Author Interview: Teri Kanefield

Teri Kanefield is a prolific author who has written a number of juvenile books. Tomorrow a review of a novel that is suitable for readers of every age will post. Meanwhile, Teri gives us a peek into the author’s life!

-How would your advice for new writers differ from advice you would offer writers who have been in the game for a while?

The age-old advice given to new writers is to be patient. It takes a while to really learn the craft of writing and to find your own voice. But new writers don’t want to be patient! Most new are impatient and optimistic. (After all, as Flannery O’Connor once said, only an optimist sits down to write a novel.) So my advice would be: Don’t get discouraged. Write the kind of books you love reading and have faith that eventually your readers will find you.

-When you take a break from writing, is it a full and total break or is your mind constantly parsing the world for fodder?

I’m always writing something. I think being a writer is a way of life rather than an occupation. As soon as I finish one project, I begin another. As far as what the parsing looks like: My friends tell me I analyze too much. I’m always wondering what makes people tick. If I don’t understand something or someone, I keep mulling it over. Eventually it ends up in a book, usually as a facet of a character.

-From your perspective as an author, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to the publishing industry today? 

The publishing industry is going through a major upheaval. Personally I think the major changes—the rise of ebooks and the ease of buying books online—are good for most authors and all readers. It’s good for readers because now millions of books are available at the click of a mouse. Think of readers who would ordinarily have a hard time visiting bookstores: People in hospitals or nursing mothers.

I think the changes are good for writers because self-publishing and sites like Wattpad open up new opportunities. These changes, though, are causing traditional publishers to lose marketshare. There isn’t an easy fix for publishers, particularly because most are corporate owned, so change comes slowly. What I’d like to see are new ways for self-publishing to become even more viable, particularly for children’s book authors. This obviously won’t help publishers, but my interest is seeing opportunities expanding for writers.

-What books are you currently reading?

I am reading a book from 1999, George Stephanopoulos’s All Too Human. In election years I become a political junkie.  My two favorite books I read in the past year were The Little Book, a Novel, by Selden Edwards, and Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanen.

-Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? 

I was bothered a few years ago by a study showing that traditional publishing still favors men authors over women, even though most book buyers are women.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/feb/04/research-male-writers-dominate-books-world

In contrast, I’ve seen studies showing that in the world of self-publishing, women are doing just as well as their male counterparts. I think there are subtle ways the traditional industry still favors male writers and masculine stories.

-Finding the discipline to keep writing can be tough. Which “get writing” techniques are most effective for you?

I don’t know that I have a technique other than to focus on the work itself and not think about whether it will sell or whether readers will like it. I think most writers block comes from fear.

-Can you give us a sneak peek into your current project? 

I am finishing a series called The Knights of the Square Table, which came from a New Year’s Resolution to write the book of my heart, the book I really wanted to write. It turned into a three-book series. It has a rather conventional opening: A group of supersmart kids are stranded on a remote island in the North Atlantic when their plane makes a forced landing due to avionics malfunctions.  Their experiences on the island convince them that they can solve the major problems in the world. So they try. The book started out as an attempt to write a true utopia, but went in directions I didn’t anticipate when I started.

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