IndieView with Kelleen Silveira, author of Starved

I impulsively decided to self-publish all the books I had written until then on Amazon. It was shocking when the very next day they were getting purchased! People were reading them, I was getting feedback, people wanted to know what happened next! Having readers was hugely motivating to me and I haven’t looked back.  

Kelleen Silveira – 17 June 2017

The Back Flap

All her life Tate Vasilievich has felt overshadowed by her younger, vivacious sister Katie. Always an outsider in her own family due to her weight, Tate finally feels she’s found her place now that she is in college. When Tate’s mother calls, pleading for her to come home and deal with her sister’s latest rebellion, Tate worries that her future is in jeopardy. A week later she wakes in her own grave, no memory of how she got there.

Now Tate finds herself with an incredible ability to heal and a nearly overwhelming craving for blood, and no answers as to what happened the night she died and her sister disappeared. She has little time to adjust to her new existence when it becomes clear that powerful forces are determined to hunt her down for doing the unspeakable: stealing immortality from a group that does not bestow it lightly. With nowhere else to turn, Tate forms an uneasy alliance with Malek, a doctor who has dedicated his life to the destruction of vampires. As Tate seeks answers about her deeply troubled sister, she must also struggle with a burgeoning eating disorder and her conflicted feelings for Malek. When the truth finally comes to light Tate is faced with horrifying secrets decades in the making and an even more pressing question: how far will she go to save her sister?

About the book

What is the book about?

Starved is the story of a young girl named Tate.  All her life she’s struggled with her weight and felt like an outsider in her own family.  Her younger sister, Katie, is beautiful and vivacious and doted on by their parents.  When their father died, Katie started acting out and getting into trouble.  Tate went off to college but one day she gets a call from her mother asking her to come home and talk some sense into her wayward sister.  The next thing she remembers is waking up in her own grave.

The story follows Tate as she struggles to accept that she is now a vampire.  The night she died her sister also went missing and she has to piece together what happen if she ever hopes to find her.  In the meantime she teams up with a doctor named Malek whose mission in life is to wipe out the vampires.  On top of everything Tate develops an eating disorder which makes her thirst for blood nearly impossible to control.

When did you start writing the book?

I had this idea in my head for several years before I really started working on the book.  I wrote a prologue and the first chapter and then it sort of sat there.  I finally sat down and wrote the entire book two years ago, but didn’t decide to publish independently until last November.

How long did it take you to write it?

Once I get started I’m a pretty quick writer.  Start to finish, editing included, the whole process took me about three months.

Where did you get the idea from?

I really liked the idea of this non-standard heroine waking in her own grave, unsure of what was going on.  In books people always seem to easily accept that they are a vampire.  I think, even with all the evidence glaring me in the face, the last thing I would believe was that I was a vampire.   I also took a bit of a different approach to vampire lore.  I decided my vampires would need to eat food to maintain muscle mass, but food would suddenly be repulsive to them.  I imagined that a lot of women who had struggled with their weight – if suddenly in a situation where food repulsed them – would develop an eating disorder.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

For me I think it was just getting started.  I had this first chapter and kept thinking about the story, but I had a hard time getting going.  Once I finally decided I needed to write the book and made myself sit down and write it the whole thing flowed pretty easily.

What came easily?

Dialogue!  Demora and Malek have such clear, developed personalities in my head that it really drives a lot of the story.  I never had to stop and think “How would they react?”.  The characters just led away and the dialogue between them flowed really easily.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Tate isn’t based on anyone, but I did think about myself and how I’d react if I were in her situation.  In all my writing, I borrow from my own experiences and those of people I know to flesh a character out.  Tate’s interest in Sci-Fi conventions and cosplay comes from my own limited experiences, but her personality is wholly her own.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I’m not sure if I could say there is any particular author I am aspiring to write like, but I know that all the authors I read have had a huge influence on my life.  Growing up I loved a pretty eclectic mix, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Jude Devereaux.  My parents had a library and I was told that some books were too mature for me and I wasn’t allowed to read them, so of course I stole them constantly and read them all.   I still read a wide range of genres, even though I pretty much stick to writing fantasy. I would also say that manga has had a big influence on my writing.  I love the way it isn’t afraid to be absurd, funny, heart wrenching  and brutal, all in the same chapter.

Do you have a target reader?

