Hello everybody! This is something different than what I would normally post and I am excited to share it with you! I never thought I would have the chance to interview anyone for this blog, mostly because I assumed there would be no interest on the interviewee’s side. But it has actually happened!
I had the pleasure to interview Kristen Martin, the author of a young adult fantasy series called The Alpha Drive. It is composed of three titles: The Alpha Drive, The Order of Omega and the final book Restitution, which was published on April 4, 2017. Kristen is also the creator of a webinar series launched on July 10th of this year called Hustle Smarter, Not Harder, and also creates content for her YouTube channel under the name Author Kristen Martin and provides advice videos for new and experienced writers alike.
I am overjoyed that I can ask her these questions and learn a little more about the person behind the books/screen.
Now on to the interview!
Hi Kristen! I am so thrilled to send you these questions and get to know a little about who you are as an author but also what you like to do when you are just relaxing with your family or simple day alone.
Thanks so much for having me! It’s great to be here!
I was wondering if you could tell us all a little about yourself and your background?
Are you the oldest, youngest, or middle child: I’m the oldest. I have one sister, who is 2 years younger than me
Total books published: 3 (with a 4th one on the way this October!)
Favourite 3 movies/series: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Harry Potter, and the Pitch Perfect movies
First book you remember loving: The Fearless series by Francine Pascal
What books are on your ‘top 5’ must read list and why should we read them? What makes them special to you?
- You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero – This book gave me a whole new outlook and perspective on life and really pushed me to go after my dreams.
- Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk – One of the best books, in my opinion, by my all-time favorite author, Chuck has a way of pulling you so far into a story that at times, you’re not sure if you’ll ever be able to pull yourself out (in a good way).
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – I’m not a huge contemporary-lit fan, but this book gave me all the feels. I have never felt so many different emotions while reading one bookl. It’s absolutely outstanding.
- The Young Elites by Marie Lu – This series was a major source of inspiration for my new dark fantasy series, SHADOW CROWN.
- A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas – This book had me fully engrossed from the moment I opened it to the very last page. I’ve heard the second book in the series is even better, but I haven’t read it yet, which is why I’m recommending this one.
In your opinion what makes or breaks a book? What are the qualifications to get on your ‘to read’ list?
All great books have a delicate balance of tension, conflict, and character struggles, as well as the ability to keep the reader on the edge of her/his seat, while still providing enough information to leave the her/him satisfied. I absolutely love young adult science fiction and fantasy books because they’re so imaginative, but I‘ve been known to dabble in adult books from time to time. Really, for me, I have to feel something when I pick a book up and read the first chapter. Oh, and the back cover blurb must peak my interest!
What aspect of yourself and your writing style do you think improved the most after you published your first novel? How do you think you have grown and evolved as a writer?
Definitely my voice and “letting go of the rules”. I followed a more strict structure in The Alpha Drive, and came to find out that it wasn’t aligned with my true writing voice. I’ve seen myself grow with each book I write, but I will say that this most recent book, Shadow Crown, is where my true writing style and voice really shine. I’ve really learned to let go when I’m writing and let the words just fall onto the page. I don’t pay as much attention to structure – I’m more about eliciting feelings in my readers.
How do you balance your recent promotion at your day job with your YouTube channel and writing career? Do you think you would ever become strictly a full-time writer?
I’m not going to lie, it’s tough balancing a full-time job with writing and YouTubing. There are days where I’ll get home from work and just want to Netflix-and-chill. But having a YouTube channel and an author platform gives me a sense of accountability because I have people out there depending on me and waiting for my next writing advice video, or for my next book or project to be announced. I work on my writing projects, YouTube scripts, and webinar research a lot in the evenings and on weekends, and really whenever I can find a spare moment. I always find a way to make time for these things because I truly love doing it. Pursuing my passion doesn’t feel like work, but I will say it’s super frustrating when I have other things pop up at my day job that I can’t control and need attention immediately. My ultimate goal is to become a full-time author and entrepreneur, and I’m certainly making progress in achieving this goal!
Was the above the driving factor in creating your non-fiction project, Hustle Smarter, Not Harder? How long did you think on this project before actually putting pen-to-paper and planning out the content?
