Jessica Kong is the author of the science-fiction/fantasy romance, A Lost Kitten, and its sequel, A Forgotten Kitten.
She speaks with Riley Banks about her journey as a new Indie author.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how did you come to be a writer.
I started dabbing in writing during my teens, for a few months just for fun. I never pursued it seriously. I love children, so I focused on Early Childhood Education and Child Psychology in college. It was not until I had triplets and homeschooled them to prepare them for kindergarten that I realized I still adored kids, but I did not want to be a teacher.
One day my little brother commented on my collection of romance novels, stating that I read so many that I should write one of my own.
I seriously considered his words and eventually decided why not give it a try. So I did and now I’m here.
Is this your first book or have you written others?
This is my first published book. I have written an entire series that is being edited, one by one.
If you have written others, which is your favorite book?
Hmmm. Good one. I have asked myself that question many times. Each time my answer was all of them. I love them all for different reasons, and I can’t honestly choose one over the other.
Tell us about your current book and what makes it special.
A Lost Kitten is about a young warrior who is stranded on a distant planet during a galactic war. He comes across a specter whose presence touches him profoundly. He eventually discovers why. What makes my book special? My characters. John is half-human, half-feline. Jasira is an alien with a “misty” problem.
What genre is it and who is the target audience?
The book is a paranormal romance with science fiction elements. Therefore, my audience would be adult readers of paranormal (ghost) romances and science-fiction romances. I say adult because my book can get a little steamy. If you like action, this book has that too.
Do you write in one genre or mix it up a bit and write in a few?
I write in two genres. Science-Fantasy Romance and Paranormal Romance with Science Fiction elements. In other words, my books are hybrids like the family I write about. They can be placed under many categories.
Tell us how you settled on the title.
I wanted a common word that would group my series and still have a direct connection to the characters. I chose the word ‘Kitten’, for this series focuses on either pureblood or halfblooded felines. I picked the word ‘Lost’ for this particular book because John is separated from his family and they don’t know where he is. To me the title “A Lost Kitten” described this book.
Describe your favorite scene in the book.
I have two. One is when John sees Surreal’s version of a horse for the first time. The second is when the people of the mist no longer stop doing their activities when he enters a room. Each time John scoots away in fear, then he remembers he’s a Seacat warrior and he quickly tries to cover up his initial reaction.
If you had to choose one favorite character, who would it be and why?
John McCall. He is a tough as nails warrior with a kind heart. He tries to hide it, but at times, it shows either in his eyes or in his actions.
Where do you draw your inspiration? Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences, or is it all fiction?
All my books have both. For example, I have never met an alien from another planet, but I have from another country. And I have been on the receiving end of racial remarks. So naturally, I incorporated these themes into my book.
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
The overall message in my books is that faith in a higher power, love, and understanding can overcome any obstacle, whether it be race, money, or in Jasira’s case, lack of body.
What has been your most successful marketing tactic to date?
Not sure yet. Still testing the water on that.
What are your thoughts on book trailers, and do you have one for your books?
I think they are great teasers if properly made. I intend to have one done. I hope soon.
Are you Indie published or Trade published?
I am an indie author.
Describe the publishing process you went through? Did you engage an editor, beta reader, formatter, designer, publicist or any other professional to help in the process?
I worked with CreateSpace. I worked with their editor and cover designer. It was fairly easy. Describe what you envision for your book and they do their best to deliver.
Do you have an agent or are you looking to get one in the future?
Perhaps one day in the future. For the moment, I am not even thinking about it.
If you had fifteen seconds of an agents and/or publishers time, what would you tell them about your book?
What would you do if you spent your life searching for your soulmate and you finally found him, and he’s a ghost? While stranded on a planet, John McCall faces that dilemma. Would he decide to remain with the spirit his soul desires? Or would he return to his empire and aid his family in the war?
What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
Being a fulltime mother and writer is my job. When I am not writing or editing my books, I review books for other authors. When I get overwhelmed, I escape by playing video games.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from movies, books, and current events that blend together at night and give me crazy dreams. I keep notes on the more interesting dreams.
How important is planning to you? Do you plan the whole book or just start writing?
I start writing a scene and go wherever it takes me.
Which do you consider more important? Character or plot, and why?
Character because characters drive the plot.
What project are you working on now?
Other than trying to market A Lost Kitten, I am working on my website. Hopefully it will be up soon. I am also currently editing the next installment in the Sea-anan Saga.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author and what did you learn from that criticism?
The toughest comment so far was that a reader could not get into my story. My book was not the type of book the reader normally reads. I was a little hurt. Being a first time author, you want to impress everyone; you want to make everyone your fan. You cannot do that. I understand that. There are books out there that I cannot get into. And that is what I have to keep reminding myself as the negative criticisms come in. Hey, even the hottest books on the market are not loved by everyone.
What has been the best compliment?
The best compliment was being compared to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and that A Lost Kitten should be made into a movie. I would love to see the royal clan on a big screen. That would be cool.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
First of all, you can’t please everyone. You will grow bald if you try. The best thing to do is to write the story from your heart, polish it the best you can, and then let it go. Some will like it and some will not. It is just a fact of life you cannot change. Secondly, whether you are an indie author or published with a publishing house, marketing your book is time consuming and tedious at times, but a necessity. Always be kind and courteous to your followers. And enjoy the journey.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I hope everyone enjoyed reading about John and Jasira. I look forward to sharing book two with all of you.
Favorite place in the world to be?
In Sea-ana, following the adventures of the ruling clan.