And so, for our very FIRST author interview, we invite Kirsten Pullioff to the Privateers to talk about Life, the Universe and Everything. Oh and her book too.
The Kingdom of Soron is known for many things, its rolling landscape, haunting history, fiery sunsets, and its beautiful princess. Princess Madeline woke on her sixteenth birthday to realize that her future had been planned out, a life full of privilege, royalty, and boredom… a life with a husband and knight champion that she did not choose. Using her charm, strength and stubbornness, she defies the King at every turn, determined to keep her freedom on her terms.
Freedom quickly turns to disaster as she finds herself seized by a group of wandering bandits. With the kingdom in turmoil over her capture- her Knight Champion eager to prove himself, a group of dedicated suitors determined to win her hand, and a group of exiled wizards join forces in the hunt to rescue her. Follow Princess Madeline in this adventure to find freedom and love.
Hi, Kristen! Thanks for joining the Privateers! So to start off with, what was the first thing you ever wrote?
Well… I have been writing since I was a little girl. My parents laugh, because they say from a very young age, I was a writer… and the first things I wrote were lists. As a three year old, I would write complete lists of what needed to be done… play with toys, sing a song, clean room, etc… apparently I needed structure then, as I do today.
As for “real” writing, I wrote several short stories throughout high school, dabbled in children’s picture book stories in college, and then moved on to longer pieces. “The Escape of Princess Madeline” is my first published book, and my first attempt to do something professional with my writing.
Why did you decide to write middle grade?
I find this age to be very influential and special. This is the time in my life where I truly began to identify with characters, to understand the deeper themes, and when I began to search for and devour books. This is a time when kids are handling complex issues about friendships, relationships, and determining their role in the world. Middle grade fiction allows us to handle these difficult transitions in a fun, relatable manner.
Where did the idea for the Kingdom of Soron come from?
I have always been a fantasy girl. Ever since the beginning, when I dreamt about far off adventures, I saw princesses, castles, knights and wizards. When I began to write, this is where my inspiration came from. The characters, the location, the descriptions all appeared clearly in my mind.
Your story has a romantic element to it, how important do you think this is in a story
I think it depends on the type of story and the focus of the story. In most middle grade, lower young adult fiction, the romance takes a back seat to other themes. As is the case in my book, the romance is a secondary theme (first love), as opposed to the larger themes of parent/child conflict, and finding your individual strength. It plays a part, but is not the defining genre.
People often find it challenging to come up with their fantasy worlds. Was this difficult for you and what advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
For me, this part was easy. I was lucky because my fantasy world was already relatable from the standards of medieval renaissance. It is a time and setting that most are familiar with, and can easily imagine.
In other settings, world building can be tricky. It is a tough balance between describing the location, history, and background, and developing the characters and plot. Just like anything and anyplace, you learn things as you go along, it’s important not to tell it all in one place.
What inspires you? A song, a person, a favourite author from your childhood?
I find inspiration in so many things… I find rainbows every day that inspire me to follow my dreams. In the laughter of my kids I get inspiration to live life fully… listening to Bon Jovi gets me pumped up, hikes get me focused… and in the calm moments of my mind, I usually get new ideas for books and storylines.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
The hardest part will probably always be finding the time, and staying disciplined to it. I am a full time stay at home mom, so during the day, I am 100% kid focused, and then after bedtime and before they wake up, I put my author hat on.
Are you working on anything new?
I am! I am so glad you asked. The sequel, “The Battle for Princess Madeline,” releases late May 2013, and I am currently writing the draft for the final of the series. There are lots of exciting adventures for Madeline coming up.
Finally who is your all-time favourite character, real or fictional and how has this person influenced you as a story-teller?
Ooohhhh, tough one… I would have to say, Indiana Jones. As a teacher by day, archeologist by night, he has shown me that there is no clear distinction between passion and work. That you can find that balance, that every day is an adventure waiting to be discovered, and that treasure is right beneath your eyes… as a character, he is fun to watch and connect with, and for influencing my storytelling, he reminds me of the possibilities.
Well there you have it Privateers, sound good to you? Sounds pretty great to me and I just completed Bioshock Infinite, so I’m not easily impressed, y’know?