Sunday, 3 August 2014

Interview: Crystal Kaswell

Lloyd Joseph Moss Photography
What have you had published?
I've had a few articles published online under various pen names, but this is my first book.

What genre(s) of book do you write?
Contemporary romance. I like to think of it as “literary contemporary romance.” It's about the character as much as it's about the relationship. The characters always come first for me.

What inspired you to write your first book?
There's this TV show I adore that I won't name. It's a crime/detective story and the male lead is this cold, calculating, logical guy. The show introduces this amazing female character. She's impulsive and reckless, but she's incredibly competent. If she were on 24, she'd be Jack Bauer. But, for no reason at all, the show just throws away this character by having her fall in love with the protagonist and literally surrender her agency. She's willing to do whatever he tells her.
     And this bothered me to no end.
     But I got to thinking—is there anything that would get a person to give up her agency? There must be some reason why a woman would let her boyfriend control her? And I had the idea—what if she was recovering from an eating disorder? A big part of recovery is giving up control. What if she believed she couldn't function unless something—whether it was her eating disorder or her boyfriend-- was controlling her?
     And, well, I adore love triangles and I knew her main romance wouldn't be with her controlling boyfriend. She needed an exciting new man to tempt her.

How long did it take you to write “Rouse Me”?
I spent a few months toying with the idea and writing a rough outline. Once I started actually putting words on the page, I took about eight or nine months to write “Rouse Me.”

What is the working title of your next book(s)?
“Stir Me” and “Fill Me,” the second and third books in the “Rouse Me” trilogy. “Fill Me” sounds like a porno, so I might change the title.

     I'm deep in the trenches with “Stir Me.” It's been very interesting writing a sequel. I have the chance to get into all sorts of relationship problems that seem very real. I hate when I read a romance and the two characters are not only together at the end but on the path to marriage. Relationships are more complicated than that.

When and why did you begin writing?
I've been writing since I was a kid. At first, it was an escape. I liked imaging this much more interesting world. I wrote the first half a novel when I was 15. It was a totally meandering self-fulfilment kind of thing. Now that I think about it, there are a few shades of “Rouse Me” in it. The main character had a twisted relationship with her best friend/f*ck buddy. It's nothing compared to Ryan and Alyssa, but it is a spiritual predecessor.
     I went to film school and focused only on writing screenplays for a while. I love screenplays, but they are very external. I long for the first-person, so I can really get into my character's head.

Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I'm self-publishing this book. I'm open to working with a publisher, but I also like controlling every aspect of my book. Having a terrible cover forced upon me is my worst nightmare!

What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
It's all so hard! Writing is hard work. The most difficult thing is probably getting stuck. I HATE the blank page with a fiery passion. I hate not knowing what comes next, and I hate plodding through things I don't think are working. I like the later stages of revision, when everything comes together and I finally have a sense of the book as a whole.
     The second worst thing is that everyone tries to tell me that writing is fun.

What do you do in your spare time?
I watch way too much TV. I drink a lot of tea. Seriously, I'm always making tea or going out for tea. I like to exercise. It helps clear my mind. Yoga, biking, roller blading, and hiking are my favorites, but a lot of the time I do weights in front of the TV. I have a TV addiction. I'm pretty into board games. And, of course, I love to read!

Who is your favourite author?
If I had to pick, Douglass Coupland. I don't love all his books, but I adore the ones I do love, and I really admire his ambition.

What’s your favourite genre to read?
Young Adult. So much YA is in first person present tense. I know, that sounds like a silly reason, but I don't like third person. It's so impersonal. And I really don't like past tense. It's such a bummer. Everything already happened.
     I also like romance, of course, but I have a hard time finding romances that really grab me. There are SO MANY romances now a days. It's hard to find one that stands out.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write a lot. Read a lot. Revise a lot. The two biggest challenges to writing great stuff are finding the time and the mental energy. You have to be willing to tear your work apart. You have to go into every draft willing to destroy every single word you wrote. Hopefully, you only have to destroy half the words.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There's a lot of responsibility that comes with writing romance. You want to make sure you aren't encouraging irresponsible behaviors like unsafe sex. I know, it's awkward to have characters talk about birth control, but awkward is okay. Relationships are awkward! Plus, if you're creative, you can find a way to make it fun and sexy.
     Rouse Me comes out on August 4 in the Kindle and Nook stores. You can read more about it at my site,

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