Interview with Kirstin Pulioff

Today I’m excited to introduce to you Kirstin Pulioff. Kirstin was graceful enough to review my short story Compulsion back in September and I have been looking forward to returning the favor for some time. Her novel “The Escape of Princess Madeline” is scheduled to be released November 5th. I can’t wait to have the chance to read it and post my review as well. But for now, here is my interview with Kirstin. I hope you enjoy getting to know her.

Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself…?

Let’s see…  I was born and raised in Southern CA, went to Oregon State University and got my degree in Forest Management.  Shortly after graduating, I married the man of my dreams and have been living up here in the Northwest ever since.  We have two wonderful kids, and my primary job is as a stay at home mom.  To add to the chaos, in my “spare time,” I write, work at my church, and do the books for the family business.  I like to describe my life by saying if I am not living an adventure, I am writing one.  J

What’s your idea of a relaxing day..?

A relaxing day for me begins by sleeping in, a true treasure with two young kids… and an activity that takes us outdoors.  Whether it’s playing at the park, going for a long walk, a hike in the woods, or along the beach, I try to get out and appreciate nature.

What was your families’ reaction when you told them you wanted to be a writer…? Were they supportive or did they think you were crazy…?

I have written my whole life, but I never really tried to pursue it as a career until recently.  Even then, I did not tell anyone what I was doing until I got my first acceptance (after several rejections)…  I just felt like it was one of those things…  Everyone wants to be a movie star, an artist, a writer, etc… and until I had something ready to show for it, or the actual intention and desire of putting myself out there, I didn’t want to open myself to that scrutiny.  So when I told my family what was going on, they were shocked.

Now they laugh and say I have finally come out of the writing closet… literally… my computer is in my bedroom closet.

Let’s talk about some of your favorites:

Whose your favorite Author…?  I really find myself getting absorbed and loving books for themselves over the actual author.  I absolutely love Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”, and the “Incarnations of Immortality” series by Piers Anthony.

What abour film…?   Don’t laugh, but my favorites are “Goonie’s,” “The Neverending Story,” and “Tangled”… some of the favorites from my childhood, and my kids.  I enjoy movies, but these are the ones I can watch over and over again.

Any particular TV Show…?  Oh, there are a few that I am really enjoying right now.  My top 3 are Warehouse 13, Once Upon a Time, and Quantum Leap.

Have you ever read a book, then later saw the film, and thought “Oh man, they screwed it all up…?”

Yes, and it drives me crazy.  I don’t know about you, but I get so invested in the characters and my interpretations of them as I read… so when I see a movie afterwards, sometimes I am incredibly let down by either the choice of actors, scenes that are either missing or trivialized, or actual changes to the book.

One of the most upsetting for me was Michael Connelly’s “Blood Work,”  Not only was the main character in the book not even remotely close to Clint Eastwood, but then they changed the bad guy and the ending to the story.

Tell us about your book…? 

“The Escape of Princess Madeline,” is a young adult, fantasy book- a story with aspects of magic, fantasy, and romance, with a positive tone and a quick pace.

Faced with an impending marriage, a knight champion, and a future that she did not choose or want, Princess Madeline finds herself in the middle of an impossible decision.  Using her charm, strength and stubbornness, she defies the King, her father, at every turn, determined to keep her freedom on her terms.  Follow Princess Madeline in this adventure full of twists and turns as she finds freedom and love.

Tell us a bit about the main Character… Is he/ she based off of any one in particular…? What inspired you to create this character…?

Princess Madeline was a fun character to create.  She’s a combination of a lot of women in my life, and the struggles we faced in the process of growing up.  It was very important to me to make sure that this character was relatable and real.  Yes, she is a princess, but above all, she is a sixteen year old girl.  A girl growing up on the verge of her own life and her own choices.  It was important to balance the hard and soft qualities of her – her rashness with intelligence, her stubbornness with strength, and her defiance with vulnerability.

Where did you did you get the idea for your book…? What inspired you or caused you to say “Ah ha…”

“The Escape of Princess Madeline” began as an escape for me.  I actually wrote this book several years ago, while working in an office.  That position didn’t fulfill my creative needs, so on my lunch breaks, I began writing.  One day, over my tomato and cucumber salad, as I was doodling in my notebook, a light bulb went off in my head.  Suddenly, this story began unfolding in my mind … every day during lunch, I picked up where I had left off, and a month and a half later, the first draft was finished.

