December 14th, 2018
I asked Crystal where she would like to chat:
“Dark clouds weigh heavily on the city and a brutal wind whips along the streets bringing with it the promise of an icy winter rain. As if in conscious contrast to the depressing mien of this place, the small, independent coffee shop where she chose to meet me is brightly lit. I open the door and the warming smell of cinnamon and sugar wafts towards me, drawing me further inside.
Bright yellow fabrics don the chairs and booths, interspersed with greens in floral patterns on decorative pillows. I’m hardly a few steps in the door when the barista greets me. I order my drink and one of those irresistible looking cinnamon buns. It doesn’t take me long to see her, hunkered down behind an ageing laptop. She had warned me that she would be working right up until I got there. I slide in on the other side of the booth and with a few quick taps on her keyboard she closes her laptop and smiles. “You must be Laura. It’s nice to meet you.” “
Laura Mae: Hello Crystal, what have you been up to today?
Crystal L. Kirkham: Not too much. Finished my last set of edits on my latest novel and sent it off to my wonderful beta readers.
L: Oh that’s fantastic!! I’m in that stage myself! It’s so exciting! What was it that you finished exactly? Would you mind telling me about it?
C: It’s my first stab at intentionally writing a romance. In this case, a paranormal romance called She, the Darkness. It’s about two god-like beings trapped in human bodies, when a madman attempts to release the Anela from the body she is trapped in and set her darkness to consume the wicked and unworthy, Samir, her care taker, needs the help of another being like her to track her down and save her. It’s been an interesting journey writing outside my normal SFF comfort zone.
L: Interesting! Sometimes having an outside perspective on a new genre is good though. You could touch on things most romance authors don’t. How long have you been writing She, The Darkness for?
C: This is going to sound insane, but I started writing the first draft on November 1, finished it on November 11. Spent a week or so writing something else, then I started editing. Start to end, I would say 35 days? Concept and planning started a bit before that though.
L: You’re kidding! That’s amazing! Thanks to NaNoWriMo?
C: In part, I find it gives me the drive to really buckle down and just get the story out. I like to challenge myself every year to write more than I did the year before. In part, I find it gives me the drive to really buckle down and just get the story out. I like to challenge myself every year to write more than I did the year before.
L: That’s great! You said normally you write Science Fantasy Fiction. Are they other published works we can read, or were they more for yourself?
C: I have two novels currently out that I self published. They’re a part of a paranormal urban fantasy series. They’re available on Amazon in paperback and for kindle, and they are also available on Kobo. The series is called Saints & Sinners and focuses on the city of La Port. Road to Redemption was written first and Depths of Darkness was just published in October. I hope to have the next one out no later than the spring of 2020. And in October next year I have a YA Fantasy coming out with Kyanite Publishing, an independent publisher.
L: Very cool! Congrats on those as well! It’s not easy for us self-published authors. I know of Kyanite Publishing! That’s really cool you got accepted! You are very motivated and I love that! What do you think normally inspires you to write?
C: That is such a hard question to answer because I just need to write. It’s almost like breathing for me. When I’m not writing I find life gets harder to deal with for me. Some of the darkest times in my life happened when I wasn’t writing. Finding stories to write is always the easy part for me, trying to find time to write them all is the hard part. The last time I counted my list of planned stories I had about 22 waiting for me to write them.
L: Goodness! Well you might be one of the lucky ones who doesn’t really need inspiration then! Haha! So in that case, when you do finally get a moment to write, do you have a routine? Any beverage you need by your side or snacks?
C: I work fulltime and commute about 40 minutes each way. So, I’ve had to do away with routine. I write on my breaks at work, during lunch (when I get time for a lunch) and when I get home. Occasionally I’ll drive into the city and meet with friends for breakfast and writing. During busy season at work this sometimes means that I’m lucky to get an hour a day in of writing.
L: Oh wow. Well with the amount of work you’ve done with limited free time, I’m even more impressed! That’s really cool you have friends you can write with in person, too. So what would you say is your favorite thing to write about? As far as characters, world building, dialogue, ect.?
C: I am a sucker for good dialogue. It’s really one of the things that I love to write and read the most. A well turned phrase will always catch my attention. Characters are a close second. I love creating strong, believable characters. For me, well developed characters take a story from good to great.
L: Good answer! Those are both my favorite too! What about… least favorite? Or maybe something you always struggle with?
C: World building has always been a challenge to me. I tend to build the world I create around my characters as I go, which works well for a lot of stories, but sometimes a story needs more than that. A few of those stories I have planned are waiting for me to be better at world building before I can write them.
