Kassandra Kush and Allyson Gottlieb

Over the last 10 days, we’ve introduced you to some very cool ladies and given you the opportunity to win some fabulous prizes.  But by now you might be wondering – who are we?

For our very last post of 10 Blogs in 10 Days (and okay, by doing this we’re kind of making it 11 days… don’t sue!), Kassandra and I decided to pull back the curtain and interview each other, to let you know a little bit about the ladies behind this whole thing.

WARNING: This was done on Skype and has been filtered slightly, but only slightly.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

1239540_10151921834401474_2017757196_n  Author photo

KK: Do you have the questions or do you want me to read them off?

AG: I have the questions, and then I have some other ones in mind as well.  But first, maybe we should tell people the story of how we met?

KK: Yes!  Okay, so I met Ally through a critique website called critiquecircle dot com.  The way it works is that you can put up your stories chapter by chapter, but you have to get credits to put up your own stuff by critiquing other people’s stuff.  So I was on there and I stumbled upon Ally’s book—this isn’t something she’s published so far but it was a really cool story. Then later she messaged me back, because I had put something in one of my chapters about trading novels for anyone who wanted to do longer crits.

AG: I had just joined critiquecircle, and Kassandra’s crit was the first one I’d ever gotten from using that site, so when I saw that she liked it I got all excited.  So I checked her out, saw the novel-trading thing, and then I just emailed her on a whim.  And I’m so glad I did.

KK: The truth is, you have to go with like your gut instinct.  If you’re ever waffling about whether you should talk to someone or ask for something… this kinda goes to show that like you should just do it.  Follow your instincts.

AG: That’s what I love about the way things are today, with the Internet.  You can meet so many amazing and interesting people that you wouldn’t get to know otherwise, because they live on the other side of the country.

KK: Live on the other side of the country, and I had no idea when she messaged me—  For the longest time we didn’t know how old the other one was!

AG: Oh my God, that too!

KK: I was trying to find out, and she’s like “I’m a junior in high school” [senior now!] and I’m all “I’m like 22 years old, no big deal…”

AG: Okay, let’s switch topics.  I’m curious, what inspired you to start writing?

KK: I really have my friend Jamie to thank for that.  I was about ten years old, I went over to her house because I was spending the night and she had started wanting to write this story.  She had just started writing it, and she was asking me for ideas, so I decided I wanted to write a story too.  It started out being The Magic Trapdoor but then I changed it to The Two Charms, and it was about a girl who went to Scotland and stayed in a castle hotel and fell through a magic trapdoor into another land.

AG: Oh my goodness!  No, you don’t understand.  When I was in third grade, I entered this writing contest through Girl Scouts and I wrote a story sort of like that: two girls fall through a trapdoor into this magic world.

KK: *laughing* And there you have it!  Ally and I are the same person in two different bodies.

AG: We seriously are, it’s ridiculous.

KK: So I just came home from that and started writing that story and I just, I never stopped. I got through the first one in that series, started the second one and then just started going off on other things… and now here I am, twelve years later.

AG: My story is a little, well, similar-ish.  I was seven, I had a dream—and of course in hindsight these were horrible, horrible stories, didn’t really have a plot or anything—but I just had this dream and I woke up and was like “this is so cool!”  And because I’m a child of the technology age, I didn’t go write it down in a journal; I asked my dad to set me up a Word document so I could type it up.  I wrote about nine stories in that series and then I don’t know, it sort of went from there.  To this day I still get a lot of cool ideas from dreams.  Sometimes I even try to think about problems in my stories as I’m falling asleep and hope that I can dream up a solution.

KK: I never remember my dreams, so I’m stuck.

AG: Aww, that sucks.  I remember about half of them—or at least I think I remember half of them.  Maybe I’m dreaming a whole lot more and I don’t remember those.  Maybe I could have had more awesome story ideas that the world will never know!

KK: Okay, next question… let’s talk about the Kindle vs. paperback book thing.  What’s your take on that?

AG: I fought it so much.  I love the idea of being able to carry around a ton of books on the Kindle, but then what, I’d have to buy all the books I already own in paperback as ebooks?  Too expensive for my tastes.  Unless they invent some kind of way to upload books you already have in paperback onto a Kindle without having to pay again for them?  That would be fantastic.  Someone really needs to invent that.

KK: I agree, I fought it at first and that’s part of why I was trying to get traditionally published.  It wasn’t until I was in the process of getting Guardian ready to self-publish that I decided I should probably read some Kindle books.

AG: See that’s exactly it for me too.  Once I decided to self-publish Darkest Legacy I figured if I was going to have an ebook on Amazon, I’d better own a couple ebooks.  So now my Kindle app on my phone is full of indie authors’ books.  It’s really nice because now I have like a little library with me all the time.

KK: That’s what I like.  I mostly buy indie books for my Kindle because I want them to support me the way that I’m supporting them.

AG: Exactly!

KK: It’s kind of like a happy medium for me.  I’m always still going to go to bookstores, and I prefer to have Guardian in print, but with self-publishing, you have to make that leap and do both sides of it.

AG: How about something a little more fun now?  If you could go on a date with any fictional male character, who would it be and from what book?

KK: Ahh!!

AG: This is a hard one.

KK: That’s so hard…  What do you think?

AG: Hmm…  Ooh!  Erik from Sophie Davis’s Talented series.  He’s awesome.  You really need to read that, you know.

KK: I started it!  And then, I don’t really know what happened…

AG: Erik is a dreamboat…  Yeah, I say Erik.  He’s blond, with these jewel-like turquoise eyes—because the whole thing about being Talented is that you have these really bright, colorful eyes and that’s how you can tell a Talented person from someone who’s not right away.  Ooh, dreamy…

KK: Okay, have you ever read Perfect Chemistry?

AG: Who’s it by?

KK: Simone Elkeles.  It’s a traditionally published book.  Anyway, the main character in that, Alex Fuentes?  Him.  I want him.

AG: I will have to look this up then!

KK: It’s a good series, I love it.  I think they’re talking about making it into a movie, or maybe a TV show.

AG: Well, speaking of that: how do you feel about the controversy surrounding all these recent YA adaptation movies that don’t do so well?  Would you still be interested in having your books be made into movies, or would you maybe get scared off by this…?

KK: I don’t get scared by it and I think that’s why so many of them do still get turned into movies, because every author wants to see their book come to life.  But I would fight and probably not let it happen unless I was able to have a hand in writing it the way Suzanne Collins did for The Hunger Games.  Especially for something like Guardian, because I know they would try to really secularize it.  Actually, what I would rather see my books turned into is a TV show, because those turn out great.

AG: Yeah but oftentimes they get completely changed to the point where it’s like the main characters have the same names but otherwise they’re completely unrecognizable.  Like Vampire Diaries or Pretty Little Liars.

KK: I think a lot of the movie adaptation thing has to do with the fact that you have to squish and take out so much of the story to make it a proper movie length.  If you could make a three-hour epic film, it’d be great, but no one has the money to spend on that.  But I would probably succumb to it, because I’d want to see it.

AG: What kind of a media adaptation could you do with Darkest Legacy?  There’s not really enough story for a movie… maybe you could do one of those web miniseries things.

KK: Actually there probably is, because if you helped them to write it and embellish the backstory with some stuff from Darkest Shadows, it’d probably be the perfect length.  When you think about it, a novella can probably be adapted to film and stay more true to the book than an actual novel.

AG: That’s an interesting thought.  Now I kinda want to ask my friend if she could try turning Darkest Legacy into a screenplay, just for fun.

KK: I think it would be pretty cool to watch.

AG: The other thing is finding good actors that look like what you imagine.  I feel like no one would ever in a million years be able to satisfy me to play Valentine.

KK: Ooh, I have a good question!  Do you believe in love at first sight?

AG: …Seriously?  You have to go there?

KK: Well, you’re a writer, so chances are you’ve written a book that has like a vein of that in it…

AG: I don’t think so, except for maybe some of my cliched older stuff which is bad for numerous reasons.  There’s definitely attraction and maybe a bit of lust, but I don’t think you can really love someone without knowing them, so… probably not.  What about you?

KK: I… do, although I don’t know if you can really call it love at first sight.  Like you said, love kind of comes over time, but I think that there is such a thing as meeting someone and knowing that you’re going to be with them forever.  My dad asked my mom to marry him the second time they met.  So, I don’t know, I think that you can meet someone and within a very very short time, like even a day… you just know.   So yes.  I kinda do.

AG: Let’s talk writing habits.  Do you work on multiple things at once or do you get tunnel vision on one thing or what?

KK: I am always working on more than one thing at once.  Always.  I like working on different things at the same time.  It’s nice to get a new perspective.  Actually, it’s kind of weird now that I’m self-published and I actually have books out there and people are wanting the sequels, I’m realizing that I can’t just drop something because I get a new idea.  Now I have to stick to a schedule and wait to work on something new.

AG: That is a really strange feeling, and maybe I’m kind of lucky because Darkest Legacy is a shorter piece and I don’t have as many people clamoring for another one the same way.  I’ve always been like that, I work on a zillion things at once and I finally started to scale back a little in the last year or so.  The other thing is that before my focus was sort of all over the place, and now I’m finding things that I really really love, and especially once you’re published and hear that other people like your stuff too, it makes you want to focus.

KK: Like, “oh, this is why I do this!  People like it!”

AG: *laughing* But yeah, I think you definitely need to be able to switch if you get stuck.  The reverse side of that, though, is that sometimes what happens is you get stuck on one thing, you switch and then you get stuck on the new one too!

KK: Yes, yes.  But it’s different now because you sort of have an obligation to finish, so you have to force yourself through it.

AG: It’s not really forcing, because we love it, right?

KK: …Ninety-five percent of the time. *laughing*

AG: Last question: favorite thing about being self-published?

KK: I like having the freedom to make all my own decisions.  I can do whatever I want, like if I want to have four series out there at once I can.  And the other thing I like is how easy it is for people who read my books to contact me and tell me how much they liked them.  You can have that online presence with traditional publishing, but I feel like then you’re sort of less accessible, you know?  So I like that it’s just me and there’s no one to go through, and I can say and do whatever I want.  …Which does make it still a learning experience.

AG: It’s definitely a learning experience.  For me, I love checking my reports on KDP, and even if the amount is tiny, just seeing that I’m making money off of something I love and would be doing anyway… it’s a pretty dizzying feeling.  And I really love being a part of this amazing indie author community, which is just the most amazing and welcoming place.  Seeing all those fabulous indie authors and their success is really what’s making me reconsider whether it’s even worth it to try traditionally publishing now.

KK: I agree, the allure of traditional publishing isn’t what it was.  Pretty much all of those benefits you can get through indie publishing if you’re just persistent and keep going and keep reaching out.  You just have to be willing to do it yourself.  And that makes it even more rewarding, I think, knowing that you did everything to make yourself successful.

AG: It makes you have to have a lot more faith in yourself, but that makes you feel really good when you start seeing some of that faith pay off.

KK: I totally agree.  Everyone should have confidence in themselves, and I can say that mine has like skyrocketed since I’ve done this because people tell me that they like my books, perfect strangers are leaving me five-star reviews and it’s like “Oh!  So I do kind of know what I’m doing.”

AG: Yep, exactly.  It’s really a wonderful feeling.  Okay, let’s say goodbye to our fans—our hopeful fans.

KK: Thank you for being a part of our giveaway event.  Good luck to all of you and happy winning to our winners!

AG: Thank you all so much for making this so amazing, and to current and future readers, thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to reach out.  It’s really awesome being a part of this indie author world.

KK: Don’t forget the indie readers!

AG: Indie readers rock.  No question.

And because you guys rock so much, we’re giving you another chance to win free books!  All of these books were donated by amazing indie authors we’ve gotten to know since joining this fantastic community.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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1 Comment

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One response to “Kassandra Kush and Allyson Gottlieb

  1. Awesome interviews guys! I feel like I know you! 😉

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