Interview with Author KL Nappier

Well, after lo these many years, the terms “cross genre” and “independent” have come to describe a lot of writers that are difficult to pigeon hole. I’m proud to be counted among these authors, even if most book stores don’t quite know what to do with me. If readers like my work, they have to ask their favorite store for my titles, since most shops don’t consider my novels “book shelf friendly.” Like many cross genre writers, I write stories that fit multiple categories at once. But I’d say my style generally runs to thrillers, mysteries, romance and the metaphysical. My themes explore the way we work our way through the dark side into the light.

I never let a theme get in the way of a good story, though.

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

KL Nappier: Contrary to popular belief, it has always been rare. It’s a tough biz. For every best selling author that can write full time for a living, there are a hundred that struggle. Sorry to say, I’m one of those of the rule and not the exception. My husband and I have worked together in a business entirely different from novel writing for 25 years. But we do count ourselves among the fortunate ones who have been able to design our “day job” around our desires for family life and -to use Joseph Campbell’s term- our blisses.

Make no mistake, however. Any time someone wants to hand me one of those multi-million dollar contracts, stop on by. I’ll make espresso. We’ll talk.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one?

KL Nappier: Oh no, a favorite?! It’s cliche, I know, I’m sorry, but it’s true that an author’s books are like his/her children. Really, I’m proud of them all and -to keep beating the cliche to death- like children, they each have distinct personalities. “Voyagers” is an entirely different story from “Full Wolf Moon.” And even “Bitten”-which is the sequel to “Full Wolf Moon”- has a feel all of its own. Then there are the short stories I write for the “Twisted Tails” multi-author anthology series. Since the series explores multiple themes and genres, it really keeps me on my toes.

The one thing the kids all have in common is that…well…they’re all a little dark. But by degrees. “Full Wolf Moon,” the one usually billed as a supernatural thriller, broods more than “Voyagers” does. “Voyagers” is more of a romp. It’s a ghost story, a mystery and a romance with a flair for adventure. “Full Wolf Moon’s” follow up, “Bitten,” is probably the most angst filled. Really gets into the gritty business of what happens to our best intentions. But the “Twisted Tails” series ain’t nothin’ but fun. Plain, twisted fun. At least that’s true for the shorts I write for the anthology, with the exception of the very first one.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

KL Nappier: Always have something in the chute. But, right now, with most of my published work getting ready to come out in paperback, I’m having to lay down my pen (or keyboard, actually) and fulfill my promotional duties.

“Full Wolf Moon” was the first to be released in paperback, earlier this year, through Aisling Press. Aisling Press will also be releasing “Voyagers” and “Bitten.” Then, over at my ebook publisher’s -Double Dragon Publishing (DDP)- all volumes of the “Twisted Tails” short story anthology are also coming out via DDP’s paperback line. They’ve begun the paperback releases with “Twisted Tails II: The Complete Edition of Out of Time & Time On Our Hands.”

If you’re an ebook fan, you can get any of the above right away, either directly from DDP or from your favorite ebook seller. But if you love the feel of a shiny, new book in your hand, please be patient. All of the above are coming out in traditional book form throughout the next year and half. And, as mentioned, “Full Wolf Moon” (at Aisling Press) and “Twisted Tails II” ( at DDP) are out right now via the publishers, Amazon, et al.

Readers, you’d be doing me a big favor by coming to see me at my scheduled events. Getting the chance to meet you face-to-face is the only thing that makes leaving my writing behind worthwhile and joyful.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

KL Nappier: I’ve enjoyed some luck. It’s both humbling and thrilling when a panel of experts puts their stamp of approval on your work. The most recent competitions are still in the judging mode, but here’s the list the date, starting earliest to most recent:

Honorable Mention, Fiction: 2002 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards: “Sophia”

Finalist, Novels/Novellas: 2003 New Century Writer Awards: “Full Wolf Moon”
Finalist, Novels/Novellas: 2003 New Century Writer Awards: “High Ambitions”
2nd Place, Fiction: 2004 Kay Snow Writing Awards: “Full Wolf Moon”
3rd Place, Horror: 2004 Draco Awards: “Full Wolf Moon”
Winner, Anthology: 2006 Dream Realm Awards: “Twisted Tails I”
Winner, Best Science Fiction: 2008 EPPIE Awards: “Twisted Tails II, Vol. 2: Out of Time”

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

KL Nappier: Oh, goodness gracious. Man, did it feel fantastic! And you know what? It never gets old.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

KL Nappier: I’m not sure I can say I put a little of myself in them, but I do put the poor characters into ethical situations where I hope they’ll do a better job in resolving them than I think I would personally. Poor guys. I want them to teach me how to be a better person. That’s a lot of pressure to put on your characters. And, yet -particularly in the case of David, Doris and Max of “Full Wolf Moon”- they seem to always come back for more. Gluttons for punishment, it seems.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

KL Nappier: The writers and artists I admire are a real mixed bag, which probably explains why I like to blur the lines of genre. And I’m a child of the TV and movie age, so my creative heroes and heroines aren’t all novelists. But it’ll probably come as no surprise to people who read my books that my strongest childhood influences were Edgar Allen Poe and Rod Serling. The sheer beauty of Poe’s word craft still captures me. And Serling was a master of irony and wit.

