I had a chance to talk with fellow authors Kristine Carlson Asselin and Ansha Kotyk about their story “Stella’s Hero” in the Timeless Anthology recently e-published by Pugalicious Press. Comment and social share for a chance to win a PDF copy of the book! To read one chapter of the book for free take this quiz on the homepage at Pugalicious Press!
JCC: Stella’s Hero is set in Boston in 1892. Is there a special reason you choose this time period?
KCA: We loved the idea of a Victorian-era shopgirl in Boston–we wanted to set it in the fashion district, which was in close proximity to Chinatown (still is today). We started with the idea of a girl with a pocket watch waiting for a boy to arrive…the story sort of took off from there.
AK: I’ve always been fascinated by historical stories especially turn of the century, so many technological advances changed the lives of the people at that time. I also have a soft spot for the heyday of the railroad, which you’ll see in the story.
JCC: Why did you decide to co-author the story? What was it like working with another writer? Do you feel that it improved your own writing?
KCA: We both really wanted to write a story for the Pugalicious anthology, but we were both working on other things. We were chatting one day and decided it would be “less work” if we wrote something together. The story sort of came out of a couple of different conversations. I wrote the first bit–the sort of prologue where Stella is waiting at the train station. We brainstormed one day at a Barnes and Noble and pretty much outlined the whole story in one sitting. It only took about a week to have the first draft–we each wrote different parts and then stitched them together. I dare anyone to try to figure out which is which, though!
AK was great–but I’m not sure every co-author situation would be the same. We really fed off each other’s ideas. We’ve been crit partners for four years, so we know each other’s styles very well.
AK: What was it like working with a co-author? Kris and I both knew that we could brainstorm together, and we have critiqued each other’s work for the last 4 years, so we had a good feel for what we both liked in a story. We worked with each other to create a great story. The story is neither mine nor Kris’s, it’s an entity on its own and we both worked together to create the best story. Collaborating with someone who is as insightful and professional like Kris can only help your writing.
JCC: After co-authoring a short story together, do you think you might work together on a novel?
KCA: I wouldn’t be surprised!
Ansha: We tossed around the idea, co-authoring was so enjoyable. But right now we both have our plates full with our own projects. But never say never, it was a lot of fun and I would do it again if given the opportunity.
JCC: Kris, you have written many non-fiction titles, how does writing non-fiction
compare to writing historical fiction?
KCA: None of my nonfiction has a narrative or main character, so it’s really different. Writing historical fiction is much more like writing my contemporary fiction. We did a bit of research, just to be sure we were portraying the time in a relatively realistic fashion.
JCC: Ansha, you normally write middle grade. What did you find difficult in making the switch to a YA voice?
AK: Making the switch wasn’t as hard as I had imagined. I try to put myself inside each story, like an actor would, which helps. But it was also helpful to have Kris, who writes YA, retool things I had written to better blend in with the YA voice of the story.
JCC: Stella’s hero in the story is a Chinese laundry boy named Jie. What inspired you to write about a cross-cultural match?
KCA: Is it weird to say I don’t remember? We knew the fashion district butts up to Chinatown in Boston–and we wanted the story to be nontraditional. Jie and Stella really wanted their story to be told!
AK: I think Kris and I both love the Romeo and Juliet forbidden romances. In turn of the century Boston, ethnicity played a role in who you were supposed to marry so it was an easy choice to find our own Romeo and Juliet, only without the tragedy.
JCC:Do you have a favorite sentence in the story?
KCA: I think it’s when Stella and Jie are starting to become friends. Stella says,
“Sometimes you’d be surprised what people will give up for a dream.”
It’s sort of the theme of the whole story. They both give up everything to be together.
AK: It’s Kris’s line and I think it brilliantly sums up the feeling of the story.
“Jie pulled her close to him, and just before he lifted her onto the train, his lips brushed her cheek. She turned her face to whisper in his ear. “Tell me more about the Chinese wedding.”
JCC: What are you working on now?
KCA: I’m working on revisions with my agent for my YA contemporary novel, THE SWEET SPOT. I’m also working on a MG fantasy.
Ansha: Right now I’m putting the final touches on GANGSTERLAND, a middle grade novel about a boy who gets pulled into and becomes a character, in a 1920’s comic book. He has to find a way to survive gangsters and a flapper with her own secret without getting trapped in the pages of the comic forever. I’m excited to find out if readers enjoy the car chase and shoot out as much as I enjoyed writing it.
If you enjoyed this interview check out the other great interviews from other Timeless authors!
Interview with Magda Knight, Mookychick co-founder and editor
Interviews with Kip Wilson
Interviews of D.E. Atwood
Interview of Jennifer Sparlin
Interview with me!