Heya, TWNers! Welcome back to day two of TWN’s FIRST-EVER Teen Writers’ Rally. We’re kicking-off National Novel Writing Month with back-to-back posts featuring authors, bloggers, and more! Tune in every day for the next two weeks with new posts full of writing tips, advice, and encouragement. Posts go live at 6:00 EST, and if you’re not already, make sure to subscribe to Teen Writers’ Nook via email to receive a notification when the next post goes live. (Form can be found to the right if on a computer or at the bottom of the page if on a mobile device.) And make sure to stay until the end of the post for information about the giveaway running through the entire event!
I am SO excited to share our first author interview with the one and only Kara Linaburg! Kara is an author of YA fiction, including The Broken Prince and the newly-released novel A Study in Terminal. She has a lot of advice and wisdom to share today so I’m going to stop taking up her time, and let’s jump into the interview! *passes around popcorn and snacks* (Also, my responses to her answers are in black, because I am such a talker and couldn’t help myself. XD)
Thank you SO much for joining us at Teen Writers’ Nook today, Kara! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your books, and where we can find/follow you online?
I am an author of YA fiction, freelance editor, and bookworm (especially wherein lies angst, light in darkness, and mental health rep). You can normally find me on the back porch sipping hot tea and dreaming about my next book, planning my next adventure, or talking to strangers as though they are old friends. I love writing raw and honest books (I’ve published three!) that show us the beauty that can be found in this broken world… and of course there is normally a guy in leather, lots of teen angst, and some sort of fight (be it sword or with fist). I am on social media under @kara_lynn_author or @karalynnauthor, and you can find all the book and editing info at my website www.thebeautifullybrokenblog.com.
Books that show beauty in the broken world or light in the darkness are some of my favorite to read! And, readers, make sure to check out her books because they are really amazing reads!!!
#2. What first began your love for writing?
Characters and ideas have lived in my head for as long as I can remember, and I love bringing them to life, to answer questions that I have about this world, and try to bring a little light.
#3. Who or what would you say has helped grow your writing most?
Going to college for editing and publishing has been a HUGE push in my career as an author, because it showed me where I was failing and how I could do better. I knew before when plots were off or wording odd, but I didn’t know how to fix it. On top of that, my courses required that I intern with a publisher, which pushed me even further in my craft. I quickly realized it wasn’t just about writing a book, but learning all about my craft and perfecting it.
#4. Can you describe a typical writing session for you? Are there things you do that help you write faster or better (i.e. listening to instrumental music, writing at night/in the mornings, etc.)?
A good, solid writing session for me begins early in the morning with music that goes with my genre. For “The Broken Prince” I spent a lot of time listening to fantasy soundtracks (LOTR, Harry Potter, etc). But then for “A Study In Terminal,” it took a different spin because it is a contemporary about a guy in a gang with a 90s vibe, so I hit up a lot of 90s rock to get me in the mood. I also like to write for an hour straight with no breaks, which I know isn’t for everyone, but otherwise I get distracted and it throws me out of the moment. So normally I am pounding at the keys hardcore for forty or so minutes, just getting the words out and not trying to go back and edit anything.
Ooo I like that idea of listening to music that fits the book. Definitely something I want to try! I have a hard time taking breaks when I’m writing as well. I have gone up to two hours without stopping. XD Usually, I’m just right in the zone and if someone interrupts me or I take a break, it completely throws me off.
#5. The Broken Prince is one of my favorite stories you’ve published. One of the things about this book that stood out to me most were your characters. They are so vivid, authentic, and larger-than-life. What is one of the first things you do when developing your main character(s)?
Aw thank you, I so appreciate it. I attempt to take bits of pieces of real people and experiences that I know and pour them into my characters to make them as authentic as possible, like how Hunter and Serena’s closeness resembles the relationship between me and my siblings. I also attempt to add unique touches to broaden who they are. Random facts, like Milosh in “The Broken Prince” hating the taste of smoking his pipe but smoking it anyway, or bad boy Sean in “A Study In Terminal” eating Lucky Charms on a daily basis. Random facts that make them feel like actual people.
This is fantastic advice! Any of the TWN readers who’ve been around for a while thinking back to a certain post I did in 2020??? If it wasn’t so cringey, I’d link back to it. But like Kara said, that little extra touch for your characters can go a long way. People are so unique with many different quirks or habits, and our characters shouldn’t be any different. Whether it’s Milosh hating the taste of his smoking pipe or Sage’s (The False Prince) neat trick of rolling a coin over his knuckles, it’s the little details that help build your character into something that feels real!
#6. Milosh is probably my favorite character from The Broken Prince. Not only was he well-developed, but I loved how realistically flawed he was. Have you faced any challenges in writing realistically flawed characters and if so, how did you overcome them?
