Tag: interview

Meet Author Krista Wagner

A Thrilling Journey into Faith

Interview with Author Krista Wagner

BY FABRICIO CORREA

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Krista Wagner was born in 70’s Southern California. She lives with her Marine Corp veteran husband, three very entertaining children, and an indispensable faith in Christ. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is an English adjunct instructor.

 

Fabricio Correa:  In your novel Intent, the protagonist Raylee Johnson lives a sheltered life in a small town. Do you share similarities with Raylee’s upbringing?

 

Krista Wagner: Not really. My parents divorced when I was a baby and I grew up in the city. Both my parents were not Christians. The one thing Raylee and I have in common is that we are both an only child.

 

FC: The bleak setting possesses an aura of mystery where water is a character itself. How does water as an element interact with the Protagonist?

 

KW: In two primary ways: as a place where she finds comfort in the company of her loved ones (her parents, Billy) and as a place of revelation. In the second half of the novel, the water begins to serve as a metaphor for unease and danger as Raylee starts to unravel the mysteries behind the deaths of those close to her.

 

FC: Raylee starts out as an impressionable, naïve girl living with her overprotective parents. Do you think her parents somehow contributed to her being unprepared to go out in the world by herself? If not, do you think all the love they gave her actually made her stronger than any adversity?

 

KW: I think her parents believed in her more than she believed in herself, so it was more of Raylee’s insecurities that created this doubt. And, ultimately, her parents love and the faith they supplied gave her the courage she needed.

 

FC: Raylee encounters tragedy in her life which shatters her “glass house” existence. How did that shake Raylee’s expectation of self based on her dependent demeanor?

 

KW: She became bitter. The faith she grew up in became fractured and redirected into her high school crush, Billy.

 

FC: Religion has a crucial role in Raylee’s life. Her tragedies made her question her faith only to allow it to grow stronger inside her. How do you see the connection between hardship and faith?

 

KW: Adversities do not have to overtake us when we have faith in God. He is our Rock and our Comforter. Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

FC: Your novel is set in the 90’s. How do you think your novel affects the digital era teen?

 

KW: It reminds us of how much simpler life was without all of the technology and how much more people interacted face-to-face. I’ve had younger readers experience a nostalgia for something they never had.

 

FC: Tell us about your academic background. 

 

KW: I received my BA in English from UMBC, my MA in English Composition from CSUSB, and my MFA in Creative Writing from National University. My debut novel Intent, a spiritual dramatic thriller, was published in 2014. Rian Field, a psychological thriller, The Gold, a middle-grade fantasy, and indigo, a YA realistic issue-driven novel, were published in 2016. I have been an English Instructor since 2008.

 

FC: How can your readers reach you and your work?

 

KW: I can be found all over social media:

http://kristawagner.wixsite.com/intent

https://www.facebook.com/kristawagnerofficial/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/115168642875694357959

https://twitter.com/IntentBook04

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8509957.Krista_Wagner

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/krista-wagner?list=author_about

https://www.pinterest.com/kristawagner31/

 

You may find Krista’s novel, Intent on Amazon.

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INTENT by Krista Wagner

Trying to deal with small town life and feeling that she has no real purpose, Raylee Johnson finds a new source of confidence when her former high school crush returns to town. When she begins to feel better about the direction her life is going, Raylee is thrust into a maze of doubt, uncertainty, murder, and deceit where the only thing she does know for sure is that her life is engulfed in lies.

 

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Fabricio Correa is a Brazilian-born writer and blogger based in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in law from Universidade Salgado de Oliveira and is currently attending National University’s MFA creative writing program.

 

 

 

Meet Author Ann Y. K. Choi

“We Don’t often Talk about Sensitive Issues!”

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Originally from Chung-Ju, South Korea, Ann immigrated to Canada in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. Ann is also a graduate of both the Humber School for Writers and the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

Ann is the 2012 winner of the Marina Nemat Award which recognizes the top manuscript completed by a Creative Writing Certificate graduate at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at National University in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was released on May 3, 2016, by Simon & Schuster Canada. Ann is featured on “13 Canadian Authors Everyone Should Read,” by Bustle magazine.

