Monday, 16 January 2012

Authors in the Limelight: L. K. Mitchell

Shakes Island Tribal House

Keeper of DirectionsI want to thank and welcome author, L. K. Mitchell for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, Keeper of Directions, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.   

While on a vacation from the U.S., ten-year-old Lance learns that a raven named Rose has been stolen from the Tower of London. The Ravens kept at the Tower are a clan of shape-shifters entrusted with keeping the natural world from the chaos of global warming, floods, and earthquakes. Their shape-shifting capabilities depend on the earth's magnetic field, but the magnetic poles are shifting. A transfer in power occurs when the poles shift. The Ravens' control is maintained through war with the ancient DiLong: the Komodo people. Back home in Seattle, Lance and his teenage sister Vivi are caught up with the searchfor Rose and the warring shape-shifters heading to battle for control over the Directions. Lance is chosen as the apprentice Keeper of Directions but have the Ravens made a wise choice? Lance has Asperger's Syndrome. Can a ten-year-old Aspie and his smart-mouthed, teenage sister help set the natural world in order?

How long have you been writing, L. K.?

I started writing when I was in the 6th grade. I wrote my first poem and then started writing short stories a few years after that. By the time I was in the 8th grade I was known throughout my school for being a poet/writer. I also had my own middle-school band called the "Planets." I wrote songs too.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Keeper of Directions?

My idea for shape-shifting ravens came from the research I was doing on a poetry collection that I was writing for my Master of Fine Arts. I was researching raven the trickster in other cultures. I started with the question: What if the ravens kept at the Tower of London aren't your normal average birds but a clan of shape-shifting ravens? Hmmmm.  Also, I live in culture that considers ravens all the time. My children are Tlingit from the Raven moiety. A moiety is the way in which the Tlingit Nation is organized (into two divisions). One group is Eagle/Wolf and the other is Raven.

What sets Keeper of Directions apart from other books in the same genre?

The main character in Keeper of Directions has Asperger's Syndrome which is now considered a type of autism. I have a few family members with Asperger's so I was familiar with some of the characteristics. Typically, the main character in a novel will "overcome" something in order to achieve his/her goal. In this case, Asperger's syndrome is not overcome because the character still has Asperger's in the end of the novel. There are a few books out there with characters that have Asperger's but those are not in the fantasy genre. Also the character in my novel, Lance, is only ten years old, so he's still trying to learn about Asperger's and how he's going to navigate the adult world.

As an author, L. K., what is your writing process?

I write full-time. To get started I usually just sit in the chair. I write longhand sometimes and then take that work to the computer. Sometimes I start on the computer. I write for a few hours every morning, take a lunch break, and then write a few hours until dinner time. I usually write on weekends too, except in the summer. I live in Alaska so summers are spent fishing for halibut and salmon. Fishing competes with my writing. But then I take a notebook with me. I have salmon scales on my journals. Usually I get in 5-8 hours of writing a day. I like to write in my office with a view of whatever is going on outside.

How long did it take for you to start and finish Keeper of Directions?

It took me three weeks, working many hours a day, to get a rough draft of Keeper of Directions. Then I put it away for a few months then took it out and began the editing process. I found two teenagers who were avid readers to give me feedback when the novel was in a readable stage. We discussed the scenes, character arc, and Asperger's Syndrome. They provided some great feedback. All in all, it took 2 1/2 years and about 20 plus drafts before I submitted it to a publisher, Musa Publishing.

Do you have any advice for other writers, L. K.?

My advice for writes is to read voraciously and write with a passion. Set time aside every day to work on your craft. Also if you're going to write for young adults then I'd suggest hanging out with them. I started a middle grade writers group for ages 8-12 and then started another one for teens. What a kick! I was very surprised by the different dynamics in each group. You can work with you that a teen center, or help out at a church youth group, or participate in something like Big Brothers, Big Sisters. There are a ton of opportunities out there when it comes to working with youth.

Sounds like you’ve found the secret to staying young! What’s next for L. K. Mitchell the author?

I've got two young adult novels in the early editing stages: The Mermaid Cafe and the Room of Tears. Also, I have outlines for three other young adult novels.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

If I could time travel I'd head back a thousand years to the Scandinavia region before colonization. I'd go visit my Sáami ancestors in order to learn our traditional knowledge. I'd want to learn traditional medicines, the yoik, how to make a shaman's drum, how to build a laavu (teepee-like structure). So much of my heritage has been lost so I'd go back and re-learn it. I don't have a romantic idea about what it would be like though. I'm sure I'd miss indoor plumbing and my microwave.

L.K. Mitchell website:

Twitter: @pocketfulcharms

Amazon link:

Musa link:


  1. A great interview with thought-provoking points about our relationship with the natural world and the way in which individual perception shapes our experience of life - and that of others. Wishing you every success with the book

  2. I think it's fantastic that you set up writer groups for children. What a wonderful way to promote reading/writing and learn about the market you write for.

  3. I also really like that you set up the writing groups for young people. That's great. Your book sounds really interesting. Good luck, L.K.!

  4. What a great interview, and L.K. what a dedicated writer you are. I love your comment about salmon scales on your journals :-) and I can't wait to read Keeper of Directions!

  5. Thanks Derek, Amaleen, Margaret, and Linda. I love to work with young writers. They are so inspiring! The young people and I often share the love of the Alaskan wilderness. One of the teens that I mentor is a surfer here in Kodiak. Yikes!

    And I have been known to put down my writing journal in mid-thought in order to heave a halibut on board our boat.

    1. You must be so disciplined in your writing to stop and haul in fish! You got mad skills girl! I admire your dedication to mentoring young minds. I used to mentor adults for our local literacy council. You'd be astounded with the lack of basic skills some adults lack. Good for you, shaping our future! Cheers!

  6. Great interview! The book sounds great. I'll have to add it to my growing Musa TBR pile!

  7. Well, maybe my writing isn't so disciplined it's just that my mouth is already watering over the idea of fresh halibut for dinner. So instinct takes over. And besides fishing for halibut is very fun. I get more writing in when trolling for salmon. Trolling for salmon requires patience.

    And thanks, June. I'm hoping to use Musa's Euterpe novels in my teen group. We are going to read The Girl Who Remembered Horses next on our Kindles. Then we'll discuss plot and characters, setting etc...