I'm not singling out any of my guests.
But I'm stoked about today's interview!
Karina is not only a friend and fellow author but an award-winning filmmaker and, well, let's let her tell us.
Karina Kantas is from the UK but has lived on the beautiful island of Corfu in Greece for most of her life. She is an award-winning author and has fourteen titles of fiction in a mixture of genres. She is also a podcaster, Booktuber, and radio host. Karina also runs Author Assist which offers affordable services and one on one lessons to help independent authors follow the right path to get their names and book/s out there. Se's also a multi-award-winning filmmaker and has won 15 international Film Festival Awards.
Link to all social media, books and online presence
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? After I read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I had a story to tell and so I wrote it as a short story 18 pages. Years later I picked it up and started to type it out and when I finished one page, I realized I wrote 20 pages. It was magical. The way the story wrote itself. I was hooked.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
When I first started, most of my ideas came from nightmares. Then Lord of the Rings Trilogy inspired me to write, Illusional Reality, duology. Then it was just films and books. I would get a passion for a certain genre of fiction, and I would just overload myself with information and story ideas, until I was ready and had enough research to write my own.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I only have the weekend to write as I’m very busy with Author Assist during the week. But I do like to join in with the sprints, that my FB group do during the week. I try to get all my work and promotion out of the way first and if I have any time left then I open my manuscript read a paragraph or two and the start writing. And this could be 3am when I start.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That I do it the old-fashioned way; Pen to paper. Then I type it up on the computer. And I do zero plotting.
How do books get published?
Many of my books I have self-published through Lulu, Draft to Digital and Kindle Direct Publishing. I also have a contract with a hybrid publisher for my award-winning YA fantasy, Illusional Reality and for my dystopian sci-fi erotica, which I co-authored. We have a contract standing by for the trilogy. I have spiced my version up and my partner, Karen J Mossman, has kept hers clean. So, the reader gets the choice. All 6 books will be with a publisher, once we finish writing them.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was around twenty. It was already a short story, so I started writing it up on my co uter and it become my first novel. In Times of Violence, YA edition.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I only have the weekends to write and promote my books as I spend 10 hrs. a day for five days a week helping authors with their books, marketing and promotions, social media management. I’m also a podcaster, YouTuber, BookTuber and Radio host
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The way the story comes alive and you’ve created this amazing world, or dark world, that truly exists. The characters are real and you feel everything they go through. Writing and having imagination is truly magical.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? I have 14 books published. They are all my babies and I love them all, but there is something special about my new release, Broken Chains – a dark mafia romance.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Don’t force yourself to write. Keep notes or a dream diary. Write down anytime a scene comes into your head. Write down the dialogue the characters are whispering. But don’t try to work on a story or book, until you’re ready and you will know when that is. It’s a term we call ‘being in the Zone’ That’s when everything comes together, everything starts making sense. You’re in a bubble and nothing outside can break it and then you write, and you keep writing until you’re out of the zone. That’s when the story flows, that’s when the writing is gold.
Do you like to create books for adults?
I love writing novels for adults, just as much as I love writing novels for YA.
What do you think makes a good story?
Adventure, conflict, realism and relatable characters.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A choreographer and then a florist
What is the first book that made you cry?
A Boy Called It. – it really hit home and I found it difficult to read.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
I can’t stand that Amazon monopolizes the marketplace. That they had the nerve to belatedly copy Wattpad, by releasing Kindle Vela. That they are the worst place for paying royalties. There are so many things I dislike especially the way Amazon treats authors is out of order. However, that’s where readers are more likely to buy their books. And now they are allowing reader to download kindle book, then return them and get their money back. These are the reasons why I am removing my kindle books from Amazon.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Exciting scenes energises me but when I’m struggling to write, it can be exhausting you just need to know when to step back.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Rushing to get their book published.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
No but having thick skin and knowing people will be critical and not everyone is going to love what you write and so you need to be ready for the bad reviews to come in.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Show don’t tell. I’m a born storyTELLer. Thankfully my editor has continued to nag me until it’s drilled in me.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I don’t class it as a block. I’m at the edge of a cliff, I can see the other side, there’s just no bridge to cross over with it.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No. But I was warned to, when I wrote my first erotica. I was warned I would lose readers and subscribers. But I was surprised, that I didn’t lose as many as I thought I might. I write in most fiction genres, which means I have readers who like a mixture of fiction genres which is normal if you think about it.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
No. Never. I write for me. I hope my readers will enjoy my work, whatever I put out there. But I write for my pleasure. It’s not about what genre is popular. I write whatever genre I feel passionate about at that time.
Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I have a four book series called the OUTLAW. These are stand alone books with a small mention or two that would thread the books together. But they are all separate reads about outlaw motorcycle clubs and their members. They are raw, gritty and violent. I have Toxic, which is book one of a trilogy, book two is finished but my partner and I are too busy at the moment to do any read throughs or edits. Then I have my award -winning YA fantasy PNR, duology. The other books are all stand alone or collections of flash fiction and short stories. There’s even poetry in one of the collections called Undressed.
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Don’t rush into publishing your work. Wait until you can afford a publisher, professional book cover designer and a formatter.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It was amazing to hold my book to my chest and jump around ecstatic, what wasn’t so great is being burned by the ‘Christian publisher’’ not getting the books I paid for and they continuing to sell my books and not pay me for it.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I paid for a beta reader which I’ve never done before and I’ve used her twice an she’s worth every darn dollar.
What did you do with your first advance? Ha! The first payment I received for my writing was for a film review for a magazine. The cheque is still framed on the wall in my office. I never cashed it in.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
It’s not that language has power. Words do. The Pen is mightier that the sword.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Quest, book 2 of Illusional Reality. This is the concluding part of the duology. There’s so much adventure, thrills, and twists. It’s won several awards. But the book deserves to find new readers.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I can ask them to support me by sharing my post, or if they would read an arc and then review the book when it’s released. But that hasn’t happened. I don’t have a street team. I’m always doing prize draws and giveaways and showing first excerpts of a new book.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
My characters are not based on real people, unless it’s me, cause I put myself in their shoes and step into a life of…
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? I have two more in the oven. Toxic 2 of which the first draft is finished and In Times of Violence adult edition which is 40% through the first draft. Then there will be Toxic 3 to finish the dystopian, sci-fi erotica, trilogy. Then I may work on another mafia novel, depending on how Broken Chains is received.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’ve been asked that a lot lately and I will answer the same I always do. Success to me is the little wins. A review I didn’t know was up, a reader contacting me, a surprising royalty check. These are little things, of course, like every author I want the grandeur. But we won’t get it. Be grateful for the little wins, as they soon grow to be something to be proud of.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Face to face or cross promotion.
xcerpt from Broken Chains Dark Mafia Romance
“Liz, Nicolo saved your life. Did you know you have a rare blood type, and you were going to die if we didn’t find a match? Nicolo saved your life.”
“Why did he do that?” she asked.
“Because I ordered him to, and everyone follows my orders or suffers the consequences.”
Liz huffed, “Their words hurt me, but I wouldn’t kill myself because of it. I’m not that weak.”
Liz sat up in bed and reached for the water. After a couple of sips, she put the glass down and stared at the man sitting beside her bed, caressing the scar on her right hand.
“Marco, you have to let me go.” He raised his head, eyebrows were up, and he was wide-eyed. She knew she needed to make him understand. “I’m no good for you. I will bring trouble to you, your door, and your mafia family. You don’t need it and I’m not worth it.”
‘Let me make one thing very clear to you, ragazza ingenua. (Naive girl) I own Italy. I am the boss of every Capo around Italy. If I tell them to jump off a cliff, they will do it or face a bullet. If I tell them to prepare for a war with the Greeks and the Russians, they wouldn’t dare question it. I’m not going to tell you how many Capos and soldiers are under my orders, but just know the moment the Greek or Russian mafia show their hand, they will be exterminated for good.”
A chill ran through Liz’s body as she thought of the unnecessary deaths, again for her sake.
“Why would they give up their lives for me, just because you order them to?” she asked.
“They wouldn’t for you. But they would for their queen.”