I couldn’t be more excited the massively talented Kristen Martin agreed to take part in the Meet The Author ft. 20 Questions series. She’s a talented Youtuber, an incredible writer, a kind soul, a friend and a wonderful inspiration.
So, let’s dive in and get to know her a bit more:
1. What inspired you to write your debut novel, “The Alpha Drive”?
It was definitely a combination of a few things. In 2013-2014, the dystopian genre had made its way into mainstream publishing. I devoured many of these books, most notably the Legend series by Marie Lu. I couldn’t put them down. One day, I was watching the Matrix movies (for the first time!) and a light bulb went off. I wasn’t really into the whole zombie-apocalyptic-there’s-a-disease-and-there-is-no-cure subgenre of dystopian stories, but I was incredibly intrigued by the concepts in the Legend series and the Divergent series, as well as the concept of a sort of alternate reality from watching the Matrix movies. I remember a ton of ideas flooding my brain and rushing to my desk to whip open my laptop and type every idea I possibly could (I can type much faster than I write). From there, I started to develop those ideas and turn what was once a New Adult Contemporary novel into a Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian novel. And that is how The Alpha Drive was born.
2. Why did you choose the path of Self-Publishing?
I originally was quite interested in going the traditional publishing route, and even queried a few literary agents for The Alpha Drive. There was one agent I was working pretty closely with, but after a few rounds of emails, I realized she wanted to take the story (and the whole series) in a very different direction than I did. It was then I realized that, for this particular series, I wanted full creative control of the stories, the book covers, and many other design elements. I started to do my research and discovered that self-publishing wasn’t as “impossible” as I had once imagined. Especially after looking into the success of authors like Amanda Hocking and E.L. James, I thought “Why not?!” and decided to give it a go. At this juncture in my life, it’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made.
3. Do you have any advice for other writers looking to pursue Self-Publishing?
Do your research and don’t be afraid to seek help/ask questions! Writing a book is challenging, but self-publishing is its own beast. Just make sure you do your research and understand what you’re really getting into. It’s certainly not for the weak and there are countless mistakes to be made, but if you’re diligent with your research, the journey is a lot smoother.
YouTube is a great source to find how-to writing and publishing videos, and if you’re not sure about something, find someone who’s done it and ask! People are much more willing than you might think to help and answer your questions. I know I am 😊
4. What inspired you to become an author & has it always been your dream?
I’ve been writing ever since I was 6 years old and I always wanted to be an author and have many, many books published. I also strived to be financially independent which is why I went to college and got my degree. I didn’t start seriously writing again until 2014, so there were definitely a few years where I was solely focused on getting a stable, good-paying job and finding my place in the corporate world. My income from my career has helped me to make my dream of becoming a published author come true!
5. Where’s your favorite space to write?
In my home office. I specifically painted it and decorated it in a way that brings out my creative side. I feel so happy and calm when I walk into my home office, so I absolutely love writing there and do so whenever I can.
6. What are your top 5 must haves for a writing space?
Ohh, this is a hard one. Obviously my laptop, my outline for whatever book I’m currently working on, a cup of English breakfast tea, pajamas and either hummus & carrots or Red Wines (when I’m not trying to be healthy).
7. How many hours a day do you write?
When I’m trying to hit a word count goal, I normally write for at least two hours a day. If I’m writing just to write, like in a journal, maybe 30 minutes or so.
8. Are you a Plotter, a Pantser or a Plantser (Plotser, as you referred to it)?
Plotser! I still like to have my outline, but there have been times (becoming more and more frequent) where I have completely abandoned it. It’s nice to have an idea as to where your story is going, but it’s also nice to abandon ship and just write when you’re having a creative streak.
9. Because I have a pretty Type-A personality, I’m always curious about other peoples scheduling methods. Do you use a schedule to plan out your life / writing & if so, do you use paper or electronic planning?
I am also very Type-A, so yes, schedules are a MUST for me. I actually have both a day planner that I write in and an eletronic calendar through Outlook (my work calendar). Even though I always have my phone with me, I find that I remember things better if I write them down. Some people may think it’s double work, but for me, it just helps reinforce in my mind what I have going on each week. I always sit down on Sunday nights and plan out my entire week – it helps keep me focused Monday-Friday and I rarely go off track.
10. What is your favorite part about the writing process?
The actual writing itself. I love sitting down, throwing my headphones on, and just getting in the zone. It’s amazing to watch the words fly from your fingertips onto the screen – it’s a feeling that never gets old.