First off, I love that you love Milosh. He is my fave of every character I think I have created yet! Okay, back to the question…
I have to remember on any character (since they are all flawed), that they have good and evil fighting inside them. They love as well as hate, have sorrow as well as pain. When I write with that in mind, it allows me to create a well-rounded person in need of a second chance, not just an evil prince who wants the throne at any cost.
Milosh is up there in the top ten fictional guys I would date if they were real… XD
AnYwAyS. That is a really good thing to keep in mind! I know for me, and readers you might also be nodding your heads in agreement, it’s so easy to place my characters into these, for lack of a better word, “boxes.” My villain is bad. My hero is good. But heros aren’t perfect and make mistakes. Villains have stories and dreams and maybe a tiny little heart in there somewhere. XD It’s something to keep in mind.
#7. Do you have any advice for a writer struggling to give their characters flaws that are realistic and relatable?
Basically what I said above: we all have good and evil, light and darkness, battling inside – the question is, what side will we allow to take over our hearts? This means that your characters have both good and bad, a motive behind a choice, a backstory behind a decision. Flawed characters won’t just make mistakes, they will have triumphs and joys, dislikes and likes. The fun of creating flawed characters, is using them to show readers who we can become – and that can be an encouragement or a warning. Mark may be a dark knight, but maybe he has a pet raccoon he rescued from the streets and a sister he’d die for… and he loves a cuppa of tea with lots of sugar.. This gives you someone you can relate to. Alexa may have a string of lovers and leave a trail of broken hearts – and no one can sympathize with her on that – but she also loves to watch the stars and keeps the dagger close to her side that her father gave her before he died. This gives you someone you can feel for even if you don’t agree with her choices.
This answer is so perfect!! Yes, just yes! I don’t know about you, readers, but my brain is just spinning with ideas after reading this answer!
#8. Where do you draw inspiration for your characters? From real-life people? Other fictional characters? Somewhere else?
Everywhere. Haha. Just to put it into perspective, I once kept a note file on my phone of things this guy at work would say or do because it was so funny and terribly dorky, and I instantly saw him as a character in my book.
Haha I love that!
#9. Since we’re talking about characters, I must ask who are some of your favorite characters in fiction?
Oh my gosh, I adore Snape and Tonks from Harry Potter, Faramir from LOTR, Jackaby from the series by the same name, and last but not least (because I am a die hard Sherlock fan) Sherlock Holmes.
Faramir’s my boy. I really need to read Sherlock Holmes. I feel like he’s a character I’d adore.
#10. Do you have any advice, encouragement, or words of wisdom for teen writers who want to take their writing seriously?
Don’t just write — learn your craft. Read books about publishing and editing and everything in between. Make friends with authors, join a writing group, listen to podcasts, immerse yourself in everything you possibly can. Don’t overwhelm yourself, take your time as you learn. This was one thing I wish I had done as a young author – took the time to not just write. I was so set on publishing, I missed out on learning and being not just a decent author, but an author well-learned in her chosen career.
Kara is just so full of wisdom, y’all! It is so, so important to take the time to learn about your craft. I know it’s hard to hear to take your time, because we’re all so excited at the idea of publishing, we want it to happen right now. But this time of waiting before publishing is a time of learning and growing, and honestly, it’s something to enjoy. Because once you’re published, you can’t return to this moment of exploring your writing styles and genres. (Y’all, I changed my genre three times before I found what I really loved to write. It’s more than okay to try new techniques and ideas out because how can you know what you will love to write, without knowing what you will not love writing?) I have 100% been there, as a new, young author, excited about the idea of publishing and rushing ahead, but God is teaching me more and more to enjoy the ride to where I want to be. To not be so focused on my goals that I lose sight of the reason I’m chasing them: to pursue what I enjoy doing for God’s glory.
Thank you SO much, Kara, for joining me for this interview!
Alright, readers, I hoped you enjoyed hearing Kara’s wisdom as much as I did! If you did, show your gratitude to Kara Linaburg by buying a copy of one of her books or if you’ve already read them, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or recommend it to a friend! Not only is writing books hard, but trying to get your name out into a very competitive mark is just as difficult. So every bit of support means so much to these authors!
During the rally (October 24th-November 5th) Teen Writers’ Nook is running a giveaway. Three winners will be chosen and the winners will win their choice of one of the books pictured below. (Imagine anthology is also included, though not pictured.) This giveaway is open to both U.S. and international entries!
Every post you comment on during the rally earns you an extra entry into the giveaway! To enter with this post comment below and tell me: Who is your favorite fictional character EVER?
Remember to tune in tomorrow for my interview with Chawna Schroeder, YA Christian fantasy novelist of Beast and The Vault Between Spaces.
Does the MC in your book have a quirk? Do you love flawed, broken characters? Does anyone else have a list of fictional people they wish they could date? (Please tell me I’m not the only one. XD) Let’s talk all about it together in the comments below!
Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,