Please help me welcome Kerry Schafer, author of the recently-released fantasy novel BETWEEN (Ace, January 2013).
Kerry Schafer lives in Colville, Washington, with her family, which includes two cats, a rescue fish, and a preternaturally large black dog. A self-styled perpetual student, she earned an RN from Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta; a BA in English (Honours) from York University in Toronto, Ontario; and an M.Ed. in counseling psychology from Washington State University.
I met Kerry through the Debutante Ball, where she and I are members of the “Class of 2013.” We share a number of quirks, including a love for penguins and fantasy fiction, both of which feature in Kerry’s debut release, BETWEEN. (Read to the bottom to learn how to win a paperback copy of the book!)
On with the questions!
1. Where did you grow up? Will you share a favorite story from your childhood?
I was born and raised in the town of Williams Lake, British Columbia. We had 160 acres of land up on top of Fox Mountain, and my childhood was about as idyllic as it gets. In the winter we made a skating rink in the cow pasture, and there was a perfect sliding hill down to the pond. Summers we rode horses and climbed trees and went swimming and water skiing. There were a lot of chores, of course, but plenty of time to run wild and free.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
I think I just fell in love with words. From the time I learned how to read – my mom taught me, by the way – I read everything I could get my hands on. I remember there was some sort of “choose your own project” thing at school round about sixth grade, and I decided to write a book of poems.
3. If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
Write every day, whether you feel like it or not. Try everything. Don’t rush into trying to get published too soon. Study structure and pacing. Take risks. And for God’s sake, don’t stop writing for years at a time because you’ve compared your writing to some genius and it doesn’t measure up.
4. Your debut novel, BETWEEN, features a protagonist who learns that the line between waking and dreams is thinner (and more malleable) than she believed. What inspired you to create a fantasy world involving dreams?
How much time do we have? The short answer is that I have a long standing fascination with dreams. Even as a small child I remember sitting in the back seat of the car during a long drive to somewhere, and wondering whether I was dreaming or awake. What if, I asked my child self, what if all of the time I think I am awake, I am really dreaming? I sort of freaked myself out with that line of thought.
5. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why?
Having a favorite author would be like having a favorite child. There are so many authors that I love, and for so many different reasons. I can’t pick just one.
6. Fantasy novels require substantial world-building and attention to detail. What did you find most challenging about creating the fantasy elements of BETWEEN?
BETWEEN just about broke my brain. The initial drafts contained extremely complicated alternate reality scenarios that were far beyond my ability to portray. It was Vivian who finally showed me Dreamworld, Wakeworld, and Between during a free writing exercise. I’m learning to never, ever underestimate the power of the subconscious, or what my characters know that I don’t.
7. Do you have a favorite scene in BETWEEN? If so, what makes that scene stand out for you?
There’s that favorite word again. A couple of scenes do stand out for me. I like the scene in the ER where Vivian’s reality first gets tangled with Dreamworld. And I loved writing Isobel’s scenes because it was fascinating to try to see the world through her eyes. Oh – I’d almost forgotten how much I loved writing Zee’s Dem Bones scene. I am not going to tell you what any of that is about.
8. What is the last book you read, and why did you read it?
The last book I finished was The Girl’s Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate. I read it because she is my Debutante Ball sister, but I loved it! Her MC has a wonderfully funny voice, there is a ton of delicious food to salivate over, and I loved the ending. Good news – her book is out in a few weeks and you can read it too!!
9. Your protagonist, Vivian, has a penguin (named Poe) as her totem animal and companion. I loved this element of the book and thought Poe added a lot to the story. What inspired you to use a penguin instead of a more “traditional” animal companion?
At the time I was writing Between, my co-worker found a penguin website that entertained us for days. This group of male Adélie penguins was rescued from an oil slick, cleaned up, and then fitted with radio transmitters. They were turned loose to swim south to the breeding grounds, and every day their relative positions were posted on a map on the website. This one penguin – Vivian by name – never did swim south. He spent some time swimming in circles, usually turning left. We made a lot of jokes about the ADHD penguin and the shiny fish. And then one morning, Vivian the Penguin began swimming north. By this time he had become an important figure in our lives, a metaphor, in fact. We used “swimming north” to mean going your own way and following your own path. And so, when I sat down to write I had a penguin on my mind.
10. Do you have any upcoming signings or readings?
I will be reading and signing at Auntie’s Books, Spokane, Washington, on February 16th. Also, I’m having a virtual launch party at Bitten by Books on January 29th.
And now, the speed round:
– Plotter or pantser?
– Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
Snort. You have to ask? Coffee
– Socks or no socks?
Bare feet whenever possible.
– Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
Cats. (Shhh, don’t’ tell my dogs)
– For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
Completely dependent on mood.
Thank you, Kerry, for joining us today and sharing a little more about BETWEEN!
I read and enjoyed this novel so much that I decided to buy two extra copies to give away to my readers. I’m running two separate contests this weekend: one on THIS POST and the other on my Facebook page. (And yes, you can enter both. The contests – and the drawings – are separate.)
To enter here, leave a comment on THIS POST between now and midnight on Sunday, February 3. I’ll draw a winner at random from among the comments and announce the winner next Monday here on the blog. The winner will receive one (1) paperback copy of BETWEEN!
To enter the Facebook contest, go to my Facebook page and “Like” the BETWEEN CONTEST POST before midnight on February 3. I’ll draw a winner at random from the “Likes” and announce the winner on the facebook page (and here on the blog) on Monday. The winner will receive one (1) paperback copy of BETWEEN!