An Interview with Teen Fantasy Author Kamilla Reid

At age 29 Kamilla Reid became the youngest person to hold the position of Artistic Director for a professional theatre company in Edmonton. During this time at Celebrations Theatre she honed her artistic skills by writing and directing five shows per year. Over this ten year incumbency the position evolved and Kamilla developed her own independent theatrical production company to which the dinner theatre contracted out. This worked quite well with her new schedule due to the birth of her daughter.

After forty produced plays, Kamilla felt she’d creatively done all she could within the live theatre format and, during a period of massive change whereby she found herself in the role of single mother, she began scrawling and plunking on the keyboard and finally, drawing out the long held images of DréAmm and its freckled young inhabitant Root Karbunkulus.

Currently Kamilla is working on book two of the “Questory” series. You can visit her website at www.rootkarbunkulus.com or her blog at www.rootkarbunkulus.com/blog.

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About the Book:

Young Root Karbunkulus gets an invitation to participate in 'the coolest scavenger hunt of all time!' Finally, her chance! She can escape the Aunts and prove once and for all there’s no stinkin’ “L” on her forehead! So what if she's up against hundreds of other kids. It can’t be worse than murder ball. The rules say teams of three. Okay, okay her appointed team mates, Lian and Dwyn are screws-in-the-temples annoying...but livable...and really no worse than Goatface Kor or Hilly Punyun who, forget the panties, has a tiara for each day of the week. More rules: Can't use magic on competitors. Doh! Oh well, at this point her magic is of the non-existent variety anyhow so…next! The first item up for grabs is the Miist of Kalliope, apparently some dead magician's elixir. No prob. But wait. Out of hundreds of teams, there are only six of these Miists to be found? Leaving only six teams left to go after the next item? Then five, four, three, two…woah...this could get ugly....hmmm...compete and win...or go back to exfoliating those hard, crusted entities called Auntie Octavia's feet?

Root Karbunkulus accepts the invitation. It will be a race of many, many hated things. But it will also be a contest of courage, friendship and the rising of soul. Within it Root will learn the terrifying truth behind the mysterious items. She will also discover, to her horror that she is not a player in an innocent kid’s race but a pawn in a vicious adult game that will readily send its champion into the profiteering hands of the enemy.

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Welcome to The Writer's Life, Kamilla. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Hi and thank you so much for having me! Well, here’s how I kinda got the bug. I was eight years old and we were still living in the orange and white house. We moved around quite a lot and that's how we remembered our homes, by their colors. So, it was while living in the orange and white house that my teacher gave us an assignment to write a story. I cringed at first because it meant serious interference with my play time, in particular with Terry M, my latest crush (despite the fact that he liked Jamie but alas, another story).

Anyhow, being the keener I was back then (what happened?) I got to work on my story that very first day after school. And never stopped. Suddenly, playtime didn't matter. Nor did supper or gasp! -Terry M! All I wanted to do was continue with this wonderful feeling of creating. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And then I asked my teacher if I could also draw the pictures. When my 'masterpiece' was completed I got an A+ and my teacher sent it in to Owl magazine, who published it. After that I was hooked.

It’s kind of funny, though because my path led me to write for live theatre for many years before I finally took the leap into novels. Man, am I glad I did! Finally, my imagination can soar! No limits of sets and casts and budgets. It is heavenly!

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I had the idea for DréAmm, the location for my book many, many years ago and because I was involved in live theatre I wrote it as a musical. But I never really liked the feel of it in this format. It felt limited. Plus, I hadn’t quite come into the ‘hook’ yet, that thing that made me go “yes, this is it!” It wasn’t until years later when I caught a snippet of that TV reality show “The Amazing Race” that I finally got that ‘aha!’ moment. I loved the idea of teams of kids all racing against each other in a glorified kind of scavenger hunt to find something very, very important. DréAmm then became a magical land where virtually anything could happen. That’s when the main character, Root Karbunkulus just showed up and showed me around. Of course then the plot got really got good with all sorts of agendas going on, personal and otherwise. In the end, the name ‘DréAmm’ stayed but everything else was ditched.

Around this same time I was leaving the theatre and facing a new role as Single Mum; the perfect combination for finally doing that thing that you promised yourself that you would do but never did.

What kind of research was involved in writing “The Questory of Root Karbunkulus”?

I didn’t research anything specific but I did have to come up with a system of magic, where there are rules to explain why things work and don’t work. That took some time. I am also constantly observing and learning about things in our world that inspire me to ideas.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I knew from the start that I wanted to go out on my own first. After years in live theatre where budgets dictated everything and I just couldn’t treadmill out another 6-person musical, I wanted complete freedom to explore this new field on my own. From writing my book and having fun creating the book cover with an illustrator to making an awesome website and book trailer. I wanted to do it all for the fun of it but also to learn the business of books. It was very worth it to me.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

It has been both. But always, always worth every bruise. Wearing too many hats, not to mention the Single Mum Crown began to take its toll. I was doing too much and getting burnt out. But the good thing is that I had managed a fair amount of success on my own, which was a great thing to bring to the tables of agents and traditional publishers.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Oh yes, I think an agent is imperative. My book is currently being considered by four major literary agents.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Well, this series is six books and I’m just on book 2 so that’ll keep me busy for awhile. But I also have an idea for another magical adventure in the works.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I get up most days at 4:30 or 5am, jog around the lakes with my dogs and then get to writing. I love writing in the mornings when I feel most refreshed and in tune with myself and my work.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A publicist who is an internet genius with tons of great contacts and Oprah’s BFF J

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

I think self-promotion is absolutely necessary. Right out of the gate I was building an amazing website and book trailer. The trailer won awards and took off on the internet, which was great for creating some buzz. But it was also the most important part of my book tour. I played it on big screens before every reading and it was a huge hit with the kids. You can view it on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIgo1wS_0JI

Or at the book’s website, http://www.rootkarbunkulus.com

Which is also truly incredible and creates a big impression on my teen readers. I had trendy dogtags made up and used them as prizes for Q and A’s along with props and my signature red ‘Valador’ cloak as a costume. I did a huge book launch, too that really got the word out at the beginning. You can also view it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA-b7DAfZrQ&feature=related

The book tour was by far the most rewarding and successful as it helped me to sell 1000 books in 8 weeks. Since then it has been a steady sell. I also submitted my book for reviews and used them in promotions. The internet was probably my biggest challenge as, after the website and trailer, I just had no idea where to even begin. But I think the internet is a huge, HUGE asset to promoting and so I have been learning as I go along.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

We all have different paths to our dreams…it’s like the way a ship is navigated with many detours and changes as the sea demands but always the compass remains steadfast. However way you decide to go doesn’t matter. Just never, ever lose sight of your inner compass. Never give up. You’ll get there sooner than you think. But more importantly, as cliché as it sounds, enjoy the journey. Get there balanced so that you have no ‘tunnel vision’ regrets. Get there with great memories and friends and family to share it with.

Thank you for coming, Kamilla! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Thank you so much for granting me this time to share with you and your readers. It was a thrill and a pleasure. Please let me know if you’d like to do a book giveaway. I would be more than happy to send one out! In the meantime, you can find my book at http://www.rootkarbunkulus.com along with lots of other fun stuff there J

All the very best to you,

Kamilla

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