Friday 29 May 2015

Kai Kiryama and Patient Zero (Interview)

Two years ago (because this blog has been going on for more than two years, holy crap), I had the lovely and talent Kai Kiriyama come over and talk about mood writing and now she’s back to talk about her new book Pathogen: Patient Zero and her life as an indie writer.

Let's start with the basics: tell me about your writer self. 
I am a genre-hopping monster who gets obsessive in both the best, and worst of ways. I like to take risks and I don't like hearing 'no' when it comes to my work - especially my independently produced work. I hate the phrase "self-published" because it has such a negative stigma around it. Only authors get branded as "self-published" where everything from filmmakers to musicians to comics are "indie". Did I mention that I'm rather opinionated?

What is your process for plotting and writing a book?
My process is usually as follows:
- get an idea while doing something that isn't even remotely book-related (like crocheting and sometimes mowing the lawn.)
-write down seed or idea or title or whatever flash of inspiration written in ancient, indecipherable tongues it was that hit me.
- Go back to the idea I'm SUPPOSED to be working on.

Really, though, I plot out novels by chapters, usually a paragraph or so for each chapter. I put down the key events of each chapter and then work around those beats as I'm writing. I don't like to plot too much beforehand because I find it makes my process too rigid. It probably makes the editing process harder but I feel like the writing process flows a lot better by letting it mostly happen organically.

Are you a snacker? Does music help you?
I am not much of a snacker. I usually go without eating all day when I'm in the zone, but I won't turn down a coffee or a latte with whole milk. I find that I snack when I'm stuck on a scene. Whether that helps or not, I dunno.

Music is one of those things that I have to be in the absolute right mood for, and what works for the writing process one day might not work the next day. Lately I've been using because the rain is soothing and there's no words to cloud the words in my brain. Video game music is great because those soundtracks are actually designed to engage your brain and make you focus on the task at hand. I use the Halo soundtracks on days where I really lack focus. Sometimes it works.

How do you go about editing your work?
I don't. Ha ha! I have a couple of beta readers who will have a look at it for content and typos. Then I go get the manuscript printed at Staples and take a pen to it. I've lately been blacking out sections to get a better feel for the flow of the story as I read instead of just red strikethroughs. My edits look like redacted FBI files.

Do you write in burst or are you an everyday kind of girl?
I am happy to do both. It really depends on what's going on in my non-writing life that determines if I get to write daily or if I'm spending my weekend at Starbucks and over-caffeinating. Writing every day in long bursts is my preference but I know that's not always reasonable to expect so I mostly do what I gotta do to meet my (personal) deadlines.

I hear a rumour that you are interested in tea leaf reading and crystal healing. Tell me all about it (for you).
I went to school for palmistry, tea leaf reading, crystal divination and crystal healing. I've got diplomas. It's one of those really weird things that I was like "I want to do this" and so now I sell readings and crystal healing sessions as a side job and would honestly love to do that as my forever day job until this whole being a professional author thing can help pay the bills more regularly. It's really fun and really interesting and I love doing it. I meet so many cool people and I feel like I can actually help people by doing divination readings and crystal healing.

How has that influenced your writing?
Doing divination, especially palmistry, has actually given me a lot more insight into people. I feel that it's given me more ideas to work with when creating characters. I can pick more personality traits by thinking about their hands. I imagine that Blaze Tuesday, for example, would have thick, reliable "earth" hands. His fingers would be very straight, indicating that he's no liar, and his index and middle finger kinda lean together, toward the thumb, indicating that he's a leader who won't take crap from anyone. In contrast, Zero would have had delicate, "impractical" hands, showcasing her optimistic, philosophical outlook but her ultimate inability to use it to change the world in the way that she wanted.

It's also given me a bunch of ideas for characters who dabble in the arts of divination and sorcery, and it encouraged me to write more variety in my magical characters, giving them all different talents and abilities.

Do you write to the trend?
Yes and no. I wrote a Dracula book when Dracula Untold was being filmed (unintentionally!) and I'm writing a bunch of zombie books. I think there's huge merit in writing for the trend, but it's hard to do in a way that isn't a blatant copy of "X popular thing" and that earns its own traction.

What trends are appealing to you next?
I'm not really sure. Gothic everything is brain candy for me, and I think that with Guillermo Del Toro's CRIMSON PEAK hitting theatres in October I'm gonna be spoiled for Gothic imagery to fuel my writing for months. I want to try Paranormal Romance, but I'm not sure what spin I'd give it. I'm pretty much just working on Zombies for the next year or so, and haven't entirely decided which way I'm going to turn when I'm done.

