I am really excited & honored to have November’s Featured Author K.C. Neal with us today! Her debut YA novel, Pyxis released in ebook format on November 4th and the paperback copy will be available on December 2nd (you can find out more information – HERE -). I can not express how much I LOVE (like totally head over heels in love) Pyxis and I can’t wait to share my review with you all next week (the 16th) when the Pyxis Blog Tour and Giveaway stops here!!
“A book needs a plot and a plot needs tension and conflict, not just cool ideas.” – K.C. Neal on writing
- 1. For those readers who are not familiar with you or your novel, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I live in Idaho with my husband and our adorable dog, Oscar. I’m a Medical Writer by day. I write health content for consumers, regular people who don’t have medical degrees who need information about a certain condition or about making healthy changes in their lives. When I’m not at work I work on writing and promoting my books. I do a lot of reading, of course. I take ballet classes, and I spend tons of time gardening spring through fall. This past summer I grew my first veggie garden with over 30 different vegetables and herbs. I learned how to surf several years ago – SO much fun – and I wish I could spend more time near the ocean so I could do it more often. Not much surfing in Idaho.
- 2. Until I read the novel I had no idea who or what a Pyxis was. How did you come up with the idea of writing/incorporating the Pyxis into your novel?
Until I wrote it, I didn’t know what it was, either! I’m not really sure where the idea came from, but the first seed of the story was the pyxis box with the bottles full of mysterious colored liquids that influenced people’s emotions. I thought the story would center around the potions, but it grew into something much larger.
- 3. What is your writing routine? For example, do you write in complete silence or listen to 80’s music like Corinne? Also, do you have any peculiar rituals?
When I’m in the car, I almost always have the 80s station on the radio – I’m addicted! But when I’m writing I usually don’t listen to music unless I need it to help me get into a certain emotional space for a scene. Then, the right song is like magic. I like to write with all the lights off and the shades drawn. For some reason, light agitated me a little. I’ve discovered I’m kind of a tactile writer. I like to use note cards for outlining. During revision I like to print out pages, cut them up and write on them and rearrange them. I haven’t heard of anyone else who uses scissors as a revision tool! If I could do it, I’d handwrite the first drafts of my books using paper and pen because I think I’m more creative when I’m writing by hand. But that’s probably not practical – my hand would probably turn into a claw, and then of course I’d have to transcribe the handwritten pages to a computer file.
- 4. You made a reference (though small) to Dungeons and Dragons the card/computer game. I have to ask, do you play computer/console/card games? If so which ones?
Haha, oh of course Diayll would pick up on that! I’m actually not a gamer at all. Well, there was that brief addiction to minesweeper in college, hee hee. I’ve always kind of purposely stayed away from them because I know it’s the kind of thing I’d get obsessed with because I really enjoy things where I’m competing against myself and trying to outdo my personal best.
- 5. Since a majority of the novel is spent dealing with food, do you enjoy cooking? Did you have to look up recipes for some of the foods Corinne cooked or were they your own family recipes?
In my household, my husband is actually the gourmet. He’s an amazing cook and comes up with awesome dishes. I never liked eggplant until he made me eggplant parmesan! I do enjoy cooking, but I’m very impatient – I just want the food to be ready NOW so I can move on to the next thing – so I tend not to spend much time or energy on it. My mom is one of the best cooks I know – she’s extremely knowledgeable and makes really sophisticated dishes – so I’ve learned a lot of terminology and techniques from her.
- 6. What was your favorite chapter (or character) to write and why?
I got really, really into the writing in the last third or quarter of the story. The things Mason and Corinne begin to learn about the convergence, and about their own destinies, to me were the exciting, meaty parts of the story. And toward the end when they link, that’s when things really get fun. I am SO excited to write the next book in the series, Alight, because it will pick up where Pyxis left off, and it’s going to have a ton of surprises, revelations, and action.
- 7. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism was the creative edit of the first draft of Pyxis. It got ripped to confetti! But it was definitely a good thing. And it wasn’t the criticism itself that bothered me, it was recognizing that the manuscript needed a major overhaul but really not knowing how to accomplish that. The revision process was incredibly intimidating at first.
By far the best compliments have come from reviewers. Several have said how much they love the characters, and how dimensional and relatable they are. That is amazing to hear because in the first draft Corinne in particular wasn’t very likeable at all! Reviewers have also made comments about the originality of the story. And this probably will sound weird, but I don’t think of myself as a particularly imaginative person. I’m not brimming with ideas like most writers, and I find the creative parts of writing the most challenging.
- 8. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
One, find a skilled, more experienced writer to critique your work, and don’t fear criticism; a good critique will help your writing improve by leaps and bounds. Two, an idea for a story isn’t the same as a plot; a book needs a plot and a plot needs tension and conflict, not just cool ideas. Three, read voraciously; aside from actually writing, reading is your best training.
- 9. Lastly, is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I love to connect with people online, and in particular through Twitter. Please follow me (@KCNealTweets) and tweet at me. I’ve made some great friends on Twitter, and I’d love to hear from you. To celebrate the launch of Pyxis, I’m doing a Kindle giveaway, so please go to my blog (kcneal.blogspot.com) and enter the giveaway and spread the word. And last, of course I hope you will check out Pyxis – it’s only $2.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Thank you K.C. for taking the time to answer my questions. I really enjoyed Pyxis and I cannot wait to read the next installment!
Thank you so much for interviewing me and for all of your support, Diayll!
© 2011, Diayll – MotherGamerWriter. All rights reserved.
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