Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Meet Kaza Kingsley, Author of the Erec Rex Series

I first met Kaza Kingsley shortly after she got her eight book (yes, EIGHT BOOK) series deal with Simon and Schuster. She is a friend of a friend, who put us in contact when I first started writing. I was a rank newbie and Kaza graciously took time to say hello. Shortly afterwards, she happened to be in the Chicago area on a signing tour, so I snagged a slew of signed books for myself and my kid’s teachers. At the time she was promoting her third book in the Erec Rex series (1-The Dragon’s Eye, 2-The Monsters of Otherness, 3-The Search for Truth). Since then she’s released Book 4 (The Three Furies) and Book 5 is set to come out February 7th (The Secret of Ashona), which you can preorder here. Yay! The Erec Rex series is a great combination of magic and mystery, one that lovers of Harry Potter will enjoy.



My kids love a good, long series like this (me too – keeps them occupied). The series has won many awards and hit the bestseller list (so exciting!). Here’s the blurb:

Life is not easy for twelve-year-old Erec Rex. His single mother can barely support her six adopted kids. And they've moved into an apartment so tiny that Erec sleeps with the washing machine. Worse, there is a strange force within Erec that is making him do odd things. His urge to obey these thoughts grows -- until it becomes impossible to resist them.

Then one morning, Erec's mother is missing. The force inside Erec commands him to find her, leading him on an adventure that will change him forever. When he arrives in Alypium, a hidden world where old knowledge of magic is kept, Erec learns that his mother and the entire kingdom are in peril. And he might be the only one who can save them.

Me: Kaza, I love the story of how you got started with Erec Rex, basically venturing out on faith in your book and, with the help of a friend, self-publishing. This was before the advent of Kindle and the self-publishing craze, which are just now coming around to (maybe) embrace middle grade e-books (The Dragon’s Eye was first published in 2007, in print, the old-fashioned way). Can you tell us a bit about what made you decide to take that leap?

Kaza: It wasn’t my plan at first to self-publish in the beginning! I was extremely lucky and got a great agent – Jennifer Lyons who was with Writers House in New York at the time. Writers House is the top agency for kids / YA lit, as well as a lot of amazing adult lit. My manuscript sat there forever, though, and she gradually sent it to only a few places where it got rejected. Jennifer then left Writers House and I stayed with them . . . only to find out that none of the other agents there wanted to take my book on as it had been sent out to a few places already!

I could have gone with another agent, or even tried a small press, but I happened to meet Amy Collins who had just left F and W Publication and had 15 years experience in book sales with Penguin Books. It seemed like fate – Amy loved my book, and between her expertise and my efforts, the big bookstores (Borders and Barnes and Noble) bought large quantities of Book One (Erec Rex: The Dragon’s Eye) that year! The sales were great, and after Book Two (Erec Rex: The Monsters of Otherness) came out Simon and Schuster bought the entire 8 book series. It was very exciting!

Me: I can only imagine! Over the time that you’ve been writing Erec Rex, what’s been the biggest change in the middle grade market that you’ve seen? Fantasy still seems to be king in middle grade, but do you see that waning or growing in the future?

Kaza: It seems that everything gets compared to whatever is the best selling book out there at the time.  At first everyone was talking about what my series had in common with the Harry Potter books (I’d say suspense, mystery, humor – but a very different story.) Then when Eragon was hot everyone talked about how Erec Rex had dragons. Now it’s Twillight that people mostly bring up – no . . . sorry, no Vampires in this book. But the market seems pretty much the same to me. Kids like to buy good books, whatever the good books might be at the time!

Me: I think this is very true and often forgotten - what NY is publishing this year may change with the season, but the books kids love to read don't change radically from year to year. You still have three books to go (THREE! Whew!), but have you thought about what might be in store after Erec Rex?

Kaza: I have a lot of ideas for books I want to write – too many unfortunately to find the time for them all! I’m working on Book Six now, but I’m also developing another story I’d like to sneak in before Book Six comes out. It’s unrelated to the Erec Rex series, but something I’ve been playing around with for a while…

Me: That sounds exciting! And it must be fun to play with something different for a while! What is your best advice for aspiring writers who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Kaza: WRITE! Seriously – the more you do it the better you will get.
  • Join a writing group. It’s great to get feedback, and even better to read other people’s work and learn how to critique it. That process will help you improve your own work the most.
  • Read books on writing. There are a lot of great books out there that talk about writing fiction – characters, plot, scene and setting . . . Fiction writing is unlike any other and nobody can reinvent the wheel. A wise person once said to learn what all the rules are so you know what you’re breaking.
  • Make sure you have perfected your work before you submit it to an agent. You have one shot with it – always put your best foot forward!
Me: Great, solid writing advice! Thanks so much for visiting with us today! I wish you (and all the Erec Rex books) great ongoing success!

Kaza: Thank you, too, Susan! It’s a pleasure being on your blog. I look forward to seeing you again sometime as well!

Not only is Kaza an inspiration, she's a delightful person as well. Next time your munchkin comes looking for books, get them started on this series! You'll hear the quiet sound of pages rustling (or ebook swiping) for some time.

*****
p.s. the winner of the Indelibles on Fire Giveaway of Open Minds is ... Jennifer Clements! Thank you to everyone that entered the Giveaway!!

13 comments:

  1. What a neat story on a publishing journey! I'll have to recommend them to our library! Kids and especially parents LOVE series!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds awesome! And congrats to Jennifer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This might be the first thing I've ever won and I couldn't be more excited!!! Great story! Thanks for Sharing!!
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  4. Always love to find a new mg series! My kids will be thrilled to discover it. Great interview. Inspiring story. Thanks, ladies.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations to the contest winner :-)

    Also, great interview, ladies. It is awesome to read about the differing journies to publication. Sometimes, we just never know what fate has in store.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My son enjoys this series, but I admit that I haven't started yet. Time to change that, I think. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. an 8 book deal? Holy cow! And great interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? Thanks for stopping by! (And man, I love this threaded commenting.)

      Delete
  8. Wow.
    Sounds like a great series! =)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks so much for sharing Kaza's story with us, Sue. It's great to hear of mg novels/series being successful.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I feel like I just hit the jackpot. I'm off to grab this series for my classroom. Thank you. Thank you. I can't wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete

Erudite comments from thoughtful readers