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Hello, and welcome back to my Author Spotlight series where I interview authors about the publishing and writing process and their favorite places to write. When I first began this series, I reached out to many authors and was very fortunate to get responses back. One of those first authors was Kalyn Josephson, author of “The Storm Crow” (TSC) and “The Crow Rider” (TCR). Josephson also has a new duology called “This Dark Descent,” planned for Winter 2023 and 2024, which is a multi-POV story inspired by Jewish folklore. “This Dark Descent” tells the story of forbidden magic and is described as “The Scorpio Races” meets “Peaky Blinders.” Without further ado, here is my interview with the fabulous Kalyn Josephson.

 

What was the inspiration behind your debut book, “The Storm Crow”? 

TSC was inspired by a story I read about a little girl who fed her neighborhood crows. In return, they brought her gifts, and I had the idea for a world with a magic system based on crows. I also think they’re adorable. 

If there was a specific type of scene that you could write forever, what would it be?  

Banter! I love writing witty characters going back and forth. 

When writing, do you start with a character and then go from there, or do you start with a plot? 

So far, my books have definitely started with either plot or magic. In the case of TSC, it started with the magic. Then came the plot question: what happens if the magic is taken away? And lastly, the development of the character: what would that do to someone who’s whole life centered around it? 

 

What did you know about the world and characters before you started? 

I do a lot of planning before I start a book, so I had most of the main characters, the magic system, the worldbuilding basics, and most of the main plot mapped out before I started writing. 

What is your favorite genre to read? 

Most definitely fantasy. I love big, fantastical worlds and complex magic! 

What is your writing process? Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser?” How has it changed from writing your first book to its sequel? 

I used to say I was somewhere in between. I’d plot a bit, then write a while, then plot a bit, and so on. But since finishing the TSC duology, I’ve started spending a lot more time plotting, and I’m really enjoying it. 

 

Where is your favorite place to write? 

I can pretty much only write at my desk. I get distracted easily! Whenever I move, I always put my desk by a window. 

Do you find yourself focusing on one project or multiple writing projects at once? If one project, how do you stay focused and motivated? If multiple, how do you divvy up your time for each project? 

Definitely one! I can’t jump between worlds. I have a terrible memory and wouldn’t be able to keep them straight. In terms of focus and motivation, I’m careful to balance my writing time with things that “refill the well” so to say, like reading and exercising. 

How has the pandemic affected your sequel’s publication date, if it did?

It didn’t. TCR released on 7.7.20, and the paperback (PB) will be out 6.1.21. Excited to say the PB will include the pre-order bonus short stories, one from Ericen’s point of view and one from Kiva’s.

 

What is an opinion/world view/preference that you have taken on in your life because of a book you read? 

I love this question. This isn’t quite an opinion type thing, but what comes to mind is “Tarnished Are The Stars” by Rosiee Thor, which gave me a name for something I didn’t know had one: aromantic, which is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction, which I identify with. 

What was querying like? Did everything seem to move quickly, or did the process from query to physical book take longer than you expected? How did you know that you found the perfect agent for your book? 

Querying was terrifying. I had no idea what I was doing and it showed. TSC was the fourth book I queried, and I made every mistake imaginable with the first three, including querying one book before it had been revised. I knew my agent was the right one because I did what’s called an R&R with her, or a Revise and Resubmit. Meaning she gave me feedback on TSC, I incorporated it, then sent it back to her, and she offered rep. So I knew already that she had a great editorial vision for the book and understood what I was trying to accomplish with it. 

The process from query to physical book took a while! I did several rounds of revision with my agent, and then after the book sold, several rounds with my editor. Then, once it was all ready to go, I still had over a year to wait.  

How long did you spend working on and editing “The Storm Crow” before querying? When did you know it was time to submit your book to an agent? 

It took me about 3 months to write TSC, which was fast for me. I spent around 6 months editing it with the help of critique partners. It’s hard to tell when a book is query ready, but one factor is feedback from your CPs. It’s easier for other people to spot inconsistencies and issues with your manuscript, so when you get feedback that they loved it and it looks ready to go to them, it’s a good sign! 

 

What are your most recent reads/books that you’re looking forward to the the release of?

I’m reading “Amari and the Night Brothers” right now and I adore it. Just finished “Where Dreams Descend” which was incredible, and really looking forward to “These Feathered Flames”!

What books have changed the way you write and why? 

All of them. I know that’s broad, but I learn something from every book I read. “The Gilded Wolves” taught me how to handle multiple point of view stories. “Daughter of Smoke & Bone” taught me to center characters in big, fantastical worlds. “Tess of the Road” taught me to write a character-focused story and highlight the small moments, and so on. I read both for study as much as enjoyment nowadays. 

Are you hoping to continue “The Storm Crow” series after the sequel or do you have a new book in mind?

I have a new series coming out in 2023 called “This Dark Descent,” which is about a dangerous magical horse race a la “The Scorpio Races,” and pulls from Jewish mythology.

Where do you most commonly draw inspiration from when writing? 

Movies are a big one. I love movies and TV shows, and often times when I’m feeling uninspired, they’re the thing that’ll get me back in the creative mindset. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Find critique partners. Not just to help you improve your writing, but to talk to about publishing and writing-related things. Having people who understand makes a huge difference. 

What does having your books published and being an author mean to you?  

Everything! It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid, and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity. 

You can follow Kalyn on her Twitter and Instagram, as well as keep up with her on her website. You can buy “The Storm Crow” and “The Crow Rider” from your local independent bookstore or use Indiebound to find the closest indie bookstore near you. You can also order her books from Bookshop.org, which raises money for local bookstores that have been struggling more throughout the pandemic. Make sure to keep an eye out for her new duology in 2023 and the paperback version of “The Crow Rider” this June!

All my thanks to Kalyn for answering my questions so early on in the creation of this series, and for updating some of her answers for its publication. This interview wouldn’t exist without her (obviously), and I’m so grateful for her taking the time to answer all of my questions.

Sabrina is a senior English-Publishing major at Hofstra University. Straight from Los Angeles, California, her favorite things to do are reading YA novels, listening to Broadway soundtracks, 5SOS, or throwing it back to all of her childhood favorites. She's got her best of both worlds in a nicely curated playlist. Follow her on Instagram @josephsonsabrina
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