Monday, 26 October 2015

Author Interview : Ksenia Anske

I am so excited to share this interview! 

Ksenia was born in Moscow,Russia



Hye Ksenia! Thank you for aggreing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Let's see. I was born in Russia, Moscow. I came to US 16 years ago not knowing English. And now I write books in English. Pretty crazy, right? And I studied architecture. Never knew I'd be writing.

What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I'm a glutton. I read a lot, and my favorites change often, so this is always a difficult question to answer. I grew up on Russian literature, Pushkin, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoyevstky, Russian poets like Kharms, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Bely. On dark Russian fairy tales and One Thousand and One Nights stories and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Later in my teens I read Bulgakov and Nabokov and in my 20s I discovered Stephen King. So you can see that my reading cocktail is that of bizarre, fantastic, absurd, tragically comical (or comically tragic), scary and unsettling, and those are the types of books I love. My latest find is Tatyana Tolstaya’s The Slynx, which I read twice, in English and in Russian. You could call it a dystopian weirdness a la russe. And Stephen King's On Writing had a huge influence on me. It's my writerly Bible.

Which writers inspire you?
Oh, every writer I come across whose book blow my mind inspires me. I'm currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and it's stunning, both in its writing and in its story. A big inspiration. A few other books that blew my mind lately: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Cruddy by Lynda Barry, The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavich, Love Story by Erich Segal, Books of Blood by Clive Barker. I better stop here because I can go on for hours.

 So, what have you written?
I have written a trilogy, Siren Suicides, about a teen who commits suicide by drowning and instead of dying turns into a siren then gets hunted by her father, the siren hunter. And I have written 3 more standalone novels: Rosehead, about a rose garden that eats people and a girl and her talking dog investigating it; Irkadura, about a Moscow teen who gets raped by her step-father and flees her grim reality into the Moscow populated with beasts; The Badlings, about 4 friends who don't finish reading books and get sucked into a book as punishment. I'm currently writing my next novel, TUBE: Trans-Urban Blitz-Express, about a train that is killing its passengers one by one, namely, Russian ballerinas. So, you can see, I wrote very happy upbeat stories.

Where can we buy or see them? 
Anywhere. In any bookstore you can ask for them to be ordered. You can ask your library to order them as well (they don’t stock my books as I self-publish). Or you can order them on Amazon or iBooks or Barnes & Noble or anywhere, really. Or you can get signed paperbacks and free ebook downloads on my site: 

What genre are your books? 
You know, to be official, I would put them in urban fantasy and magical realism and paranormal horror categories. But my readers told me that I write "weird shit" and that it's "phantasmagorical" and that I'm "the next Neil Gaiman." I love you, Neil, and everything you write, by the way.

What draws you to this genre? 
I'm not drawn to any genre in particular. I just write what comes to mind, and it happened to be this, what you read above.

Do you write full-time or part-time? 
Full-time! It's fantastic. I'm utterly spoiled.

Do you have special time to write or how is your day structured? 

Yes. I write in the mornings. I wake up, get my coffee, study new words I learned from reading the night before, and I start writing and don't stop until it's at least 2K words or 4 hours of writing. After that I do social media, emails and the rest, then I have dinner, read, go to sleep, and the next day it's pretty much the same. I don't take breaks for weekends.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? 
I have plotted my first trilogy only to learn that I hate plotting. I write my books like I'm reading someone else's books. Where is the excitement if I know what happens? That's boring. So I stopped plotting. I just sit down and write what comes to mind, but that means I have to do multiple drafts because there is a lot of floundering without plotting. I'm okay with that. I love the rewriting process.

 What is the hardest thing about writing?
Overcoming your fear. Every day I'm scared before I start. "What if it will be rubbish? What if no one will like it? What if no one will read it? What if I forgot how to write? What if I don't know how to write at all??" And on and on and on it goes. It drives me bananas. But after years of this internal talk I learned to stop listening to it and write anyway. It's still there, but sufficiently muted.

 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her? 
I have worked with two fantastic editors, and I just wrote a blog post on how I selected to them: Colleen Albert has edited all of my books then had to take a break from editing for personal reasons, and so The Badlings was edited by Sarah Grace Liu who is my current editor. I have met both my editors online and hope one day we will meet in person!

How are you publishing your books and why? 
I'm self-publishing. Why? Well, when I was writing my trilogy, because I was new on the scene, I was hoping to be picked up by a traditional publishing house. Three agents contacted me but they all turned me down as the subject of suicide was a hard sell, or so they told me. By then I had a considerable social media presence and my readers (the readers of my blog) said they want it now. They didn't want to wait. So I went for it. I never regretted that decision.

Do you have any other advice to other authors on how to market their books? 
I can pretend I know how to market books after having done it for years, but I really don't. I try new things every day and see what works and what doesn't. There is one thing that always works, that gets people to pay attention to you instead of ignoring you, and that is being yourself. If you put up a fake facade, people will sense the lie and despise you when they uncover it. So just be yourself and don't sell your books. Don't push them under everyone's nose. Make friends instead. And those friends one day will start buying your books and telling about your books to all of their friends. You can't do this by clever marketing, you can only do this by being human. 

How can readers discover more about you and your work? 
Let me arrange this in the order of frequency. If you want multiple posts a day, follow me on Twitter (mostly thoughts on writing) or on Ello (thoughts on writing with pictures) or on Instagram (selfies with books I’m reading). Become a patron on Patreon for $1 a month and read my daily writing (for patrons only, once a day). Subscribe to my blog where I post twice a week my findings on writing, or sign up for my newsletter which I send out once in 2-3 months or so, whenever a new draft is completed or a new book is published. Happy reading. I love you. XOXO