K.A. Emmons: Hardworking Creative
I’ve been following K.A. Emmons for a while now, and there are three big things I love about her. First of all, her writing is freaking amazing–from her beautiful blog posts to her epic sci-fi/fantasy thriller trilogy, I basically devour everything she writes as quickly as I can. Second, I admire how hard she works; she’s an example of indie publishing done right. And third, she’s an all-around lovely person!
In this interview, Kate divulges some little-known information about cool things she did before publishing a book. Plus, we get a peek into the pages of her new book Worlds Beneath–and if you haven’t read her first book (The Blood Race) yet, read to the end of this post to grab the first nine chapters for free!
What does it mean to you to be a hardworking creative?
Never giving up! Day after day, getting up and putting the work in. Taking care of yourself and treating yourself and your craft with respect, and because of that, giving yourself the time and space you need to be creative.
Tell us in one sentence what you do and why you do it.
I write because I believe I have a raison d’être–an important reason and purpose for existing–and so does every single person on the planet, and I live to make this beautiful truth known.
When, how, and why did you start writing?
This is always such a tough question because… I don’t really remember, haha. My mom popped in a home video the other night of my sister and I: we were sitting in two chairs, and I was telling a story and flipping through drawings that accompanied my narration, handing the pages off to Abbie. I was probably four. So storytelling has just been a part of my life from a very early age (even though that sounds like a dry docu-drama response. Bleh).
My sister and I spent so many hours of our upbringing listening to our mom read to us, and sipping tea and writing stories at our dining room table. And I think the reason why is simply because I LOVED a good story and I saw the power that words held to make you feel something.
What was something that surprised you when you began your journey towards publishing—something you didn’t expect, whether good or bad?
How it’s not the pinnacle of your writing career, and how, once on the other side of it, it almost means a little less to you than it did before. Now, don’t get me wrong: publishing is a huge accomplishment! And it’s fun! And you should enjoy it. BUT… but, it also makes you realize that you were a bit silly all those times that you may have felt depressed or unaccomplished just because you weren’t published yet; publishing does not make you a writer. WRITING DOES. And for me, nothing is more fun or more exciting than the day I sit down and start writing a new book. That’s the most important part of being a writer!
What advice do you have for young creatives who want to do something with their work but just can’t seem to get off the ground?
Stay disciplined. Don’t give up.
That’s it. There’s no easy hack or short cut: there are long, hard hours involved, as well as sacrifices and lots of things you’ll have to say no to. But in the end, it’s not the talented protege that soars to the top–talent alone will get you nowhere. You must pair talent with grit. Determination, endurance, and a willingness to keep going even when it’s tough–be disciplined. Cultivate discipline. Don’t give into your every emotion and urge to quit. No matter what, don’t give up… and you will win. In the long run, there will be no other option.
How old were you when you began your career? Was it difficult to be young in your industry? Do you feel like you were looked down on and not taken seriously?
Oh, I like this question! I had a bit of an interesting experience, because I was writing for the non-profit I co-founded with my sister called Blue Freedom long before I published a book. I was 17 and interviewing/working with a lot of well-known activists, scientists, film producers, surfers–the list goes on and on. I was speaking to international high school classes and at conferences over the years that followed. In one of our major projects, I was even featured on the front page of Huff Post Teen. These are lesser known facts, and I state them not to bring attention to myself but to shine a light on the fact that young people can do SO MUCH with a passion to do something + a laptop!
Because of all this, by the time I finally published my first novel, The Blood Race, I was a much more confident young adult. So don’t make excuses about being young–embrace it! There’s nothing cooler or more inspiring than a young person chasing their dreams. Imagine all the young adults (and people in general) who will look at you and feel liberated to chase their own dreams and goals!
What are your long-term and short-term goals with your work?
My short term goal as of right now is to continue learning and growing my writing career–and finish editing/prepping book 3 in my series so I can publish that in the very near future.
As for a long term goal: to keep writing, writing, writing, and make as much of an impact as I can, helping readers realize that there is a warrior within them, and that they have SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL. They are powerful, sacred beings.
What’s the most effective way that you have advertised yourself and your books?
This is something I’m learning more and more about every day. Facebook and Amazon have both been very effective places to spread the word about my book through advertising. To all the writers who are reading, I highly recommend Self Publishing Formula Podcast–hosted by a best-selling indie, and chock FULL of excellent marketing advice.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
On a typical day I get up, have some coffee (often over at my mom’s, who is also my best friend), read a little Scripture, maybe stretch, then I sit down at my desk and write for several hours.
After I feel satisfied with what I’ve written, I’ll usually move on to doing something active like karate or yoga to offset all the sitting and hunching over the keyboard like a mad scientist.
What’s your number one secret to productivity?
Discipline. As I said, I’m a firm believer in the fact that there is no hack or shortcut–if you want to be productive and get things done? Be productive and get things done. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted–that is within your control. Stick your phone in a drawer if you have to. Respect yourself and your craft by giving yourself the time and space you need to work on it.
What’s a question that you always wish someone would ask you about your work, but that no one ever does? Answer it for us.
Because honestly, that’s the biggest question we could ever be asked about anything in our lives or anything that we’re initiating: why? Why are we doing what we’re doing?
And for me, that reason is to bring the light. BRING IT. I want people to see how valuable they are. How LOVED they are. How much their life means, and how much we need them here.
What gets the creative process kick-started for you?
I would have to say my faith and trust in God to inspire me to write whatever it is I need to write that day.
Also yoga–getting moving really helps. And getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water, and getting outside; getting some vitamin D.
For people who have read The Blood Race, what can they look forward to in Worlds Beneath? For people who haven’t yet read The Blood Race, give us a brief summary of why you think they’d like it.
The Blood Race is action-packed, fast-paced and just a good story–at least, that’s what my readers tell me, lest I sound like I have one heck of an ego here. But beyond that, it’s about two individuals with very different backgrounds finding their true identities and purposes for being.
In Worlds Beneath, you can expect to delve even more deeply into that search, and also WOLVES. And some new faces and places.
Hey fellow hardworking creatives, what did you take away from this interview? What aspects of Kate’s career can you relate to? Have you read her books yet?