I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview this lovely woman. Ksenia is a brilliant author and a beautiful person. You should read her books.
Me: Where do you live and write from?
Ksenia: My writing cave in the rainy Seattle.
Me: Sounds like Merlin’s Crystal Cave, a good place for a sorceress to be alone and meditate, great for writing. Seattle has its own special brand of beauty: greenness, fog, and ocean. I’m on the opposite coast from you.
Me: Why do you write?
Ksenia: I can’t not write. I have started writing for therapy, and now it became my life.
Me: I know what you mean. I can’t not write too. It’s not my therapy but it’s certainly my life.
Me: When did you start writing?
Ksenia: I always wrote in my head, imagining whole stories, though I didn’t know it was called writing. Then I wrote some poetry and did some journaling in my teens, then stopped writing and forgot all about it, got on with life, and then about 4 years ago I started writing seriously (not that anything I write is serious), full-time.
Me: I guess writing was waiting for your return during the in-between years. Your fans are greatful.
Me: What genre(s) do you write?
Ksenia: At first I thought it was fantasy, then I thought it was magical realism, then horror, then my readers told me that my writing is so weird that they thought the genre I’m writing in should be called “weird shit,” so I suppose that’s what it is. I don’t really care for genres. I just write.
Me: OMG, we’re kindred spirits! I can’t stand the pigeonholing of books into genres. The classifiers classify Stephen King’s books as horror but many of them are more like fantasy and some are more like science fiction. He definitely writes “weird shit” too so you’re in good company. Don’t let anyone limit you by classifying your work to a limited genre.
Me: What does your writing routine consist of?
Ksenia: I get up. I get my coffee. I write for at least 5 hours. I stop. Then I read for about 3 hours. That’s pretty much my day. Sometimes I get so carried away, I forget to eat.
Me: Oh, Ksenia, please be careful! I used to have a similar routine, for many years. Writers who do this have an occupational hazard — blood clots. It can happen to you at any age and it can kill you. It almost killed me (pulmonary embolism, emergency surgery, 25% chance of death). Now I take more breaks and exercise.
Me: What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
Ksenia: Stubbornness. I don’t think I’ve developed it, I think I was born with it. I just stubbornly refuse to give up. I never studied writing, and English is my second language, so who did I think I was, writing books in English?? But I really wanted to, and so I did, and am still doing it. Imagine. That’s really the only strength I have, the rest are weaknesses and follies.
Me: You’re very modest. You have great talent and many rare strengths as a writer. It’s good that you never give up though!
Me: Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
Ksenia: I wish I could turn my brain off. It’s not the question of where to find inspiration, it’s the question of getting some peace from the incessant chattering in my head. Writing quiets it for some time. And no, I haven’t put myself in my stories. Yet. Maybe one day I will. Although of course pieces of me are in all of them.
Me: Hmm, are you sure? I used to tell people who thought they spotted me as one of the characters in my book, “No, she’s not me, she’s just a made up character, it’s just a story, not real.” Of course I was lying to myself. I see that now.
Me: Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Ksenia: Improviser. I just sit down and start typing, and quite fast, I think, when it’s the first draft, about 2-3K words a day or more. The rest of the drafts I’m slow. Revising can’t be done fast. At least so far I haven’t found a way.
Me: That first rush is the best isn’t it? After that it becomes increasingly less fun and proofing is the least fun of all.
Me: Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)
Ksenia: The Badlings. It’s a very bad book about a very bad book that swallows very bad children because they don’t finish reading books. See? I told you it’s bad. It’s mad, too. But people seem to like it. Here is the link to it: http://www.kseniaanske.com/books/the-badlings
Me: When I read horror books that are simply too horrible, I sometimes skim over the really bad parts. I’m squeamish. I’m not into horror for its own sake but I love a good story and, as it is in life, horror is often an essential element. I also write some horrible scenes about horrible things happening to children. I don’t like when I do that but I can’t seem to help it.
Me: Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Ksenia: Indie, because by the time the agents got back to me and told me it would take a while, I had enough readers who wanted to read my first trilogy NOW, and so I decided to try it, and after that I simply kept on going, and loved every minute of it. It’s me and my readers and no one else in between. It’s magic.
Me: Yay! This answer makes me smile.
Me: Any other projects in the pipeline?
Ksenia: Yes. Three novels. The Second Edition of Siren Suicides, my first trilogy, cut down and squeezed into one book, coming out next month; TUBE: Trans-Urban Blitz-Express, a novel about a train killing ballerinas, coming out some time later this year (finishing third draft now); Janna, a novel about a woman serial killer (starting first draft next month). There are twelve more novels outlined that I have to get to. See? I told you I can’t stop my brain.
Me: And of course, having started them, you are driven to finish them. This is what keeps you going I think.
Me: What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
Ksenia: To get on the New York Times Best Sellers list. To make an obscene amount of money and bathe in champagne and sleep on bags of gold. To become very rich and very famous and build a castle on the moon and live there alone so I can write and read in peace. What I’m doing to achieve it? I’M WRITING LIKE MAD.
Me: It can all happen! I have faith in you.
Dear visitors, you can see all of Ksenia’s work on her web site at http://www.kseniaanske.com/
Me: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Ksenia: Never quit.
Me: Right, let’s not.