Today I’m honored to be part of Kia Strand’s release tour for her novella “Worth the Effort.” I agreed to read and review her work, and she agreed to submit to an interview about the story, so we’re both happy. Here’s the review, and if you read on afterward, you can see our fun little discussion about coffee, love, publishing, and of course… writing. When you’ve finished, don’t forget to click the link for the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Ella discovers a homeless teen boy living in an alley behind the café where she works, and at first he frightens her. But as time goes by she gets to know him and in the process of overcoming her fear, she also attempts to shatter the high society expectations her parents have for her. But just when she thinks she’s getting to know Ayden, she discovers his shocking secret. This story will have you turning pages to see what happens next, and even though it’s a complete story, it will leave you wanting more. And since it’s a Kai Strand story, expect a last-minute twist to keep the ending from dragging on or becoming boring.
Here’s my interview with Kai. If my less-than-award-worthy reviewing ability didn’t convince you to try “Worth the Effort,” maybe our conversation will.
Since you live in the Pacific North West, and Seattle is known for coffee (among other things), and coffee plays a central role in Worth the Effort, what kind of coffee do you like and how do you take it?
I adore this question! Thank you for asking it. I am a coffee drinker. 24/7 when I can get away with it. My favorite brand is Starbucks. I like my coffee STRONG and usually black. I rarely drink flavored coffee, but when I want to spoil myself, I throw some dried orange peel and a snap of cinnamon stick into the grinder with the beans. When I REALLY want to indulge, I’ll mix chocolate milk into the brewed cup of coffee. (Picture Homer Simpson drooling here)
I’m not much for flavored coffee myself, but I do love some Highlander Grog when I can get it.
For a novella, Worth the Effort has many layers of depth: themes of poor versus plenty and breaking with norms/expectations contribute to this depth. Did you set out to write a story as such, or did the layers build on their own as you wrote?
This is a tough question. I don’t know that I set out to tell this story in particular. What I did know was that I wanted a high school girl to fall for a homeless boy. It was very, very important to me that people see the underage homeless population. As the story developed I realized I needed – no wanted – more dynamics in the story itself. That is when I decided these kids needed some surprises. The irony is, that when I was doing some research for the basis of my story, visiting a transitional living shelter for teens in my area, I was told a story of a boy with a similar enough background to my fictional Ayden that I knew beyond a doubt that I’d chose the right story to tell. I actually got shivers when I was told his story. Still do!
At first, I thought this was going to be a story of love(ish) at first sight. After reading it, I realize it’s not, at least not for Ella. Do you believe in love at first sight or do you think it’s just a tool to move some plots?
I’m sorry we aren’t sitting at my local Starbucks so I could fully answer this question. First and foremost I had an instant and powerful reaction – attraction – to my now husband. Was it love? No. But I’ve never had the same experience with anyone else. So there is SOMETHING to that feeling. Different people may have a different definition for it. Second, and I’m saying this mostly because my oldest daughter would cry foul if I didn’t mention it to the world when I’ve had some very in depth conversations with her about teen love…I don’t think teen love is a real love. WAIT! PLEASE LISTEN! I think it is very real for the people who are feeling it. I think it is possible (though rare) it will mature into a lasting love. But I don’t think it is formed on proper life experiences or even with a realistic sense of time, for that matter. Can it break a heart? Absolutely. Is it everlasting? If so, why not wait and see…?
You wrote this story in first person present, the other stories of yours I’ve read have been written in third person past (my more natural writing style). Did you find it difficult to write this way?
Oh, Eric! Can I just thank you for recognizing this? It was very hard for me to write in first person present. My poor editor was like, “Wait? Why are we switching to past tense here?” and I was like, “Cause this is HARD!” Ella’s story needed to be immediate. But it was my first time writing this way. I laugh when I hear others write this way all the time and have a hard time writing in third person past. Imagine that—she asked. *wink*
In my opinion, the worst part about being an author is either promoting, or the fact that I can no longer read anything just for its entertainment value. I can almost hear my high school literature teachers in my head asking, “Why do you think the author did this?” It greatly slows down my reading time, and it frustrates me (at times), but there’s nothing I can do about it.
You self published this novella, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s this first work you’ve self published. Tell us a few things you learned while self publishing.
I learned that writing is hard. Oh wait, I already knew that. I learned that it takes a team to write a book, writer, cover artist, editor. Nope—knew that already. I learned marketing…no, already did that too. Okay, I learned book formatting. Honestly, I did so much research prior to deciding to self publish that I don’t really remember what I didn’t know before. Prior to making the decision to self pub these novellas, I read a lot about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ so there weren’t a lot of surprises. At this point I don’t intend on leaving traditional publishing completely. I enjoy the overall experience of traditional publishing, but being a competent and capable person, I wanted to take advantage of the additional revenue stream. Especially on smaller work, like my novellas.
So this was Ella’s Story, and you tell us that Ayden’s Story is yet to come. Give us a hint of something we’ll learn with Ayden’s Story.
Ayden is the whole reason behind these two novellas. Therefore, in his story we will get to really know him. We will see even more clearly why he’s homeless. We live on the streets with him. We learn about some of the resources that are available to him (that he takes advantage of) and most important, how Ella impacts his life – which, I admit is big – and we’ll wonder if he can rise to the occasion. It was so much harder to write his side of the story than I expected it to be. I just figured I’d write the same story from his point of view, but well…that was boring! So I chose key scenes to dip into so readers can see what he was thinking when they happened. Other than that the story has to follow his life, which is nothing close to Ella’s.
Thanks for joining me, Kai, and I hope someone comes across this and finds your story interesting. But for a little more motivation, here’s a Rafflecopter giveaway.