In honor of The Girl In Between blog tour this week’s Indie Author Spotlight is with Kristen Otte, author of The Adventures of Zelda children’s book series and the young adult novel The Photograph.
After I gathered acorns for my squirrel friend Squeaks, my family knew it was time to put my adventures into a book. The thirteen short stories in this book connect and build into a story arc creating an exciting chapter book for young pug lovers (ages 7 and up).”
The Adventures of Zelda is FREE on all major ebook platforms:
Sixteen-year-old Rachel Brandt is excited about her six-month anniversary with her boyfriend, Brent, getting her driver’s license, and competing for a district championship in her first season on the varsity basketball team.
But when Rachel stumbles across a photograph of her parents, she can’t shake the feeling that she is meant to find her mother, whose identity is a secret her grandparents have closely guarded. All Rachel knows is that her mother disappeared around the time her father was killed in action in the Gulf War a few months after she was born.
Her discovery of the photograph sends Rachel on a search for her mother against her grandparents’ wishes and propels her life into a tailspin. She never imagines her search will reveal a series of lies that jeopardizes every important relationship in her life and ultimately lead Rachel to question her identity.
The Photograph is a contemporary young adult novel for ages 12-16 that follows Rachel’s search for her mother through the backdrop of her basketball team’s quest for its first district championship in twelve years.
Amazon (The Photograph is currently an Amazon exclusive title.)
First of all, I’d love to hear about all of the projects you have in the works, where you’re at with them currently, and what your hopes are for each of them.
I am currently working on a few different projects. First, I have a children’s chapter book series titled The Adventures of Zelda about a stubborn, yet adventurous pug. I am currently writing the first draft of the fourth book in the series to release in summer of 2015.
Second, I just sent off my second contemporary young adult novel, The Evolution of Lillie Gable, to the editor. The novel is a follow up to The Photograph, but it focuses on Lillie, who is a secondary character in The Photograph. I expect to publish The Evolution of Lillie Gable in early 2015.
Third, I have the first draft written for the first in a brand new fantasy series. I have some story planning and outlining to do for the series before I return to revising and editing this project for release. I am really excited about this project, and I am hoping for a fall of 2015 release.
Tell me a bit about your writing process. Do you set strict deadlines or do you just go with the flow? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?
My writing process is a work in progress. In the past year, I’ve made significant strides in my writing speed and productivity. I am a big proponent of outlining before starting a first draft. This outline includes character sketches, timelines, and a chapter-by-chapter outline. On most projects, I end up veering from the outline because the story takes me somewhere else, but the outline is crucial to get me started.
I also write in a distraction free environment. Since I have a job outside of writing, I need to manage my time wisely. I close myself off in my office, turn off my wifi and notifications, so I can focus on getting the words on the page. (At least until the dogs run into the office).
As someone who speaks on the intersection of writing and faith, how important is it for you personally that your books or other projects have some kind of moral or bigger meaning? Also, what kind of effect do you think that can have on readers when they’re reading about characters or situations that are ethical as opposed to indifferent and self-serving?
When I write a novel, my purpose is to tell a good story, but I find that my faith and morality seeps through the characters and situations. With my contemporary young adult novels, the characters struggle with right and wrong. They make mistakes, but they learn from those mistakes, and my hope is that teen readers can learn from these characters. It’s the same for my children’s books. I created the Adventures of Zelda series to make kids laugh and fall in love with reading. The books are goofy and silly, but Zelda is learning and growing as a character. She learns about sharing, making friends, and being part of a family. I think good fiction teaches readers about human nature and the world around them without pushing a specific agenda.
Your YA novel, The Photograph, deals with an issue that has been central to many of my novels as well–secrets. What inspired you to explore this issue through the eyes of a teenager and how damaging do you think lies and secrets are to young people in particular?
I worked for six years in teen ministry before I started writing, and I saw the devastating effects of secrets and lies on people. I knew students who were lying to themselves and their parents, and it was eating away at them. On the other end of the spectrum, I saw students who were hurt by the lies of their parents and family.
When I started writing, I wanted to explore how teens deal with secrets and lies because I knew it was an issue confronting teens.
What are your ultimate publishing goals? Why did you decide to go indie?
My plans are to write fiction for the rest of my life. I would love to be a hybrid author with some books published by one of the big publishing houses and others independently published. I have plans down the road to seek an agent, but I decided to go indie to start to build my platform. I know having a solid platform and fan base will help secure an agent. Until then, I enjoy the freedom of being independent and being able to write stories and novels I love.
My tagline sums up the legacy I want to leave behind as a writer: Finding Love and Laughter through Story. I want to be known as an author who wrote good books that made people smile and laugh.