What is your favourite genre mix?
Ooh, that's a good question. I haven't been mixing genres as much lately. My steampunk-ish Noir detective (Blaze Tuesday) was my last major thing... Well, I'm querying a pirate version of Othello, and an Urban fantasy King Arthur retelling, so I suppose taking more classic stories and giving them an Urban Fantasy/contemporary fantasy twist is my current thing.

And, I like to mix Shakespeare in with everything. Pirates + Shakespeare. Steampunk + Shakespeare. Noir detectives + Shakespeare. Greek/Celtic etc. Gods + Shakespeare. Ice cream + Shakespeare. I think I need to stop it with the Shakespeare. Or watch more Shakespeare and write a bunch of different Hamlet variations.

Oh, and taking movies but making them not the way they were. Like... I dunno... 16 candles but a Space Opera. I'm working on what is essentially The Hobbit meets The Golden Girls. Movies, TV and plays are very much influential in my writing, so I'm not really surprised that I'm drawing from those formulas to mix up my writing.

So I know that Pathogen is the book that almost made you quit writing; would you change any of the journey?
Oh my gods, yes. If I could have just had the version that's out right now, without all the emotional turmoil and rewrites, I would trade that year of my life. Writing [PATHOGEN: PATIENT] Zero in the first place was a Camp NaNo project so the writing of the first draft only took 30 days of torment. I was depressed, I was awful. I would trade a lot of the things that had happened when I wrote it in the first place if I could have skipped it all. I still sometimes have nightmares about the medical research I did for that book.

Speaking of which: what's next for this writer?
More zombies, mostly. The sequel to PATHOGEN will be released on August 14, 2015 and will really open up the universe that Zero has created. In between all the zombie books I'm working on a comic pitch, and finishing up some other projects that I've got endings to clean up on.

What are you reading at the moment?
I am bouncing between Suite 17C by Leigh Ann Kopans and Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmoore. I think I started reading another book the other day too but I forget which one because I'm mildly preoccupied. Oh, and I've been reading a lot of comics. The Wicked + The Divine is amazing, Hawkeye vs Deadpool is laugh out loud fun. I've been mostly going through like all of MArvel's archives lately, too. Yay, for Marvel Unlimited.

Alright. Tell me all about Pathogen: Patient Zero. What do you want your readers to know?

Don't be turned off by the fact that this is medical horror/drama. I promise it isn't as bad as I make it sound. Zero is not a doctor, she's only explaining what's happening to her, not giving you all the nasty surgical details. (I don't think I could have handled much more than I put in there, let's be real.)
It's character-driven, and emotional. I fell in love with Zero, and with her doctor, Liam, and I really hope that you'll give it a chance and come try it.

Follow up question: "if you liked _____ then you'll love Pathogen."
If you liked House MD and you wish that there was a new take on the zombie genre, then you'll love Pathogen: Patient Zero.

If you liked The Fault In Our Stars for all that emotional torture, then you'll love Pathogen: Patient Zero. (Is that too cocky of me? To compare myself to John Green? Ooh, I feel like that was too cocky of me, but I swear I didn't think of that one myself. An early reader made that comparison first and I'm gonna latch onto it forever.)

And of course: any advice for indie writers?

Finish your stuff. Edit like a mad person. Don't be afraid to push the envelope when you're writing. Engage your audience before you start dropping your books on Amazon. Make them want to read your work. Interact, don't just spam people with your promo. Build a community and don't be afraid to trade digital copies for reviews. It's so hard to be indie, and you're going to get out what you put in. And for the love of everything holy, don't be a dick.

Pathogen: Patient Zero

Every outbreak starts somewhere…

Pathogen: Patient Zero

A young girl, hospitalized with a violent strain of the flu.
A charismatic doctor who promises that she’s going to be okay.
A nightmare virus that threatens to destroy them both.
Reduced to the title of ‘Zero’, she is dehumanized by her doctors into little more than a series of charts and procedures. Zero is left to her own devices, telling her story through a haze of drugs, slipping in and out of consciousness and trying to find some kind of inner peace as
the doctors around her hustle to find a cure.

PATHOGEN: PATIENT ZERO is a harrowing medical drama, told from the perspective of a girl dying from a mystery illness.

Buy Links:
Smashwords | Kobo | ITunes | B&N

I got to stop buy and hang out with her when she was signing books at a local book store. Check it out:

Kai Kiriyama is a writer of many things, mostly novels, of varying genres.

With diplomas in tea leaf reading, palmistry, crystal divination, and crystal healing, it’s no surprise to see novels reflecting the otherworldly with her name on them. Influenced by tales of magic, deception and monsters, Kai takes her genre-hopping seriously.

She currently lives in Canada with her pet snake and a looming deadline.

No comments:

Post a Comment