began typing those first chapters on my iPhone. With A Sparrow in Terezin, I was traveling for work so much that I had to write on my phone wherever I was – at the airport, in hotels late at night, even an elevator ride could turn out a few sentences. Both experiences of writing were on-the-go, but I loved finding out what the stories would become.
Kristy is an Art/Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.
You can connect with Kristy at: Facebook: Kristy Cambron