Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meet MG/YA Author Kai Strand

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Middle Grade and YA author Kai Strand. Kai is a fellow MuseItUp author.

First, a bit about Kai:

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. 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.

Why did you pick to write books for MG/YA?

I write both young adult and middle grade. I jump between the two because the middle grade years are so formative. Kids are really figuring out who they are, who they want to be and learning some of the uglier truths of life. Reading is really important in those years to help them figure it all out. With young adult there are no limits. All subjects are open, all means of telling the story are available. The readers are smart and dialed in to the story and passionate about what they love. That passion is what I truly love about young adult readers – regardless of their age.

What types of books do you like to read?

Again I fluctuate between middle grade and young adult, and I try to read all the genres within that: fantasy, contemporary, mystery, horror, humor. I also try to alternate between books published by traditional big publishers, self-published books, and books from small publishers. There are so many good writers and now that there are choices out there for authors, you can find gems everywhere.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I’m a mother, so I like to do the things that mothers do: taxi service, grocery shopping, cooking, laughing at – oh, I mean helping with homework. I’m a wife, so I spend a lot of time adoring my husband.  Great guise to sit and relax. I’m a compulsive walker, so I try to walk 3 miles, 5 or so days per week. I love to be outside, gardening, reading, wandering downtown.

Tell us about Beware of the White and how the story came to be.

My latest middle grade novel is Beware of the White: A Concord Chronicles Book. I recommend it for fans of Narnia because it has an alternate reality, magical abilities, fantastical creatures, prophecy, and adventure. I wrote this book while waiting for the fifth Harry Potter book to be released. I was so enamored with the world of Hogwarts and I thought, “I can create a world of my own while I wait.”

Here's a peek at Beware of the White:

As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Nature’s Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves. Until Blanco, leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming, at Terra’s hand. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn out how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have a middle grade series called The Weaver Tales. There are currently two books in the series. Both books are set in the fictional village of The Tales filled with storytellers called Word Weavers. The people speak in story, so the books are lyrical and offer several examples of different types of storytelling. The Weaver, the first book in the series, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. In The Weaver, Molly Wordsmith lives in a town of storytellers, but can’t tell a good story to save her life. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale is similar to Cinderella because the main character Molly has a horrible mother and two terrible sisters. In both books our girls meet a strange gnome/elf, named Unwanted who grants them each one wish, but it doesn’t solve their problems; it might have made them worse. The books don’t have to be read in a specific order.

Save the Lemmings is a contemporary fiction for the older middle grader or tween reader. Natalie is a young inventor and her latest invention makes her an overnight sensation. At first the media adores her, but then they turn on her and start to print lies. Natalie has to figure out how to take back control of her life.

Finally, I recently broke into the world of young adult with my most recent release King of Bad. Everybody loves a bad boy, and Jeff Mean is King of Bad. A self professed pyromaniac, Jeff wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie, until he is recruited by Super Villain Academy  - where you learn to be good at being bad. When the fellow students in your school can suck all the water out of your body or perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Is Jeff Mean bad enough for SVA? I’m thrilled to say that King of Bad is a #1 bestseller for Whiskey Creek Press!

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

The second book in the Super Villain Academy series is under contract with Whiskey Creek. I’m finishing a contemporary young adult that I like to say is a cross between National Treasure and Wuthering Heights. And finally, I’m writing a Concord Chronicles novella. This will be Frank’s story, which will make more sense after you’ve read Beware of the White. All I can say is, sigh, “Ah, Frank.”

What advice do you have for other authors?

Read a lot from the genre and age range you want to write for. Never stop reading books, magazine articles, graphic novels written for that target audience. Read the good and read the bad, and learn from it all.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Feed an author, buzz their book. With everyone online these days, it is so easy for readers to share their favorite books. They don’t have to be eloquent writers and leave lengthy professional grade reviews, just share their opinion in a one line review on Amazon or the publishers website or even share the link with their facebook friends and say, “What a fun book!” Your friends value your opinion and sharing it is GOLDEN for that author.

Where can readers find you and your books?

I’m online all the time (blushes). So whenever someone wants to talk books, they can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or send me an email. All of my contact information and the blurbs, buy links and companion materials for my books can be found on my website: www.kaistrand.com.


  1. Cheryl, thanks for hosting me today. It's so much fun to visit with you and your readers.

  2. I really enjoyed the interview with Kai. I don't know how she finds the time to do all that with 4 kids as well. Thanks again for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    1. Glad to be a part of it, Jambo. Not all days are very successful. Today was pretty much ALL about the kids ;) That's okay though. They're worth it.

  3. Kai, from this interview I get the impression that you have an authentic voice in your MA and YA works. Why, you're really in the thick of things (and it seems having a great time at it too!)
    I too love YA readers for their passion (and focus).
    Be well!

    1. Thanks, Loren! Such a nice thing to say. I do love writing for kids.

  4. This is a great interview, and I really enjoyed reading it. Lol! And I think we all spend too much time online ;)

  5. Honestly, Kai, where the heck to do find time to write, read, and take care of 4 kids? Hats off to you, girl! Love your advice to readers: Feed an author, buzz their book! So true! It gives a needed shot in the arm to us authors! LOL! Wishing you success in ALL your publishing endeavors, girl! Cheers!

    1. Ha ha! I've found that being an author is much like being a mother. Holidays and vacation mean very little, the work just continues on ;) Thanks for stopping in, Sharon.

  6. Great interview Kai! Had no idea you had so many books out. King of Bad sounds very interesting. You must have a super imagination. Congrats, good luck...and keep 'em coming...

    1. I'm so glad you stopped by, Rita! I still pinch myself that I'm a published author. I really love it - thank goodness, huh?

  7. Kai, thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us. Hope you had fun!

  8. Thanks for another great interview Cheryl. I have seen Kai and her books before and it was nice to learn a bit more. I loved her line about spending her time adoring her husband! lol