Interview with Kristen Britain

Q: What led up to the publication of Green Rider?

A: Insanity!

Actually….publication of my first novel was based on a love of reading and writing. I first attempted writing a novel in my teen years. During college and the early years of establishing my day career, I continued to write, but was unable to do a great deal of it. I don’t think I believed it possible that *I*could ever be a published novelist, so I did not focus on it.Still, some part of me must have felt the impetus because I never completely abandoned the writing. I dabbled in poetry,creative nonfiction, and fantasy short stories. While some of my poetry and nonfiction were published, I couldn’t crack the short story markets. I got fed up with all the short story rejections,and decided to return to my first love — novels. In the fall of 1992, I sat down to begin GREEN RIDER, the origins of which sprouted from some of the material I had produced in my teen years. There was a character in those writings, a minor character who was a king’s messenger from the land of Sacoridia,who grabbed my attention. For some reason, I decided to change his name and gender, and my protagonist, Karigan G’ladheon, was born. She leaped right off the page, tweaked my nose, and hit the ground running! I was intrigued by the notion of a messenger’s occupation as being dangerous — it’s that old saying about killing the messenger because of the message. I wanted to find out why Karigan would  become a king’s messenger if the job was so dangerous, and how.

The first draft was completed in less than a year, and what followed was revision, and submissions to publishers and agents,which produced a series of “positive” rejections, including one from an agent who made some cogent observations about the story.I agreed with his points and embarked on another round of revisions, enlisting the aid of an author-friend who read it over with fresh eyes and offered invaluable advice. When I polished off the last revision, I resubmitted the story to the agent. One of his colleagues agreed to represent the book, and on Election Day of 1996, it sold to DAW Books. Two years later,it hit bookstores in its first hardcover edition (it is currently in paperback).

So, it took four years to whip the book into shape and go through the submission process, and two years before it came out. It was a long process and this is a long story, but these things generally are. I have yet to hear a first novel publication story that was short.

Q: How has it been getting all this positive response to your first novel?

A: The response has been fantastic — I have been quite thrilled! It’s gratifying that so many people have given a first, unknown author a chance. Probably the best part of publication has been learning that the writing was not a one way line of communication. People are reading what I wrote. Those words aren’t locked up in some drawer or cast out into a vacuum.There are living, breathing people at the other end, and that’s what gives the story and characters continuity and life.

Q: What can you reveal about the sequel to Green Rider, Mirror of the Moon?

A: I am hesitant to reveal much about the sequel while I’m still working on it. Even the best laid plans may go awry during the creating process, or get changed during the revision and editing phases. Everything is subject to change. Even “Mirror of the Moon” is a working title only. I may find some more apt title along the way.

That said, I can reveal that the sequel takes place two years after the events of GREEN RIDER, and that it carries on the adventures of Karigan G’ladheon and the Green Riders. Certain plot threads that were not entirely knotted off in the first book will be woven into the sequel. Many familiar characters will be active participants in the sequel, as well as some brand new characters who will be introduced.

Q: What do you see as the main theme of this series?

A: If I had to pick a main theme, I believe it would be about how easily we forget the lessons of the past. History repeats itself, often for the worse. My eternally-lived Eletians observe in the sequel that humans have short memories because they are(comparatively) short-lived. Much that was once known has been lost or changed as one generation transitions to the next, often to the detriment of the current generation.

A secondary but important theme might be how one person can effect change. I believe that fantasy, with all its archetypes,is one of the most empowering forms of literature.

Q: What sort of things would you like to accomplish in the future?

A: For starters I’d like to finish the sequel!

And continue writing. For me, it is a passion. To stop writing would be like amputating a part of me, and for the time being,I’m still intrigued by the Green Riders and their world. I would like the series to be a really strong and memorable accomplishment.

One day, when I have only one career to work, I’d like to get involved in some causes I’m interested in, in a meaningful way,and perhaps, like the sub-theme of the series, effect change for the better in the real world. In the meantime, I’m finding it hard to find time just to clean the kitty litter!

Q: What have been your major inspiration sources and how have they influenced your writing?

A: JRR Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, and Lloyd Alexander were early fantasy inspirations. But I have read, and do read, a variety of authors and titles (as time allows) within and without the genre. Anything I read inspires me one way or the other, and because I’ve written a book myself, I am much more critical about what I read. My other major inspiration is the natural world, which I think is evident in the setting for GREEN RIDER.I worked out many plot problems while hiking, walking, and biking through the woods and over mountains, or sitting by the sea. I think spending time outdoors really sinks into that creative place in my subconscious.

Q: What has the Internet meant for you as an author?

A: The internet has provided me with a venue to post a website(www.angelfire.com/ky/karigan) where readers have an opportunity to check out sample chapters and get the latest news. E-mail hasits particular uses. I enjoy hearing from readers, and it’s a great way to communicate with publishing people on the business end of things. I have found some useful writing resources, too,but generally my life is spent so much in front of a computer for both careers, that I don’t use much time to surf or wade through endless possibilities for research material. I’d rather be outside beneath the sun or moon, smelling the woods after a rainstorm, or paddling a quiet pond at sunset. Out there in  world, where I can feel the breeze on my face, that’s where the stories are.

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