J.E. Kraft is back in our library with a new, blood-sucking dark fantasy. The author is taking a pivot from her debut children’s book, Like Kats & Dawgs with the release of The Survivors. We were lucky enough to sit down with her and discuss writing in other genres, her fictional inspirations, and how her writing process differed this time around.
- Was this writing process for The Survivors completely different than Like Kats & Dawgs? Did you do anything differently to prepare?
The writing process for the two books was different. I wrote The Survivors first, so there was a lot I still needed to learn about story and editing. I had small children and wrote in bits and pieces over years until my children were old enough I could devote time to it daily. Once I had the whole thing written, there were some definite problems with both plot and character, and I had to do major editing. The process was difficult, and I swore off writing several times both in writing and editing. It never lasted long, though, because the story keep calling me back. Now that I have more experience, I prepare for a novel a lot differently, but enthusiasm and tenacity were enough to help me get here.
2. Have you always been an avid reader of darker fantasy novels that feature vampires and other mythical characters? What about these stories draws you to them?
I enjoy a wide range of authors and genres, but the first book that ever sucked me in *insert dad-joke-laugh here* was Bunnicula by James Howe. That was a trend that definitely continued, and I had to have been a sight carrying around a four inch copy of The Stand in sixth grade. Part of what draws me to these types of stories is the “what if” factor. What if that sort of thing really existed? How would that change the world? How would that change me? A good creature will have laying awake at night, not afraid, but fascinated. When I read I Am Legend, as an adult, I was so impressed by author’s attempt to make vampires work logically, and I really wanted to do that with The Survivors as well.
3. Do you enjoy using social media as an author?
Time for honesty: It’s one of the hardest parts of the job for me. I’m an introvert. Yes, I’m also a story-teller, but I’m terrible at small talk. Also, I have dyslexia, and I can’t tell you how many drafts deep my beta readers still find typos. There are no beta readers in social media, and Twitter doesn’t let you edit a tweet. I get so embarrassed when there’s a mistake in a post that has a comment thread I don’t want to be deleted too. I’m an author, and yet the spelling of “who” and “how” have plagued me my whole life. “Why, yes, you should read my my book. Jsut pretend there’s nothing wrong with these last tow sentences. Thsnks.”
4. If you could choose one character from The Survivors to create a spin-off story for who would it be?
*Redacted for spoilers* And well, other than that, I’d have to say Miriam. As a reader, I tend to fall in love with side characters. I didn’t expect it to happen in my writing, but the trend is holding. Miriam just showed up, and I fan-girled hard over her. I want to be her best friend for life, and there’s so much about her that would be great for it’s own story.
5. Who are some of your fictional writing inspirations?
That’s like asking a chocolate lover to pick a favorite medium to consume chocolate. Will they tell you one? Sure (It’s flourless chocolate torte with raspberry sauce, by the way). But will they also spend the rest of the night thinking of other favorite chocolate-y things. Absolutely (Mmm, single-source Ecuadorian dark chocolate with rose…). I’m inspired by a good story like I am by a fine chocolate. I love Neil Gaimen and Jane Austen for their amazing wit. N.K. Jemisin amazing me with The Fifth Season. It’s unique and perfect. Have you read Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak? I didn’t want it to end. I still don’t. Every now and then, something reminds me of it, and I’m back in a snow-laden wood. And Sunshine. I’ve tried not to read any vampire novels while writing my own, but Sunshine by Robin McKinley does things with the genre and world building that are unmatched. And next time we talk, I’ll have a new yummy book that’s my inspiration of the moment.
The Survivors is available to order directly today from the City Limits Publishing website.