Welcome Kyra! You’re a self-published author wit already many books to your belt, can you tell us about yourself and how you came to writing?
I’m Kyra, and I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I found out it was actually a thing—if that makes sense.
I got my love of books from my grandmother. Whenever I slept over at her place as a child, reading a book was part of my bedtime routine. I got to pick a book from her little library down the hall, made up of children’s books from when my mother and her siblings were young, and the last thing I heard those nights was the sound of these beautiful stories.
I actually struggled quite a bit to read for myself at first. With my dyslexia not recognised by the teachers, I never did well in school, filling my time making up stories that took on a life of their own from little fragments of knowledge I gained in the classroom. I wrote them down for myself, writing the stories that I wanted to read, but never thinking it could be anything more than that.
How do you feel just a few days after the release of your last instalment of your Vagabond series, “Conspirator”? Can you tell us about how the story came to you?
Writing full-length novels from a young age, I’ve told a lot of stories. Either this one is still fresh in my mind, despite all my other projects, or it’s exceptional to me for a reason I haven’t quite established. I’m excited to put this series out into the world, to share the feelings I’ve had writing (and reading!) it with other people, but, of course, there’s always the fear it won’t be loved nearly as much!
The protagonists in the series, Jared Bricken and Kara Sethers, first appeared as minor characters in book two of my Ascendant series as pirates who are asked to strike a deal with Queen Sybelle. They were inspired, to some extent, by real-life pirates Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny—their story from history being a personal favourite of mine. They played a large part in the grand scheme of things, but their appearance was small.
As it happened, there was a particular flicker of excitement when I first wrote them in Accustomed. I wanted to explore the events that led this couple to a life of piracy and, since the Ascendant series books were from Queen Sybelle’s point of view, there was no exploring some of the revelations I made of the characters through her story.
So, I decided to go back. I created the Vagabond series to tell the story of the circumstances that led to Jared and Kara’s meeting—Grounded—all the way up to the moment they meet Queen Sybelle four years later—Conspirator.
Vagabond is your third book series, the first two being Ascendant and Forgotten Children series. If you had to list three things of what it takes to write a book series, what would you say it’d be?
1. Good planning and note-taking: You need to be able to keep track of everything. It’s not just about what people look like, or how old they are. It’s about how long it takes to travel from one place to the next, the places characters are acquainted with, what peoples relationships are with minor characters, motivations and allegiances, keeping track of subtle mannerisms, quirks, peoples secrets (and who knows them!), and all sorts of other fine little details that might come up in the moment that might need to be referred back to later—and you will curse yourself for not writing those details down.
2. Love and patience: Following on from the above, you’ll undoubtedly have those moments where a character will reveal a depth or side to themselves you hadn’t ever explored before. Discovering something in a character’s backstory in book two that might influence, say, the way they address someone, might mean you have to go back to book one, and earlier chapters of book two, to deal with these revelations. That requires patience, and a lot of love for the story you’re telling, to deal with these constant changes.
3. The ability to ask, “And then what?”: Series are individual stories in themselves in that they have the highs and lows, the troubles and the solutions, even if the solution is only partial. The ability to keep a series going relies on the ability to ask yourself about what comes next. In the classic fairytales, the Prince marries the girl and, supposedly, they live happily ever after. Or, at least, that’s what we’re told. They marry, and then what?
You’ve chosen the self-publishing path for your books. Was that an easy decision to make?
Yes and no. I got positive feedback from a small publisher when I was younger and I thought that was incredible. Then they highlighted everything they would change about the story. Characters personalities, mannerisms, experiences, relationships… I wondered what it was they liked about the story I wrote when all the changes they wanted made it completely unlike the story I was trying to tell.I didn’t think about publishing after that.
I was sat in a cafe with a group of other writers, tapping away at our laptops, when a photographer came over and asked what we were doing. He mentioned how the world was changing, that technology allowed creatives to go into this for themselves. A friend in our group pursued it and, eventually, I did the same.
It seemed like an easy decision to make when I took into account the control I would have over the stories I told, how I packaged them, how often I released, and more. Succeed or fail, it would be down to me!
It’s less easy when…succeed or fail, it’s down to me! Knowing that everything relies on me—it’s overwhelming at times, and it’s hard not to feel like a failure when things go wrong.
Tell us a bit about the marketing you’re doing for your book, what’s the number one thing you’ve learnt?
Aside from just getting excited about my books in some bookish places, I’ve actually not done very much!
One thing I’ve learnt is to know your target audience while you’re writing, know what it is they like, know where they hang out, because those are the people who will want to read your book—I fail at this…a lot, since I just write the stories I want to read.
What’s next in your writing career?
I’ve actually gone ahead and taken a year off from my day job, just to pursue writing for a year! I’ll be attending a writer’s conference in Edinburgh in July and I hope to learn a lot about marketing and craft while I’m there. I have two books in the Heir series to finish up by the end of the year, so that needs to get done, and then I can hop right into a secret project I’ve had brewing in my mind for a few months!
Thank you so much for taking part in this interview! I wish you all the best in your author’s journey. Congratulations once again on your book birthday!
If you have any questions for Kyra, please feel free to leave it in the comments.
Kyra Gregory is a young author from the island of Malta, a place made larger by her love for books. Through balancing a hectic schedule of duties, she is always trying to find her place in the world through the stories she tells. Beginning at a very young age, she wrote simply to save herself through the worlds in short stories, fanfictions and lyrics. Now, taking the plunge and creeping out of her shell, she chooses to share her stories in hopes they may save more than just herself.