7 Questions With Authors KC Cowan and Sara Cole
KC Cowan and Sara Cole are unique authors because they collaborate on all their books. They have been friends since high school, performing in choir and plays. During college, they started a fantasy novel with another friend, making themselves the main characters. It was just for fun, but 30 years later, they dug it out, finished it, renamed it Journey to Wizards’ Keep, polished it, and started submitting it for publication. Ravenswood picked it up in 2016. Since then, Sara and KC have written two more books in the Irene, Nan & Kay series: The Hunt for Winter and the just released Everfire and have gone the “indie” publishing route. All their books are available on Amazon.
KC does voice recording (including narrating audio books), so she can take her work back and forth between her homes in rainy Oregon and sunny Arizona, while Sara has a demanding job working for a sheriff’s department in Clackamas County, Oregon. Still, they find time to get together regularly and discuss where their latest work is heading!
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What’s your own definition of an author / indie author?
I think the only difference between an “author” and an “indie author” is one has moved forward with self-publishing rather than waiting to be “discovered.” While once, self-publishing was looked down on (slightly better than going with a “vanity press,” today it makes sense that writers try to find their own way to get their work out there.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Since I write with another person, my situation is a bit unique. Sara and I have collaborated on three books now: Journey to Wizards’ Keep, The Hunt for Winter, and Everfire. While the first book was started in college just for fun and we never plotted anything (it’s rather a miracle that it has a plot arc!), the next two books were done in a mix of plotting and pantsing.
We get together regularly to discuss the books, and what the story arc is, but sometimes things change along the way. So while we may know where we want to be at the conclusion, how we get there can very much be a “pantser” type of experience.
One of the reasons I enjoy writing with another person is the joy of seeing what Sara has written and then getting to react and advance the story. It’s like a game of Ping-Pong where you never know just what the spin on that ball coming your way might be!
How does a day in your author life look?
I enjoy writing in the mornings, when I am fresh. I usually wake up, have breakfast, go to swim class, then sit down and work on my next chapter. I was a news reporter for most of my life, so when I sit down at my computer, I am in writing mode! I don’t overly worry about what comes out—I know I can always edit and trim or expand on it later.
Even though I like to write in the morning, when it’s my turn for a chapter, I tend to be mulling over ideas all day and if inspiration strikes in the evening, I’ll head to the laptop and get going!
What were some major setbacks of this profession?
I came to this world of being an author rather late in life and literally had NO idea how to start! First of all, I contacted a friend of mine who is an author and asked her for the next step, which was getting early readers. Then I began the arduous task of pitching at Writers’ Conferences. It’s hard getting a rejection, but even worse when someone you’ve sent pages to doesn’t even take the time to respond!
Then, after we got a small publisher and our first two books came out, sales were really slow and it was a struggle to figure out how to promote it. Some things I was told to do, like create a book “trailer” didn’t move the sales needle a bit. I also had a relative who said she’d never bother to read out books because she didn’t like the genre. Wow. That stung.
What has kept me going was feedback from those who HAD read the books that they loved them!
What’s your definition of the first draft?
When you get to the “The End” portion of your book, it’s a great celebration. Then comes the real work. All the editing to find useless “filler” words (like “that”) that need to be removed. Finding typos, plot holes, subplots that either need to be cut or shortened—just all the things to make your book as tight as possible.
I guess both steps could be considered “first drafts.” One is the rough, and the second is the more refined.
Tell us how you’d spend your time if you went on a date/adventure/meeting with your favorite fictional character.
Ah! That would be Gar, King of the Fairies. He’s not a fairy himself, but was asked by the fairies in our book to become their ruler and protector. He’s a delightful, brash, but kind character (Jack Black would play him in the movie) so, just as our other characters do when they first meet him, I’d ask for a ride around his kingdom, followed by a wonderful meal cooked by his fairies.
Just how much research is there behind a novel? Tell us how it looks behind the scenes.
Our books are set in a time period that would correspond to the transition from Middle Ages to Renaissance. The Internet is invaluable when looking for information on that time period. I went online to look for “healing herbs of the Middle Ages” and found an entire list of medicinal plants and what they’re used for. That was helpful!
And I learned peasants didn’t usually have “plate” to dine off of—that was for the rich folks. Common folk tended to use a wooden plank with an indentation kind of scooped out, which they called a “trencher.” In once scene, I describe Kay taking her trencher to the creek to wash it and had a friend say it made her go look that up because she had never heard it before. I love learning new things about the era for which we write!
Find KC and Sara here:
Webpage On FB: Irene, Nan & Kay Fantasy Series On Twitter: @kccowanartgal
Are you in the Writing Industry?
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She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
Read the full blurb here.