Joining us today is Kai Strand, author of The Weaver. This is a children’s book geared toward ages 9 – 12 years old.
Thank you for being with us today, Kai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me today, Cheryl. I am a wife and a mother of four. We live in Central Oregon where the snow capped Cascades are in stark relief against the bluest sky you’ll ever find. I write and read a lot, but I also love to sing and I’m obsessed with walking. As a family we love to geo-cache all around Central and Eastern Oregon.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I’d have to say the first event in my life that made me realize the value of words was in the fifth grade. My teacher had all the fifth graders write a fiction short titled “Blunder Day.” Mine was one of several to be chosen to hang in the hall. She even attached my school picture (shudder). But seeing it hang there during the open house and receiving compliments from people who’d read it (mostly adults) really resonated within me. “My words can make an impact!”
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
It’s funny because as a young adult, my best friend wanted to write for children and I rolled my eyes at the thought. Like children would even appreciate writing talent! But then I had children and that exposed me to children’s literature again. It was after my oldest daughter and I had gobbled up the first four books in the Harry Potter series that I realized how much more wonderful children’s fiction is than adult. That is when I started writing it.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I do and I know that many authors who write for adults will do the eye roll I mentioned earlier. However, there is something so challenging to writing the most concise yet engaging story possible. The author must not use one single extra word in her text, but she must draw her reader – his interests, his suspicions, his imagination, all of him – into the setting, time, place, and emotion of the piece. If you get lazy and drop the ball for even one paragraph, your reader will close the book (or turn off their e-reader) and never come back.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
It’s a tie. I love when my work gets into their hands. I love to see their discovery, their joy, their wonder, whatever the story invokes in them, I love to hear about it. Classroom visits are like my candy shop.
But I’m equally moved by the opportunity to impact the growth and development of a child. Children are always absorbing what they see, hear and read and they pull it out of the recesses of their minds without even realizing it. If, for example, a child who has read The Weaver is later faced with dealing with a friend who is suddenly pushing them away, they have the example of loyal friends who don’t turn their back on Mary when she’s confused and angry. I was blessed to have a strong, solid upbringing, yet I learned so much from how characters in the books I read reacted to situations. As an author, I take that responsibility of setting an example of right and wrong and consequences seriously.
Mary lives in a village of storytellers, known as word weavers. Her mother is the most revered word weaver of them all, yet Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a strange blue creature who grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, Mary is weaving odd little yarn charms with each still pathetic story she tells.
The Weaver is about perseverance, determination and finding the strength of character to accept and embrace who you really are.
What inspired you to write it?
I like to find common themes and think of how I can twist them to make them seem fresh and give a new view. I was casting around (in the cobwebs in my head) for a story idea one day and I looked down at my computer screen and there in front of me was my online critique group, Silver Web. Hmmm, I thought. We weave stories like a spider weaves a web. Then my mind leaped immediately over to storytelling. I imagined a remote village where everyone told stories all the time. Well, since practice makes perfect, obviously everybody would be pretty darn good at storytelling. But what if one girl wasn’t so good at it no matter how hard she tried? And what if she were the daughter of the most revered word weaver in the village? How would she overcome her obstacles?
Where can readers purchase a copy?
All sorts of places:
Direct from Guardian Angel Publishing, where you can read an excerpt.
Amazon, where you can read some nice reviews.
Or if you’re a member, it’s available from Barnes & Noble, too.
The Weaver is also available for bookstores and libraries through the standard wholesale distributors, Ingram and Follet.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
I’d be honored if readers poked around on my website, www.kaistrand.com. They can find reviews and interviews and links to other short stories I’ve written.
I have a blog, Strands of Thought, www.kaistrand.blogspot.com (also posts on Livejournal), where I blog about the trials and tribulations of being a children’s writer. I interview other writers, illustrators, bloggers and talk about books I’ve read.
But to stay up-to-date on, The Weaver, my writing and upcoming events, my author page on Facebook is the best bet. That page is geared 100% toward readers. I love readers and love to engage with them.
What is up next for you?
The Weaver and I are involved in an exciting display with the cover artist K.C. Snider at the Redmond Library this summer. A reading/signing event and reception will take place on June 18th.
I’m also partnering with a local martial arts venue for an event in July that will be a fundraiser for First Book here in Deschutes County. I’m really excited about that. I’ll post information on my Facebook page as we firm it up.
Other than that, more writing!
Do you have anything else to add?
I’m excited to announce that The Weaver has been nominated for a Global eBook Award in the category of children’s literature. You can find more information about this on my website. Cross your fingers it goes all the way!
Cheryl, thank you, again, for hosting me today. It has been so much fun talking about why I do this. It’s easy to get caught up in the fury of the results, and lose touch with the original inspiration.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Kai. We wish you much success.