Into Winterland with Kristen Kooistra

The last interview of 2016 is with Kristen Kooistra, author of Heart of the Winterland, a YA fantasy novel.


JR: Welcome, Kristen. What is your goal for writing? What do you hope to accomplish through your books?

KK: Financially? I want to support my writing with my writing. I don’t want to feel like I’m taking money away from things my family needs, or things I should be spending on.

Personally. I really, really, really want to get my saga published. I know at my current rate that’s a huge goal, but that’s what I’ve always wanted.

Past that I want people to enjoy my stories. I hope someone out there gets whisked away into my world just like I’ve done with so many other authors’ stories. I want to be on the giving end of adventure dealing for once!

Along the way if someone happens to be truly and deeply impacted by something I wrote, or maybe it resonates with them and changes their life, um yeah that’d be awesome. I can’t say that’s really a goal though as I can’t imagine ever having one of my books make that big of a mark on anyone. It’d be like me shooting for a movie deal.

JR: In your book, we meet many characters, some of whom could have further stories to be told. Do you plan to write additional books set in the same world?

KK: There are so many characters in Winterland, and most of them with just enough screen time to make it possible for readers to wonder about their lives past the novel. I didn’t want to wrap up all of the endings, mostly because not all endings end at the same point in real life and I wanted this to reflect that.

cy7encpusaa4b4xBut there are some characters I’d love to visit in the future. Without giving away anything, I’ll say that I’m currently a third of the way through a second book in the series which revolves around two of the Winterland characters(seen in the last scene of the book) and a whole new cast. New races, new magic, new land, and a whole new story.

At some point, I’d possibly like to write a third novel in the series. Loosely titled Heart of the Warrior. And I don’t know if there’ll be any familiar faces in that one or not. I do have a country to set it in and a musical magic that I want to include. I may end up calling it the Heart of the Bard at that rate!

JR: What made you choose a sentient orb to be Cali’s guardian? What was the inspiration for Voice?

Interestingly enough, there originally wasn’t a sentient orb. Going to the inspiration for the character, Voice and Cali, like many of the Winterland characters had real life people I drew some of their traits from. We’ll call their doppelgangers V. and C. V. and C. were very good friends that I knew. C. was the outgoing, bubbly, talkative one. She charged around and dragged V. everywhere with her. C. was the person you noticed first, because she was out there BAM. But the more you spent time around the pair, the more you noticed V.was the person in the background who supported her friend, encouraged her, knew when she was struggling or insecure. She was the voice of reason, or as I started thinking when I started Winterland, she was the voice of love.

apples_stand_out_517283So when I made Cali, I wanted her to stand out, be the one everyone noticed right away, the one leading the charge. But behind her would be Voice and I wanted to focus on what made Voice special, which was just that, her voice. And I created a character who had no body, was invisible, and was just this voice that followed Cali around and provided that verbal love and advice aspect.

Around chapter 3, I started running into issues (at least I think it was chapter 3). It was really hard to work around a character that had no visible or physical form in anyway. The more people I added to the story, the worse it got with trying to place Voice and have the characters talk to someone they didn’t know where that character was until she spoke.

I still wanted to hold to my idea of Voice’s words being what was the important thing about her, but clearly what I had wasn’t working. And that’s when Voice as we know her was born. Something that Cali and the rest of the cast could see, that I could add physical movements for, and that in the end I think helped make her more personable.


JR: Do you slip in little details of yourself or other people you know in your books/characters at all?

KK: All the time. I listen to other writers talking about how we should diversify when it comes to characters and how to do that. And one of my favorite responses to that is, “Just write people.” Because people are unique. We are diverse. We don’t need to go out of our way to write them. No one wants to read a story where every character is the same.

So that’s what I do. I write people and what better place to take inspiration from than real people.


Tucked into a quiet countryside, Kristen spends most of her time being Mommy. She loves spending time with her family and hopes that her writing will entertain and inspire them as well.

Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading (of course!), chatting with her writer’s group, sewing, swimming, gardening, and cooking (please no baking!). She’s also developed a fondness for water gun fights with her three year old. Actually, she’s found that most everything become a lot more fun with little kids.

Find out more about Kristen and her writing on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Amazon.

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