Monday, December 23, 2013

Kristina Circelli Author Interview

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! In keeping with my Monday theme, I welcome you to another UtopYA Con 2014 unofficial author interview. If you haven’t picked up your tickets for the event yet, click the name to grab yours today. In addition to getting to meet some wonderful YA and NA authors, you’ll get to be surrounded by books for three days. How awesome is that? So get your tickets and come meet us!

Let’s get to the good stuff. Grab your steamy mug filled with your beverage of choice, your posh armchair, and meet Ms. Kristina Circelli.

Jo: Welcome to the blog, Kristina! Good to have you here. I hope you’re looking forward to this as much as I am. Through my digging around, I found some rather interesting tidbits about you I can’t wait to share with my readers. Ready?

Kristina: Sure am! Who knows what you dug up about me. The Internet’s a scary place …

Jo: Yes it is! You’d be amazed at what I find about my authors! I perused your blog and found you only post on a now and again type basis. Is there a big reason you don’t write there more often?

Kristina: The biggest reason is time. I have a day job in addition to my books and editing business, so most of the time whenever I do something (event, book release, cover reveal, etc), I limit it to quick Facebook and Twitter posts because that’s all I have time for. I was doing really well with the blog when I first started it, then slowly lost momentum. Hopefully I can get back into it, since I really did enjoy writing blog posts. But, to be honest, for a while there I was only posting about movies and random stuff that had nothing to do with my books. When I had to actually post about work stuff, I got bored.

Jo: Blogging is time consuming! I don’t know how you ladies with full time jobs do it. Your Helping Hands series has an interesting premise. Where did the inspiration for that come from? Have you ever been involved in a child abuse case in any way?

Kristina: The inspiration came from several different sources, one of them being the book Ursula Sunshine, about a little girl who was abused and eventually killed by her stepfather, while her mother sat back and let it happen. I was really angry after reading the book and wondered why no one was willing to lend a helping hand (hence the title). I shadowed caseworkers for research as well, among other experiences. The individual stories are a culmination of things that built on one another for years until I was able to put them all together. The series started as just The Helping Hands, but I fell in love with the characters, especially bad-asses Melanie O’Conner and Tyler Mason, and had to keep telling their stories. Now, seven books are planned for the series (four are out, and I’ll be starting the fifth one in 2014).

Jo: I love that you’re doing something with your writing to open peoples’ eyes to some of the horrors out there no one’s paying attention to. *high five* Talk to me about being a creative writing professor at the University of North Florida. Was that the job you set out to do from the beginning or did it just happen? What kind of assignments are your favorites to hand out?

Kristina: No, it actually kind of fell on my lap and was too good an offer to pass up. I had gone to UNF to speak with an old professor about going for my PhD (which I haven’t done yet, but it is a goal of mine). During the course of the conversation, he broached the topic of teaching and basically offered an adjunct position for the next semester on the spot. Who could say no to that!

I’d never taught before, so I shadowed a few classes and ran my lesson plans by other professors. I was totally in over my head, but that’s kind of how I do things. Just jump in and wing it, and hope it all works out for the best. I’ve done both online and in-class teaching, and in class was great because it forced me out of my comfort zone and made me take on an authoritative stance, which has helped me in so many other areas of my life now.

I think my favorite assignments are our discussions on writing. I teach intro classes, so there are a lot of debates on what writing is, what makes a good story, so-called “rules” of writing, and so on. It’s great hearing the students’ opinions and having lively discussions on what it means to write, and challenging them to improve their craft.

I will say though that I took this semester off to build my editing business and I’m not sure if I’ll return in the spring. Teaching was never my ultimate goal and I am using the experience to improve my craft as much as I encourage my students to do. If I do sign up for the spring, it will likely be online this time around.
Also, side note because I love talking about it. When I eventually go for my PhD, I plan to continue my master’s thesis - which was titled, ‘Landscape of Mirage: An Examination of the Loss of Native American Culture in Correlation to the Destruction of Nature.’ It compares the ties between culture and nature, particularly in literature. The topic fascinates me.

Jo: Wow. PhD. I may pass out! You go, girl! Why did you start Red Road Editing and where do you see it five years from now? Edited for anyone we may know?

Kristina: Oh, I believe I have a few you may know :). Sarah Ross was my very first client. I also edit for M. R. Polish, Heather Hildenbrand, Dawn Pendleton, Magan Vernon, and most recently Adam Kunz ... to name a few.

As a kid, I always wanted to be a writer and editor. Instead of playing house or doctor or cops and robbers, I was playing Literary Agent. Because I was a nerd (OK, and still am). I dreamed of working for a publishing house and reading/editing manuscripts all day long. The older I got, the more I realized I could do it on my own, not even have to leave the great state of Florida to work for one of the Big Six.

