20 Mar 2014

Author Interview: Kirstin Pulioff

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Today I have the pleasure to interview Kirstin Pulioff, a fellow writer whose entire work I devoured within the space of a week. I usually read more miserable holocaust dramas and historical fiction so this hugely enjoyable excursion into young adult and fantasy territory really took me by surprise. My reviews are added at the end of this blog post, but now let us speak to Kirstin:

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Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

Sure, start with the hard questions. 🙂

Let’s see if I can sum myself up pretty quickly… I dream big, wish on stars, search for rainbows, and find treasure in everyday blessings. I write the stories that speak to me, in whatever genre or theme. I believe in expression, passion, and living life to its fullest.

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

I think some part of me has always known that I was meant to be a writer. Even from the early years, I could always be found with a pencil, pen, or crayons making lists, drawing, and coloring in the couch. 😉 Writing is my creative expression, I just never dreamt about pursuing it professionally. It wasn’t until a few years ago as I was watching “Tangled” for the twentieth time and telling my kids to reach for their dreams that I realized I had let mine go… and it was time to find them again.

When did you decided to write about dragons and princesses?

That is a good question. Believe it or not, it didn’t really come about as a conscious decision. One day during my lunch break, I began to evaluate my life, and found that it was lacking creativity. So, I began writing. I was shocked when that story and series just poured out of me day after day. Fantasy has always been my preferred genre, so I shouldn’t be too surprised, but I was surprised at how quickly the words and ideas flowed.

How long does it take you to write and publish a book?

Each book is different, but each of the Princess Madeline stories took about 6 months from start to finish. (minus a 5 year break between writing and pursuing The Escape of Princess Madeline). These are shorter books for the middle grade reader, about 100 pages. I also wrote a short story that took about two weeks to write, and another month to polish up for publication. It all depends on the time and the urgency I feel for each story.

You also wrote a short story that is quite different. Tell us about it.

Haha, different is one way to put it. The Ivory Tower is a story that haunted my dreams for weeks before I sat down to write it. I would see glimpses in my everyday life, images in my dreams, and hear their words in my mind. It was so different than the Princess Madeline series though, that I resisted. But as you have seen, the story won out.

The Ivory Tower is a dystopian short that paints a darker picture of the future. A future where tyranny is accepted under the guise of protection

Blurb: 277 –the number sewn into Simone’s shirt. The number that dictates her life at the protection camp. Regulated by a system of ringing bells, fortified cars, and rations, the survivors are protected from residual contaminates on the other side of the wall. 

Breaking the monotony of the highly structured camp, Simone and her friend skip school to enjoy one of the last nice days of fall. An afternoon game leads them to a new part of the forest, uncovering more than they expected. All thoughts of protection and rules are shattered by the appearance of the ivory tower. A tower riddled with a history of danger and death.

When her friend shows up with a bruised face and thinly veiled threats, Simone has to decide how much she is willing to risk to find out the truth of the tower.

What is the easiest about writing and what is the hardest?

That is a great question. For me, the easiest part is writing the story, and the hardest part is managing my time. The stories come to me in glimpses. I can be driving, cooking, cleaning, or writing and all of a sudden I will be hit with a scene, idea, or dialogue. From there, I write it down and expand it to fit what I am working on or in a notebook for a new project.

The difficult part is juggling my day to day responsibilities with writing. During the day, I am a 100% focused mommy, I generally do not put my author cap on until the kids are either at school, after bedtime, or super early. This ends up being a sporadic couple hours here and there every few days.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

I definitely write with a message in mind. The story is the way it is presented, but underneath, the message is clear. I find each story is designed to tell something, to impart a lesson or observation about a situation. The Princess Madeline series is filled with little lessons about growing up, taking responsibility, and believing in yourself. The Ivory Tower is more of a commentary about government control and how over time reasons can be forgotten and abused.

While the messages in the Princess Madeline series have been well received, the Ivory Tower has gotten mixed reviews. The Ivory Tower is not your typical “happily ever after” story. It elicits a strong emotional response, and I have found that while some are open to the harsh views, others still prefer a message of hope.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

Creating characters is fun. I find a bit of me in all of them. At this point, I would say that Princess Madeline is my favorite. Maybe it’s because we have gone on three separate adventures, but I feel a special closeness to her. She is relatable in terms of how she comes across as a real person, not just a princess. I thought it was important to balance the hard and soft qualities of her. She is spoiled, impetuous, and stubborn, but she also leads with her heart, is vulnerable, intelligent, and creative. She struggles with the normal emotions and frustrations that hit most kids as they grow up.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Ooh, if there were a film, I know exactly who would play the main parts. Or at least who I would hope would play them. *I love dreaming…*

Princess Madeline – Emily Rossum

Knight Daniel – Jared Padalecki

Sophia – Emma Stone

Prince Paulsen – Cillian Murphy

Prince Braden – Liam Hemsworth. 

