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An Interview with Teen Fantasy Author Kamilla Reid

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At age 29 Kamilla Reid became the youngest person to hold the position of Artistic Director for a professional theatre company in Edmonton. During this time at Celebrations Theatre she honed her artistic skills by writing and directing five shows per year. Over this ten year incumbency the position evolved and Kamilla developed her own independent theatrical production company to which the dinner theatre contracted out. This worked quite well with her new schedule due to the birth of her daughter.

After forty produced plays, Kamilla felt she’d creatively done all she could within the live theatre format and, during a period of massive change whereby she found herself in the role of single mother, she began scrawling and plunking on the keyboard and finally, drawing out the long held images of DréAmm and its freckled young inhabitant Root Karbunkulus.

Currently Kamilla is working on book two of the “Questory” series. You can visit her website at www.rootkarbunkulus.com or her blog at www.rootkarbunkulus.com/blog.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kamilla. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

I am a first time published author of “The Questory of Root Karbunkulus”, a teen fantasy series of six books. And I must add that the thrill in saying that never ceases J

What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

“The Questory of Root Karbunkulus” is my first book.

For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

I knew from the start that I wanted to go out on my own first. After years in live theatre where budgets dictated everything and I just couldn’t treadmill out another 6-person musical, I wanted complete freedom to explore this new field on my own. I wanted to write my book and have fun creating the book cover and I wanted to make an awesome website and book trailer. I wanted to do it all for the fun of it but also to learn the business of books. It was very worth it to me. Since then however, I have expanded to the place where I want and need a traditional publisher to take the book into wider distribution. It has become too much for me to wear so many hats, not to mention the Single Mum Crown. And to my surprise, despite the clear success of my efforts I have choked down my share of rejections.

How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

I hope this doesn’t sound too arrogant but I was really shocked that they would let something so awesome slip through their fingers. So then I told myself that they clearly weren’t ready for success J

How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I’m the kind of person who likes to celebrate every mark along the way, which is great because it’s funny how when it actually happens, it just feels so…logical. I mean amazing for sure but…see, I remember visualizing getting my first book, the smell of the pages, the smoothness of the cover, the color, the feel…and it was just so delicious. But when I actually got the books, they were weeks late and I was in a rush to get them to a reading. So, sometimes the process wrecks it a bit. However, having said that, not a day goes by when I don’t thank the gods at how lucky I am to be living my dream, sharing my stories with the world, knowing my words are making readers laugh and cry and smile and cheer. I love getting emails from kids who have read my book and can’t wait to find out what happens next. It is pure joy!

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Having spent so many years in live theatre where entire companies live off government grants and marketing is the first thing to get cut, I just really wanted to do it right. I think self-promotion is absolutely necessary. Right out of the gate I was building an amazing website and book trailer. The trailer won awards and took off on the internet, which was great for creating some buzz. But it was also the most important part of my book tour. I played it on big screens before every reading and it was a huge hit with the kids. You can view it on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIgo1wS_0JI

Or at the book’s website, http://www.rootkarbunkulus.com

which is also truly incredible and creates a big impression on my teen readers. I had trendy dogtags made up and used them as prizes for Q and A’s along with props and my signature red ‘Valador’ cloak as a costume. I did a huge book launch, too that really got the word out at the beginning. You can also view it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA-b7DAfZrQ&feature=related

The book tour was by far the most rewarding and successful as it helped me to sell 1000 books in 8 weeks. Since then it has been a steady sell. I also submitted my book for reviews and used them in promotions. The internet was probably my biggest challenge as, after the website and trailer, I just had no idea where to even begin. But I think the internet is a huge, HUGE asset to promoting and so I have been learning as I go along.

If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

Sometimes I wish I’d have just gone straight to the agent/publisher route. There were times I was doing too much and getting burnt out. But the good thing is that I had managed a fair amount of success on my own, which was a great thing to bring to the tables of agents and traditional publishers. My book is currently being considered by four major literary agents, many of which were attracted to me via my internet presence.

Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I have grown leaps and bounds. My writing voice is so much stronger and more confident. It is amazing what confidence can do. I feel like I have come back to the pure joy of writing, sans the doubt that used to pick at me.

Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

In all honesty, I think I could have relaxed more. It seems that every time I got stressed and pushed too hard, everything would fall apart. I have learned that a relaxed mind is a creative mind and not just for writing my novel but for anything I apply myself to. It seems to keep thing flowing smoother. So, yeah, I have learned to let go and stop forcing things and to trust in myself and the universe more.

What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

By far the biggest and the best has been my rekindled confidence in myself as a writer. It has given me back the joy that brought me there in the first place.

If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

Performing…probably musical theatre. But this is so much better. Actually it’s great now because when I do my readings I enter in the dark, with my red cloak and only a lantern for light and the music is all eery and dramatic. And then I get to read and interact with the kids, which I LOOOOOOVVVEE. So, I guess I can do both J

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Writing. Traveling. Living on the coast. Having backyard bar-b-q’s and bonfires with great friends and family. Not much different than it is now. I have always made a balanced life my top priority. Writing is a wonderful part of my life, just as important as my family, my friends, my dogs, my home, my health.

Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

We all have different paths to our dreams…it’s like the way a ship is navigated with many detours and changes as the sea demands but always the compass remains steadfast. However way you decide to go doesn’t matter. Just never, ever lose sight of your inner compass. Never give up. You’ll get there sooner than you think. But more importantly, as cliché as it sounds, enjoy the journey. Get there balanced so that you have no ‘tunnel vision’ regrets. Get there with great memories and friends and family to share it with.


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