First, a bit about Kai:
Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was an EPIC eBook Awards finalist. Her young adult title, King of Bad, soared to the publisher's #1 spot in its second month and stayed on the Top 5 Bestsellers list for eight months. 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 readers?
The middle school years are filled with conflicting messages. Kids are expected to be independent thinkers, but not yet allowed to act independently. They are expected to act responsibly without being awarded many real responsibilities. How a child navigates through the years of double standards shapes who they will become as adults. That’s where reading comes in. Reading how book characters attack, fail, or succeed over challenges can really help a tween see how their choices might impact their lives and those around them. Though you won’t find a heck of a lot of middle schoolers casting a wish with an odd gnome-elf, like in my story The Lumpy Duckling, the critical thinking that Wheezy demonstrates after her wish goes horribly wrong can teach a child far beyond what their own limited life experiences might. Plus, that child is more likely to handle problems well when they do face them because they’ve seen their favorite characters work their way through situations.
Fiction. Mostly middle grade and young adult, though I do branch out beyond that occasionally. Beyond that, I’m not picky. Fantasy, contemporary, historical, sci-fi, dystopian, romance, issue, comics…really I’ll read it all.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Read, walk, hike, go to movies, visit the library, hang out in coffee shops. Even better when those things are done in the company of my husband, kids, or friends.
Tell us about The Lumpy Duckling: Another Weaver Tale and how the story came to be.
There are two key elements from my life that loosely inspired the story. First and foremost is my very own best friend. We’ve been besties for 35 years (crazy!), and we’ve been through boatloads of good times, but also weathered some rather trying times. I really wanted to tell that story—of friends weathering through tough times—so kids know not to just give up on a bestie when things get shaky. Second, my bestie and I knew a boy who returned to school one year practically unrecognizable and rather eye catching! So I decided to use those two elements in an Ugly Duckling type of story.
Here's a peek at The Lumpy Duckling:
Lumpy may be hefty with a misshapen mouth, but he's funny and the most loyal friend Wheezy could ask for. When she meets Unwanted, she casts a wish for people to be able to see her best friend like she does. Her wish nearly kills him.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Lumpy is my ninth published book and the third standalone title in my Weaver Tales series. The Weaver and The Wishing Well being the first two. In each of the Weaver Tales, a wish goes awry and our main character has more of a problem to fix than she started out with. What I love about the Weaver Tales is that the characters speak in story, making for a more lyrical and literary experience. My other middle grade titles are Beware of the White—a Narnia-like adventure, and Save the Lemmings—a contemporary story about a girl inventor whose reputation is ruined by the media. My other titles are for young adult readers. People can browse my books on my website.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
My 10th book is under contract! Finding Thor, a contemporary young adult romance, will be published in 2015. I hope to see publication of the third and final book in my Super Villain Academy series (also written for young adult readers) in mid 2015. I’m already working on the fourth Weaver Tale. As you can see, I keep myself busy.
What advice do you have for other authors?
People always say, “Read, read, read.” You know what? It’s true. You need to be familiar with the good and bad books written for your target audience. You need to discover what you like and don’t like so you can mold and shape your own writing. First, steep yourself in books written specifically for your intended audience and then branch out and learn from other genres or age groups.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I’m eternally grateful to readers who give their precious time to any of my books. Readers rock! Thanks for having me, Cheryl.
Where can readers find you and your books?
My website is the most comprehensive place to start.
I’m on Facebook and Twitter.
I’d love for readers to join my mailing list so they don’t miss any announcements or giveaways.