22 May 2011
UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT - Kristen Stone
I arrived just ahead of the rain, and the door was opened by Kris accompanied by her Staffy Bull Terrier Mutley who apparently is not only scared of the postman but would probably lick me to death. Even so I still felt inclined to hug the wall as I passed her by.
I settled myself on the sofa whilst Kris snuggled her legs up underneath her. The reason being that her feet don’t quite touch the floor when she’s sitting on a sofa. Mutley sensing that I was unsure of him settled beside me much to the amusement of Kris.
When I’m not slurping the red stuff I do love a nice cuppa ( not to strong mind) so Kris and I settled for that.
So Kris tell me a little bit about Stoke Golding.
Well Tee Stoke Golding, is the place where Henry VII was crowned after the Battle of Bosworth Fields. Or so the locals say. Not being a true Stoker myself I don’t really have a vested interest in the claim. The other thing of note around here is that if you travel in that direction (points to some distant hills) you are in the highest place in Europe. If it was possible to see that far, looking East, the next natural feature you would see are the Ural Mountains.
How interesting I really didn’t know that. I’m from the south in Kent and don’t know much about this area at all.
The spelling of your name is rather unusual Kris, tell me about that please and maybe about your family.
Yes Kristen Stone. Friends call me Kris. Well, actually friends don’t call me that at all because it’s a pen name.
Why did you want a pen name?
I chose it when I was about 14. At that time I didn’t like my real name, it’s boring and old fashioned. I thought Kristen had a much better ring to it way back then. Still has. And Stone is part of my maiden name.
So you are married then Kris?
Yes, to a wonderful man who thinks the world of me. A real old-fashioned hard working fella who believes it’s his job to provide for his family and has looked after me and our daughter and lets me do whatever I want. He has let me take time out to write even though I haven’t made a success of things – yet.
Sounds like a perfect set up.
It is. I’m very lucky and grateful.
And you have a daughter?
Yes. Grown up and married with three kids of her own, which makes me (grimaces) a Grandmother.
Smiles … I’m also a grandmother but I’m called nana faeries. She is Madison Teresa nicknamed Mad Tee by her dad after me. A real chip off my block.
Moving the dog off my foot where he is now lying asleep and snoring I ask …
So Kris when did you start writing?
When I was about 13 or 14. I used to buy exercise books from Woolworths and stick them together. I was a late developer as far as reading was concerned, but once I discovered adventure books I was well away and thought, ‘I can do that’. Unfortunately when I had my career interview I was told ‘You can’t just be a writer’. At that age I believed everything adults told me and went to work as a typist.
What do you do when you are not writing?
After writing and reading my next favourite thing is playing the piano. Sorry, trying to play the piano. I’m glad to say I am much better at writing than playing. The trouble is I don’t, and never have, practised enough.
What sort of music do you like to play honey?
Classical stuff mostly. I struggle through a bit of Mozart and Beethoven. The composer I have spinning in his grave the most is Chopin. I like Chopin because you can get away with putting your own slant on the music, it is not in strict tempo or form. Mind you, I have a wonderful piano teacher at the moment who encourages me to play anything and doesn’t worry if it’s not at the right speed.
Any other hobbies?
I’ve spent 20 odd years working with children in Brownies and Guides. That was fun but I’ve now handed over to someone who was once a guide and has never left. Well done, kid. I suddenly realized she had been an adult leader for nearly 10 years and it was about time she took over before she got fed-up and left. It was just at the time I had decided to concentrate on writing and didn’t want any distractions like – got to stop thinking because the girls are making beaded gekkos and I have to get all the stuff together -. I also do a bit of knitting and cross-stitch if I really need to chill. I’m definitely not into doing anything more physical than walking the dog around the village twice a day. Never have been sporty. I was the kid who was always picked last for a team at school. Luckily I have always been reasonably skinny even though I like chocolate.
Me too with the skinny bit – well not size 10 but just a little bit bigger these days…. Sighs remembering when I was a size 8-10 and then I gave up smoking ……………Anyway enough of that.
So tell me about your book and what‘s it called?
It’s all about a tribe of undiscovered people in the Amazon who are being wiped out by pollution from a mine. Their leader is called Kianda Mala which means Monkey Man in the language of the tribe.
Why do they call him that?
Because he has a tail.
OK … (Look of amusement on face) Fine. How come?
You’ll have to read the book to find out how Tee. Why I created a character with a tail is a different matter. It came from a song I learnt when I was working as a Snowy Owl with Brownies. The song asked : ‘If everybody had a tail and chose it’s shape and size, would you prefer a tufted one to swat at passing flies.’ It goes on ‘and if it were prehensile, what tremendous fun ‘twould be, the envy of your neighbours as you swing from tree to tree.’
