Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious with it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning debut novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. In her YA SciFi-Fantasy, Rise of Gaia, Kristin intertwines her environmental passions with fantasy elements, creating a world that holds a secret deep within its heart. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.
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Burden of Truthby Kristin WardPublish: Nov 17, 2018Science Fiction Teen & Young Adult
Rise of Gaiaby Kristin WardPublish: Aug 24, 2019Science Fiction Fantasy Teen & Young Adult
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After the Green Witheredby Kristin WardPublish: May 13, 2018Science Fiction Teen & Young Adult
After the Green Withered: Special Edition with Books One and Twoby Kristin WardPublish: Jan 27, 2019Science Fiction Teen & Young Adult
I grew up in a coastal town in Southern California. As a child, I spent summers at the beach, playing in the sand or visiting the tide pools. One of my fondest memories is of a time when I was trekking through the tide pools looking at the myriad of creatures tucked within these micro- ecosystems, when I looked up and saw a seal perched on a rock about twenty feet away. We spent some time just watching each other, both seemingly curious about the other. Eventually, the tide came in, forcing me to retreat. The seal watched my departure before slipping off the rock and into the sea.What inspired you to begin your foray into mad scribbling of terrible poetry and story starters galore?
My seventh grade English teacher was my conduit to the world of poetry and narratives. It was in her class that I truly began to appreciate the written word and writing craft. One assignment was the true catalyst to any internal belief I had regarding an inherent writing ability. We had read the short story, The Interlopers by Saki, and I had composed an essay based upon the theme of the narrative. The feedback I received compared my writing to the author of the story and that was it! My teacher had engendered a positive self-fulfilling prophecy and I ran with it. From that point on, I truly began to think deeply about my writing.
In addition to this event, I also read The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I loved this story that portrayed important social issues, and had my first book crush (I was completely enamored with Johnny). In the book, Ponyboy recites a poem by Robert Frost, which I then memorized myself and would often recite. And so went my path to reading and writing poetry.How was your experience of writing a published curriculum piece for a zoo?
Writing curriculum for a zoo exhibit was a wonderful experience. Throughout this venture, I completed a great deal of research on the animals and ecosystems within the exhibit itself. As an animal lover, this was right up my alley! I also enjoyed touring the zoo and looking at the animals I had been studying. As I reflect on it now, many years later, it was a great learning experience but I would format the curriculum differently if I were to tackle the project again. Experience is a great teacher and we are never finished learning. This is what allows me to say that I would make changes to anything I have written, the zoo curriculum included. I have a different lens now than I did when I wrote that curriculum and feel that I could make it truly exceptional if I were to revisit it at this point in my life.What inspired you to start writing your first book, "After the Green Withered?" Did you expect it to win the 2018 Best Indie Book Award in young adult fiction?
I was inspired to write After the Green Withered while completing research for a graduate course I wrote in environmental education. My course included concepts regarding earth’s history and, within this, I learned a great deal about the impact humans have had on the planet. As I studied and composed the course, an idea began to germinate: what if there was a global drought due to the impact humans have had on the planet? That seedling concept sat with me for a year or so as I finished my course writing and began to teach a few graduate courses. Eventually, I began to write the story but it took a whopping five years to get it from draft to publish!
You see, writers are often procrastinators. Why do something today when I can put it off until tomorrow? Or perhaps it’s that I frequently fall down the internet rabbit hole with the typical excuse: let me just do a little research on that. Five hours later, nothing is written but I’ve got some great ideas, some of which even have something to do with what I want to write! To be fair, raising three sons with a full-time career also contributed to the time it took to complete the book. The final push was due to the myriad of issues that are going on environmentally. When I read a stunning article about Cape Town’s water crisis, I knew I needed to get my book published. It is relevant and important.
Winning the 2018 Best Indie Book Award in the young adult category took me by complete surprise. While I had entered the competition with the hope of winning, I didn’t honestly consider my debut novel as a true contender. Receiving the congratulatory email from Best Indie Book Award was a defining moment. I felt that recognition validated, not only my story concept, but also my writing craft.Do you plan to publish the numerous poems that you have written since your writing aspirations began in 7th grade? Which is the first story you ever wrote?
