Gabby: I’m very excited to spend a little time today with Krystal Sutherland, the fabulous debut author of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS, out now. In addition to writing love stories you want to crawl into, Krystal travels the world being fabulous in fabulous places. Welcome to Winged Pen, Krystal!
Krystal: Thank you so much for having me!
Gabby: Okay, let’s get to it. Can you tell us about the best writing advice you ever got?
Krystal: The best writing advice I ever got was actually from a famous Australian artist called Del Kathryn Barton. I was interviewing her for my university’s magazine and I asked her if she had any advice for aspiring artists. Most people say some iteration of “Never give up”, but Del said “If you can live without art, do it, because this is a hard life.” That just really resonated with me. I thought to myself, “Can I live without writing?” The answer was no.
What was your favorite book as a kid?
Krystal: Harry Potter all the way! My family was very religious growing up and I was banned from reading fantasy, but especially Harry. I took matters into my own hands and stole a copy from the local library and read it in secret. It changed my life.
How about your favorite book this year?
Krystal: Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King and Will Kostakis’ The Sidekicks both had me ugly crying. So good!
Which writers inspire you?
Krystal: When I was a teen, my biggest inspiration was Scott Westerfeld. He was the first writer who made me want to be a writer.
Can you talk about your most difficult craft hurdle?
Krystal: When I wrote Our Chemical Hearts, I was studying fulltime, working two jobs and completing a publishing internship. I used to think, “If only I had more time, writing would be so much easier.” Now I write fulltime, and I swear I get less done now than I did back then. I need more structure!
Gabby: Your debut book, OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS, just came out. What’s it about and what was the inspiration for the story?
Krystal: It’s about the bittersweet (aka terribly gut-wrenching) experience of falling in love for the first time, and discovering that not all love stories have happy endings. I was inspired by my first heartbreak!
Gabby: You travel a lot. Where’s your favorite place to write?
Krystal: I can write just about anywhere, although I found myself particularly productive when I was on a sailing boat in Croatia, so I’m going to say there.
Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you get past it?
Krystal: Yes! Usually when I’m about a month out from finishing a draft and I’ve written all the “exciting” parts of the book and all that’s left to do is string the pieces together into a cohesive whole. I think most of writer’s block comes from self-doubt and being worried that you’re going to write something shit. You need to give yourself room to be bad. When I get blocked, I write the simplest, dumbest sentences I can think of – and usually I’ll read them later and find they were exactly what the manuscript needed.
You’re getting ready to do your first tour – tell us where you’re going! What are you looking forward to?
Krystal: I’m very lucky to be doing an epic international tour to three continents! I’ve already completed my Australian leg, but I’m in the US now. I’m about to head to St. Louis, Minneapolis and Denver, which are three cities I’ve never been to before so I’m excited to check them out! Then I’m off to the UK for two weeks, and the Netherlands and Belgium after that. I finished the draft of Our Chemical Hearts in Amsterdam, so I can’t wait to go back to the little café I wrote in and visit.
Gabby: Alright, are you ready for our Lightning Round? *hands you magic compass*
Gabby: Coffee or tea?
Gabby: Sweet or salty?
Krystal: I have a terrible sweet tooth!
Gabby: Dog or cat (or other)
Krystal: Such a cop out, but both! Cat for the writer in my, dog for the rest.
Gabby: Plotter or pantser?
Krystal: Very much a pantser. When I set out, I know the beginning, I know the end, but I know nothing in between.
Thanks so much for hanging with me here at Winged Pen, Krystal! Be sure to watch Krystal’s web site for news and tour dates! http://krystalsutherland.com/
— Gabrielle Byrne lives in rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, and writes dark and twisty tales for middle graders. She is represented by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management. Find her on Twitter.