Guess whaaat? Remember how last week I got to show you the gorgeous cover to Kirsten Fichter’s new novella The Rose and the Balloon? Well, today I get to
interrogate interview Kirsten herself! And we get all sorts of juicy looks at her writing process and story. *rubs hands together gleefully*
Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel.
In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.
Visit her: Blog | Twitter | GoodReads
What was the first spark of an idea for The Rose and the Balloon?
I wish I had a more creative spark, but truthfully, this story first began growing after Rooglewood Press announced their Beauty and the Beast short story contest. It was Beauty and the Beast, it was a fairy tale retelling. . . there was no way I wasn't going to write a story for that. The key idea running around in my head was that I had to make it as unlike every other Beauty and the Beast retelling as possible. So, how would Beauty and the Beast look backwards? The story all ran away with me from there, and it wasn't long before I had the completed story sitting on my computer. And then I forgot to send it in to the contest. Figures, huh?
What does your typical writing process look like?
I am definitely a pantser. I write without always having a clear road map. Most of my stories begin with some sort of spark of inspiration, and then it goes wild from there. I usually push off the spark for a few weeks to a few years to let it fester, er, grow in the back of my mind. If it keeps coming back, and I can keep adding inspiration to it, I judge it's worthy of my attention and then I pull open a document to start jotting down some notes. Sometimes, it'll sit for a while in my documents folder, and other times, I'll start working on the first chapter right away. When I write, I usually have the idea for the beginning, know somewhat of where I want to go towards the middle, and have a vague idea of where I want the book to end. Actually writing is the best way for me to learn about my story, and then once I'm working at it, my characters all take over and tell me what to write. They're quite bossy things, really. After the first draft is completed, it sits for a while before I go back to edit it (if I edit it at all -- I despise editing).
What part of the writing process is your favorite (first draft, editing, polishing, being done and celebrating with cake, etc.)?
FIRST DRAFT! I love the thrill of living out the adventure of the story the first time through. Nothing can compare to the first draft. Yes, I know it's rough, but that's what makes up half the fun. *grins*
Were there any things/people/movies/books/etc. that inspired bits of the story?
I wish I could say the hot air balloon was inspired by something fantastic, but honestly, I don't know where that came from. I've just always loved hot air balloons, and I've wanted to ride in one and write a story about one for as long as I can remember.
Crazy Maeva was inspired partly by my dad. When I was young, he was a special education teacher, so I had opportunities to interact with lots of different kids with special needs. I'd always wanted to write a story about someone with special needs, so Queen Maeva is a result of that, and also a desire to show a person with special needs is just a real person with real hopes and real feelings.
I do also feel that you asked this question on purpose, Christine. You, who already know my deep, dark secrets. *cough* Yes, I was also muchly inspired by the beloved Disney film classic, and I made some rather pointed jabs and connections to that story. No, there's no magic in my book, no curse, no talking wardrobes, but I did find opportunity to include a scene with a dancing feather duster. Yes, yes, I know. I'm incorrigible.
Does The Rose and the Balloon have a specific message you'd like your readers to take away from?
I wrote this story mostly for fun, so I didn't intend for it to be received with an earth-shattering revelation. However, I do feel that there are themes woven throughout of sacrifice and true love. If you can pull those truths from it, I am overjoyed, but if this just becomes a fun story for you to share with your family, I am thrilled with that as well.
What scene in The Rose and the Balloon is your overall favorite?
Hmm... probably the dancing feather duster. Because of the connection to the film, and because it was fun to write. But I won't say any more than that -- spoilers, ya know.
How did each character come about?
Janelle and Dmitri sprung, obviously, from the need to have a Beauty and a Beast. They each came armed with their own secrets, so I pretty much let them speak for themselves. For Queen Maeva, I already gave the inspiration for her, and I needed her because someone had to do something crazy to get Janelle and Dmitri together. Or at least try to get them together. Lord Roux, Janelle's father, too, was mostly from need. Although, I can't say at first that I knew about his passion for roses. That came a little bit later.
Nicolas and Nicoline, Dmitri's twin siblings, kinda popped into the story without me noticing at first. I typically like to have siblings for my main characters (I'm really big into lots of family and siblings in my stories), and while it was impossible to give Janelle siblings, I thought why not have siblings for Dmitri? I didn't know at that point how mischievous they could be, but I am so grateful that they showed up. There were certain points in the book where I feared all was lost, yet then the twins jumped in to save the scene and the day.