At the request of my wonderful 7 th grade teacher, with whom I am still in contact, I plan to publish a book of poetry this year. The selections will be from my ongoing Twitter poems, poetry from my first two novels, and other works I have not shared with the world.
The first story I truly crafted, from start to finish, was in high school. It went through rounds of editing with my teacher at the time and the resultant work was published in a small circulation at my school. I haven’t revisited this story in many years, but would love to take a look at it now and see if perhaps it ignites a book idea!Why did you choose to self-publish your work instead of going through a traditional publishing house? What fears/doubts you had while publishing your first book?
I feel so fortunate to be writing at a time when authors can take control of publishing through multiple platforms. The indie author community is growing and self-published writers are gaining a broader audience and recognition from the publishing industry. It is with this in mind, that I decided to self-publish rather than go through a traditional publisher. Authors who query could be waiting months or years to be picked up. This is not something that I wanted to experience. I have stories to tell and want those works in the hands of readers, not sitting in a slush pile.
However, self-publishing is not an easy feat. There is a huge marketing aspect to gaining a readership and I find this part of my journey to be the most challenging. I am an unknown author and struggle to get my book into the hands of readers due to the sheer volume of books on the indie and traditional market. And yet, I persevere and have no plans to query at this time. Of course, if an agent or publisher reached out to me, I would have to strongly consider what path I would take.
My biggest fears as I began my journey into self-publishing rested within the knowledge that my writing, this thing I had created and nurtured, kept safe and secure, was now going to be released into the world. Once in the hands of a reader, my precious narrative would be open to criticism. I feared that my story concept wouldn’t resonate with readers and that my writing was not up to snuff. When the first reviews began to trickle in, it was always with trepidation that I read them. Now that I have published a second book and received wonderful feedback from readers, I am less worried about responses I will receive, and more concerned with the message I am conveying with the story itself. My hope is that my books cause readers to stop and think, as there are important themes in the story that are relevant today.Three sons, a career, and many, many years later, what has helped you to shape into a writer? Why did you choose the Science Fiction genre?
My journey has taken many years to see to fruition and it has just begun. All along the way, my family and friends have been a source of inspiration and encouragement. Without their words of wisdom and gentle, or not-so-gentle, nudges, I would not have reached the first of many goals as a writer. Perseverance and determination are among the foundational traits that have shaped my entrance into authorship. Publishing a book is not an easy path but, having accomplished it, I can say that it is well worth the ups and downs!
Aside from my formative writing experiences, I gain much of my inspiration from reading. There are so many wonderful voices out there, spinning stories that introduce me to characters and places I grow to love. I can’t help being motivated by the creativity in others. Someday, I hope my work serves as an inspiration. In fact, my ultimate goal is to have written someone’s favorite book. Delving into the dystopian genre for my first novel was a necessity. The story I slowly developed over the years was always going to be a dystopian tale due to the very context of it and the overarching message I am trying to convey. I also happen to enjoy the science fiction genre,especially dystopian. I suppose this appreciation began with one of my favorite books, The Giver by Lois Lowry. Her story introduced a society that strove to smother human nature. The characterization was phenomenal and as I read, I felt a strong connection to Jonas. I also really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games. I find myself gravitating to books that have powerful themes and this is evident in my own work.Are any instances from "After the Green Withered" taken from real life? Do you incorporate stories from your personal life in any of your books?
After the Green Withered and Burden of Truth are purely fictional stories, though they steeped in a world of man’s making – one we are potentially creating in the present. While the research I did as I crafted the books has ties to numerous scientific concepts, the context itself doesn’t reflect my own experiences. It has to be noted that I also don’t want my story to become a reality!
