Author Interview: Kali Willows
There are some people who you meet and just know that they're going to be super important to you.
That's the case with this next author and her interview.
I met her when I super-imposed myself into an anthology that she was part of. I had no idea what I was doing, was flying by the seat of my pants the entire time, and pretty much just little-kidded everyone (sitting on my butt staring up at that open-mouthed from the floor...lol...but really).
This author was amazing. She was encouraging, SOOO extraordinarily helpful, was always there when you needed her, even just to send an internet hug to boost your spirits.
She is an absolute treasure and I cannot say how much I love her and her works and what an honor it is to have been able to work with her in two anthologies so far, please help me welcome:
So, what do I need to KNOW, about you!?!?
Basic stats, I’m Kali Willows, I write Paranormal, romance, erotic, contemporary, fantasy & sci-fi and more. Most of my fiction writing revolves around my love of dragons, gargoyles & everything paranormal. I strive to create epic tales of romance and inspiration, while mixing it up with elements of suspense and psychological twists wherever possible.
My current release is a part of the incredible Stoking the Flames II anthology of Legends, Lore & Everlasting Love. It’s been such a privilege to be among this group of exceptionally talented authors. While this anthology is now enrolled in the ranks of Kindle Unlimited, I have released my solo story in print, “Curse of the Dragon’s Lair-the Legend of Dragon’s Peak.”
Why did you first start writing? What was the inspiration for your first book?
I have literally been writing since I could use a pencil, I began with poems, songs and it evolved over the years. I had completed two novels before I ever had my first publication (a novella). Ironically, these novels are still in my to-be-edited pile and have never seen the light of day, lol.
My sister had begun to try her hand at writing romance and suggested I try. At that point, I had these scenes spinning in my brain like a movie clip on rewind. Once I started to type out the scenes, an addition and love for writing took hold that I haven’t been able to escape since. Nor, do I want to. It’s such a beautiful experience to write.
Did you ever consider traditional/indie publishing? Was there a reason you chose the way you did to go about publishing your works? Do you have any insights for future authors trying to make the same choice?
I’m what the publishing community calls a hybrid author. I’m both traditionally published with small press and I have some indie titles. Both have their pros and cons.
I love my publisher and will continue to work and publish with them as long as they’ll have me. They are top of the line professionals and I have had the divine luxury of growing as an author through this working relationship. I can’t stress enough the importance of having proper editing to perfect your babies (your stories.). Other benefits of working with the RIGHT publisher (I have had a negative experience years ago, which thankfully I learned from), is their distribution, their reach and their understanding of the constantly changing trends in publishing and reader demands. It’s hard enough as an author to get the story written, all of these other elements are such time consuming pieces, they really do take away from your creative time and energy.
On the other hand, there are some perks to self-publishing. I love doing my own covers, you have your own timelines and it alleviates the barrage of rejections authors tend to experience when submitting to publishers. That being said, it is so important to have the right resources at your disposal in order to ensure you produce the most immaculate work you can for readers to indulge in. Poorly edited work steals their joy of reading and leaves a negative impression of what an author can truly be capable of producing. Indie publishing isn’t for everyone and it can be costly for authors. Cover art, editing, formatting, distribution, promotions and building a fan base are all factors that need to be taken into consideration. For my indie books, I have the incredible honor to continue working with editors in my circle for many years. We have trust, respect and they continue to work with me to ensure we polish each story to perfection.
I wouldn’t say to any aspiring author they should choose one over the other. Taking all of the variables into consideration is crucial for making an informed choice. The romance publishing industry is saturated and it’s so easy to get lost in a sea of stories. Do your research and build your resources.
How many books do you have published now?
If my count is accurate (grin) I currently have 22 titles published. I previously had two novellas, my first published and have since rescinded my rights. They are in my to-be-revamped pile along with the other three novels I completed years ago. Side note: with every story you write and rounds of edits, you continue to learn and grow as an author. The books I wrote 10 and 15 years ago are a far different caliber than I write now.
Do you have any books in the works at the moment?