People who want to read what I’ve written!  I wouldn’t say I start writing with a certain type of reader in mind, but I know that the majority of my readers are in a similar demographic to me: women between 18 and 34.  Of course, there are plenty of exceptions.  My father-in-law – a scientist in his sixties – is a huge fan of Urban Fantasy, especially stories with strong female leads.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I get up in the morning, before my kids wake up, make some coffee and settle in at the kitchen table with my laptop.  I put my headphones on and play music really loudly to tune out any distractions.  My cat insists on coming and mauling me and I attempt to ignore him while he lays on top of my arms or head butts me in the face repeatedly.  Then I write two thousand words.  I do this every morning with very few exceptions.  (My cat is purring like crazy in my lap as I write this).

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I think if I wrote more detailed outlines I might be a more efficient writer, but I usually just write down the major plot points.  If I’m struggling to get to the next part I might sit down and write more detailed chapter outlines, but a lot of the time I figure out what I’m going to write the next morning while I’m drifting off to sleep the night before.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I sit down, write my two thousand words and don’t look anything over until I’ve gotten to the end.  Then I’ll read over the whole thing for consistency, grammatical errors, typos.  Writing in a series is more difficult because I have to make sure what I’ve written doesn’t contradict past books.

Did you hire a professional editor?

My mother-in-law is my editor! I’m pretty lucky in this regard.  She used to write history textbooks and did line editing.  Then I’ll have my father-in-law go over my books too since he actually reads the genre so he can give me valuable feedback about content.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I always listen to music when I’m writing, I need it to set the mood and drown out any outside distractions. Usually I’ll pick a song that fits the mood and play it on youtube and just let whatever comes up play after that.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

For years, I halfheartedly tried going the standard route.  What a depressing, soul crushing process that is!  Sending out query letters, frequently getting no responses.  I remember one agent asked to see my manuscript for a previous novel I wrote and after waiting anxiously for months for a response she finally got back to me with a short note saying “It just wasn’t as interesting as I’d thought it would be.”

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I had written several novels, because I enjoyed writing far more than trying to market myself, but it was hard to be motivated without anyone reading my work.  I knew someone who had just gotten an agent after spending several years working full time on rewriting the same book over and over, having it professionally edited and doing all the “right” steps.  I looked at her and realized that was never going to be me.  I have kids.  I didn’t have the time, or the desire, to invest everything into just one book.  I just wanted my work to be read, I didn’t really care if I made much money at it.  I impulsively decided to self-publish all the books I had written until then on Amazon.  It was shocking when the very next day they were getting purchased!  People were reading them, I was getting feedback, people wanted to know what happened next!  Having readers was hugely motivating to me and I haven’t looked back.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

The cover of Starved I made myself using a photo my husband took.  It’s seemed to work well for that series, but I am currently redoing the covers to my other novels.  My sister was actually interested in getting into book cover design.  She recently created a new cover for a different book of mine and I’ve seen a big boost in sales.  Together we’re redoing the covers to all my other books, but I’m going to stick with the same one for Starved, and the sequel Maimed, because they seem to be working well.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I feel like I’m learning something new every day.  Up to now I’ve just been winging it, but I’m learning a lot.  I’m the member of several indie author groups and they’ve been invaluable.  I think with each new book I’m gaining more marketing know-how.  My goal for this year is to just write as much as possible.  I’m currently working on three separate series and I want to wrap up two of them this year and get the third well under way.  Once I’ve got a more extensive library of books I want to really start investing in marketing next year.  I’m definitely not looking into this being a quick process.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Do it!  I have no regrets.  The standard publishing route just isn’t for everyone.  Above all else I just want to share my stories and indie publishing has given me that chance.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town in northern British Columbia, Canada.  It’s made the news twice in the past year, once for a deer running over a guy and a second time for a moose wandering into Safeway and eating a bunch of produce.  That gives you a pretty action picture of my childhood.

Where do you live now?

I live in the Seattle area.  I love it, can’t imagine living anywhere else.

What would you like readers to know about you?

How much I appreciate them!  Honestly, I get so giddy when people contact me telling me they enjoy my work.  It makes my day every time.  If I could make a fan page of my fans I would.  They are the reason I write!

What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on the sequel to a book I wrote years ago.  I had no clue what I was doing when I published the first one.  It had a horrible cover, I didn’t advertise.  When I recently published my other books I had people go back and read that long ago book and began to get demands for a sequel.  I was more than happy to go revisit those old characters and story, there was so much more of the story I had to tell!  I’m really excited to get to finish the series.

End of Interview:

For more from Kelleen, follow her on Twitter or like her Facebook page.

Get your copy of Starved from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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