It’s a Friday blog. That means another interview. Today I invite author June Kramin to the hot seat.
June, thank you for your time, why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself and your writing.
Thanks for having me! Ann T Bugg is a pen name I’ve created from a nickname. With the name June, it went straight to June-Bug at a young age. As my friends had kids, I became Auntie Bug. It just seemed fitting to use a variation of that. I write women’s fiction under my real name and I didn’t want any confusion between the genres.
My series is a middle grade (ages 8-12) fantasy titled Before Happily Ever After. Currently there are 8 books. They are familiar fairy tales & folklore retold with twists from my two main characters, Valerie and Samantha. Here’s the blurb for Book #1: Through the Mirror and Into Snow:
When best friends Valerie and Samantha discover a magic mirror in Val’s 100-year-old barn in southern Minnesota, they eagerly go through it. Immediately they run into the young Snow White, who has just escaped the huntsman. The girls vow to help her find her father, knowing the dangers that await. On their journey, the fun-loving double-trouble duo quickly discovers they are caught up in the middle of their favorite fairy tales.
Having the knowledge of the stories as their only weapon, Val and Sam help two other princesses, make a surprising friend and discover they have a fairy godmother of their very own.
Well, what is your favourite thing about this novel?
June: Most definitely my two main characters. Valerie and Samantha are very close to the real girls – my daughter and her best friend. (I didn’t even change names to protect the guilty 😉 ) It wasn’t much of a stretch to come up with their antics. The girls are as opposite as they come – they were a great inspiration. I was grateful to have written these stories and have the memories they trigger as I re-read and edit them. My daughter is also my cover artist. That made these even more special to me. She did book #1 when she was just 14. No one believed someone that age created that cover. Things got even better from there.
Michael: That’s pretty inspirational. And great job by your daughter. Something that special is very unique.
What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre when there are so many others to choose from?
June: My daughter and I are very big into everything fairy tale and fairy tales re-told. I still surround myself with princess things. (My watch, keychains, blanket…and I pretty much decorate with toys) Book #1 took shape because of us actually finding a mirror in our old barn. The story that unfolded when I sat down just happened without me plotting it out. It’s a sweet start to their tales and a lot of fans favorite. Personally I love #2 & on when they really start digging in and have to solve riddles and such to complete an appointed task. It is how I see these girls. Valerie would be all too eager to hop on the back of a Griffon, and I’d put money on Samantha taking on a troll if one ever crossed her path. LOL
Michael: I don’t know Samantha, but I am now imaging this girl standing toe to toe with a troll. Thank you.
June, on a slightly different note, what’s one thing about writing that you’ve learned about by writing these novels?
June: It’s really hard to say any “one” thing. It seems like it is a never-ending learning process. I’ve dealt with three different publishers and have picked up many tips and rules along the way. For this series, I love the fantasy aspect. You can take your ideas and pretty much make your world anyway you want it. You want your gryphon to talk, go ahead. You want to meet George Washington and have an Egyptian mummy come to life in the same day? Bam! I’ve always said I use the “pantsing” method of writing (which is essentially no method at all. LOL) I don’t outline, I just let the characters bully me. It’s a whole new ballgame with the fantasy genre.
Michael: I have a friend of mine who does the same. I tend to start that way but quickly begin plotting out details after the first few chapters. I have nothing but respect for those of you who like to do it so raw.
Have you discovered anything about yourself by writing?
The best thing for me was discovering that I was finally the writer my teachers all through school told me that I would become. I always felt that I danced to the beat of my own drum. When I met other writers, it was like a lightbulb went off. “Oh! It’s a writer thing! We’re weird!”
Michael: Great stuff! I love true stories like that.
As you look at other novels and authors out there, which would you say most closely resemble yours?
June: I honestly haven’t read any books that are like my series. Other than three NYT authors, all I read are my friends’ books. The few fellow MG books I’ve read don’t tap into the Grimm/Disney stories. If you are a fan of Once Upon a Time or have seen the old Tenth Kingdom mini-series, they are like that. Fairy tales & folklore re-told with their own twists. The friendship that Valerie & Samantha and their fun attitudes that they bring to the stories keep these pretty unique in that aspect. I always tease friends when I spend time with their kids. “Two weeks at summer camp or an hour with Auntie Bug, same thing.” If I have something new and irritating to share, they’ll learn it. 😉 I’m sure there are parents out there that want to smack me for their kids walking around quoting Val & Sam: “Loser, loser, double loser….”and other things like that in the books. LOL
Michael: Honestly, that sounds hilarious and irritating at the same time. I think you’re right though, most fantasy these days do not touch traditional fairy tale unless it’s the movies and television.
I have one last question for you. I always ask for a writing tip from the authors I interview. What one tip about writing or publishing can you provide my readers?
June: I always tease with “Don’t do it!” 😉 Writing is the fun part – everything that comes after “The End” is the tough part. Getting published was the toughest thing I’ve ever done (and I had a baby in a car in a snowstorm if you want a comparison) You really need to do your homework in finding the best home for your work. Don’t give in too easily or “settle”. You put your heart & soul into it for maybe years – don’t be in a hurry to release it into the world. Be stubborn – don’t give up. If it’s your dream, go for it. But you need to do it with thick skin. Not everyone will like your work & you need to know this from the beginning. Do it because you love it – that has to be enough. I know that’s more than one but even more importantly, hire an editor and have a lot of sets of eyeballs on it. You will not see it all – I don’t care how many As you got in school. I’ve been asked the same questions many times. I’ve created a “tips” page on my women’s fiction website so I could refer them there first. I’m always happy to share anything I’ve learned along the way. I love fan e-mail.
Michael: Tougher than giving birth in a car in a snowstorm. That’s quite a statement June. I love it! I’m providing several links for those who want to contact June or learn from her own writing. Please do check out her tips page. This interview focussed on fantasy because that’s what I write and that’s what this blog is about, but for those interested in women’s fiction I’ve also provided a link to June’s work.
Now June, thank you very much for your time and maybe we can have you back again in the future.
June’s link: http://www.junekramin.com/tips
Before Happily Ever After website: http://www.beforehappilyeverafter.com/
Women’s Fiction website:http://www.junekramin
Facebook fan page for MG: https://www.facebook.com/AnnTBugg
Facebook fan page for women’s fiction: https://www.facebook.com/JuneKramin