Now that I’ve taken three crazy adventures with the Irregulars, my band of unruly girl geniuses, they all feel like old friends to me. I know their quirks, their pet-peeves—even their shampoo preferences. Starting a new Kiki Strike book is like going on a road trip with a bunch of people I’ve known since childhood. The Darkness Dwellers scenes set in Paris were probably the most challenging, since I had to rely on my memory (and Google maps) to describe the city and the catacombs beneath it.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
Coming up with the title for book #1 (Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City) was a bit of a challenge. My editor and I spent a few weeks trying to figure out what it should be. But choosing titles for book #2 (The Empress’s Tomb) and book #3 (The Darkness Dwellers) was a piece of cake.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
It’s hard to say. I’ve been influenced by countless books and writers. But where the Kiki books are concerned, I’d have to say that one of my biggest influences was a picture book I read when I was small—Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp by Mercer Mayer. It’s about a little bayou girl who singlehandedly rids the Yeller Belly Swamp of haunts, ghosts and witches. I guess you could say that Liza Lou is Louisiana’s version of Kiki Strike.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
I have always had a job of some sort. As a kid, I had to work for my parents. (They renovated old houses—that’s how I learned how to fix things.) As a teenager I held a few different jobs—waitress, cleaning lady, etc. Since then, I’ve worked as a dental assistant (awesome job), a publishing copywriter and an advertising strategist. The point is, I’ve been working my butt off since I was in grade school—and that experience has made all the difference. Because of all the jobs I’ve ever held, writing is by far the hardest.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
It would probably be something you wouldn’t want to print. If you saw a picture of me, you might understand. I am blond and rather sweet looking. I’m also from the South, and when I speak you can still hear traces of an accent. These three things have led many people in New York (my hometown of 20+ years) to believe that I am dimwitted or naïve. A well-chosen four letter word can quickly set them straight. (In fact, this strategy worked wonders the other day when a woman was trying to pick my pocket in the Container Store.)
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
My hiding spot used to be books as well. That’s one of the things that has changed since I started writing. These days, I have two hiding spots. #1 is the gym. I jump on a machine, put This American Life on my iPhone and totally zone out. #2 is the outdoor café at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Surrounded by greenhouse domes, it’s weirdly magical—and almost never full. There’s nothing I love more than having lunch there on a spring/summer/autumn afternoon.
Find out more about Kirsten and her books here!