My current work in progress, on the other hand, has much of my humor, passions, and experiences immersed throughout. It’s been a lot of fun creating my main character, Terran. She’s a funny, complicated young woman who’d rather be lost in the woods than found in a city.Do you think with The Burden of Truth, you have fully come into your own as a writer? How did you come up with the title of this book?
I wrote the last scene of Burden of Truth first. I always knew how the story would end and the final scene is pivotal. Once the ending was written, every part of the book was built around it. I have received a few early reviews but within each of these is an incredible connection to the story. As an author, I tend to go against the tropes. This is especially important in my dystopian story as there is intentionality in how the book progresses and what the characters experience along the way. As for having come into my own as one reader stated, I feel that I am on the right path. I have written a book that asks readers to think deeply about the themes in the story and really reflect on the responsibilities of mankind. The title sums up the intent of the story. The question is: are you ready to accept this burden of truth?How much did you research while writing your book, "After the Green Withered?" While writing this book, did you plan to write its sequel or did it just happen?
I did a great deal of research prior to even beginning the first book, as course writing inspired it. When I began to craft the story itself, I compiled a list of ideas based on research that I wanted included in the prologue. This is an essential part of the book as it sets the stage for the world my main character inhabits. It’s also critical in regard to the whole theme of both books. Along the way, I conducted research to flesh out various components of the story to add realism to the events. While I had initially planned for this story to be one book, it soon became apparent that I would notbe able to tell the whole tale in a single novel, as it would be too long. That left me with a dilemma. When do I end the first and begin the second? This was a challenge because I knew I wouldn’t be publishing back to back and that a cliffhanger was inevitable. Once I determined what events in the story would be good stops and starts, I finished up many editing phases with my editor, David Taylor, and jumped straight into the sequel. Of course, due to my procrastinating tendencies, I had to give myself a deadline and stick to it. The result is that the first book took five years to write and the sequel took five months.If you could spend an entire day talking to any of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you talk about?
I would love to spend the day with Springer. He’s Enora’s partner in both books. As one reader put it, he’s a deep dude. I almost feel like I could write a novella about Springer as his entire story isn’t known and would be very interesting to hear. If I were to hang out with him for a day, I’d take him to my local swimming hole so that he could experience the pure joy of jumping into a body of water – a dream he and Enora share. I would then want to learn all about his childhood experiences before and after his community was decimated by a viral outbreak, the time when he was orphaned. I would want to know about his early days in the DMC and how he became such a successful Sweeper.Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I know many authors don’t read their reviews, but I check for reviews frequently – to the point of obsessive-compulsive behavior. Maybe I need an intervention. While this behavior is rather uncontrollable, I do always read them with a sense of trepidation. It’s hard to hear from a reader who doesn’t connect with the story or views it poorly. But I sincerely try to take the good with the bad and learn from it. One point of contention, however, is low ratings with no rationale. I know my books will not resonate with all readers, but if a reader feels strongly enough to submit a low rating, it would be beneficial, as the author, to hear the feedback relating to that low score. All of us have room to improve in whatever we are striving to accomplish and constructive criticism is beneficial even when we don’t want to hear it.How do you select the names of your characters? Who inspired the character of Enora?
The names of some characters come to me naturally while others require a bit of research. Interestingly, there is symbolism in a few of the place and character names in both books. In the first book, Enora visits a micro-city called Renascence. This is the root of renaissance and means a revival or rebirth. I enjoy looking at the meanings of different names and test out the sound of them to see if they match the character I am writing. Enora means honor. It was important that her name represents a dominant character trait. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and in the end of book two, she is faced with a crucial decision that is heavily influenced by her perception of the world.Can you tell us about your current projects? When can the readers expect your next book in print?
I am currently working on a science fiction-fantasy, with a bit of romance, all entwined in an environmental theme. I’m about a third of the way in and plan to publish in the spring. I am still toying with the title but it’s been a great project to work on and I’m super excited to be nearing the point in the book when I begin to craft huge action-packed scenes!
One of my recent poems is inspired by this work and gives you a taste of the premise of the book:
** Make sure that you have read the book at least once.**
by:Free with KU