Please welcome the lovely Kirsten Imani Kasai to the blog today! Kirsten graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions, and has also offered *signed copies of Ice Song and Tattoo* to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of this post!
Kirsten, you’ve done many things, including styling hair, waitressing, and even box office sales. Did you always dream of being a writer?
I’ve been making up stories since I was six. My mom gave me an electric typewriter in high school and it really kicked off for me then. It’s been a slow and steady uphill plod to get published, but it’s been a great journey so far.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Fairy tales, Greek mythology, gothic horror and pulp fiction. I also love survival epics and tales of explorers, historical figures and royals—notably their journeys, madness, delusions and struggles.
I know that gender roles and feminist themes are important in your work. How do these themes come into play in your new novel, Tattoo?
The thread running through the characters’ individual stories is woven of exploitation, whether commercial, sexual, emotional or environmental. They each attempt to rise above it by making moral choices to help those in need or by succumbing to its temptations. Today, there are more people in enslaved than at any other time in history due to sex trafficking, yet the trade is invisible to most of us. Globally, women’s rights are in constant peril, so I hope that my writing will help to illustrate how the female population is abused—and encourage readers to share in the effort to fight for greater political and economic equality, and improved health, safety and education.
Is Tattoo a standalone novel, or are there plans for a series?
Tattoo is the sequel to Ice Song, but both could be read as standalone books. There is more to the story of Sorykah and the child, Teszla, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to bring 1-2 more books to market sometime soon to complete their adventure.
What’s been one of your favorite characters to write?
I truly adore Queen Sidra the Lovely. She is quite her own creation! I wish she were real. I desperately want to be her friend and visit the Erun city. There’s a bonus short story about her included in the e-book of Tattoo, and I had the best time with it. If it’s possible to fall in love with a fictional character, then she’s my crush.
What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
I’ve noticed that I sometimes write backwards/out of sequence, so there’s sometimes a lot of cut & paste involved in bumping paragraphs further up the page. On that note, I can actually print and write cursive upside down and backwards! I tried for a while to become ambidextrous but my lefty’s a bit incompetent so it didn’t pan out.
I noticed that you also offer writing/coaching services. What’s the best piece of advice you could offer struggling writers?
Learn and practice your craft. Understand the technical aspects of storytelling so that you will know when you can bend or break the rules. Above all, trust your own voice. If it’s truthful, it will find an audience.
What book is on your nightstand right now?
The Lotus Shoe Book—a tiny “how to” booklet about foot binding and Night Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko. I just purchased three books: Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas, The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and The Vaults by Toby Bell. Toss up to see which one I’ll start first. I’ve also been reading Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry before bed—I find it very soothing.
I read that you love to travel. What destination would you recommend, and why?
Hmm, that’s a tough one! I think it depends on what most appeals to you: art, culture, nature, adventure, history, architecture, people, food…on my list is the Ice Hotel in Lapland, a walking tour of the UK (moors & highlands), Tunisia, France and a boat tour to see the medieval German villages along the Danube and Mosel rivers.
If you could pack up tomorrow and go anywhere, where would it be?
New York! I love the city.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
Wow! Umm, probably can’t share it in public but packing up and heading off to Europe by myself at 18, working as an artist’s model for life drawing classes and having a natural birth at home.
Is there any other news about upcoming projects or events you’d like to share?
In Bed with a Book Contest Aug 1-7 on Facebook
Official book release party Aug 21 in San Diego (open to the public), and I’ll be participating in LitQuake/LitCrawl on Oct. 15 in San Francisco. Details on my website www.icesong.com.
1. Giveaway is for signed copies of Ice Song and Tattoo to one winner!
**Giveaway is now closed! Thanks so much to everyone that entered!**