So, I founded Red Road Editing. Red Road is a tribute to one of my novels (Walk the Red Road, Book 2 in The Whisper Legacy), and also my Native American heritage. To walk the Red Road means to follow the path of your ancestors, staying true to your culture and who you are. For me, it’s about embracing my heritage and celebrating our history of storytelling, and staying true to that tradition.

Five years from now, who knows! I’d love for the company to grow, maybe one day take on additional editors all under one roof. I’d also love to hold classes or panels kind of like I did at UNF where we have debates on different aspects of writing. I think that would be a lot of fun. The business has grown leaps and bounds this year alone (I started January 1, 2013) so I see great things happening next year.

Jo: I’m learning cool stuff from this interview. I had no idea what walking the red road meant! Interesting! How long have you been visiting Silver Sands Middle School? What started it and what’s your favorite part about it?

Kristina: Well, technically I’ve been visiting since I was about 12, since I went to school there for three years. Now, I’ve gone back the past two years for official author talks with a panel, along with a few solo chats with individual classes that were reading Beyond the Western Sun.

Jo: That’s an amazing thing you're doing. How awesome of you to visit with kids! You know one of the authors I’ll be doing an interview with later on (Carol Kunz). Can you give me an awesome, insider question I should ask her?

Kristina: Ask her what she did with her very first paperpack proof (for The Childe) :)

Jo: I’ll do that. Thanks for the tip! *winks* We all know you love Doritos. What flavor is your favorite?

Kristina: Blue Ranch Doritos all the way! Actually, my absolute favorite is Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch, but some wiener at the Doritos company made the decision to discontinue them. I boycotted for about 24 whole hours.

Jo: LOL! I like ranch, too. Yummm! What do you think about the Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell?

Kristina: I’ve … never been to Taco Bell. Yup, ya heard me. Not even once. (Okay, I suppose there is a chance I went when I was little, but I don’t remember it, so it doesn’t count.)

Jo: Oh my… You simply must try one. Just once in your life. Why did you choose to create a series based on Native Americans (The Whisper Legacy series) and their beliefs (besides being Cherokee), and what have you learned from your family that you may have worked into the books?

Kristina: Well, being part Charokee is why I wanted to. My great uncle is an Elder, so I grew up with him teaching me the stories and legends and language. Whisper, the main character, has been in my head for years and years until I finally built the story around her. The first book, Beyond the Western Sun, is a culmination of everything he taught me, and the other two books are based on my own research throughout the years.

The biggest reason for the series though is that I wanted to share my culture, something that means so much to me. My heritage is one of the most important things in the world to me, and not a lot of people really “get” what it means to be Native American. With The Whisper Legacy, I hope to bring to light a lot of the cultures and legends that people don’t know about. I want to tell stories, as my ancestors once did.

Jo: Storytelling does have strong roots in Native American history. That’s awesome. I asked N.L. Greene this question as well but I love getting a multitude of opinions. I see you live in Jacksonville, Florida. Did you grow up there? Have you had any run-ins with paranormal activity related to the Bermuda Triangle? Are you a believer that something is out there we don’t/can’t understand?

Kristina: I’m a huge believer. And huge paranoid freak that a ghost or alien or demon is going to possess me one day. I actually forced my husband to get us an alarm system after I saw a ghost in our garden … because that will TOTALLY protect us from a ghost.

I’ve had all sorts of weird things happen. Growing up, I’d sometimes come home from school to find everything on the top of my bookshelf on the floor, laid out in perfect order. My family swears up and down it wasn’t them (and they think I’m making it up), so I have no idea what was going on there. I think my childhood ghost followed me to Jacksonville (I grew up in the Daytona Beach area). My late cat, Sir Whisky Sour, used to stare into the foyer and just howl, staring at the air. Creeped me out. Just recently, the kittens started to do the same thing and all I can think is NOOOOOOO.

And why? Because the ghost likes the foyer. One year around Christmas, middle of the night, I wake up to the sound of a Frosty the Snowman ornament/table decoration singing and dancing and lighting up. I go out there and shut it off and am scared out of my mind, because this particular ornament hasn’t worked in about three years … (I think this story is on my blog somewhere, with a picture of demonic Frosty, haha).

The garden ghost may have been an alien. I’m not entirely sure. It was dark and I was leaving for work. The headlights passed over the garden and the shadow crossed the headlights and disappeared into the woods. The husband and neighbors think it was a homeless guy chowing down on our veggies, but how many homeless dudes do you know who have super tapered waists and pencil-thin shadowy legs and oval-shaped heads?

Sometimes when I’m trying to sleep I hear voices, like on a radio. When I lift my head and look around, they disappear. This could just be because I’m kinda delusional, though.

Jo: Who knows, an alarm system may pick up a ghostly apparition! Okay, that’s more than a little creepy! *shivers* I don’t think you’re delusional. For the record, I think believing we're the only things out there is a little haughty of us. Tell us why you chose to write your featured book of the week.

