For years, I’ve been on Goodreads as a reader, a creative writer and now, an author. Today’s interviewee has been one of my Goodreads friends since 2011, when she requested me with this utterly adorable line:
“YOU’RE Australian like me!! 🙂 Oh.. that sounds like a creepy reason to add you as a friend, but oh well..and you’re a writer! :)” (17/08/2011)
Now, five years down the track, she’s about to bring out her debut novel, Frayed! I caught her at this busy time to ask for an interview, and what a bro, she agreed! Read on below for an insight into the life of one of my favourite writers.
Where did you get the idea for Frayed?
Honestly, Frayed came from two things: (1) the name Ava, and (2) the show/books Pretty Little Liars. I have no idea why, but to me the name Ava has always felt like a really fragile and vulnerable name—and so, my protagonist was born. And I remember years ago—2012—watching the pilot episode of Pretty Little Liars and thinking: Yeah. I want to write something like that. So that NaNoWriMo I did. I ended up drafting Frayed in fourteen days, and was revised a lot from that point to become the story it is today.
What was your favourite scene to write?
My favourite scene to write is waaaay to spoiler-y to mention here—but the ending. There’s also a scene in Frayed toward the beginning of the novel where Ava stands up for herself (in a very big way), which was super-fun to write because it was so out of her character.
Who was your favourite character?
An easy one! A slightly clichéd answer, but I’m going with the obvious: I loved writing Ava Hale, my protagonist. She’s vulnerable and scared, but strong in her own way. I don’t think there are enough characters like that out there.
What aspects did you like writing about?
The mystery aspect. Mystery/thrillers are one of my favourite genres to read (in fact, I recently read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins—which was SO GOOD) and it was so, so much fun to create my own tale, with my own twists.
Now a little about yourself:
When did you start writing?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written. I finished writing my first novel when I was twelve, and if you’re wondering: yes, it was completely, utterly, inconceivably terrible, but I kept at it. (And I’m so glad I did.)
What is your favourite writing playlist?
This totally depends on what I’m writing at the time. With Frayed, I listened to a lot of contemporary female artists like Agnes Obel, Sóley, Anya Marina (particularly “Move You”), and Lykke Li. That, and I also listened to a little classical music when drafting. Namely “Moonlight Sonata (Movement 2)”, “Fur Elise”, and “Clair de Lune”. Another huge inspiration for Frayed was “Dreamland” by Valgeir Sigurðsson.
When I’m writing high fantasy—like my current WIP—I tend to listen to movie soundtracks and trailer sort of music (a la Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine.) I’m totally limiting myself here when it comes to music because I could literally go on forever…but I just need to say that I constantly listen to music when I write/revise. It inspires countless scenes/ideas, and usually in the plotting stage of writing a novel I’ll already have a playlist ready.
What is your favourite genre to write, and why?
Hands down high/epic fantasy. I love the fact that you can literally create whole new worlds. I think that’s damn incredible.
What books have you enjoyed reading lately?
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (such a great, twisty thriller along the lines of Gone Girl); Winter by Marissa Meyer (devastated that the series is over, but if you like sci-fi and fairytales you totally need to read these books); and Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (basically: “what if Hitler won the war?” and it was BRILLIANT).
What helps you get through writer’s block?
Music! Whenever I’m lost or frustrated I close my eyes, and I listen to music.
What is your number one tip for writing?
Just. Write. Simple, right? Yes—and no. But the best advice I’ve ever given about writing is something I tell everyone. Just. Write. When drafting, don’t think about it too much. Sit down and write, write, write until the novel is done.
What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started out?
Don’t let others tell you you’re unoriginal. Ignore them when they say that idea has been done before. Never, ever feel as though you’re not worth writing the book that you feel you need to tell. I remember once reading something—and I can’t remember who said it—that said only you can write your story. You’re different. You’re unique. And nobody can tell the story that you can.
What other hobbies are you interested in?
I love photography. It’s definitely a hobby of mine that borders a bit on a passion and something I hope I can pursue. Aside from that, if I’m not writing or taking photos, I’m probably binge-watching a TV show or reading fairytales.
A few more obscure questions:
What genre do you have no interest in writing?
Ooh, this is an interesting one—and nothing, really. My heart will always lie with fantasy and science fiction, although ironically, my debut is a contemporary mystery/thriller. If you’d asked me this question five years ago, I would have said contemporary. But I stepped out of my comfort zone to write Frayed, and it was hard work and very frustrating at times… but worth it. So worth it. I adore my characters and the story, and although I have no plans for one now, I certainty wouldn’t say “no” to writing another mystery.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to research?
I remember once Googling medieval torture methods. Some people are certainly disturbingly creative…
What is the strangest question or remark you’ve received about your books/writing?
Honestly—that Frayed made them cry. I’m an embarrassingly emotional person and I’ll cry over anything: happy or sad. But I’m always surprised when people have told me that something I’ve written has made them cry. I never aimed for Frayed to be heartbreakingly emotional (not The Fault in Our Stars style, anyway), but I get so emotionally involved in my own writing I forget that other people might be, too.
Who is your personal cheerleading squad?
Cliché, but totally my family! They rock. And the awesome bloggers and writing people I talk to on Twitter. They’re amazing and I’m so, so grateful for them.
Describe your writing space in three words:
Books. Laptop. Music.
Do you have any writing buddies?
Usually, I’m a pretty solo writer. I prefer to open a document, turn up the music loud, and lose myself in what I’m writing. But in saying that, I have participated in writing sprints a lot, and I do have a close friend that I spend time writing with.
What does the future hold for you?
I hope more books! All the things I’m currently working on are sci-fi or fantasy, and I would love it if—one day—I can see some of them on shelves.
Thanks so much for having me, Aprille!
Frayed comes out on the 7th of June, 2016. Pre-order your copy now!
Kara Terzis was twelve when she wrote her first novel, and hasn’t stopped writing since. Later she started publishing her work on Wattpad, where in 2013 she won the Sourcebooks Story Development Prize, leading to the publication of her debut novel, Frayed (June 7th, 2016.) She adores fairy tales, photography, rainy days, and film soundtracks. When she’s not writing, you can find her buried in a good book and daydreaming. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.