Posted on 10/30/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Author Kristen Strassel reveals so much joie de vivre, in both her bio and interviews, that it’s hard to imagine her ever being stuck in a rut.
Her day job is doing makeup for film, TV, and commercials.
She’s a passionate concert-goer who especially loves hair bands (and above all, Bon Jovi).
She cranked out a short story in elementary school that involved a point-of-view shift that was stylistic, not accidental.
And her favorite color is leopard print.
Yet the early part of Strassel’s adult life was much more timid. Think dead-end jobs in equally unglamorous towns.
It took time for her to find the confidence she needed to reinvent herself: attending hair/makeup school at the age of thirty-one, moving to Las Vegas, and finally writing a novel.
Strassel, now a successful paranormal- and contemporary-romance author, graciously answered a few more questions about a variety of life-defining moments for us.
SADYE: Tell us about the soul-searching you did at the moment where, as you said, you had to accept that your dreams wouldn’t come true — and how you flipped that reality on its head.
KRISTEN: Gosh, that was such a low point for me, and I wish the girl who thought the bank was as good as it was going to get could have seen what she’d become.
To give a little context, I’d dropped out of college, I was living at home, and I was working as a bank teller.
Most of my co-workers planned on staying until retirement. That world was too small for me, but I couldn’t see anything beyond that reality.
My dream had been to write for music magazines, but I didn’t know anyone who actually did anything crazy like chased dreams.
So I resigned myself — temporarily, of course; this story has a happy ending — to this boring job that made me feel like a bull in a china shop.
Through a ninety-pound weight loss, I saw that I did have the power to change my circumstances, one small decision at a time.
I quit the bank and eventually moved cross country after having a dream about a girl trying to make her way in Las Vegas so powerful I wanted to write a book about it.
That book didn’t get written for almost ten years after the move, but it’s Because the Night.
What would I tell that girl now? Quit the damn bank job and go for it!
The world is so much bigger than your hometown. You’re going to write books and work with movie stars. (My new day job is doing makeup for film and television).
Oh, and the weight’s coming back, but you’ll still be cute.
SADYE: You and a friend worked together (literally) to conquer your problem with actually finishing stories, but what about your earlier struggles with craft?
KRISTEN: Once I learned how to get from point A to point B, I eventually found my voice and learned what kind of stories I wanted to tell.
Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but any craft needs practice to improve. I hope every book I write is better than the last.
Working with an editor was a huge part of my learning process.
Instead of continuing to perfect bad habits, it helped me see areas of opportunity and learn what worked and what didn’t. I try to use different editors because I learn something new from each of them.
I also read differently now, even when it’s for pleasure. I’m always thinking about why something works or why it doesn’t, and what’s making the story resonate with me.
SADYE: Once you finished your first book (Because the Night), how did it wind up being published?
KRISTEN: An agent was interested in representing me, but it’s a vampire book.
In 2013, publishers were so not interested, and my agent said she’d help me self-publish it.
Through that process, I learned something I already knew — I’m a control freak.
I asked for my rights back and republished the book on my own, and about thirty-five others since then.
SADYE: What do you think has pushed shapeshifter romance to the forefront and made it more popular?
KRISTEN: First is the rise of indie publishing. Authors don’t have to wait for distributors to bless us with shelf space anymore.
Our books are made available directly to readers and they have the power to choose what they want to read. As it should be. And they love shifters.
Why do they love them so much? It ties into (an earlier) answer. Everyone has something special inside them begging to be set free.
So while we can’t relate to shifting into an animal form, we can relate to having a normal life and being in touch with whatever makes us spectacular.
SADYE: If you could be one type of paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
KRISTEN: A vampire. Who doesn’t want to be young, gorgeous, and seductive forever?
They always get what they want, they can stay up past midnight (which sometimes seems like a supernatural feat in now that I’m in my forties), and they can fly.
SADYE: What’s your favorite Bon Jovi-related memory?
KRISTEN: This is a dangerous question. I’ve seen Bon Jovi live about seventy-five times, so I have a lot to choose from.
(Side note—I won’t go to see them again until Richie Sambora is back with the band.)
I met Jon Bon Jovi when I was sixteen but I was so gobsmacked I couldn’t speak to him.
Other than that, the band used to do a Christmas concert at a small theater in their hometown in New Jersey, and it was amazing to get together with all my friends who also loved the band and go to those shows.
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Categories: Author Interview