Author Interview - Kaylynn Flanders
I had the utmost honor of being able to talk to Kaylynn Flanders, author of the upcoming novel Shielded. I was curious to hear of her experience as a freelancer delving into the publishing world as a debut author, and what new knowledge of the industry she would want to share to other up and coming authors. It was an absolute delight to discuss the world of writing and publishing with Flanders, and I cannot begin to explain how kind and sweet she was as we wrote back and forth over emails. She has so kindly shared her experience for others to see, and I'm so happy to be able to feature the interview on this blog!
M.A.: As a debut author, what's one feature of publishing you wish you knew beforehand before you started your book journey?
K.F.: You hear about all the waiting and deadlines in publishing, but until I was in it, I didn’t understand how you could wait to hear back on your edits for nine months, and then be expected to turn them around in two weeks. And while you’re waiting, it’s so easy to look around at everyone else’s announcements and progress and feel like you’re behind schedule or not hitting goals you’d aimed for. But the best thing you can do is stay busy writing books, and make every book the best book you can write.
M.A.: What inspired your book Shielded?
K.F.: Shielded started from a dream. The dream was really different from what the book turned into (there were neon yellow tanks in the dream, for example), but the emotions for the moment in the dream stayed. I won’t share spoilers, but there were people in danger, and I woke up before they were safe. In that moment between dream and awake, while my heart pounded and those characters were still real, I needed a solution to save them. Some way for them to escape the danger chasing them. The only answer I could think of was magic. I eventually went back to sleep, but the characters stayed with me. I let the story idea grow over a few months, asking questions about who the characters were, why they were in danger, and how they got out of danger, and eventually, it all became Shielded.
M.A.: What's one piece of advice you could give a writer getting ready to query their book?
K.F.: Stay busy. While you’re querying one book, don’t stare at your inbox all day (the temptation is real)—write the next book.
One other useful tip I heard and used: query in batches of 5–10. That way, if you only get rejections, you can tweak your query and first pages and send a stronger query to a new batch of agents. Your writing will have to shine all the way though, of course, but getting that beginning right is essential.
M.A.: Since you've worked as a freelancer before publishing your book, was it easier for you to write and edit? Or did you find yourself struggling to take your own editing advice?
K.F.: I do think my background helped me jump into the world of writing easier. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me. Drafting is particularly hard—a blank page is intimidating with all its possibilities. I had to learn to turn off my internal editor and just get words written. But I love revising. Seeing a draft get better with each revision is the biggest thrill to me—it’s why I became an editor. From the macro structure issues, down into each phoneme, I love finding better ways to tell a story.
Everyone's book journey is different, so it's always interesting to see and hear how an author crafted their story, what they encountered while working towards publication, and what they've learned after publishing a book.
Big thanks to Kaylynn Flanders for talking the time to answer these questions and to share her experience!