Creating Hustle Smarter, Not Harder definitely contributes to my progression in becoming a full-time author and entrepreneur, but I really wanted to create it because I saw there was a need in the market. Before launching this webinar series, I’d receive hundreds of emails a day asking the same question you just asked prior to this one – how do I balance it all? How do I manage my time so well? That’s what Hustle Smarter, Not Harder is all about. I share my secrets, tips, and daily routines to help you get where you want to be and ultimately cultivate your dream life, just like I’ve been able to do. This project has been in the works for over a year now, and I finally put pen-to-paper 7 months ago. I’m so thrilled that it’s finally launched and out into the world for everyone to see!
Have you ever bounced ideas off of your fiancé or does he suggest things to you? Or do you keep them all to yourself until the first few drafts are completed?
I bounce ideas off of him all the time – probably to the point where he’s tired of me asking 🙂 We’re both very creative people in very different areas, and even though his ideas don’t always make sense to me, I tend to gather something else from our conversation that helps me in brainstorming my next project or my next book. We complement each other very well!
What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
The dialogue, especially for teenage boys. I think back to when I was in my early years of high school, and guys talked to each other, and to girls, so awkwardly! And unless you’re in that setting every day, it’s hard to know how they’re communicating with one another and what language/slang they’re using. Makes me feel old, haha!
How long did it take for you to work up the courage to put your first book in print, or did you just jump right in?
It really took a full year – 8 months thinking about it, and then the last 4 months to take the leap and actually do it. Best decision I’ve ever made!
When you are writing what is your kryptonite? How do you get around it or embrace it? (Depending if it is a positive or negative thing)
I tend to have a lot of ideas pop into my head as I’m writing one book, and they’re usually ideas for the next book in the series or a completely different writing project. I’ve learned to embrace it. I keep a dedicated notebook next to me while I’m writing that is specifically for ideas that are unrelated to my current WIP. I allow myself to write the ideas down, but not to expand upon them. I’ll then get back to my WIP, and only expand upon those unrelated, new ideas once I meet my word count target for that day. It takes discipline, but I think I’ve found a system that works well for me. It’s allowed me to write 4 books in 2 years, and publish 3 of them!
Is there a driving influence for the morals and underlying stories of your writing such as faith or anything like that?
Yes, the driving influence for the morals and underlying themes of my stories come down to one simple concept – choosing light over darkness, good over evil, love over hate. I’ve always enjoyed stories that have more holistic themes, and I wanted to make sure I did the same in my writing.
If at all possible, would you give us some insight to one of your main or secondary characters in The Alpha Drive? What makes them who they are and what is their purpose?
Torin Porter, the savvy hacker in The Alpha Drive series, is one of the main characters and one of my personal favorites. In my opinion, his witty sense of humor and vulnerability are the two things that draw readers to him. Torin had a more troubled past, and so I created his character as one who sees things in a different light. He tends to be the voice of reason throughout the series, but you won’t get that “too serious, in-control” vibe from him. He’s a very unique character. And as for his purpose, well, you’ll have to read the series! 🙂
Can you tell us about your new Young Adult dark fantasy series Shadow Crown? Is there a character you could tell us a bit about, and what his/her favourite past time is?
I do have the back cover blurb for Shadow Crown available to read on my website here, as well as a sneak peek of the first chapter here. Arden Eliri’s (the main character) favorite past time would have to be training to become an assassin – anything that has to do with martial arts, weaponry, and fighting – including reading about it!
What draws you to the fantasy/dark fantasy genre? What is some of your advice when trying to create a new world, and would you prefer it to be different from Earth or fairly similar?
I’ve always enjoyed books with darker themes and undertones on the more psychological end of the spectrum, and I’ve always loved the imagination that comes with fantasy stories, so in my opinion, putting these two together is a really phenomenal concept. I actually have a lengthy video on world building on my YouTube channel, but I would suggest actually drawing a map of your world, even if you’re not the best artist. Having a visual representation available while you’re writing your story makes things so much easier. Personally, I prefer for the worlds to be similar to Earth (I like things I can relate to), but you have to do whatever makes the most sense for your story.