King Theodore – Carey Elwes.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

🙂 Life is good. We recently moved to the foothills of Colorado, so I am just starting to settle back into “normal.” For fun, I love to be outdoors. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether sitting on the deck, going for a hike, or simply feeling the dirt between my toes, there is something therapeutic and invigorating about it. For work, I am currently a stay at home mom, so my day is filled with activities, crafts, school, homework, and lots of love.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I have what you might call a random list of favorites. When an author, song, or image grabs me, I tend to hang onto it. I am one of those “loyal to a fault” types of person.

In literature, I truly am a sucker for a well written story that grabs me from beginning to end. Of course I admire Shakespeare to no end, Ken Follett, and JK Rowlings. One for showing me the beauty and complexity in classic literature, another for depriving me of sleep for weeks as I trudged through over 1000 pages with a newborn baby, and the last for giving fantasy and youth literature new breath.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I think it is wonderful. Independent publishing has given a voice to so many people, and that is important. Everyone has a story to tell, and I feel that the literary world and readers are better for it.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I would LOVE to! Ally Shields, John Dolan, Michelle Browne and of course you! Brilliant writers with unique and unforgettable voices.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

*Blushing* Oh please don’t ask. Haha, let’s see. For my best, I think they would say my positive attitude, patience, and objectivity. For my oddest… probably my habit of singing Disney show tunes, always carrying around a coffee cup, or my love of lists.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favorite animal is the Bald Eagle. I love all birds but that one especially. I used to see one or two a year flying over our home in Oregon… absolutely breath taking.

My favorite color is blue… all shades.

And my favourite outdoor activity is hiking.

What would you take to a remote island?

I think I have seen Mac Gyver too many times for this one. If I were on a remote island, I would want my family, a swiss army knife, and duct tape.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Oh the possibilities…Hmm… I think I will play it safe. I would invite my parents. Why? Well, they live a few states away and I miss them.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I am currently working on a YA Fantasy, Dreamscape: Saving Alex. It is the story of a girl, Alex, who finds herself trapped inside her favourite game (kind of Tron meets Mario Bros.) To find her way back home, she must battle her way through the game, facing familiar challenges and learning to put her trust in her new companions.

You can find out more about me and my projects at these links:

Website: www.kirstinpulioff.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kirstinpulioff

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kirstinpulioffauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6558842.Kirstin_Pulioff

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

Thank you so much for having me here today. I appreciate your support and the support of all my readers and fans. I am working hard to keep the stories coming.

Here are some reviews of her amazing work:

“The Ivory Tower – a short story” by Kirstin Pulioff shows what a skilled writer can achieve with a greatlty set up short story that others cannot pull off in an entire book. 
Pulioff describes in some detail the life in a protection camp, a post-apocalyptic setting where people are protected from the effects of a prior world wide contamination. Within a few pages I felt as if I was in the camp with 15 year old Simone and had the same questions, doubts and experiences. 18464433
The descriptive style pays off many times over as a futuristic setting comes very much alive for protagonists and readers. 
The scenario raises many questions about freedom and quality of life that are sometimes clearly implied and sometimes spoken out loudly by the characters. Through the well presented narrative and the dialogue, Simone, the heroine of this story, becomes familiar very quickly as a strong individual and someone I could relate to.
The almost hypnotic writing pulled me through the story in what appeared no time, leaving me with a powerful ending and a strong impression.
It reminds me how poignant a successful short story can be in ways that 3 hour movies or thick novels often cannot achieve, The brief snapshot – if done well, as in this case – can point out the claustrophobic feel so much more efficient.
This is really good

*****

“Princess Madeline and the Dragon” by Kirstin Pulioff is the third in her series about a headstrong princess in the Kingdom of Soron.

In this episode we are drawn right into a well written prologue: a fast paced action scene that introduces the dragon hunter Lord Hawthorne who is after the magic of dragon eggs.

When the Kingdom is attacked by a dragon, King Theodore gets injured, leaving his children to decide on the right path of action. The new King Braden and his sister Madeline try to do this not least by attempting to decrypt a message from their late mother which predicted a time of the dragons.

Of the three books this has the most suspense and action scenes. The young characters are forced into more responsibility and with their unique personalities and their gradual development since the first book they serve as excellent vehicles to carry this story forward. 
Carefully planted clues and plot pieces from the previous two books, like the reason behind their mother’s death and her riddle-like predictions now come into play and make me wonder how many more tricks Pulioff has up her sleeves. By now the characters feel like part of my family and with the clever plotting and long sighted set up this series is just getting started.

The story is engaging on many levels, as is Pulioff’s writing, but on this occasion I was mostly drawn into the action and the mystery as how to prevent the worst from happening. 

This is great entertainment and should do well across a wider age range.

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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