Who was your favorite character to write and who your least? And do tell us why!
Nicolas was definitely my favorite. A royal twelve-year-old bent on getting the better of his twin... I mean, seriously, what's not to love? He was so much fun to write about. But don't tell Nicoline he's the favorite. I fear she'd have my head.
I can't say I had a least favorite character to write about, but the most difficult by far to write was Lord Roux. Since I am so close to my own father, I enjoy having a strong father figure in my stories, but for Janelle, Lord Roux couldn't be the perfect picture of an ideal father. I was constantly battling how he should be portrayed, balancing the true love that he bore for his daughter with the overwhelming passion he had for his roses. I wanted him to be a likable character, not an enemy, and I'll admit that wasn't as easy as it sounds.
You've labeled this story as the first in a series called Once Upon a Twist Tales. Would you tell us a little bit about your plans for this coming series and how/why it got its name?
Once Upon a Twist Tales is the result of my absolutely loving fairy tales. I hope to flesh it out into a full series, though most of the books will probably be stand-alone. I'd love to explore every fairy tale I can, twist it, put it backwards and upside-down, and then write it up with a little steampunk thrown in on the side. How long will the series be? I have no idea. I just want to write until I run out of fairy tales. After The Rose and the Balloon, I'm planning a Sleeping Beauty story called Spindle Dreams, which is almost complete in the first draft. After that, I have some ideas started for a Rapunzel story, a Rumplestiltskin story, and a Swan Lake story. We'll just have to see what the Lord has in store.
I know you have some exciting plans for other stories in the future; can you whet our appetite at least a smidge on what we have to look forward to?
I am still working on editing and polishing my (large) Cinderella retelling, Secret of the Hazel Tree. I don't know yet when I'll be able to publish that, as I'm currently in college, and time is not necessarily my ally. I would love to release that within the next couple of years. Spindle Dreams has a better likelihood of getting published before SotHT, so I'll leave you with a small snippet of that before we end this interview. *winks*
Marita Kadlec yanked her hand back from the spinning wheel and glared at her finger. Already, a drop of blood was forming. Annoyed, she wiped at it hastily with a rag bearing the pain of previous pricks. Directing a well-deserved scowl at the spindle, she shook her injured finger at it.
“And this is just one reason why I hate you so.”
Her grandmother chuckled from the bed in the corner. “If you always get mad at it, it will always treat you that way.”
“I'm not mad! I'm just...” Marita's protest ended in a huff. Out of words, she busied herself in nursing her bleeding finger.
Inga Kadlec eyed her granddaughter thoughtfully. “You're impatient. Learn to be gentle with the spindle. It will give you so much more if you are gentle.”
Marita slouched on her stool. “Why didn't we have a dairy farm? Or a fishing business? Why do we have to do this?” She motioned helplessly at the wood and metal contraption in front of her.
The spinning wheel didn't even have the decency to look back. It stood proudly, despite its age and worn mechanics. The wheel itself was crafted from a sleek, foreign wood that Marita never could remember the name of, all framed in a dark iron. While most spinners preferred wooden spindles, this wheel boasted an iron spindle, tapering out to a fine point – a point that proved dangerous to Marita's hasty fingers. According to Inga, every Kadlec in the last hundred years had spun thread using this wheel.
And I'm the first Kadlec in a hundred years to prick myself every time I try to touch the spindle.
Thank you for allowing me to interview you, Kiri! I had too much fun picking at your brain and talking all things writing and fairytales. You’re making me want to devour all the fairytales!
Speaking of which, The Rose and the Balloon is officially AVAILABLE. As of yesterday it has been released on the world! *CHEERS* So why are you still here? Go get yourself a copy! (Currently it is only available in paperback, but the Kindle version will be coming very soon.)
And do check out THIS POST for links to more interviews going on this week. It’s gonna be fun!
In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one.
Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses.
This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.
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Why are you still here? Didn’t I tell you to go
buy a copy of TRatB? Okay, okay. We can fangirl/boy
first. Do you have any more questions for Kirsten?
What do you think of her amazing sounding fairytales?
Because I NEEDS THEM ALL PRECIOUS.