This month’s Featured Author is the fabulous KK Hendin! Let’s get to know her!
1) The question we’re all wondering…Is KK Hendin a pen name? What does the KK stand for?
KK is not the name my parents gave me (I assume y’all knew that by now), but it is a nickname that a lot of my friends use. My full name is Kayla.
2) While you openly state your ambition is to be a pink fluffy unicorn (awesome), what do you do? Are you a lucky fulltime writer, or is there a day job?
I’m not a fulltime writer yet, although I’d love to be one. Until I get to the magical fulltime writerdom (that’s probably where the pink fluffy unicornhood is waiting for me), I work as a preschool teacher. It’s a little different than writing about college-aged kids, but I love it.
3) When and why did you start writing?
I’ve been writing my whole life- but I kind of stopped for a while, which was a dumb idea. I started writing seriously with the intent of publishing in January of 2013 after having made a New Year’s resolution. Resolutions have never stuck, and none of the other 2013 goals happened, but I started writing again
4) You’re a self-published author. Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route?
I self-publish my New Adult novels for a few reasons, the main one being that NA is still a relatively new category, and the main growth right now is still in the self-published books. HEART BREATHS, my first book, has a slight paranormal bent, which would have made genre-picking traditionally a little tricky. Also, I’m a little bit of a control freak, so having the creative freedom to write and publish books the way I want to is super excellent.
5) Have you considered traditional publishing? If not, or if you have, why?
I have! I write YA and MG novels as well as NA novels, and when I feel like one of the YA or MG manuscripts are ready, I will be querying it.
6) Your books all touch on very deep topics, some readers noting them to be depressive. Writing such topics can be mentally draining, how do you handle it all?
That’s a good question. Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I don’t walk into writing a book saying, ‘Oh, hey, let’s write about something super depressing and harsh! WOOO!!’ My main character is usually the first part of any book that I figure out, and as an author, it is my job to tell their stories with empathy and sensitivity. So when I’m writing about an eighteen year old with breast cancer (for example), I’m not writing it and thinking about how depressing it is. It *can* be depressing, yes. But a tragedy or illness in someone’s life is not all who they are, and that’s a big part of my writing process. Yes, Milcah had breast cancer, but she was still an eighteen year old girl who liked crocheting and thought Gabe was super hot. There are times that I will be emotionally drained after a scene, and there are times that I’ll write something and totally not feel anything until I reread it later. And there are times that other people tell me they read something and cried like a baby, and I didn’t cry at all. *shrugs* Who knows.
7) What inspires you to write about these topics? Are there personal experiences, do you do research or do you write purely from the heart?
I can’t say that anything specific my personal life inspired me to write any of my books, so to say, but there are definitely parts of me and my life in every book I write. Usually random quirks that the characters have, or a small backstory or character is based on my life. For example, I crochet, too, but not nearly as well as Milcah does. I do know people who’ve gone through some of the things Maddie has gone through, and I know a lot of people who’ve suffered from cancer, including family members. I always do a ridiculous amount of research- if I’m writing about something that I’m not super familiar with, it’s my responsibility as an author to get the facts right.
The crazy amount of research I do inspired the Goodreads Charity TBR Initiative- after spending so much time writing about fictional characters going through different difficulties, the least I can do to spread awareness is to donate some money to charities that support these people. I started doing it for ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG (where I got to donate $350 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation), and the COME BACK TO TEXAS one is going on now (where I’ll be donating money to the Wounded Warrior Project).
8) Your covers are absolutely kick-ass. Who designed them, and what inspired them?
Thank you so much!! The incredible Hafsah from IceyDesigns does my covers, lucky, lucky me Each cover goes through the same process- I make a Pinterest board and think about what I want on the cover. Usually, I want the cover to have the same vibe as the book, and the cover to connect to a scene in the book. Then I send a ridiculously rambling email to Hafsah and brain vomit all the things. And somehow (I think magic), she comes up with the PERFECT covers. It’s definitely one of the easiest parts of the process
9) What is the most challenging part of being an author?
Putting yourself out there, which manifests itself in a whole bunch of different ways. Marketing is a very delicate balance, because you want people to know about your books and buy them, but you don’t want them to feel like they’re being spammed. An author’s self-esteem is a poor, bruised creature- every book we put out is in essence, a part of ourselves we’re slapping on bookshelves. It’s a terrifying but incredible experience.
10) What advice would you give someone who is looking to publish?
Keep writing. Write more. Research. Do more research. If you’re going to self-publish, invest in an amazing editor and cover designer. Remember that even the people who hate your book are people, too, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You don’t need to agree with everyone. Everyone isn’t going to love you, and that’s okay. Become a part of the writing community- they will save you more times than you realize. Keep writing. Keep writing. Don’t wait for your success to show up before you write another book. Write more. Take care of yourself. Know that one day, your book will be the one that will change someone’s life. Keep going.
Coffee or Tea? Depends. I’m on an iced tea kick, and it’s magical. (Passion tea lemonade or pomegranate tea are my two favorites right now.)
Candles or Fragrance Plug-Ins? Candles. Always candles.
Dogs or Cats? Whatever’s closer and cuddlier.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate.
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner? I’ll eat pretty much anything for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so, all? (I really like brunch, though. It seems very big floppy hat, high heels, air kissing, dahling kind of thing. And dinner parties. Those are fun, too.)
Sweet or Salty? Cheesy. Always cheese. (I know, that wasn’t an answer. But cheese.)
She’s the author of NA contemporaries HEART BREATHS, ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG, and the TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR series (COME BACK TO TEXAS debuts August 18th). She spends way too much time on