I’m super excited to visit with Karma Chesnut today! Karma is an amazing woman and in this author’s interview, I’ve asked her a few questions so we can get to know her better.
Sharee: When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
Karma: Writing at least one book has always been on my bucket list. As far as committing to the author game, though, it’s a relatively new development for me. It wasn’t until I got my first publishing deal that I realized, “Hey, I might actually be able to do this.”
Sharee: Who has influenced your writing the most?
Karma: I get a lot of my inspiration for story structure and flow from Orson Scott Card. ‘Ender’s Game’ was one of my favorite books growing up. I’ve probably read it at least 4 times. Even now, with my current manuscript, if I get stuck, I’ll flip ‘Ender’s Game’ open to a random page and just start reading. It really helps to get the creative juices flowing.
Sharee: What is your favorite part of the writing process and why?
Karma: I love the beginning, when you have this tiny seed of an idea. Maybe it’s just a general concept, maybe it’s a single scene. Taking that seed and building an entire world around it – it’s thrilling.
Sharee: What attributes do you most give your characters and why?
Karma: I always make sure my characters have virtues AND vices, regardless of their role in the story. No one, villain or hero, is one-dimensional. Everyone has redeemable qualities, just like everyone has flaws. It’s the combination of the two that makes a character believable. There have to moments when the reader disagrees with or questions the hero, just like there have to moments when the reader empathizes with the villain. Characters become not only realistic but memorable when they are not simply black and white.
Sharee: What helps you be a better writer?
Karma: Practice, practice, practice. I got my degree in Anthropology, and there was a reoccurring theme in all of my classes that I see mirrored in everyday life: the question of “nature vs nurture.” Are we born the way we are, or is it a learned skill? In writing, or really any endeavor, there’s this idea that some people are just born with all the talent. You either have it or you don’t. That’s partly true – we all have certain natural abilities, but keep in mind that no one wakes up one day and runs a marathon. It takes planning, effort, and practice. Maybe you’ve always been an amazing writer, maybe it takes a little more effort. Either way, you’re never going to improve unless you put in the time.
Sharee: What are your ten most favorite things?
Karma: In general? Hmm, well my husband and 3 daughters definitely take the first four spots. (in no particular order – although my youngest daughter is my favorite. Jk.) I also love family hikes, Disneyland, rainy afternoons, and mountain biking. How many is that? 8? And for the last two; chocolate and…chocolate.
Sharee: What’s your biggest challenge writing in this particular genre?
Karma: I’m a science-fiction writer who isn’t very tech-savvy. Most people, when they hear science-fiction, think of futurist technology or lasers in outer space. But I don’t know anything about either of those, at least not any more than the average person. What I do know about is society, history, and human nature and I have a dark streak that relishes in writing scenes that make people uncomfortable. However, the dystopian genre, in particular, can feel a little single-faceted at times, so avoiding clichés while staying true to the genre is always a challenge.
Sharee: How has achieving your dream of becoming a published author changed your life?
Karma: It’s incredibly empowering. As I mentioned before, I have 3 daughters all under the age of 7. I’m fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with them, but as any mom will tell you, it’s exhausting. It also has a way of consuming your identity. I’ll go to a social event with my husband and people will ask him about his work and his projects and his hobbies. Then they’ll turn to me and ask me about my kids. I felt invisible. But since becoming a published author, I have another identity. One that’s defined by me and my achievements outside of the home.
Sharee: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Karma: Writing is hard. It is a solitary endeavor by nature and can easily feel isolated. What really helped me was finding my writing group, Writing Through Brambles. They’re a fantastic group of authors with similar goals who not only have great writing advice, but who push me to keep going even when I start to doubt myself.
There are so many resources out there for writers; conferences, writing groups, Facebook groups, etc. Find your people and let them help you refine your craft.
You can find more information about Unfit at Karma Chesnut.com.