Monday, February 18, 2013

Author Interview with Kari Jo Spear

Can you tell us a little about your background?
I live in northern Vermont, out in the country. I'm married and have two daughters. One just graduated from college as a voice major, and the other is in high school and has just been accepted into a dance college. My husband is a drummer, my father is a wood carver, and my mother is a poet. Between us, we've got the arts pretty well covered. I work in a high school with special education students. I have an MA in English, I've published some mainstream short stories, and I've published two YA fantasy novels with Prizm -- Under the Willow, and Silent One. I'm also a nature photographer and a passionate birdwatcher.

Do you have any pets?
Yes. I have a golden retriever named Ruby, who was given to me as a puppy by a teacher who couldn't handle her. She's calmed down into a very special dog who saved my life once by keeping me from walking into the jaws of a black bear.
I also have two cats I adopted from a shelter. Pumpkin is a long haired, orange and black lady who goes enjoys life in a cool, reserved manner. Whisper, seriously misnamed, is a little, energetic gray tiger who is always underfoot, in the way, causing trouble, and a great snuggler. He sleeps on my pillow every night (after displacing my head.)

Chips or fries?
Both, please.

Paper or ebook?
Honestly, it doesn't really matter. A good story is a good story no matter what form it's in. I like the feel of a book, but saving trees is a good thing, too.

Beach or mountains?
Beach, for sure. I love water -- it's my element. I have distant mermaid ancestry, so if I don't get wet at least once every day, I will grow a tail. I open our pool as soon as it won't freeze, and when we have to winterize it in the fall, I stay in until my husband starts taking the ladder apart. Spending the winter in the ice under a green tarp pushes the limits even for me.
I lived on the shore of Lake Champlain when I was a kid, so I spent a lot of time in boats, especially canoes, which is another thing I enjoy doing very much. I love to visit the ocean, but I don't feel like it's truly a part of me the way fresh water is.
If I can't get a shower in the morning, my family will attest that I'm simply not worth knowing that day. The tail is so darn hard to hide!

What is the last movie you saw in the theater?
The Hobbit

Silver or gold?
Gold. It's just prettier.

Apples or cherries?
Both of those, too, please.

What's on your refrigerator?
Magnets with the names of everyone in our family
Photos of my book covers
Photos of friends
A photo of my youngest daughter and her boyfriend at the prom last year
A postcard of Mark Breen, the meteorologist for Vermont Public Radio (I'm a weather-addict.)
A list of phone numbers to call myself and my daughter out sick from school (to prevent morning panic)
Magnets of favorite places we've been and things we've seen, like a sea otter from California, a fawn from New Brunswick, a pelican from Florida, a broken pot from Arizona, and lighthouses from Maine

Coffee or tea? Discuss.
Tea, definitely. I don't like coffee, any flavor, at all. I inherited that from my father, along with thick, wavy hair.

Do you have to think/work through the story or do characters "speak" to you and the story just comes?
The characters speak to me. I admire people who can work out a story in their heads before writing. I've tried -- not happening. I start writing with a little idea in my head, and the characters take over the whole thing and I chase them around, trying frantically to keep up. I get a lot of praise for my plot twists, and I always nod wisely, but in reality, when one of those twists happen, I'm frantically demanding that my characters tell me what the heck they're doing. They just tell me to trust them and shut up.
Naturally, writing this way requires a lot of revision, but it's the only way I can do it. And it's a lot of fun.

What works in progress do you have going?
I'm hard at work on a sequel for Under the Willow.

New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Write what you love. When I was in college, fantasy was frowned upon, and m/m young adult wasn't even a remote possibility. I spent many years writing what teachers told me to write, and while I learned a lot, I wasn't enjoying it. Finally, I went back to writing what I was passionate about, and as soon as I started submitting, my career took off.
The perfect time to write, the perfect place to submit, the perfect manuscript will never happen. Just face whatever cliff is holding you back and dive off. When you first hit the water, it'll feel really cold, but it warms up fast, and before you know it, you'll be a dolphin. (Or a mermaid!)

Thanks for reading this interview! I had fun answering the questions. You can visit with me any time on my blog at


Kristy said...

Wonderful interview!

Ressam'ın Çırağı said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ressam'ın Çırağı said...

Awesome interview! I am from Turkey and I love her... Her books are amazing!

Kari Jo said...

Thanks so much, Kristy!

And to my friend in Turkey -- you are part of the reason I write. Keep Safe!