Have you created any new animal/creatures for your dark fantasy series?
I have 🙂 But I’m not quite ready to share that just yet! Not until the first book comes out anyway.
How did your friends react when you decided to publish your first novel? Was it a surprise or did they always know you had a passion for the written word and creating your own stories?
They really weren’t that surprised. My friends now were my childhood friends, so they’ve known from the beginning how much I love books and telling stories.
To go along with the above question, did anyone doubt you or tell you it was a silly dream? What would you tell people who are in these situations and how would you encourage them?
Nope. And even if they had, I wouldn’t have listened to them. I’ve had my heart set on becoming a published author for too long for anyone’s negative opinion to stop me. If you have negative people surrounding you telling you your dreams are silly, then try to remove those people (or, at the very least, conversations about your dreams with these people) from your life. I understand it can be difficult if your friends or family are the ones being negative, so do your best to discuss other things with them. In addition, find supportive, loving people who think your dreams are great (because they are!) by joining online writing communities and look to them for support and encouragement. While this will certainly help, in the end, you have to be the one who believes in yourself and your dreams and feels proud for going after it. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?
In your case do you think your fitness routine has any relation to your creativity and how productive you are?
Absolutely. When I don’t exercise or eat well, I tend to feel sluggish, tired, and unfocused. Those three things don’t make for productive writing sessions. On the other hand, when I exercise and fuel my body with the proper foods (mostly lean protein, smoothies with matcha powder, fruits, and vegetables), I feel awake, alert, and energized, which obviously leads to tons of new ideas and creativity for my writing projects. I always say that you have to take care of yourself first before trying to take care of anything else. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
What is your favourite way to get moving? (sports, gym, running…)
I love to go for 2-3 mile runs around the lake. When it’s too hot outside to run, I prefer going to cycling/spin classes. I have a home gym upstairs which is great – I’ve never been a huge gym-goer, mostly because I like to workout without a bunch of people around.
What is your favourite energizing food for when you know you will be writing for a long period of time?
Pita Pal’s organic red pepper hummus and baby carrots! I eat this every time I write. I swear it’s my brain-food!
It is a hot summer day in Texas—how do you cool down with your fiancé and animals? What is your favourite beverage to enjoy and snacks to eat?
Since we live on the lake, we have a pontoon boat, so we tend to take it out with our pups and enjoy a nice, relaxing day on the water. I tend to eat lots of fruit, usually watermelon, and drink cucumber-infused water.
Was there a really special moment that stood out to you at BookCon this year, as it was your first time there as a vendor?
Honestly, just the amount of people who actually knew who I was and watched my YouTube videos blew me away! It really stood out because I wasn’t expecting it at all. Also, selling out of THE ALPHA DRIVE was an incredibly special moment. BookCon as a whole was a very memorable experience, for sure!
As I come to the last question I thought I would ask a fun one!
If you had a soundtrack to your life what songs would represent the following emotions:
Sadness: Last Chance by Kaskade & Project 46
Joyfulness: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
Anger: Drop The World by Lil Wayne
Contentment: Inside out by The Chainsmokers
Love: Wherever You Will Go by The Calling
& Ready to Party!: Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers ft. Daya
Thank you so much Kristen! I thought it would be fun to include the soundtrack to my life as well (this was much more difficult than I thought it would be!). If anyone else would like to participate go ahead and let’s see what we sound like!
Jenn’s Life Soundtrack:
Sadness: Goner by Twenty ∅ne Pil∅ts
Joyfulness: Young by Kenny Chesney
Anger: Car Radio by Twenty ∅ne Pil∅ts
Contentment: Island In the Sun by Weezer
Love: Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra OR Hearts Don’t Break Around Here by Ed Sheeran
& Ready to Party!: All the Small Things by Blink-182
Thanks so much for having me! It was so fun to answer these questions. You can find me on social media here:
And here are the links to learn more about/purchase my books!
Shadow Crown (Available for Pre-Order): https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Crown-Kristen-Martin/dp/0996860592/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499806960&sr=1-1&keywords=shadow+crown+by+kristen+martin