Author Interview - Erica J. Kingdom
Always having a book to hand, Erica J. Kingdom (they/them) is convinced that they are from a fantasy realm. They started writing when studying for their GCSEs, in addition to being an English teacher in training. Their works can be found in journals such as The Paper Crane and Honeyfire Lit. When they embark on a larger project, they love writing about challenging topics such as revenge and the importance of responsibility within society. When Erica isn't writing, they love to take walks through the local forests and casually plays the piano.
Their favourite books are those that present adventure, explore the complexities of the human condition and let them delve into the millions of worlds that stories have to offer.
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Burning Throne is my latest piece of work. There wasn’t really a specific event in my life that inspired it, but mostly there was a myriad of influences - mainly from Derek Landy’s Demon Road books, which are some of my favourite. The characters within it were mostly taking elements from my own life and dramatising them.
A certain character, Nate, is somewhat loosely based on me as a teenager, having gone through many revisions to make it more dramatized. After all, I do not condone murder or killing.
Q2: What are five words that describe your writing process?
Random. Ordered. Chaotic. Silent. Aggressive typing.
This is mostly because my writing processes are very weird for my various projects. For longer works I tend to either write with music or without, smaller ones I tend not to. I do plan some of my longer projects and not my shorter ones. And the aggressive typing ends up being a feature of all my projects - as I’m told I’m an aggressive typist, whatever that means. Basically, I type really fast. That said, apparently Queer people type really fast, so I fit that stereotype.
Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
Derek Landy and V.E Schwab are my main influences as of late. Derek Landy was the first author I really got into seven years ago (god I feel old) and Schwab has been a more recent influence in terms of descriptive writing. I particularly love Schwab’s book, Our Dark Duet.
Q4: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I find that an abundance of tea works best. I also need silence if I’m writing a really long scene. If I’m bored, podcasts tend to work really well for me, honestly, so there’s that. But really, my laptop, phone or tablet and then motivation are key cornerstones of my writing space.
I find that motivation is best gotten if you make a to-do list the day before. A tip from me is to try and clear as much of your to-do list as you can. Also take self-care days, they’re super important. I know that I don’t have enough of them, which is something I’m trying to work on in the second half of the year (as I’m writing this, we’re still in 2021).
Q5. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
Writing, as this question says, is completely subjective. Honestly, for me, there is a lot of characterisation that I need. Good writing comes from a few places. Personally, the narrative voice needs to be good, otherwise I lose interest. The world needs to be well built and everything needs to be engaging.
Q6: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Derek Landy once told me that “sometimes you create the character and then the world”. It was something that I used in my university personal statement. Also, I use that advice when creating my books, thinking about the character and then the world that I’m building them around.
Q7: What is your favourite genre to read?
Q8: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
For me, I find that the characters and plot come together. Plotting the character arc tends to give me the plot of the book. Otherwise the danger is that the plot will move the character and not the other way around.
If we are taking a character like Nate (from my book The Burning Throne), I had his arc of responsibility throughout the novel planned from the start. I needed to work with Erica’s role (no, she’s not a self-insert) within the book a little bit more to get it right. By this point, though, she was an integral character to the plot.
Q9: What are you working on now?
A lot of what I’m working with at the moment is the second instalment of The Burning Throne. More details for that will be coming soon. Hint: it involves a TV, a man cloaked in black and a bunch of voice notes. And a lot of letters.
Q10: What are you currently reading?
The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick
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