I count Alfred Hitchcock as a strong, early influence, too. His cinematic genius for suspense and mood was and still is a standard-setter and, when I write, I know Hitchcock has inspired what I see in my mind’s eye.

Anne Rice’s earlier works, especially “Interview with the Vampire” taught me that horror didn’t have to be jump-out-of-the-closet jolting. It could be classy. It could be seething and dreadful.

The nonfiction works of Joseph Campbell are every bit as influential to my writing as any of the novelists and film artists above. His lifelong studies of mythology, spirituality and the human psyche have been part of my writing for 20 years.

But, even more important to my career than these, there is no doubt I wouldn’t be writing today without the support and input of the members of the Indiana Writers Workshop. I was an active member for almost 20 years and still keep in contact with the group. And that group would never have formed without the pivotal influence of Elizabeth Arthur, who mentored all of us founding members.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

KL Nappier: Oh, this question is sooo tough! Love Chuck Palahniuk, but I can only take him in small doses. Brilliant writer, but too much of him at once can mess with my mind. Joyce K. Jensen is someone who has been writing as long as I have and, like me, is a longtime member of the Indiana Writers Workshop. I’m privileged to count her as a friend, but -even if I weren’t- I’d find her work stunningly beautiful. She writes literary science fiction and deserves to be published a lot more often than she is. Her best work isn’t even out yet.

Sterling Watson -another under appreciated author- blows me away with his literary fiction. And I’m a big admirer of Dennis Lehane. And then there’s Amy Tan, Audrey Niffenegger and Howard Frank Mosher. Pick up any of these writers and you’ll see they’re all very different from each other. And maybe it’s ironic that I don’t write in any style or genre that comes close to theirs. But what I love above all things literary is beautiful writing. Excellent word craft. All these authors have that in spades.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now – city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?

KL Nappier: I would live in MoIndiCaribFlorida. A very pleasant place that would have the rolling hills and rivers of rural southwest Missouri, where I was born and raised; the charm and class of the Midwestern metropolis Indianapolis, Indiana, where I lived with my husband and two stepsons; the wide, rolling seas and island beauty of the mid-Caribbean chain, where my husband and I lived for several years on a sail boat after the boys grew up; and the laid back, small town feel and international mix of Florida’s Tampa Bay area, where we live today. Even with such unique, geographic beauty, it’s all the people of MoIndiCaribFlorida that really make the place irresistible.

But, since MoIndiCaribFlorida lives only in my mind, I’ll have to be content to live physically in the Tampa Bay area.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

KL Nappier: I’m an office girl. I have a desk that looks out at a classic Florida view with Live Oaks, plumerias and palms. I can see our cocktail pool (we call it a cocktail pool because it’s just big enough to float around in with a cocktail in your hand) and, beyond that, a little pond that supports herons, moorhens and turtles. No gators, though. Haven’t gotten a new laptop yet, but plan to. Much as I do like my usually writing environment, it’s nice to have a change of scenery from time to time.

But I have to say that I don’t like to write with music. Afraid I listen too much to the songs. I envy writers that can write and listen to their favorite tunes at the same time.

Definitely, I’m a computer writer now, but I began with long hand. I’m a lousy typist, so before the advent of the home computer, I wrote by hand and only did the final draft on the typewriter. Computers changed all that for me.

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

KL Nappier: It’d be fashionable to say no, but I’d be lying. Definitely, I watch TV. Most of my recent favorite series are gone now, though: “Deadwood,” “The Wire,” “The Sopranos.” Although I am very hooked on “Lost,” “Dexter,” and “24.” Yeah, I know. They’re not very deep, but they’re sooo much fun.

Do those series inspire my writing? No, I can’t say they do. They’re vacations, not destinations. But certain programs on certain channels do provoke thought and inspiration. I watch quite a bit of PBS, the Discovery and the Science Channel.

What about movies? Same as above.

KL Nappier: Love movies, too, from blockbusters to indie art flicks.

Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

KL Nappier: Well, “Full Wolf Moon” and “Twisted Tails II” are the ones that have come out most recently in both ebook and paperback. And, of course, they’re very different. “Full Wolf Moon” is a novel that some call a supernatural thriller and others call “straight up horror.” I’d say it evokes the brooding mood of an Anne Rice novel more than a King’s or a Koontz.

“Twisted Tails,” on the other hand, is a multi-author short story anthology. There’s really not much out there to compare it to. It bucks the trend, because it’s only criteria are theme (in TT II’s case, the theme is time travel) and that each story must have a twist ending. So, while an edition in the series may lean toward a certain genre, it never stays strictly within those borders.

I’m proud to say that both “Full Wolf Moon” and the “Twisted Tails” have had time as best sellers on several ebook seller sites and both have garnered an award or two.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

KL Nappier: It always takes me about a year and a half to two years to write a novel. Longer, if it’s a short story. 😉 Seriously, though, I’m not a very fast writer. I do a lot of mulling and incubating and brooding (there’s that word, again). I almost always block midway in. I’ve come to accept that as part of the process and don’t really get anxious about it any more. Frustrated, maybe, but not anxious.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

KL Nappier: Having given kudos to all my influences and mentor in an earlier question, I’m happy to have this special space to honor my whole, supportive family and -most especially- my husband Richard. He’s the one who suggested I take up writing again almost 25 years ago, and he has not stopped rooting for me since.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

KL Nappier: Oh so many. But “Disappearances” by Howard Frank Mosher stands out amongst them.

Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?

KL Nappier: Yes, a point I’ve made in several other interviews, but is no less relevant in this one. I would have stayed in college. Leaving school, I’m sure, cost me years in building my writing career. So, to those writers now in school, I recommend you stay there. Colleges are a fertile field that agents and editors go to for harvesting.

But, for those who didn’t get the chance to go or who might have blown it like I did, take heart. The Internet has ushered in a new golden age of book publishing. Your potential for getting published is greater than it has ever been.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

KL Nappier: You know, I used to agonize over that kind of question. I had always wanted to be the kind of writer that was sure of her intentions and literary place. Why do I write? What am I saying? Who am I writing for? I spent a lot of years trying to figure out the answers or manufacture them. Finally, after all these years, I’ve come down to this: I just write. It’s who I am and what I do. If I over think it, my writing suffers.

Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?

KL Nappier: LOL. Better to ask me when a character hasn’t. They do it all the time. By and large, all I ever do is provide a framework, a roughed out landscape for them to move around in. Much as I might like to be God to my characters, they treat me more like a marginal game master.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

KL Nappier: How about if I just cover summer through fall?

June 21st, Aisling Press and Barnes & Noble are partnering up for a large, multi-author event in Carrollwood, Florida from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. These are always popular, reader friendly events. A lot of fun for both authors and fans.

Then August 2nd and 3rd begins convention season for me, beginning with Ancient City Con in Jacksonville, Florida. This is a very new and energetic fan con that’s gathering a lot of attention. I’ll be there as a workshop panelist and, of course, I’ll make sure there’s plenty of time for book signing.

And this year will be my first at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA August 29th to September 1st. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

In October, the 10th through the 12th, I’m back at Necromicon, being held this year in St. Petersburg, Florida. Absolutely, one of my favorite fan conventions. I’ll be on a discussion panel or two and signing books.

Then, in October again, on the 25th, I’ll be at the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading in St. Petersburg, Florida. This is a gargantuan book fair, one of the premiere author/reader regional events of the year. If you’re a reader and you’re in the Tampa Bay area, this is a Must Do. My publisher, Aisling Press, will be there with a booth full of their top selling authors ready to chat and sign books.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

KL Nappier: A good editor is a partner in making your story as great as it can be. I have been very fortunate when it comes to editors. My first editor, ‘way back in the day with Berkley Publishing Group was great to work with. And each editor I’ve been working with at Aisling (each book has a different editor) have been just as terrific. They’re talented, have a great editing eye and treat the process as a collaborative effort. I’ve heard the horror stories, but, happily, I’m not one of them.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know?

Readers can find my books just about anywhere, whether they go directly to my publishers or to a favorite book seller like Amazon, Powells’, Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble or others. But not all my work is out in paperback, at the time of this interview. By the end of 2009, however, I’ll be available in both ebook and paperback.

Links to me or my books are:

My personal websites:
www.klnappier.com
http://www.myspace.com/klnappier

My publisher’s websites:
Aisling Press: http://www.aislingpress.com
Double Dragon Publishing: http://www.double dragon ebooks.com

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