Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kristi Ann Hunter's Debut Book Sweeps RWA & ACFW Awards

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write more than code. The power of stories and their ability to bring people together has always enthralled her. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia, where she divides her time between family, church, and the pursuit of the next perfect story.

What sparked the story for this novel?
When Miranda appeared in A Lady of Esteem I knew she wouldn’t meet the love her life in any way that was conventional. I also knew that she needed to learn that she was stronger than she knew. That meant her story needed a very unusual man and a rather uncommon situation. Thus A Noble Masquerade was born.

Share a bit of your journey to publication. Was it short or long?
While it felt like eons while I was living it, comparatively my road to publication was a rather short five years. Because my ability to write a query is, shall we say, lacking, I turned to contests for exposure. The first few years gave me great experience and advice and I put everything I’d learned into writing A Noble Masquerade. The book did extremely well, winning both the RWA Golden Heart and the ACFW Genesis awards and gaining the attention of an editor at Bethany House. The rest is, well, beginning as the first book in the series has only been out a few days.

What would you do if you didn't write?
That’s hard to say. I spent nearly a decade in corporate information systems writing code and working with databases. Before I began writing, though, we started a family and decided it was best for us if I stayed home with the children. So if I weren’t writing, I guess I’d be a little more on top of the laundry and actually remember to make dinner.

What makes you struggle as an author?
Time management. Juggling life and writing drives me nuts. Good thing all the best writers are a little bit crazy.

How do you handle it?
I signed a contract with a deadline. That lights a fire under anyone. I also am blessed with an enormously supportive husband who makes sure I have the time to do what God has called me to do.

Have laptop ~ can go anywhere
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
Anywhere and everywhere. I have a laptop that goes with me almost everywhere. I’ve written at dance class, the back corner table of Chick-fil-A, the car pool line, the church lobby, the kitchen table, the treadmill, the floor of my kids’ bedroom, and even, on occasion, I’ve sat at my desk.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
Before I started working with Bethany House I would have absolutely said the creating. I hated editing so much that instead of doing major revisions I would simply rewrite the thing. I do not recommend this. It is rather time consuming.

However, after working with some really amazing editors, I’ve come to appreciate the process of cutting and shining the diamond. The finished product is very satisfying.

Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
I am a very visual writer, but I’m also an audible writer. I have pictures on both the wall and my Pinterest board that represent characters, scenes, ideas, clothes, and setting. When I’m in the very beginning of a book’s creation, though, I rely heavily on music. Themes, characterizations, and plot lines are often inspired by different songs. I’ll put together a playlist and go back to it whenever I feel stuck in the story.

What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?
  1. Write. I know too many new writers that spend all their time studying writing and never actually write. Forget everything else until you’ve actually managed to put a complete story on paper. Don’t worry, it’s going to suck, but at least you’ll know you have it in you to put a story onto the page.
  2. Get to know writers that are beyond you in their careers. If you’re a complete newbie, make sure you’re rubbing shoulders with those who’ve been around a while. If you’re starting to pursue publication, spend some time getting to know published authors. Not only does this keep you motivated to move forward, you learn valuable lessons about the next phase of your career.
  3. Remember that God made you to be you, not me or any other author in existence. Your stories, voice, style and path to publication will not be the same as anyone else’s and that’s okay. In fact, that’s a good thing. 
Then what 3 things would recommend not doing?
  1. Do not ignore the industry and how it works. The first thing I did in serious pursuit of a writing career was attend a conference and pitch my book. The conference was in October and I wondered if they’d love it so much they’d fast track me and I’d be giving books for Christmas presents. Try not to hurt yourself laughing over that one. 
  2. Do not think you instinctively know how to write. I came across that submission from that first conference the other day and I about died remembering how proud I had been. I had so much to learn about the craft of writing. There’s still more to learn. Never assume you know how to write and have nothing to learn.
  3. Do not spend your time on things that don’t advance your goal. Do you want to be a blogger? Then by all means, devote your time to making amazing content that can be spread around the world through your many social media contacts. Do you want to be a novelist? Make time to write the novel! You can’t do that if you’re blogging 500 quality words every day. 
What's next for you?
The next book, of course! Miranda’s sister, Lady Georgina has been getting in everyone’s way, but it turns out she has a powerfully motivating secret for doing so. All her well-laid plans may be for nothing if she keeps running into the one man that could ruin everything.

I’m also doing a lot of things to try to get out and meet some of my readers. I adore my readers. If you live in or near Georgia, check out my webpage to see some of the events you can come meet me at.

A Noble Masquerade

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned. 

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

10 comments:

Kristi Ann Hunter said...

Thanks for having me, Ane!

Lynette Eason said...

Ane, great interview!

Kristi Ann, Congrats on all your contest wins and your contract! I love your answer about how you write everywhere...especially the corner table of Chick-fil-a. I can't begin to tell you how many words I've written at Chick-fil-a while my kids played in the playground. LOL. We writers do what we've got to do. :) I still write on my phone sometimes when I'm sitting in the drive thru line or the bank line or...:)

Kristi Ann Hunter said...

I've never been able to do the write on the phone thing, though I've wished I could several times! It would have been easier than lugging my laptop.

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Sounds like you've had a great experience and I love what you said about writing anywhere. I've written at Scout meetings, pretty locations, coffee shops, and am grateful for my new laptop and more mobility now. I love your enthusiasm and encouragement!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Kristi,
Great interview! Just wanted to drop by and wish you all the best with your debut!!
Cheers,
Susan

Kristi Ann Hunter said...

Thanks, Elizabeth!

Kristi Ann Hunter said...

Thanks, Susan. Glad you stopped by!

Gail Kittleson said...

Great to hear your story, Kristi Ann, and your advice was something I needed today. Bless you.

Kristi Ann Hunter said...

Glad I could help, Gail. Have a great day. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I have A Lady of Esteem and can't wait to read A Noble Masquerade. It sounds like an amazing book.
Lientjie