Kris is conducting an unseen choir while singing the last line. Won’t comment on the singing.
Well, my mind being what it is I started to create such a character and ended up with Kianda Mala.
How long did it take you to write it Kris and what is the title?
Forever and a couple of years. I started the original story probably 20 years ago, then put it away when I couldn’t get it published. Then a couple of years ago I decided it was time to really fulfil my dream and become a writer. I got the book out and was really glad it was not published before. I have now re-written it and am very pleased with the finished book. It’s much better now, even if I say so myself.
The title is ‘Edge of Extinction.’
What was your aim in writing this?
First and foremost it is a story, but I wanted to create a place and make it feel real. Kianda and his people don’t exist but I wanted the reader to feel that they do, to feel their plight and to think that if perchance they happened to wander into the middle of the Amazon, unlikely as that might be, they would come across the village and the people. I don’t know if I have succeed in this. Time and sales will tell!
I’m getting dry Tee, fancy another cuppa?
Ew now you’re talking Kris thanks. I’ll just sit here and get some life back into my foot.
Strokes Mutley in the hope that she will get off. It’s not gonna happen so I give up.
Having finished our tea I ask Kris … Have you anything else planned?
Oh, yes. I have almost finished work on my second book which is completely different to the first. I could probably get away with putting this firmly in the Romance section as it involved the developing relationships between the main characters. That’s all I’ll say for now. Oh, and after that I have a thriller, but that is in need of lots of work yet. For one thing it’s too short.
You’re a bit of a dark horse then Kris. So do you have anywhere special to work?
No. I’m usually sitting in the corner of the sofa with my laptop on my lap. It is a lovely laptop, almost unique as it has the keypad at the front instead of the back of the machine, so I can sit with my hands resting on my lap and type away like the furies if I want. I’m really not looking forward to the day when it refuses to work any more.
Do you have a preferred time to work?
Evenings, mostly. I’m definitely not a morning person. By the time I’m up, soaked in the bath (compulsory to get me moving) sorted a couple of things out for my hubby, taken the dog round the rec – it’s getting on for lunchtime. I spend most of the afternoon checking emails and doing other things and then after the evening news I start writing. Once I start I could go on for hours, finishing well after midnight. I don’t set myself targets. I just do what I want to do until I have finished that idea or my eyes won’t stay open any longer. One of the reasons I wanted to write, apart from sharing my ideas and stories, was that I can decide when to work. I hated having to get up at a set time and be somewhere for so many hours. Luckily we can afford for me not to work and my husband loves working. There’s no accounting for taste. My ideal would be to spend the winter somewhere warm to write every year and only come back to England when the winter is over.
Personally I love the mornings – well in the summer anyway. Each morning almost feels like unadulterated purity. The morning dew on the grass, birds and squirrels coming to feed, and safe in the knowledge that nothing has been touched. Everyone else is still sleeping. Anyway I digress…..
So why have you gone to Night Publishing Kris instead of one of the big publishers?
Firstly because the big publishers wouldn’t touch this book with a barge pole. It’s not instantly viable. I’ve been told the writing is good. Everyone who has looked at it so far has loved the style. But it doesn’t fit into any particular genre easily so the big names can’t see a profit and won’t take the risk. To be honest, I don’t blame them. But I also strongly support the idea of Print on Demand and ebooks. I love ebooks. I have over 100 on my Sony, new and old, and loads for Kindle on my laptop. The Sony fits into my handbag and goes everywhere with me.(Pulls it out and waves it around). And it doesn’t collect any dust! As for Print on Demand, I think that is great for people who like to feel a book in their hands when they read without the waste of unsold volumes.
In this world of dwindling resources it must be the way things are going. I’m not a lover of wandering around bookshops. If anything they depresses me because I think to myself ‘with all these available why would anyone want to read mine?’ Not an inspiring thought for a would be writer. I am very grateful to Tim and Night Publishing. I’m really glad he had the idea and hope it lasts for ever – or at least as long as I am around writing.
Well, thanks, Kris. It’s been great getting to know you (both burst into song).
Is there anything else you would like to tell me in the way of promo? Your web site for instance.
Oh yes please Tee, it’s www.kristen-stone-the-writer.com
Now before you go can I get you another cup of tea, Tee. (Laughs at her own joke)
I wouldn’t mind Kris and then I must go providing I can get this dog off my foot
I’m finally able to move but with dog still attached to foot.
Kristen is in hysterics as he is taking no notice whatsoever of her commands.
Phew what is it with me and dogs I wonder?