Thursday, June 4, 2015

Secret Wolds Author Spotlight: Kyoko M

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I’d like to welcome Kyoko M to my blog today. Kyoko is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. Her debut novel, The Black Parade, has been on Amazon's Bestseller List in the Occult Horror category. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.

JET: Can you tell us about your most recent book?
The Holy Dark, the final installment of TheBlack Parade series, is a monstrous tale of everyone’s favorite snarky Seer, Jordan Amador, on the hunt for the thirty silver coins paid to Judas Iscariot—coins touched by an evil so great that they can kill any angel. With the help of another Seer, ex-military badass Myra Bennett, the two of them are hoping to keep these coins out of the demons’ hands, and they have been rather successful. Naturally, the demons retaliate by enlisting the help of the archdemon Moloch, a warlord of hell, who issues a contract on their heads, as well as the head of Jordan’s estranged husband, the archangel Michael. Jordan and Michael reluctantly reunite to gather the remaining coins and find a way to stop Moloch from starting a war on earth that will wipe out humanity. Sounds like fun, huh?

JET: What drew you to urban fantasy?
I grew up Christian Baptist, so I’ve always had a working knowledge of the Bible and its contents, but I was also a huge fan of Paradise Lost and that got me thinking about urban fantasy novels with a concentration on angels and demons.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?
Exposure. I’ve heard using social media described as ‘screaming into a void’ and that’s 100% accurate, in my experience. Everyone is dying to be heard at once, so it’s unbelievably difficult to establish yourself as an indie author when you have millions of people hollering at the same time. It took me over ten months to start getting any traction in selling copies of my work—not that it’s about numbers, but that is by far the hardest part in the road to publication. Writing is tough, but I’m used to it because I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Knowing how to navigate through the publishing world is ten times harder than getting the words on the page. That’s why I’m always happy to talk to other authors, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or The Writer’s Café on KBoards. It’s important to share and discuss the difficulties to make weathering the storm a little easier.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?
After the book is published. Sometimes I just sit and stare at my Amazon page with this stupid grin on my face, knowing that another one of my babies is up and tottering around in the world. Again, this is not about sales. This is about creative expression, and to know that I’ve done my absolute best work and sent it out for readers everywhere is by far the best part of the journey.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?
The late great Brian Jacques, Judy Blume, and Nobuhiro Watsuki.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?
Back when I was a student at the University of Georgia, I heard about a fantasy author named Jackson Pearce coming to the English department do to a lecture about publishing. I figured it couldn’t hurt to spend an afternoon learning about it, so I attended. It opened my eyes. I had always been writing my entire life, but I considered it to be a hobby. I loved it, but I didn’t think I could ever make a living this way until I heard Ms. Pearce’s lecture. She was so open and fun about her experience, and she actually wrote in the genre I really liked, so I decided to give it a try. I wrote The Black Parade between 2009 and 2010 and started shopping it to literary agents. However, after two and a half years of rejection letters, I began to do research on self-publishing. I took my time and polished the novel as much as possible, snagged a killer cover, an editor, and a can-do attitude before nudging my baby out into the world. She stumbled for quite a long time, but it’s very encouraging to see her grabbing a small foothold in the indie publishing world. She has a long way to go, but she’s made a ton of progress in just a couple of years.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?
I cold-called a tiny coffee shop in Illinois to ask about their coffee for a minor villain in The Holy Dark. Aside from that, I contacted the FBI back in 2012 for help with research for She Who Fights Monsters, which was deliciously exciting. I spoke to a couple agents via email and I got a phone call that went hilariously awry as I asked the agents some of the most off-the-wall questions about federal fugitives. I’m sure I’m on someone’s watch list for my call and for my seemingly random Google searches ranging from plane tickets to Addis Ababa to types of shotguns. I’ve learned tons of interesting facts, so it’s kind of hard to pick just one. Off the top of my head, I’d say that I read that one of the monasteries along Lake Tana in Ethiopia was rumored to once house the Ark of the Covenant.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?
Oh, just casually ask me to pick a favorite child, no big deal! Sheesh. I’ve actually found myself strangely favoring my short story collection The Deadly Seven. I think it’s because I wrote it as a fun companion piece to The Black Parade, meaning that there was no pressure to write this huge, sprawling, action-packed novel. I could just relax and write what came to me when I considered the kinds of issues that Jordan and Michael would face getting used to being in each other’s lives so suddenly. Furthermore, I have Jim Butcher-levels of fiendishness when it comes to teasing a romance, so it was really fun to poke around in Michael’s head as he finds out what it’s like to live like a human being instead of an all-powerful angel. A lot of the stories came from experiences I’ve had with guys I liked in the past, where the romance blooms out of a close-knit friendship instead of materializing upfront from attraction. It was just an enjoyable experience and I find myself flipping through the collection on nights when I can’t sleep and reliving the amusing mishaps my two idiots got themselves into.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?
Don’t quit. Trust me, every single day, you will find a reason to quit. Every. Single. Day. It sounds like a wonderful idea, too, but if you love writing with all your heart and soul (and bank account), do not listen to that slimy voice in the back of your head that tells you to give up because no one cares about your work and no one ever will. It’s wrong. Grow the thickest skin you can, get your research done, and pound your keyboard until it cries for mercy. Get those words down and read them and chop up your manuscript until it’s exactly what you want and the best version of it that you can make.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten...starting with Paper or Plastic?
Plastic. It’s reusable.

JET: Steak or Tofu?
Steak. Preferably ribeye. Yum!

JET: Beach or Mountains?
Beach, but not because I swim, because I love the sound of waves crashing.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?
Rock n Roll, all day long.

JET: Leather or Lace?

JET: Angels or Demons?
Oh, that is NOT fair. I write both! How can you even ask me that? Sigh. Angels. Longer life expectancy and they’ll treat you better.

JET: Paper or Digital?

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?
Cheesy B Rated Horror.

JET: Twilight or True Blood?
True Blood, but only the first three seasons. The rest is garbage, you ask me.

JET: Coffee or Tea?
Tea. Earl Grey tea, to be more specific.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?
The Holy Dark will hit bookshelves April 24, 2015. After that, I’m moving to a new YA epic fantasy series. It’s still untitled, but I’ve been describing it as “Avatar: The Last Airbender meets the X-Men with a dash of Firefly.” I’m so excited for it. It’s looking at hitting shelves in the fall/winter of this year. Stay tuned to my blog for more!

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Kyoko M and her work at the following places:

Until next time,

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