Although I’m eager to finally wrap up my current WIP, Utopic Paradigm, this intense, full length sci-fi novel has been at the mercy of my event planning schedule for the upcoming inaugural KaLiCon. It will be finished…someday soon, lol. I’ve been looming at 71,000 words and have some elements to wrap up and literally write the ending. I wish there were more hours in the day lol. It’s also set as the beginning of an epic series I have plotted in my crazy little brain.
Any advice you’d offer up-and-comers looking to find their place in the literary world?
As I had mentioned in the type of publishing question, build your resources. Find a publisher, editor, formatter, graphic designer that you trust, who helps you grow as an author.
Never assume the first complete draft is the best you can produce. Edits can be brutal, the sea of red pen can be overwhelming, but trust in your editors that they have your best interest at heart. Readers are eager to find compelling tales to escape into. If the flow of the story is bumpy, if the plot isn’t clear, if the characters aren’t defined, they will get bored and close the book. You, as an author, are the readers’ beacon of hope. They are seeking you out to find optimal entertainment. If they can’t dive into your story and experience flawless storytelling, you’ll lose them and you’ll both be disappointed.
If you are ready to get published, you need to develop a thick skin. Not everyone who reads your work will swoon. Reviews are important for so many reasons. Even negative reviews, if offered in a constructive manner have value to an author. They aren’t always easy to read, and it can sting the ego, a lot, but take what you can from feedback to improve every time you write. That being said, you will come across some mean-spirited feedback at times. If it doesn’t hold any valuable suggestions to hone your craft, it’s so important to disregard and keep writing.
Writing is a gift, and I mean this on multiple levels. It’s a gift for us to express our inspiration in ways that can entertain and inspire others. It’s an outlet, and for the readers, it’s a gift of adventure, excitement, inspiration and escape into a world you create just for them.
Write what you love, write what moves you and write every day. Don’t write for trends, don’t write for income and don’t write with the intention of becoming the next best-selling author to top all of the charts. If you don’t write from the heart, it resonates in your stories. If your goal is financial or fame, the readers aren’t getting the best of what you have to offer. Those who have made the top selling lists are there because of talent, devotion and yes, to some degree luck. There are countless authors who never get there, and it’s not always because of a lack of storytelling prowess. The publishing world is a tricky sea to navigate. If you aren’t in the position to promote shamelessly, if you don’t have the distribution and promotional resources at your disposal, the odds of getting to the readers you hope to reach become very slim.
How do you build an audience?
Lots of ways. Social media tools are paramount in our digital society, daily use of the right tools are critical, but so is being at events that give you a chance to meet readers in person. Word of mouth is the most powerful promotional tool ever. For every satisfied reader who posts a review and those who have the privilege of meeting authors in person are imprinted with an experience they will share with other readers. Not every author is in the position to be able to attend events, but if you do your research, the likelihood is you’ll find some close to you.
If you get stuck writing, read. READ A LOT. Authors who read books tend to become better authors. Those times of writer’s block, rejuvenating by reader helps so much.
What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I don’t think I have a typical day! Being a married mother of two and event planner/publicist/graphic artist, I work from home, but my family always comes first. Which means, often, my day is spent running around to appointments, swimming lessons or household tasks that need to be done. Truth be told, I’m most productive at night when my family is in bed. I’m usually the first to rise and the last to sleep, which means I’m often sleep deprived and highly dependent on caffeine to function, lol.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
A Great question! I tend to put a lot of thought and research into most character names. Especially my dragon stories. For readers who like a challenge, when reading one of my books, research the hero/heroine and antagonist names, see if there is a common theme among them or tied to the plot of the story! Hint: many times, because I write multicultural worlds, they have a great deal to do with heritage and symbolic meanings!
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere! I can be listening to a song, watching a movie, at times, a commercial or seeing a story unfold on the news. Inspiration for storytelling lies in every waking and sleeping aspect of life. There are some stories that have evolved as a cathartic way for me to work through some frustrating situations or handle certain energies of individuals that otherwise vex me. (Wasn’t that a loaded answer?!)
Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with?
YES! I finally ventured into sci-fi, but have been a long time in production as it’s not my usual genres.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I am prone to bouts of writer’s block which sometimes last for months on end. Life has a habit of throwing a lot of road blocks during times of creative inspiration, and sometimes the attention needed to navigate through these events tends to drain the inspiration. It becomes a cyclical pattern, because after days or weeks of managing life and not writing, I lose my mojo and have to force myself to get back to it. I often joke that my muse likes to take unscheduled vacations and I put out an APB for her!
