Name: Ksenia Anske
Species: Delirious panda
Occupation: Writer of fantasy stuff
Plotter/Panster: Pantser with wings
Inspired by: J.K. Rowling, Stephen King
Writer fuel of choice: Coffee
Muse Status: On vacation
- Congratulations on publishing your trilogy Siren Suicides. Did you do anything special to celebrate this publishing milestone, like say, dancing in a pink tutu? Nope, sadly, I didn’t. I was so wrapped up in writing my 2nd novel, Rosehead, that it didn’t even cross my mind to celebrate!
- You have mentioned that writing Siren Suicides was a healing and therapeutic process for you. How does it feel to release these books to the world? You know, releasing them into the world felt just like another task I have to do, so it wasn’t as exhilarating as I thought it would be. But finishing writing 5th draft, on the other hand, was what made me jump up and down, which I even recorded in this fine dancing video – dancing on my bed, I shall say.
- Your daughter designed the illustrations for the chapter headings (which look incredible by the way). How did you find the process of artistically sharing this journey with her? It was a journey that we sort of did together from the start. I was very afraid to embark on writing a whole trilogy, she was encouraging me, beta reading for me, giving me her honest teenage perspective, which was invaluable, so it sort of seamlessly drifted into illustration, and then into book cover design.
- What inspired you to turn the face of publishing on its head and give away all your books for free? Well, I was suicidal and writing Siren Suicides pulled me out of my darkness, and that is the reason why it will forever remain free – all ebooks are downloadable in most common ebook formats on my site.
- As an artist, have there been moments where you have second-guessed your decision to leave the corporate world (and financial stability) to write full time? If so, how did you overcome these doubts? Yes, I was scared, especially because I was also in the middle of a divorce, a single mom, so I thought I’m doing something completely crazy. But about 1 year before I finally quit, I was bicycling home from work and I got hit by a truck. I woke up in the hospital, badly bruised but intact and then decided that I have to quit my job and start doing what I always wanted to do, start writing full time, but it took me another year to muster the courage to actually do it. And, you know, when you wake up and realize you could’ve been dead, suddenly decisions like this seem very easy. I never second-guessed it.
- You are currently in the process of revising your second novel Rosehead, which is due to be published this coming October. What are some of the similarities and differences you’ve experienced in the writing process compared with Siren Suicides? It’s very different. For one, I don’t have to revisit my painful past every day like I did for Siren Suicides, for two, I am now familiar with the process and it won’t take me as much time and as many drafts as Siren Suicides, and for three, I’m not as afraid anymore. The daily doubt was killing me when I wrote my first novel, I would go into these almost daily crying bouts before actually starting to write. I don’t have that anymore, and I also don’t waste my time on research anymore, as I did with my first book. I do enough to make the facts believable, because by now I know that the story is the most important thing, research is secondary.
- For Siren Suicides you had over 300 beta readers during various drafts. How did you deal with the fear of sharing your work and what was your reason for having your WIP so accessible? I actually wasn’t as afraid to share it, as I was afraid to write it. Sharing was something that would give me feedback, and I was dying to hear feedback, both good and bad and everything in between, to learn how to be a better writer. And my reason was exactly that, to hear from my readers what they liked or didn’t like, because if 8 people out of 10 said the same thing, that meant I had to change it, which I did, like, for example, one thing everyone agreed on was that there was too much swearing, so I cut out most of it.
- You inspire so many people around the world (myself included) with your writing, openness and dedication to your art. Who inspires you? My love. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years, and it’s because he believed in me as a writer that I started writing. When I made the decision to quit my career, he was the one who supported that decision, and he painstakingly read every evening (and still reads) everything I wrote during the day. He would read to me aloud, and then we would discuss it, and I would make changes the next day. I literally believe that his love allowed me to believe in myself, and then my love let me trust him, trust in his belief that I can write. I’m so happy right now that all my stuff from the past, everything is pouring out of me into stories. Well, of course, if you mean who inspires me in terms of authors, then I should say J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Hugh Howey. And there are more, but I will stop, otherwise there will be a whole page with names.
- You have a very solid social media following, what do you say to writers who say they don’t have time to blog or build a platform? Then they shouldn’t. It’s not about time, really, it’s about doing what you love. If you will force yourself to blog, and if you don’t like doing it, people will sense it and they will not visit your blog very often, if at all. Just because everyone blogs or tweets or whatever, doesn’t mean that every writer should do that. You should do what you’re comfortable doing, and what you’re excited about. Maybe you love book readings and physical interactions with your readers, then host reading parties at your house (or at a bookstore, if you can talk them into that). Seriously, you can do more damage to your image by constantly auto-tweeting links to your books as opposed to not tweeting at all, or not blogging at all. I find it hard to believe, however, that writers would not want to blog. Blogging is writing, and writers love writing, that’s our life, you know what I mean? The reason I am so active online is because I love it, I love to share, I love to blog, I’m addicted to tweeting, perhaps that’s why people follow me, because they sense it? I’m still puzzled myself, because I think that most of the time I utter complete nonsense.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? At my writing desk, writing.
- What’s a fun fact about yourself you haven’t shared online yet? That I haven’t shared? That’s tough. I think I’ve shared everything already. Let’s see… all right, here is one. I sometimes indulge in reading Monty Python (I have a fat book of their unabridged episode scripts) right before bedtime, to get inspired to tweet something like *dreams of Scotsmen rapidly hurtling through woods* or *is chasing penguin on pogo sticks on the Moon*, because there is an episode where penguins jumping on pogo sticks are mentioned, as well as Scotsmen running through woods. There, I haven’t shared this little fact with anyone yet.
Tell us about your creative space in 5 words.
Clean. Organized. Blasting loud music.
Ksenia was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture and not dreaming that one day she’d be writing. SIREN SUICIDES, an urban fantasy set in Seattle, is her first novel. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their combined three kids in a house that they like to call The Loony Bin. www.kseniaanske.com