For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
D. K. Christi is a traveler and adventurer who chronicles her experiences in short stories in seven anthologies. Ghost Orchid, a mystery of love, lies and redemption wrapped around a mystical ghost orchid was released in 2009 to rave reviews by NPR and MBR and re-released in 2015 with a few surprises that lead to Bamboo Ring, released in 2014 as the second stand alone novel in the Bamboo Ring series. See http://www.dkchristi.com for more information.
As a lonely and introverted child, I was an avid reader. I dreamed that one day I would see my name on books. When college professors insisted I needed to publish my writing, I continued to dream of writing fiction while my career took me to technical writing and editing to earn a reliable income. Words are my paint and the page my canvass. I can paint the world I see or the one I imagine and share those images with other people. When I first saw the ghost orchid that inspired the novel by the same name, I returned to my office and immediately wrote my impressions – then every time I read my words I felt the power of that exquisite flower again as if I was standing in its aura. Other novels I have written borrow from my many international experiences and I’m able to live them again through my characters and give my readers the same chance to know other cultures and feel the joy of travel.
2. Can you tell us a little about your books and where our readers can find out more about them and you? What projects are you currently working on?
Amazon.com editors said it better than me, “Themes of friendship surviving tragedy, love conquering adversity and the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire…through her stories perhaps discover something about yourself.” Ghost Orchid is a mysterious tale of the power of belief, even it its in the magic or nature all around us and a beautiful, exotic flower in particular. The inspired story answers the question: Is love eternal? for a cast of characters that include photographers, a model and families that find their secrets unravel in a search for meaningful roots.
Currently, I have been spending a lot of time as a newspaper journalist for Spotlight News Magazines, three issues and several online ezines while plugging away on Caribbean Odyssey, a novel of beauty, wonder, love and terror aboard the family’s 70 foot yacht. It is the second novel in the Bamboo Rings trilogy that consists of already published Bamboo Ring and Ghost Orchid. I am also working on a Civil War romance based on my own relative’s escape route during the Civil War for which he was named a hero. I’ve often thought I would love to ride a train and write about the people sharing the ride for their own keepsakes – or similarly on a cruise ship.
3.) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Ghost Orchid is a unique and unusual plot that is timeless in its themes, including love, lies and redemption. It’s my favorite; however, Bamboo Ring takes readers on a global adventure in the yuppie world of the 70’s not to be missed. As a write, I need also to include the variety of topics in the Spotlight where I also write a dog column and reflect so much love and companionship that people share with their beloved dogs. Since most of earlier career
was grant writing, I have developed a pretty easy going attitude toward rejection. I do find that it’s distressing when the right connections don’t happen to take a book to the pinnacle that it deserves.
4. Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I write with a passion when compelled, with little sleep and obsessed. Otherwise, I schedule blocks of time in the morning or afternoon to devote to writing. I begin with a story and build it out from there. I outline it before it’s finished just to be sure all the parts fit together logically.
My first published novel, Arirang, took a lifetime to write, ten years to finish and two years to edit for a manuscript to publish. I had written snippets for that novel in every form beginning with yellow pads and manual typewriters and finished on the most sophisticated of computer technology. It was a labor of love that I cherish as well as the friends who helped edit the novel and critique its progress along the way. Ghost Orchid took two years to write and bring to publication readiness. Bamboo Ring took six years to bring to publication.
5. Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I will finish the two novels in progress and be on the book conference tour, keynoting and sharing a writer’s life and my recent novels, Caribbean Odyssey and Escape to Love (Civil War romance).
6. Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
There is never a point in life when it is too late for an aspiring writer to be successful. Today, with self-publishing, it is easier than ever to bring a book to an audience. The trick is creating that audience and getting the novel up front and center with celebrity and connections to sell it widespread.A late start allows for the energy of wisdom and maybe the adrenaline of time passing. I encourage painting with words at any age just as painting with a brush knows no limits.
7. What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? What’s the first book you read that made you know that you could do this for a career? What book are you currently reading?
Grace Livingston Hill wrote a series of romance novels for Christian teen girls and I read the whole series, dreaming that this poor little girl would be swept away by her wealthy prince charming into a world of excitement and travel.
Currently, I am reading The Four Agreements by Dom Luis to remind myself that self-improvement is part of the writing game, in life as well as on the page.When I read Bridges of Madison County and saw what it became through a movie, I knew I could write a compelling novel with more substance.
8. So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?
I love to sit down and read Ghost Orchid. It’s as though it was written by someone else who takes me into the Everglades and gives me a wonderful experience with nature, the exotic ghost orchid, and the lives of the characters who are changed forever by its magic that is spiritual or paranormal or just imagined, depending on the reader’s point of view. For me, it is a spiritual experience and remains so every time I visit the Everglades. I also enjoy reading my short stories because many are close to my own experiences, written for a special short story program at Amazon.com that is no longer there. They are unique vignettes with a twist.
9. What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing? Are you more of an e-book person or a traditional book person?
Everything in life is changing. I just wish there were enough hours in the day to catch up. Good things come from change; but sometimes there is chaos before it all sifts through.
I prefer holding a book; however, when I was receiving iron infusions, I was glad to read novels on my smart phone and continue to appreciate that convenience. I also appreciate the ability to find great reads at affordable prices and the classics as ebooks for everyone at mostly zero cost on ebook.
10.)I feel like so many of us writers, us artists in general, are made to conform to other people’s idea of what we should be. I think we creative types should be unafraid to be whoever it is that we feel we have the right to be. So what is your write 2 be? What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?
I find that I am often expected to have a “real job” and when I turn down an invitation because I have writing scheduled it’s hard for some friends to understand. For many, writing is seen as a hobby, a diversion, not even an art. It’s something to do while waiting for a real job.
On the other hand writers are expected to be hot sellers and well-known for their works to be appreciated. Mass market appeal requires conforming to popular genre expectations that many of today’s writers follow to gain income. I still write what I know and feel and fall into the literary fiction collection where themes and beautiful prose are still as critical as a quick plot and a happy ending.
I write 2 be free – free to express my thoughts, my visions, my imagination in the many ways afforded by the use of words. I write. If it doesn’t fit a genre or today’s popular mass market format, it may be just right for its niche.
My authenticity is found through characters that are not exaggerated but could be neighbors, lovers, friends and family. They are real personalities with composite lives who think and talk and feel like people one meets. Readers love them and hate them, even telling me to rewrite them so they make better decisions. I still use descriptive prose and thoughts that have been eliminated to “get to the plot” or “get to the sex” or “get to the mystery” in today’s writing. I write because I love the color of language in its many forms and wish to preserve that love as long as I can in between texting and twittering.
Check out D.K. Christi’s books on Amazon.com