What books are you reading now?
Are you ready for this? There are 49 books on my Currently Reading shelf on Goodreads. Hello, my name is Kristina, and I have a book addiction. Actually it’s more like reading ADD. It isn’t that a great story doesn’t hold my attention, it’s that I’m the mother of two little boys—whose attention won’t be held by anything, and who tear me away from even the best page turners with a cry or a crash every hour of a given day. And then there is my own writer’s mind, hungrily staring through the pool of various genres, wanting a taste of this and that, needing to do a bit of research here and there depending upon what I’m currently writing. At the moment, at the top of the jumbled pile on my night stand, dog-earred and cover-creased, are the following: Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death by Bernd Heinrich; Landed: New Poetry by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg; Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin; Raised to Rule: Educating Royalty at the Court of the Spanish Habsburgs, 1601-1634 by Martha K. Hoffman; She Who Remembers by Linda Lay Shuler (an old favorite I’ve begun re-reading), and on top of them all, Tales of Hans Christian Andersen translated by Naomi Lewis and illustrated by Joel Stewart, which I am reading nightly to my own little ducklings. The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau also sits long neglected in my Kindle for PC, only because one of my dear little imps actually broke my laptop before I’d gotten more than a few pages in. Yes, well. Such are the perils for parents who read on the job.
What is a favorite theme in your writing?
I love to write about animals, nature and fairy tales. I studied biology in college and graduated with a B.S. in Wildlife Management. Now days I only manage wildlife in my writing (unless you count my two sons as wildlife, which you really should). I love imagining what the world looks like to a bird, or wondering what a tree might think about if it could, and I, myself, am happiest when surrounded by nature. Nature plays a big role in fairy tales, even in Aesop’s fables, where animals sometimes have more common sense than people—there are even some written from the point of view of a tree. I love that kind of stuff! I wrote a short story called Bone Tree that retells Little Red Riding Hood through the voice of an old oak, and in my novella, Opal, Snow White’s seven companions are wild animals instead of dwarves. This was inspired by the mention of various types of birds that came to mourn the death of Snow White in the Grimm version, which I thought was just a really cool detail. And for all the dog lovers out there, I wrote Cinder, a short story with a yellow lab for a heroine in Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales. And yeah, that’s short for Cinderella 😉
Can you share a childhood story?
My dad often worked long hours and came home late when I was little, so I started staying up at night to wait for him and test out the latest squeezable flashlight he’d given me. I’d sit there in the dark of my room and imagine a dragon, scales made of roof tiles, looming up from the church tower out my window, or wonder where the girl in my mirror went at night, and whether she had quite another life in a world I couldn’t see. I’d be certain that the few cars that crawled our streets in the wee morning hours were driven by vampires, and that a few of my favorite stuffed animals were whispering and waiting for me to fall asleep so that they could have their own adventures. Ever since, I have written my best at night, when the world throws shadows over common sense, and the void is expansive enough to hold my imagination.
Are any of your characters based on someone you know?
I try not to include much of my own life in my fiction, but a few experiences, and yes, acquaintances, do spill over on occasion. The best example is my story Solomon’s Friend. I was working on an atypical fairy idea for the anthology Fae while also going through some struggles as a parent. One of my boys is a smart, big-hearted little Aspie, and I was interrupted so often during the drafting of my story by thoughts of him and his unique outlook on life, that I couldn’t help myself. The little boy in the story isn’t necessarily based on my son, but he definitely shares a few traits with him, and I thought that, if there really was anything magical in this world like a fairy, it certainly wouldn’t be revealed to the average Joe among us. No, it would take quite a special mind to see what the rest of us are missing.
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
I am currently working on the third book in a trilogy that begins with my novella, Opal. Opal is a retwisting of Snow White in which a race of powerful shape-shifters called Fae are struggling to live alongside mistrusting humans, and the daughter of an owl must discover her heritage before finding their future. The second book, currently in the editorial process, finds the plight of Fae interwoven with the yarns of Hansel and Gretel and The Seven Ravens, while a new set of characters must travel through time to face ancient threats and the dark past of the young queen Opal. I can’t say much about the third and final book, which is still in the early stages, except that King Midas’s Touch has been a mite influential.
Beyond Opal, I am also working on a contemporary new adult novel and a work of science fiction that delves into medical mysteries. I guess I have a hard time sticking to just one genre. I write whatever sings to me, so the song doesn’t remain stuck in my head.
Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. Now a mother of two little tricksters and their menagerie of small beasts, she continues to conjure bits of fantasy during the rare spell of silence. Her fairy tales, ghost stories, poems and YA fiction have been published by World Weaver Press, Far Off Places and Sucker Literary Magazine.
My website: https://authorkw.wordpress.com/
Solomon’s Friend in Fae: http://www.worldweaverpress.com/store/p2/Fae.html
Bone Tree in Vol. I Issue I at Far Off Places: http://www.faroffplaces.org/
Cinder in Specter Spectacular: http://www.worldweaverpress.com/store/p24/Specter_Spectacular%3A_13_Ghostly_Tales.html