An Interview with Ann Y. K. Choi

Fabricio Correa (FC): When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

Ann Y. K. Choi (AYKC): As a teenager and young adult, I struggled with depression. Every mental health professional I worked with encouraged me to write, which I started doing in my early twenties. For a long time, I wrote poems because it was the best way to express myself and to make sense of the world around me. Still, I lacked the confidence to consider becoming a “real” writer – which in my heart I truly wanted. Instead, for many years I worked as an editor and then as an English teacher. It wasn’t until one of my students called me a hypocrite for telling him to follow his dream when I wasn’t doing the same, that I finally committed to writing and publishing a novel.

FC: What writers have influenced you the most?

AYKC: Growing up in the 80s, I devoured anything written by Margaret Atwood, a great Canadian author. I loved that her novel Edible Woman was set in Toronto, Canada where I lived. It left me thinking that I could also write stories here, which was quite empowering. I also liked that Atwood’s female protagonists were complex and that her novels could spark rich discussions around social, political and cultural issues. I’m also a huge fan of short stories. Raymond Carver’s “less is more” writing style really appeals to me. Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club is still one of my favorite novels because it was the first book I read with an Asian protagonist. After reading it, I wanted to tell my own stories.

FC: Tell us about your process when writing a book.

AYKC: I work full-time and have a family so writing used to fall on the bottom of my to-do list. It took five years to write a draft of my first novel. Still, what motivated me to write regularly were the stories I wanted to tell. Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety captures the Korean immigrant struggles that my family and the families I knew growing up faced. I wanted my daughter to know about that. My attitude towards writing changed after signing with a publisher and an agent; it’s now a job with real deadlines and consequences. As a result, my writing has moved near the top of my to-do list. I wish I’d made it more of a priority earlier on.

FC: What connection do you seek to establish with your readers?

AYKC: The only reader I had in mind as I wrote Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety was my daughter, so it has been incredible to meet and talk with people who have read that novel. They often share their personal stories which I find inspiring and immensely gratifying.

I worried that readers might not be able to connect with the novel I’m currently writing as it is set in Korea during the 1920s. Still, after many conversations with writers and readers, I’ve committed to writing the book. I’m hoping my protagonist’s story and the themes the novel explores – family, sacrifice, honor and betrayal – will resonate with readers.

FC: Was it difficult writing about such an emotional theme?

AYKC: Like many first novels, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is largely based on what I know best – my own life and those around me. I was concerned about how my family would respond and how the Korean community, in general, might react. We don’t often talk about “sensitive” issues like domestic violence, negative mental health, racial tension, and especially our struggles with personal demons. I’m hoping to use the novel to generate discussions with readers and even the students I currently work with. Unfortunately, many of them continue to face the same challenges I did growing up.

The finished novel brought me great feelings of relief as the idea to write the story existed for decades, first as a collection of poems, then a short story, and finally, a book.

FC: Did you attend an MFA Program?

AYKC: Yes, after completing two Creative Writing certificate programs in Toronto, I found myself wanting to delve even deeper into the subject. I chose National University in California to complete my MFA. Receiving constructive feedback and learning how to give meaningful feedback have been critical in my development as a writer. Each of my classes, from a pedagogy course to examining the 18th-century works of Anne Radcliffe, allowed me to look at writing and reading using both a creative and analytical eye. The MFA program also encouraged me to reflect upon my writing which I don’t think everyone does. This led me to experiment and engage more deeply with it.

FC: What projects are you working on at the moment?

AYKC: My second novel is set in 1924 Korea before it became a divided nation. When I found out that my great-great grandfather took a second wife (which was legal back then), my heart sank hearing about how upset my great-great grandmother was by this. I thought it would be interesting to write a revenge story loosely based on her experiences. Because I’m taking many creative liberties, I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m also fascinated by this time in history as Korea was under Japanese occupation.

FC: Where can other readers find you and get to know more about your work?

AYKC: They can visit my website at annykchoi.com or follow me on Twitter @annykchoi.

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is available on Amazon.

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A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean-Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.

Interview conducted by: Fabricio Correa

Fabricio Correa is a Brazilian-born writer and blogger based in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in Law from Universidade Salgado de Oliveira and is currently attending National University’s MFA Creative Writing program.