L: Yeah I feel your pain. And fantasy and sci fi are usually the ones that need the world build the most too. Unfortunately for me too! Haha! Do you have a favorite book or book series of all time?
C: I have a list of favourite books, but I think one of the most influential of them would ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay. I read it when I was in highschool and countless times since. But if we were to choose a series? Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I own both the American and British versions of that series.
L: Awesome! Why do you think you loved The Power of One so much?
C: Beyond the fact that it’s a brilliant story, in my opinion, one of the things I love about it is that every character that shows up, even a mongrel dog that showed up for a single scene, feels like a fully developed character. Like if you stopped the book to talk to these characters they’d have a story all their own to tell you.
L: I can see why you gravitate towards the importance of characters now. Do you have a weird word or phrase that people commonly say that drives you crazy?
C: I tend to cringe when most of the people I know use the word ‘funner’. It irks me. That and if people write with text speak for no reason. Thankfully, the latter is falling out of practice.
L: Yesss That word immediately think of Legally Blonde. Haha! I know what you mean though with the texting though. It is hopefully going away soon! Do you have a favorite trope in books or least favorite?
C: Oh that is a tough question. I try really hard not to get wrapped up into loving and hating tropes. Some of them, when done well can be so brilliant, but done poorly are so cringeworthy and make you want to scream. Although I would love to see some tropes flipped on their heads.. Like the ‘chosen one’ being an elderly person. I do love seeing people take these tropes and do something different that you don’t normally see.
L: That would be really cool! Me too! That’s why we’re here! To change what we see in so many books already, right? So, Crystal, let’s go back to your books. Since you are self-published, what’s something you did that maybe you wish you had done a lot sooner?
C: Get involved in a writing community. I had no idea what I was doing when I put my first book out. I had friends and family yelling at me that I needed to get it published because it was so good, but I had no idea what I was doing. I think if I had a community like the writers community on Twitter back then I would have done an even better job. It’s a great story, but I think it could have been better if I had the support back then of those who knew what they were doing.
L: I agree completely. It’s something I was only a little bit apart of, but think if I knew a few more things, things might have turned out better. So what else do you enjoy doing outside of writing?
C: I don’t get as much free time as I like, but when I do I love being outdoors. Hiking, hunting, fishing. Even if all I get to do is a roadtrip up to the mountains and take a few moments to get away from my everyday life is wonderful. And of course, I love to compete in sports and showing with my dogs. Although, my rescue isn’t ready to start that yet, I’ve done a lot of things with my poodle.
L: I love to hike and fish too. You show dogs! How cool! What kind of dogs do you have? Other than the poodle.
C: I just have the two dogs for now. My standard poodle, Treble and my rescue is an Australian Shepherd called Nahni. She came from a rough situation and we’re still working on teaching her that people are safe now.
L: Aw I love Aussies! I love that you rescue as well, shout out to pet shelters! Haha! Alright Crystal, Whats some words of inspiration you can tell all the aspiring writers out there you have not yet published?
C: There are a few things I will always remind new writers. First drafts are always bad, don’t worry about it. Editing is what makes a novel great and you can’t edit a blank page. And most importantly, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or what the “rules” are. Write what you want to write.
L: Precisely! Thank you so very much Crystal! It’s been so fun talking to you!
C: This has been a delight. Thank you Laura.
Crystal L. Kirkham currently resides in a small hamlet west of Red Deer, Alberta. She is an avid outdoors person, unrepentant coffee addict, part-time foodie, servant to a wonderful feline, and companion to two delightfully hilarious canines – Treble the Standard Poodle and Nahni the Australian Shepherd. She will neither confirm nor deny the rumours regarding the heart in a jar on her desk and the bottle of reader’s tears right next to it.
Road to Redemption – Centuries ago Michel made a deal with the devil and now, for longer than he cares to think about, he’s only just managed to stay one step ahead of the death and destruction cursed to follow him for eternity. Now his wanderings have brought him to the strange city of La Port and a girl who knows a thing or two about the supernatural. Paige is determined to rid Michel of his curse and free him from Satan’s grasp. When Satan discovers her involvement in his affairs, Michel must tread the depths of hell itself to save her and maybe save himself as well.
Depths of Darkness – Iain was one of the best, but after the death of his family, he retired from the La Port Police Department. When he gets dragged back in by the lure of a mysterious case involving the ritual death of multiple children he is quickly thrust into the dark, supernatural underbelly of the city. As he strives to understand this strange new world, a demon is trying to tear it all apart. Can he trust Ruby Champagne long enough to help her stop the demon from opening the seal on the portal or is he already too late?