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Q & A with K.A. Stewart

July 11, 2011 - Amy Phelps
Today I'd like to welcome K.A. Stewart, the author of the Jesse James Dawson series!

1. It's unusual to see a happily married man with a family as the hero in any genre, but also in the paranormal genre that seems full of "kick butt" heroines fighting the forces of evil and looking for a hot guy. What made you decide to write Jesse as a young married father?

STEWART: A lot of who and what Jesse is was inspired by my husband, who had often lamented that there was no one like him in the genre. Just an average Joe with a mortgage and a family. And it got me to thinking, how would those motivations shape someone who also felt compelled to fight the forces of darkness? What does a man do when he has everything to lose? It created an entirely new realm of character motivations and complications that I've had a really great time playing with.

2. Your series is full of samurai lore. What drew you to the way of the samurai for your hero?

STEWART: I've always found the samurai fascinating. Not only were they a rich and complicated culture, but they did us the very great favor of writing it all down so we could learn about it later. They were not just warriors, they were businessmen and fathers and a myriad of other roles. In the writings on bushido, they address everything from rearing children, to how to behave in social settings, to the appropriate care of weaponry and armor. It was their outlook on honor that really made me want to apply it to Jesse's life, though. They have very definite rules laid out, but they also knew that not every situation was black and white and that sometimes what is honorable wasn't always right. Their society wasn't terribly unlike our modern one, and I find it so interesting to apply their ancient teachings to modern-day situations.

3. Time for a silly question. Jesse and his friends are champions and fight with the forces of darkness over people's souls that have been sold for something. Even if you would never do it, what do you think Axel and his friends would tempt you with?

STEWART: I think about this question a lot, 'cause it helps me to imagine what people would find worth losing a soul over. And I think the only thing that would seriously tempt me would be my daughter. That's a mother thing. Everything else is just stuff. While I wouldn't mind having a zillion dollars or being on the NYT bestseller list, in the end it's all just gravy.

4. What advice would you give aspiring young writers?

STEWART: There's a lot I would love to tell young writers, mostly because it's so exciting to me to find a kid who loves to read and write. I was that kid (longer ago than I like to admit) and I remember scribbling things down in every spare moment, not caring when or if anyone would ever actually read it. I guess the most important thing I would say is "Don't stop." Every word you put on paper is a learning experience. Every sentence you get down will make the one after it better. It doesn't matter if you think you're not very good, because in working at it, you are always getting better. Find people who can give you constructive feedback. Teachers, other writers, people who read, wherever you can. Listen to what they have to say. Keep learning, keep reading, keep writing.

5. Who or what inspires you when you get a case of writer's block?

STEWART: I have two types of writer's block. There's the type where, subconsciously, I know my story is going in the wrong direction and I just can't write any more until I figure it out and fix it. In that case, taking a nap is usually my best bet. Something about relaxing my mind that much allows me to work things out easier. The other type of block usually stems from being burned out. I've been writing for weeks straight or something, and it's just all drained out of me. In that case, fixing it can be something as simple as changing the music I'm listening to. I find music hugely inspiring when I write, helping me evoke the proper mood for a scene. Occasionally, I'll develop full soundtracks for books I'm writing, but I've never managed to pin Jesse down to just one playlist. And if that doesn't work, I'll stop entirely and read someone else's book for a while. Reading other writer's work usually recharges my own creative juices. I'm a huge fantasy and urban fantasy fanatic, but as I've made more author friends in the writing industry, I've started expanding my reading to include many other genres. At this rate, I'll never have writer's block again!


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