Interview with Kai Strand, Author of Save the Lemmings

Kai Strand writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her first book, The Weaver was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale, is set in the same storytelling village of The Tales. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home. 

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: www.kaistrand.com. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page: Kai Strand, Author. 

When did you begin writing? 

I really started in the fifth grade, but I didn’t take my writing seriously until about nine years ago when my third child went off to Kindergarten. I was left with only one child at home and all sorts of time. My oldest child and I were anxiously awaiting the release of the next Harry Potter novel and I thought to myself, “I can create an intriguing world of my own to tide me over.”

 

What is this book about? 

In Save the Lemmings, 8th grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. Will Natalie be able to overcome the lies being printed about her? Will she SAVE THE LEMMINGS? 

What inspired you to write it? 

I made a last minute trip down to Northern California to meet up with my sisters and visit our dad. I crashed on the couch of the hotel suite my sister’s had rented. I woke very early one morning with this idea formed in my head about a young girl who became an overnight sensation and how the media twisted and warped her life story into something not-so-nice. Luckily I was alone in the living room. I powered up my laptop and typed out the outline of the idea before the sun even rose. 

Who is your favorite character from the book?

The main character, Natalie, is my true hero in this book. She and I have been through quite a journey together. See, Natalie is an incurable priss. As a matter of fact, as charming as her inspiration phrases are, I think Natalie’s always sunny attitude would get on my nerves if I knew her in real life. However, I respect the heck out of the fact that she holds tight to who she is while everyone around her tries to change her. Kids at school don’t like her. The media wants to ruin her goody-goody image. Frankly, many agents and editors weren’t crazy about her either and wanted to change her clothing, her above grade level vocabulary or her old-fashioned respect for her elders. But Natalie and I teamed up to stand our ground and keep her the way she is, because that is the lesson in this book! If you like the you that you are – hold fast to it. EVERYBODY has a place in this world. 

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I’d say bumpy. I worked in the corporate world for years. Even though I put in the hours and did the hard work, in retrospect I think success came to me more easily in that world. It was a bit of a shock when I had to dig deep to overcome yet another rejection. You learn a lot about your character when it is tested that way, especially if it hadn’t been previously. The path to publication has most certainly been an opportunity for growth. It seems the rocky, pitted path of marketing will prove to be a growing experience as well.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

Readers can read an excerpt and order from my publisher’s website: http://www.featherweightpublishing.com/ShowBook.php?YA=KS_SAVE_LEMMINGS

What is up next for you? 

I’m glad you asked! I’m super excited about the upcoming release of my young adult fantasy, KING OF BAD.

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old bad boy, Jeff Mean, has a way with the girls and their mothers. He’d rather be off setting fires than following rules or observing curfew. Jeff wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he’s recruited to Super Villain Academy — where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can regularly perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Abducted not once but twice, Jeff’s life is turned upside down and leaves him wondering who is good and who is bad. Worse yet, he’s horrified to admit that he is developing manners and alienating his fellow villains. To everyone’s surprise, his rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil. And the girl he’s been crushing on is the catalyst. But is that necessarily a good thing?

Coming in 2013! 

Is there anything you would like to add?

I just want to thank you and your readers for visiting with me and my newest book, SAVE THE LEMMINGS! I love to hear from readers and hope they will take the time to visit with me on Facebook, send me an email or even post a review on Amazon. Readers are the reason we do this, after all!

The Weaver by Kai Strand

In a town of word weavers, Mary struggles through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. It’s even more embarrassing considering her mother’s fine talent at weaving tales. A chance meeting with a gnome-elf might change her luck. Instead, the wish he grants her leads to her weaving strange yarn charms that accompany her still pathetic stories.

I absolutely loved this story for its unique plot, the author’s engaging storytelling, and its wonderful message.  The Weaver by Kai Strand is a beautifully written fantasy chapter book for tweens. Strand draws upon her love of crafting stories for the book’s plot. Imagine how you would feel if your mother was the best at the one thing you couldn’t do right. What would it be like to stand out among an entire community of people for your lack of a certain skill? This is exactly where Mary finds herself. Even worse, when she thinks all that will change thanks to her wish, she discovers she still can’t weave a good yarn like her mother. Strand does an excellent job of making the reader care for Mary and has us wishing things will turn out right.

A touching and sometimes funny story is what you’ll find in The Weaver.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:94 pages
  • Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (December 10, 2010)
  • ISBN-10:1616331224
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616331221
  • SRP:  $9.95

Also available in a hardcover and a Kindle edition.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Interview with Kai Strand, Author of the MG Fantasy Novel, The Weaver

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.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

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.



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