This month, we talk to author Kalyn Josephson about her novel, The Storm Crow. She talks to us about the road to publishing her debut novel and the complexities of portraying a character struggling with depression in a fantasy novel.
Kalyn has challenged us with a scene vs. summary exercise:
Kalyn says, “One of my favorite exercises is to experiment with scene versus summary. I write a scene and then attempt to summarize it. It helps me figure out what’s important info and what needs to be seen versus told.”
Try this: First, write a scene where two characters attempt to solve a problem. What if, by the end of the scene, everything is worse than it was to begin?
Next, write a summary of your scene in two-three sentences.
Then, rewrite the scene. Focus on the elements of the scene that are clearly most important, amplifying the humor, chaos, or other high emotions of those elements.
Aim for between 350 and 1000 words. Submit your response below.
An Interview with Kalyn Josephson
The Storm Crow is your debut novel, featuring Princess Anthia, rebellion, and magical crows. What inspired you to tell this story? Why choose crows, rather than, oh, ravens, or another bird?
I’ve always loved crows. They’re super smart and adorable! But the idea came from an article I read about a little girl who fed her neighborhood crows, and in return they brought her gifts, which inspired a kingdom whose way of life was based on the magic of crows.
One thing particularly impactful in The Storm Crow is the representation of Thia’s depression, especially when mental illness is so often forgotten in fantasy. Was there anything about writing Thia’s depression that was surprising or more complex than you expected?
Definitely! There’s an expectation in YA fantasy especially for fast-paced, action-packed plots, but that just didn’t fit with where Thia was. So it was difficult to balance moving the story forward with giving her depression the respect and time it deserved.
Who was the easiest character to write? Who was the hardest?
Kiva is the easiest, probably because I’m most similar to her. Caylus was the hardest! He just wants to bake and conduct experiments all day instead of cooperating with my plot.
Can you tell us about your path to publication?
Sure thing. I wrote and queried 3 other books before I finally signed with a literary agent for The Storm Crow. I also did a number of revision rounds before signing with my agent and then again with my editor once the book sold. Suffice to say, it’s been a long, hard road!
If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?
Publishing is a slow, subjective industry. What one person loves another person might hate and vice versa. And even once you find a champion for your work, it takes a long time to be realized, so don’t give up.
Young Author's Studio: Design a Picture Book
Come artists and writers alike! In this writing and art-making workshop, you’ll play to your strengths, be those strengths visual art, storytelling, or both. We’ll create and refine a picture book text, design a book dummy, experiment with illustration style, and complete at least two finished spreads. You’ll walk away with all you need to take your book to completion!
This Zoom workshop in partnership with Stone Soup runs July 20-23 from 9 – 11 am (PST).
A special thanks to Kalyn Jospehson for sharing with us! You can find her book at her favorite book store, Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, CA.
Kalyn Josephson currently works as a Technical Writer in the tech industry, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. Though she grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Biology and a degree in English (Creative Writing). Currently, she lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay Area and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an ever tinier owl). The Storm Crow is her debut novel.