Interview with Karai Madill

Posted on September 9, 2013

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Good evening! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Tonight I am featuring the wonderfully sweet Karai Madill!

Picture for Kristian

Do you write under any other names? No

What are you currently working on?I’m busy with a second round of editing for a trilogy I’ve been working on called Mandamus and Luco.  The first book is called the Stolen Herd.   I’m polishing and (unfortunately for my editor) adding.

What inspired you to write your first book?I very clearly, saw my main character, Mandamus, (who is a black horse with a problem) standing in front of me one day, just out of nowhere.  It was either write his story or check myself in to the nearest loony bin!

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?My specific writing style is “first draft or bust”.  I writing the whole story, then re-write it oh…about 10 or 15 times.  Agonizing? Yes.  Worth it?Definitely.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)? After writing about 20 different titles (ha – more of my never ending rewrites), “The Stolen Herd” seemed to be the most explanatory for why Mandamus’s life turned out the way it did, thus setting him on his journey. The other two books in this series are titled but….they’re a secret!

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Absolutely, I was adopted and come from a rather matriarchal familyas does Mandamus. I have also stolen character traits and descriptions I admire…or loathe,  from people I know and I’ve incorporated them into my own characters.

What books have most influenced your life most?Yertle the Turtle (odd right, I know…but it’s actually a highly charged political tale!) Also, I would have to say…Where the Wild Things Are, The Jungle Book, the Lord of the Rings series, the Hobbit…definitely the Harry Potter books.  I absolutely adore To Kill a Mockingbird. I try to live by Atticus Finch’s motto: never judge a man until you climb inside his skin and walk around, which sounds pretty gross physically but makes a lot of sense spiritually. I think that is really something very important in life – to be able to see things from the other being’s point of view be they a human or an animal.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?  Ed Griffin, my writing instructor and a darn fine gentleman at that. He taught me twoof the most important things in writing:  show, don’t tell and never give up. A more recent one would be my editor. She really showed me how to relentlessly cut from my own work and what was crucial to the story and what was…well…my waffling.

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?Oh, it’s my career. I don’t define career by making money. I actually call my “career “as a legal assistant my hobby to make money but I do get to write quite a bit during the day at my job so that keeps my skill sharp when I go home and write at night. It’s a pretty long day for me.  8 hours of work then at least 3 hours every night when I get home, either researching for Book 2  or re-drafting Book 1.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I wouldn’t change the content, but I would definitely not have sent it to some of the people/publishers that I did in its embarrassing, unpolished stages.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?Well, I’ve always loved to read…and I think it just grew from there.  I’ve always been more interested in books than television…I’ve always preferred my own imagination over anything you can find on a screen.  Except for Star Wars…man, that was awesome.  I think after the Deathly Hallows came out I was without a really good book. You can only re-read your favorites so many times.   I have never been able to get into Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey… all the so called ‘popular’ books coming out were really letting me down. I’m not so much into the whole vampire/urban fantasy culture.  I think it’s neat…it’s just not for me. So I sort of threw up my hands and said…hey, maybe I’ll just write something I want to read.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Absolutely!  With Mandamus and Luco as well as another series I have on the fire titled “Mikey the Marten” I’m writing from the animal’s viewpoint.  It’s hard to remember to think like a creature sometimes so they become too anthropomorphic.  I have to go back and say to myself… “wait…he’s a horse…he’d smell that guy coming before he saw him” and things like that. Also,  I am Queen of the Re-Writes. I go through several drafts before I’m satisfied…and even then, for the most part, I’m still not completely satisfied, so I go back and change it again.  I often curse myself and think “whycan’t I just be finished already!”I get consumed by trying to write the best piece possible.   I tend to isolate myself and do nothing but stay home and type, type, type.  I find it very hard to balance a social life and a writing career as well as function at a full-time job and run a household full of animals!

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? My absolute favorite, I would have to say, is J.K. Rowling.  Her ability to have really well-defined and different characters is amazing.  I absolutely loved how close we all got to be to Harry Potter. I felt like he was my best friend when I was reading those books. Now that being said – no, I haven’t read any of her adult books!

Who designed the covers of you books?Sister Sparrow Graphic Design.  It’s not finished yet but I have found the owner, Brandy Walker, a pleasure and a joy to work with.

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?  The worst for me is having bad things happen to my characters. It feels awful – like hurting your best friends, I absolutely loathe doing it and it doesn’t seem to get any easier as I go on.

Do you have any advice for other writers?WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!  Every day – and evenif you write for a solid eight hours and you consider your day’s work to be nothing but rubbish, keep it…because chances are it can be polished and used later on, somewhere else.  Also, under no circumstances are you to give up.  Writing is a craft and like anything else it takes time and practice to hone.  I look at some of my earlier writing compared to now…and all I can say is…somebody get the matches, because we’re going to have us a good old fashioned bonfire with my old work!

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life? Writing for me always involves removing layers from myself – that can be pretty hard. In some instances, writing The Stolen Herd was very difficult because it forced me to look at things or feelings I have that weren’t so pleasant.  Also, writing about how Mandamus feels about his parents being gone was tough because I had to face my own feelings about being adopted.  Doing research on wild horse herds was great but doing the research on demonology was pretty unpleasant.  I did have a sleepless night or two after those reading sessions, that’s for sure.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?Oh, that’s tough. I adore them all but I think my favorite would be Mandamus.   He deeply cares about his friends and family, he would do anything to protect them. His biggest concern in any situation is doing what is right.  I would love to have this big, fearless horse as my best friend.

What is your favorite thing about writing?Well, first of all, I would have to say, I love being able to spend time with my characters.  They’re VERY real to me; they’re, in fact, my friends.   I also love that I can write about the things that are important to me (animals, the environment,and music) or that I find entertaining (magic, monsters and mythology).  I love that I can blend these things into a tale.  Be it a group of snow monsters that are against war or  forest animals that rise up to defend themselves against trophy hunting, anything is possible when you’re writing a story.   I think that I use my writing as a vessel, as my personal contribution to bring to light the issues that I care about from the way I see them.  Writing, although very hard at times, can be quite liberating.  It’s your own, personal stage.

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