I want to thank and welcome wonderful and prolific middle grade and young adult author, Kai Strand for sharing her personal experiences on writing a book series and showcasing her YA fantasy/speculative series Super Villain Academy series with us on my blog today. So let’s get this interview with Kai rolling…KAPOW!
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Super Villain Academy series, Kai?
The inspiration started with the first book only. It was early on November 1st. I was sitting down to start my NaNoWriMo novel (write a novel in one month – nuts!). For the first time I’d outlined so I could be more prepared for fast drafting. Well…yeah. When I sat down I was struck with the thought, “Who trains the bad guys?” and Super Villain Academy was born. It turned into a series when the ending refused to change from a set up of a second book. So I decided I’d call the series Super Villain Academy and changed the name of the first book, King of Bad.
It’s amazing where authors get their ideas! How many books are you planning to write in this young adult fantasy/speculative fiction series?
There are three in the series. Polar Opposites is the second. Super Bad (releasing May 6th) is the final book.
Looking forward to it! What sets Super Villain Academy apart from other series in the same genre?
So many of the super hero/villain books are set in a middle grade setting, but these are definitely written for young adult readers. I like to call them PG-13. Also, my supers are born with their powers, not made into supers with a shot of gamma radiation. They discover them at different times in their lives, so some kids have been going to SVA (and other academies) since they were as young as twelve and others don’t join until they are sixteen or older.
You seem to have books for every age group, Kai! How long did it take for you to start and finish each book from Super Villain Academy?
King of Bad took the longest. Turns out when you write an entire novel in one month, it can be pretty messy! It took me five years to clean it up and get it under contract. Though, I wasn’t working on it exclusively. I don’t write only one book at a time. The other books took less than a year each to get them written, revised, and through the publishing channel.
Wow, I admire your stamina. What are some of your favorite book series, Kai?
· Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series
· Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls
· Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus series
· I’m really enjoying Brigid Kremmerer’s Elementals series. Close to teens with superpowers like my SVA series, without the super hero/villain aspect.
Great picks! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write a series?
One of the benefits to writing a series is you really get to know your characters. Truly understanding them like that allows you to write them into and out of some crazy situations. It was very hard for me to finish the last book in the series because I loved writing those teenagers so much!
On the flipside, writing a series can feel limiting when you want to branch out. As I mentioned, I don’t write one book at a time, but even so, at the beginning of last year, I found myself plotting out the year’s writing projects and there wasn’t one new world or main character I was going to be attacking and I said to myself, “Whose idea was it to write series, anyway?” So be sure to throw a standalone into the mix now and again to keep yourself sane.
LOL! I’ll remember that sage advice. What’s next for Kai Strand the author?
Ha ha. A standalone. Currently titled EVERYTHING. YA romance. I loved writing Save the Lemmings (MG contemporary) and Finding Thor (YA romantic suspense). And because I don’t like to do the same thing twice, I’ve decided to change the way I write this newest one and really take some time with it. I don’t know what I expect to get out of a slower pace, but I suspect it will be different.
You certainly are an author of many talents, Kai, and I really admire that about you. Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—IF you could time travel into Earth’s past, WHO would you love to meet, and WHY?
I would become Mozart’s scribe. Oh my gosh, how much I would love to watch him compose. His mind must have been a marvel and I have always wanted to know how he got all of the layered, complicated music out of his head and onto paper. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m taller than him – doesn’t happen often for me, so YAY!
Thanks for having me, Sharon!
You’re very welcome, Kai! And congrats on completing your awesome series! Bravo!
Super Villain Academy Books:
King of Bad (Super Villain Academy Bk 1)- Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. Is Jeff bad enough for SVA?
Polar Opposites (Super Villain Academy Bk 2) - Heroes and villains are balanced. After Oceanus is kidnapped, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. Ironically Jeff’s superpowers are spiraling out of control. Will they find Oci before he looses it completely, and will they find her alive?
Super Bad (Super Villain Academy Bk3) - The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.
About the Author:
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.