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I absolutely love book trailers! I’m totally a visual person, so they draw me in. I love doing graphic arts and still on the hunt for newer editing software that’s less time consuming to use. I’ve found some intro and teaser apps that are good, but not the perfect one yet. My old software is not transferrable to my current computer
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My family, and by family, yes, I do mean my husband and children, but it extends beyond that. I’ve developed what I affectionately refer to as chosen family. Friends who have earned my trust and respect over the years. Some very close to me are from the reading and writing community. I’m very blessed.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read reviews, I don’t respond to good or bad, with the exception of a private thank you to readers I know who’ve left reviews. I take the good with the bad, as I mentioned before. If feedback is constructive, I take everything into consideration when writing my next story. My continual goal is to improve and hone my craft. It’s a lifetime goal.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Aside from holding that first print in my hands, and smelling the paper, it’s the interactions I have the honor of exchanging with readers and fellow authors. My favorite is book signings and meeting people in person.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A bit of both lol. Sometimes it makes me cry! That’s when I know I’ve really connected with my characters.
How did you find/choose your cover?
The covers done through my publisher are put together by amazing cover artists. They have a questionnaire to describe our visions of what will capture the story. The ones I design for my indie stories are symbolically driven and I get lost for hours searching for stock photos online.
How do you handle writing both books and blogs and Facebook posts and so on and so forth and ad naseum!? Lol. Okay, I’m looking for help, lol, how do you manage your time so well?
I’m not sure I would say I do that all “well.” Time management is an ongoing goal for me, and social media takes up a great deal of it. So when I’m doing that, I neglect my writing, and visa versa. Finding a balance and allotting time for both is important. (says the author who doesn’t do that for herself, lol).
As an anthology author, what do you think is the benefit of working in a group project?
For me, it’s the privilege of working with a talented group of people. Sometimes the draw of shared world building or storytelling gives me a kickstart with less plotting to do. Having a general outline of what, where, when and how long gives me a creative boost.
Why did you choose to work on an anthology project?
I was invited by authors I deeply admire and respect, and couldn’t resist!
If you could choose one author to sit down and have a cup of tea with, and yes, it has to be tea here, who would it be?
Oh my goodness, there are so many! My first choice would be J.K. Rowling. Her journey to becoming a published author has always inspired me. Her societal contributions and advocacy for those without a voice never cease to amaze me.
And we’re going random here, but do you like sushi? Hear me out before you go: WHAT?!?! I think it’s so interesting when looking at what people write and when and where they write and I don’t think any of my characters have ever tasted sushi before but I personally LOVE sushi. SO, do you, and your characters, like sushi? Or pizza? Have you found that the different cultures you write about influence you personally too?
Fantastic question! I tend to be a little bland in my choices, but yes, I will eat avocado sushi, lol. I’m not a seafood fan in general, but I have tried some other types as well. I do write foods, drinks and other aspects into my stories. It’s funny you mention this, because my current WIP, there is a scene with sushi!
If any one of your novels was to become a movie or a TV show and you got the chance to work with the casting director for it, do you know who you would want to play your characters or who your inspiration for those characters were when you were writing your novel?
OMG, Yes! My current sci-fi is written with the intent of film as the long-term goal and I envision the cast often. My vision of the actors changes at times, but the lead would be Chris Hemsworth, or if we went YA, Theo James. The rest, (it’s a big cast) I keep fluctuating lol.
Dragons…or wolves? One word answer is not enough! We must know! What is your favorite supernatural creature?
Oh, this is unfair! How can one choose?....If I were hard-pressed, I would have to go with dragons. My readers would be a gasp if I said any different, lol.
Thank you so much Kali for taking the time to talk with me. I'm so excited to have been able to get this special interview with you and cannot wait to see what the future holds for you!
Also, keep a look out for a special post all about the upcoming inaugural KaLiCon Book Signing Event.
If you think Kali's books are epic, wait till you see what she's got planned for this HUGE AUTHOR PARTY COMING IN OCTOBER!
For more information, visit: