PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?
Kristen Morie-Osisek: My name is Kristen Morie-Osisek, and I’m currently living in Connecticut. I have a Ph.D. in psychology, but I’ve also long been interested in prehistory and paleontology, which is what led me to write my book, The Sixth Event.
PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?
KMO: Back in probably fourth or fifth grade, I was bitten by the writing bug. I had always been a voracious reader, and it was around the time I discovered the fantasy genre that I realized I could write stories of my own. I started trying to write by hand, and because I have a very hard time doing that, it didn’t really go anywhere. Once I learned to touch type, though, I began writing short descriptive scenes and short stories. Finally, once I had free time in college, I finished an entire novel. From there, I just kept going. I have to say that it all started through reading—I don’t think I would have begun had I not been a huge reader as a kid.
PW: I think many writers do begin as readers, or at least good writers do. Writers who don’t read don’t write all that well in my experience.
What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?
KMO: The Sixth Event actually started life as a short story. I had always had the idea of someone waking up at a previous moment in their life at much younger age and trying to change something that will happen in the future. I brought a draft of that story to a creative writing class in college, and while it needed work, everyone really liked the concept, so I kept it in my back pocket. In addition, I’ve always been fascinated by extinct animals—everything from the dinosaurs to giant mammals in the ice age. I combined the two ideas into one in The Sixth Event, where the main character gets thrown back in time to prevent another planet-wide extinction event. The idea evolved from there.
PW: Sounds fascinating. In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?
KMO: Hmm… probably something like “This time, extinction isn’t the end.”
PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?
KMO: This one’s a toughie since I don’t know actors or actresses very well. I would probably want new talent to come in! The characters are very down-to-earth, so it’d be neat to get some new up-and-coming actors to play the roles.
PW: What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?
KMO: My favorite book of all time is TailChaser’s Song, by Tad Williams. Its animal fantasy about a cat and cat society. Think Warriors but darker and more fantastical. As for favorite authors, I love Mercedes Lackey and Anne McAffrey. Sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite genres.
PW: Oh my God, I love Tailchaser’s Song! I read Watership Down and then Tailchaser and just love them both. What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?
KMO: At the moment, I’m reading The Storyteller Trilogy by Sue Harrison, which is fiction that follows Native American tribes that takes place in Alaska during the ice age, 800 years ago. It’s a really fun look back at the past. Up next, I intend to read some more YA, including the Maze Runner series, which I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.
PW: Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?
KMO: I tend to write as inspiration strikes, sitting on my couch in between playing video games. I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to write at least 400 words a day.
PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?
KMO: I’m a bit on the slow side—a book a year is my likely rate, with novellas or short stories added in on the side. As for readiness, I typically will finish the book, then take a break from it for a few months before going back and editing. Once a beta reader takes a look and I do one last editing pass, I call it ready.
PW: How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?
KMO: The Sixth Event had a lot of near misses before I heard the unfortunate news that no one wanted dystopian or apocalyptic books any longer. After about a hundred queries and 25 or so full requests, and two editor requests, I went with small presses. Evernight Teen snapped it up very quickly!
PW: I had a similar experience with Manifesting Destiny. What are you working on now?
KMO: I have a YA portal fantasy series called A Ring of Stones in the works. Book 1 is complete and Book 2 is in the works, out of what will likely be three or four books. In Book 1, a young girl, Ryn, discovers she can walk through the veil between worlds and enter the fairy realm at will. The fairy world was closed off from the human world centuries ago, and Ryn has to figure out why she can travel the two worlds and how to protect the human world from powerful fairies who want to harm it.
PW: Cool! I keep hearing “portal fantasy” getting thrown around these days and had to look it up. Seems to mean a story that involves a magical doorway of some kind (in case anyone else was wondering).
What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?
KMO: Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses, so it would depend on the person, but the old clichés still work. Practice makes perfect. Write every day. And most importantly, keep reading! Reading and enjoying other people’s books is the best way to keep your own creative juices flowing.
PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?
KMO: Given academia these days, probably scrambling for grant money. 😛 Seriously though, I hope to keep finding success. I want to put out my YA portal fantasy with Evernight Teen, and hopefully have the whole series out by then!
PW: Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:
KMO: This was said at my middle school graduation (class of 2000!). It’s a cliché saying, but I love it. “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars.”
PW: Favorite color:
KMO: Probably green.
PW: Favorite TV show:
KMO: I love The Simpsons, but the TV show that will always give me warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings is Dinosaurs. Yep, the old puppet show. And if we include anime, Trigun! I love space westerns.
PW: “Not the Mama!” (Nod to those who get it.) Favorite movie:
KMO: There are so many good ones! I think the most recent would likely be Rise of the Guardians.
PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:
KMO: Einstein. I’d love to chat about the history of the universe with him.
PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?
KMO: My website, which I should update more often, can be found here: http://sfwrites.blogspot.com/
The Sixth Event can be bought from Evernight Teen here: http://www.evernightteen.com/the-sixth-event-by-kristen-morie-osisek/
Or at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sixth-Event-Kristen-Morie-Osisek-ebook/dp/B01FEEITZ4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472521826&sr=8-1
During Raquel’s first semester of college, she witnesses the end of the world, only to wake up in her old room at her parents’ house two years in the past. Even worse, it seems she’s the only one who remembers—until Chris Lyley, a boy Raquel always thought was a loser, tells her he remembers the catastrophe.
Before long, they both discover new abilities. They’re able to understand any language and teleport through time and space. If Raquel and Chris can figure out what caused the end of their world, maybe they can stop it.