11. What is your least favorite part about the writing process?
Editing and revising. I’ve started to implement a process that works better for me, but in the beginning, editing was terrible. I absolutely dreaded it. But it’s all about finding what works best for you and your schedule and tweaking it so that you don’t feel like pulling your hair out every time you sit down to do it.
12. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about two months to write a book – but to edit/revise it and get it ready for publication usually takes 10-12 months.
13. What’s your biggest internal obstacle in getting your writing done?
Getting in my own way. Sometimes, after I’ve read a really great chapter, or a really great book, it’s hard to sit down and write because I inherently start comparing my writing to what I’ve just read. Comparison is truly the thief of joy, so I try to remind myself that what makes one writer and their writing unique and special shouldn’t necessarily be the same thing that makes me and my writing unique and special.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and accepting those, while also growing and evolving, is what truly matters in your writing journey. Whenever I feel myself starting to compare my writing to another author’s, I usually read the 4 and 5 star reviews my own writing has received. It helps pull me out of my own head and negative state, and reminds me that my writing is unique and special in its own way.
14. What’s your biggest external obstacle in getting your writing done?
DISTRACTIONS, namely email and Instagram. I get tons of emails a day, and I’m incredibly Type A, so I like to have a neat and tidy inbox, which is very difficult to do when the emails come flooding in at all hours of the day (and night). Fortunately, I have found a way to combat this. When I sit down to write, I leave my phone in my bedroom on the charger. I actually tend to look at most of my social media accounts on my phone, and not on my computer, so placing my phone where I can’t reach it has been insanely helpful.
As for email, I’ve actually created a schedule for myself and set a reminder electronically on my calendar. I only allow myself to check my email twice a day, for 30-minute periods. If I can’t get through all the emails in that 1 hour a day, I tell myself that there’s always tomorrow. Social media and emails can wait; my passion and desire to write cannot.
15. Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I think when people say writer’s block, it’s not so much the inability to come up with new ideas, but the procrastination involved before actually sitting down to brainstorm and actually write the darn thing. I’m guilty as well, making up excuses as to why I should be doing something else instead of writing. Every time I sit down and actually write, the ideas and words just flow.
I like to follow something I call the “10-minute” rule. If you sit down and starting doing anything, including writing, for just 10 minutes, I can almost guarantee that you’ll get into the groove, into your zone, and keep going. So, whenever I feel like procrastinating, I tell myself “Just do it for 10 minutes,”and I’ll end up working on that particular project for an hour or more. It’s like my own little mind game – works every time!
16. Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
Most of the time, it energizes me. I love building worlds and watching all of my thoughts leave my head to transpire across the page. It’s so hard to explain the feeling, the experience, as you witness everything you’ve created come to life through the written word. Only a writer will understand how truly magnificent this feeling is.
Although, I am human and there are days where writing does exhaust me. The exhaustion isn’t usually because of the act of writing, per se, but because I’ve had a long day at work (seeing as I do have a full-time career), and the mere thought of using any more brainpower is enough to make me want to curl up and Netflix & Chill for the rest of my life. But yes, most days, writing energizes me. I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.
17. Best piece of advice for other writers?
Just write. Sit your butt down in a chair and just start. Write. Even if you don’t know what you’re writing about, do it anyway. The entire writing journey is all about self-discovery, and once you realize it’s about the journey, and not the destination, you’ll find a sort of peace within yourself to write, even on the bad days or the days where creativity is severely lacking.
The writing journey is such a special and delicate process, and there’s nothing better than watching it unfold and feeling yourself grow as a writer. Revel in your mistakes and learn from them. Understand that writing is a fluid, dynamic, ever-changing process. Be flexible and adapatable – learn to go with the flow instead of against it, and I can promise you, the words will fly from your fingertips.
18. What is your Favorite quote about writing?
I have two. “You can always fix a poorly written page, but you cannot fix a blank one” as well as “The hardest part is starting.” I’m not sure who said either of these, but they’re both so true.
19. Which authors are your biggest inspirations?
I’m a huge fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s work. I also love Sylvia Plath, J.K. Rowling (of course), Marie Lu, and Sarah J. Maas. I would say that Marie Lu’s Legend series had the most influence on my own series, The Alpha Drive.
20. What are you currently working on now?
I just released the final installment in The Alpha Drive trilogy, Restitution, on April 4, 2017, so that’s exciting! It’s crazy knowing that that series is all wrapped up, but I’m currently working on my young adult dark fantasy series. I finished writing book 1 in November 2016 during NaNoWriMo, so I’m currenly in the process of writing book 2. I plan on having 6 or 7 books in this series and hope to give more information very soon!
Connect With Kristen
Thank you so much for having me! It was an absolute pleasure to do this interview.