Kristan Cannon is a staunch supporter of literacy, and frequently volunteers for reading and young writer’s programs. She holds a current membership with The Indie Writer’s Network and is a member of the NaNoWriMo Ambassador’s program. Kristan writes speculative fiction, as her fiction isn’t strictly limited to hard science fiction or fantasy, and “is currently on a post-apocalyptic kick” based on disasters that probably could (but hopefully won’t) happen.
She travelled around frequently when she was younger and considers most of Northern Ontario her “home town”. Kristan currently lives near Parry Sound, Ontario but still moves around, and her hobbies include sailing, reading and gardening.
- When did you first discover your love for writing?
I was really young—perhaps twelve—when I really discovered how much I loved writing. I wasn’t really that great at music, or even drawing, so other art forms never held appeal outside of being someone who could appreciate it. But I had been reading quite a bit over my classmate’s typical reading level and my teacher also noticed my for stories for English always seemed to not only be far longer but also had a cohesive plot… although I had a habit of rambling a bit when describing places (something that still plagues me even now). Writing allowed me to have an art form I could express myself in and feel halfway proficient in it.
- Do you have a favourite place to write?
Anywhere I can settle myself. Normally I use my laptop so anywhere I can find that’s reasonably quiet (without being completely lonely), the chair is comfortable and the table is the right height. One note about the chair, though, I prefer to write in an armchair… but not a recliner type. The best place I had to write was in a hotel room. I used one of the armchairs and the ironing board for a desk. Best spot ever… but I haven’t been able to find another chair or desk that matches that nearly as well. Now I move around a lot. Some days I write at one of the branches of a local library, or in the club house of the boating club, or even at the kitchen table.
- Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
I have to set limits or I’d write all day and all night, so I try to limit myself to set working hours and then relax outside of them. As to process; research comes first, then I write the first draft in a gigantic whoosh, and then there’s a whole load of revisions and rewriting, followed by more editing and tweaking. I have more than one project going and each are in various stages of this… so my day of writing is actually quite full.
- Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
Yes, and they’re big influences in my writing.
- What inspired you to write After Oil and The Last Iron Horse?
Oh, a great number of things. The first was the city where it took place. It’s been used as a stand in for a few major movies, including one of Ethan Hawke’s recent ones just finished filming there, but it’s never actually the setting. The biggest thing to inspire it was a group of friends who were playing this game called Dead Reign, which was a post-apocalyptic role playing game where zombies took over the world. Now, I liked the game well enough but zombies just aren’t thing… so the game master and other players asked if there was anything I could think of that would make it more attractive for me. I just happened to watch Discovery, and a special—a documentary that played out more like a movie—called “The End of Oil” came on and all I remember thinking is, “That’s it.” The next week I went back and told the others and the characters came to life that way.
- Can you tell us a little about your book?
While the backdrop is post-apocalyptic it’s little more than just that. It’s character driven, and the plot only marginally touches on why things are the way they are… the fact that civilization fell and the survival aspect is the real problem here. The book is about the survival, and then the rebuilding, of a society forced to come together when faced with the worst that can happen, especially when no outside support comes and trade fails. They don’t know exactly why their government fell or left them to die over the winter and that doesn’t matter to them—what matters is making sure they can rebuild with what’s left and defend what has been rebuilt from those seeking to take it all from them.
- Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?
Not really, no. People think my favourite is Derek, but the reality is they all are.
- Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
That’s a really good question. I’ve had a few people email me and either laud me—for lambast me—for the environmental warning ingrained into the book (which, ironically, isn’t even there). The truth of whether there is a message or not far more personal in nature. It’s about rebuilding and about community, but the reality is it could be set in any post-apocalyptic setting or even a fantastical one, and the message would still be the same.
- Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?
I not only have a teaser, and a link to it, but for a limited amount of downloads readers can get The Last Iron Horse, for free, on Bookgrabbr. If they would like to start from the beginning I believe After Oil is also on Bookgrabbr. Once the full, free, e-books are run out it will return to teasers only again.
- What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing The Last Iron Horse?
The biggest challenge in writing the books have been finding ways to walk the area where it takes place—see where the characters would live and how they would survive. Much of the time I was writing the books I was a bit broke so couldn’t afford trips to see it. The greatest achievement from this was finally seeing it in print—and in hardcover—and seeing people love it. I think that gave me the greatest satisfaction… no award could give the same feeling as hearing from readers who want more.
- What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing The Last Iron Horse?
I’m a far more patient person than I realized, and perhaps also far more of a perfectionist. There were many points when I thought what I was writing was crap and shouldn’t see the light of day—I just wanted to burn it and forget I even came up with the idea—but then I’d have readers keep pushing me, fans keep liking me on Facebook and each and every mobile alert on Twitter to keep me going. I had to learn to silence most of the harsh self-critic and just finally accept that I could write.
- Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Always trust your betas and your readers. There will be days where you doubt yourself, but if your readers and betas believe in it you’re probably going to do all right… and, even if you plan on self-publishing, an agent is still a vital part of your team. No one is better equipped to help you with your publicity and booking events than they are.
- Anything else you would like to say?
Only a shout out to my readers. I don’t think I’d still be writing if not for them.
- And finally, do you have any future works planned?
Yes, definitely. I still have the last book of the trilogy and a few more projects yet to write.
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