Kristina: They say that, in time, we all must grow up.

Keep your feet on the ground. Get your head out of the clouds. You dream too big. Such words force us out of childhood, out of our dreams, and into reality - if we let them. While our bodies may grow up and our minds may mature, our imaginations transcend the meaning of time.

To say that I grew up would be the truth. To say that I stopped dreaming would be a lie. My love for writing was born out of dreams, both waking and sleeping, that took me to worlds everyone else said could never exist. Perhaps this life is too limited in its possibilities, or maybe it is our lack of sight that keeps us from truly seeing.

You might even say that writing was, for me, an act of rebellion. Mermaids aren’t real? People can’t fly? Luck dragons are made-up creatures? Well, let me prove the many ways in which you are wrong. In books, there is no such thing as “impossible” - and that is what I love most.

The Never took hold in my mind many years ago, a story of what happens after we grow up, but cannot forget our dreams. Some of you may recognize its origin, the long-ago told tale of magic, or you may have heard my endless chatter about the boy who never says good-bye. The Never is not a story of what happens next, but rather, what happens when one woman decides to stop believing in the limitations around her and instead believes in herself - what she can do, what she can see, and what she can dream.

It is an unfortunate reality that we all must grow up. But, The Never has allowed me the rare opportunity to step back into a childhood that was all too short and be among the stories that keep my dreams alive, even during those pestering waking hours.

Even now, I am the one who stays on shore for fear of sea monsters. I am the one who looks for faeries in the flowers. I am the one who is terrified by the thought of being possessed, yet still hopes to meet a ghost or alien. I am the one who lives in The Never, if only in my dreams.

I hope you too enjoy the trip into the impossibly possible, and in the end, let your dreams take flight.

Jo: LUCK DRAGONS! *huge grin* Wow. The Never sounds awesome! I’m gonna have to check it out! Thanks so much for sharing. That’s all the time we have for today. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Kristina: Thanks for having me! I loved the questions, so much fun to answer.

Since we’ve talked about the Whisper books, check out Beyond the Western Sun! It is free across the board for ereaders. Check it out on the Kindle!

Jo: I’ll have to check that one out, too! Oh man, so much great stuff from you to read. Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me dig through your personal life today, Kristina! I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA in June.

Now, a little about Kristina’s featured book of the week.

Title: The Never
Author: Kristina Circelli
Genre: Fantasy
Length (print): 276 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle  B&N   $2.99

*Due to mature content, The Never is recommended for readers ages 18+*

“Out of nothing, we create something.”

Arianna has spent her entire life being called a dreamer, an artist who created a world no one else can see. And for her entire life, she has taken the medication that keeps that world – and the one who brought her there – at bay.

Now an adult, Arianna reawakens that part of herself kept locked away in the darkest corners of her mind. When she hides her medicine from her fiancĂ©’s ever-watchful eye, he returns – the shadow in the night who collects her for an adventure known only in her fantasies.

But something is different about this world called The Never. It is no longer the cheerful place filled with light and laughter that she knew as a child. Now, the sea creatures drag their visitors into the depths of murky waters. The natives battle to the death against the tribe of children. And the pirates, led by the feared captain called The Hunter, seek out Arianna for their own sinister plans.

As Arianna goes deeper into The Never, she discovers just what her connection to the land means – and must choose between her life rooted in reality, and the world where anything is possible.

Scratch your itchy mouse finger and give Ms. Circelli a follow on social media!

Twitter: @KCircelli
Facebook: Circelli Books Novels by Kristina Circelli
Red Road Editing

Pinterest: KCircelli
I haven’t been on Pintrest in forever. Fair warning, I pin a lot of pics of Tom Hardy.

Thanks for giving Kristina and me your ear for a little while! She’ll be on the sidebar of the blog with her featured book for the next two weeks. Be sure to come back next Monday for a guest post by this awesome author.

Do you have questions for Kristina? Ask them in the comments!

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Great interview! The Never sounds like a great read, especially since I'm a sucker for Peter Pan retellings =)

    1. Thanks, Heather! :) I'm soooo interested in this book! I may have to slide it into my review list for the year :) Thanks for the blog love!

    2. I picked up a copy when it was free for a BookBub ad and LOVED it! If you're at all into Peter Pan, check this out! (Of course, nothing can compare to Robbie Kay on Once Upon a Time... hehe)

  2. Thanks for having me, Jo! I really enjoyed your questions :).

    And I hope you enjoy The Never if you get a chance to check it out! For as dark as it is, that book was probably the most fun I've had when writing a novel - sneaking in all the Pan references while imagining myself as part of the land.

    1. You're welcome, Kristina! I had a blast doing the research :) I'll be checking out your books in the very near future :) Thanks for the comment.


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