I have always gravitated towards the fantasy genre.  Growing up, even as young as elementary school,  I wanted to be whisked away to a far off land with princesses and castles and knights, but what I found was that most fantasy novels were a struggle to read due to them being above my reading level.  So when I began writing and as ideas began to flow through my mind, I really wanted to capture something that a younger reader, a teen, and even an adult would enjoy.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book…?

The most difficult part of writing the book was deciding what I wanted to do with it.  It was one thing to write this book for myself, but it was an entirely different thing getting myself ready to send it out.  Sending your book out for editing, for reviews, for publication really subjects yourself to a new level of scrutiny, rejection, and insecurity.  It’s putting a piece of yourself out there, and waiting to see if it gets stomped on or picked up.  While I loved my book, there was no guarantee that others would… that my vision would translate to another person as complete as it did for me…  it was a new level of vulnerability that I needed to get used to.

Let’s chat for a minute about your writing process… Do you outline, or are you one of that that just sits and starts writing by the seat of your pants…?

It’s a little of both for me.  Most of my stories start as little glimpses of a scene in my mind.  As it plays out in my mind, like a mini movie, I make sure to write it down as completely as I can.  From that instant glimpse I can generally feel whether it is an arc to a current story, or if it is the beginning of a new story.

I have several starts of projects, but until I get a complete outline for how the story goes, I wait to write the first draft.  Sometimes it takes several of these glimpses to give me enough to write out a basic outline, and for others it all happens in an instant.

I don’t go overboard with the outline though- just need an idea of my basic characters, a flow to the conflict, and the overall philosophy or struggle I want to represent.  The rest I let fall into place as I write.

Do you write in the morning, evening, or are you a graveyard writer…?

With two small kids, my writing time is very limited, so I keep to a strict schedule to make sure I have the time to write, and the dedication to use that time for writing.  I have a notebook on me throughout the day so I can write down those moments of inspiration, but otherwise I write two evenings a week in my closet after bedtime and a few hours every Sunday while my husband watches the kids.

When you write, what are the biggest challenges you encounter…?

My main challenges come in the editing process.  I love writing the first draft- just getting in a groove and writing down everything that comes to mind.  I even enjoy the first edits, expanding on details and thoughts.  After that, I need an objective eye to see what I am missing.  Since the story is being told from my head, sometimes I automatically fill in details that may not be translated onto the draft.

Do you know much about your characters when you start, or do you get to know them as you go along…?

I always know my main character through and through.  What drives them in the story, how they interact with others, their struggles, their friendships, and desires.  I also have a general feeling for the antagonist or the specifics around the main conflict.  The side characters get developed through the story, and extra nuances and details are put into place in the edits, to really define their positions.

If you could write in a genre different than the one you are writing in now, what would it be and why…?

I think I will always follow the fantasy genre, it’s just what I enjoy the most, and how the inspiration comes to me… but I would like to translate it across different ages.  I would love to write a full length adult fantasy, and even children’s books.  I love writing and expressing the ideas that flow into my mind.  I think as long as I follow the inspiration that is being given, I will see different stories coming out in different lengths and focuses.

What novel would you recommend that everybody read…?

I really enjoyed the “Incarnations of Immortality” series by Piers Anthony.  I think it is a great example of how fantasy can really make you think in a way you haven’t before.  Both the philosophical thinking as well as the way it ties everything together, in the books and in life.

Who stands out as being your favorite writer…?

Dr. Suess- by far, he has been able to charm me with his words both as a child and as an adult.  Whether tackling rhymes and green eggs, or challenging you to think and dream with the Lorax and the Places You Go, he writes with clear intent and a positive message.

If you had the chance to sit down and talk to any writer dead or alive for one hour who would that be and why…?

That’s a tough one… I find so much inspiration from so many different authors.  Given anyone, I would probably choose Shakespeare…  I think he found a way to balance all aspects of writing, from storytelling, teaching a message, and entertaining.  His words have touched millions, his plays have left such a mark on the world, I have a profound respect for what he has accomplished.

What can we expect next from you…?

Well, you can expect to see more promotions for the upcoming release of “The Escape of Princess Madeline,” released late October 2012, and hopefully soon, some news about the sequel, “The Battle for Princess Madeline.”  I am currently finishing my third run through of edits and will sending that off for submissions shortly.  Fingers crossed.

Where can readers find you at…?





One response to “Interview with Kirstin Pulioff

  • Bobbie Shafer

    Ij really enjoyed reading the interview with my dear FB, fellow author friend, Kirstin. We have made this journey into y/a fantasy side by side and I am as excited about her new book as if it were my own.
    Hope someday that you get to interview me and all us authors love to talk books and writing.

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