Please enjoy this interview with Kirsten Miller, author of The Darkness Dwellers- Kiki Strike.
Please tell me about the Kiki Strike series in your own words? What does book 3 have us delving into?
Anyone who’s read the series will probably agree that the books are quite hard to describe. They’re totally bizarre (but A LOT of fun)! The novels follow the Irregulars—a group of delinquent former Girl Scouts—who’ve discovered a forgotten network of tunnels beneath New York. Over the course of their three big adventures (Book #1: Inside the Shadow City, Book #2 The Empress’s Tomb, and Book #3 The Darkness Dwellers), they battle man-eating rats, homicidal royalty, hungry ghosts, evil twins, Shanghai gangsters . . . and that’s just the beginning.
The latest book (out this month!) is The Darkness Dwellers. It’s set both in New York and in Paris. In fact, much of the action takes place in the catacombs—dark, dangerous, bone-filled passages beneath France’s capital. It’s another crazy adventure, with the Irregulars coming face-to-face with a secret society of catacomb explorers, a notorious American traitor, deranged bone collectors, and escargot.
(Oh yeah. I forgot to add that most chapters in all three books end with a useful “How To” guide. How to be a master of disguise. How to pick locks. How to predict the weather. That kind of thing!)
What inspired you to begin writing?
I was writing little stories in kindergarten! (No joke—I recently found a few when I was cleaning out my storage facility.) But I never, ever expected to have my work published. I simply wrote to entertain myself. And in hindsight, I think that might be the trick. If you write about the things you love, (which in my case is all things weird and wonderful), your passion will come through in your work.
What makes Kiki such a fierce character?
She’s out for revenge. Her parents were murdered, and she knows who did it. She wants to make the culprits pay. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s been trained in various martial arts, weaponry and spy craft by one of Eastern Europe’s most “dangerous” women.
At the beginning of the series, Kiki’s willing do almost anything in the service of vengeance. But after she joins forces with the other six girls in the Irregulars, she realizes there are (believe it or not) more important things in life.
Tell me about your road to publication? What were some of your ups and downs?
Well I feel like I won the lottery. I never had any downs! It’s a really unusual story—and one that makes more talented writers seethe with righteous indignation. I simply knew a guy who knew a guy who worked at Bloomsbury. I passed my first book (Inside the Shadow City) along, and they bought it. THIS NEVER HAPPENS. I know that—and I thank the universe every single day.
However, I think it’s important to add that getting published was just the beginning. Writing books is not easy, and the YA world can be a very tough place for writers with egos that are easily-bruised.
What book inspired you the most as a child?
Half Magic, by Edgar Eager. I still read it every year or so. I’ve given it to every kid that I know. Aside from being a fabulous adventure story, it was the first book I’d ever read that featured kids who were cranky, bratty little monsters (like I was).
(And also, Little Liza Lou and the Yellerbelly Swamp. I LOVED THAT BOOK.)
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Sit down and write. You can’t be a writer unless you finish what you start! And don’t get discouraged. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s not meant to feel like you’re taking dictation from God. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to suffer. The ability to sit still and fight through the mental anguish is what separates writers from dilettantes.