Move Over JK Rowling, There Is A New Fantasy Author In Town
Melbourne author and mother of four, Karlana Kasarik, has published an enthralling fast paced fantasy-adventure novel for 10-13 year-olds. Stone Keepers – The Chosen is the first book in the Stone Keepers Trilogy and Book Two (yet to be given a title) will be published in the next few weeks. Karlana was inspired to write the story after meeting many parents who were frustrated that there was a lack of engrossing adventure books that would appeal to both boys and girls, without the darker or confronting themes that are often found in the teen and young adult market. As she says about her book ‘It is just a story about average teenagers who are thrown into a situation they had no choice over and now they must find a way out of it - and save the world from evil.’
Karlana attends primary schools to speak to Grade 3-6 students about writing. Her aim is to encourage them to look a their work in a different way, and to inspire them to find out how they can enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction to create pieces that they are truly proud of.
Karlana took the time to answer a few other questions about the writing process.
Where do you get your ideas from?
That is a hard question to answer. I knew I wanted to have a story where the main protagonists were kids. In primary school I loved the Narnia stories, Enid Byton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven, and later I discovered The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Stories I’ve written have always had elements of these; fantasy, adventure, and people being thrown into situations, almost quests, where they have to resolve things through their own methods. Once I had decided the basics in my head and then scrawled them messily in a big scrapbook, I just started to write. The plot and character names have changed along the way, and my characters seem to take on a life of their own sometimes, saying and doing things I hadn’t planned when I sat down to write. But I know they are working, in spite of this, to a conclusion that I have mapped out for them already!
How long did Stone Keepers – The Chosen take to write?
I doubt I’m a typical author. I began with the idea when my daughter, Julia, who this book is dedicated to, was ten-years-old and published it when she was nineteen-years-old. When I wrote my first pages I had four children aged ten and under, the youngest not even two. Some weeks I only was able to write for an hour or two, other weeks I would get several hours done. After about three years I had the basic story written, but it was still a long way from being ready to publish. I deleted and re-wrote scenes over the next three years and then paid a professional editor for final corrections and suggestions. Then I worked at it for another year. Book Two, though, has been written in eighteen months, as I have been able to dedicate much more time to it.
What is the best part about being a writer?
So many things! Creating a whole world of my own where I can make anything happen; getting to know the characters as they evolve on the page; reading back over something I’ve written and thinking ‘that’s actually quite good!’; doing something I love and seeing it become successful.
Telling people I’m a writer and seeing their reactions is also interesting. So many people respond that they wish they could write, or that they have a story they want to write. My advice to them all is to just start! If I had known how long it would take me when I first said I would write and publish a book, I might never have picked up my pen and written the first line.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Definitely finding the time to write and when I do, being in the right frame of mind so that my work is worthwhile. Some days I have to have the confidence that what I wrote yesterday or last month is good, so that I write new scenes rather than reviewing and editing.
How do you deal with ‘writer’s block’?
I’m quite fortunate in that I didn’t have writer’s block writing The Chosen. Something always appeared on the page, but sometimes to help me decide on a direction I will ask a question and list possible outcomes. I’m not actually trying to write the story, just ‘what if A did this and B thought this and it lead to X, Y or Z happening’ sort of thing. I may add a few lines of possible conversations as a prompt for when I actually do start to write the scene. Sometimes I do this in a big scrapbook (left over from my kids’ primary school years). I cross out the ideas I don't like, circle and tick the ones I do like and draw lots of arrows leading from one idea to the next.
Who did the cover art?
I have a wonderful friend, Kate Walsh, who also happens to be an artist who can draw anything. I gave her a scene from the book and she designed and painted it. In between commissions and preparing for a gallery exhibition (at Alternating Current Art Space, High Street, Windsor) later this month, she is currently working on the cover for Book Two. I’m very excited with what I’ve seen so far. I can give you a hint - dragon. She has had many exhibitions over the last few years, but for locals to the Mooney Valley area, you may have seen her 2001 ‘The Meeting Place’, which is scenes and characters from community life in Kensington, Melbourne, painted on the ceiling of The Hardimans Hotel in Kensington.
Where can your book be purchased?
It’s currently available at these bookshops:
The book is also available at Baringo Café, New Gisborne and The Trading Post, Mount Macedon.
A printed copy is also available online through Book Depository and of course the eBook can also be downloaded.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Run around after the family, take photos, help out at a community theatre, scan and digitally restore old photos, volunteer weekly at an op shop sorting donations, make handmade cards and sell things on eBay as I’m trying to de-clutter (and have been trying for years!).
Karlana has kindly provided us with a detailed report with everything you need to know about eBay. Read here.