Interview with Anna Kashina

Thank you for this interview, I am excited to be here.
 
Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
I was born in Moscow, Russia, and came into the United States as an adult.
The thing I love most about Moscow, back then, is that everyone I ever knew lived in the same city, no more than an hour travel away. I learned to appreciate it a lot after I moved to the US, where my closest friend lives across the continent. Of course Moscow changed, so this would not be applicable if I went back now.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
At four, a doctor, then a teacher. At ten or so, I decided I wanted to be a scientist. This was the top occupation, at least in my circles. And, secretly, I always wanted to be a writer but I never said it out loud.
Tell us about your latest book.  
“Blades of the Old Empire” is a fast-paced traditional fantasy with elements of romance. It takes place in the Kingdom of Tallan Dar, part of the ancient Shandorian Empire that disintegrated hundreds of years ago. A dark order, the Kaddim, would like to restore the Old Empire and put their leader into power. But the Tallan Dar royal family stands in their way. So Prince Kythar, and his father King Evan, become the targets for the Kaddim’s attack.
This is it, in a nutshell. The book is part of the series called the Majat Code, but since other blogs are talking a lot about the Majat warriors, I’ll leave off here.
This book was a lot of fun for me to write. I hope the readers would pick on this fun and enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I recently finished Book 2 of the Majat Code, “The Guild of Assassins”, which will be coming out this summer. I am now working on book 3. Each book in the trilogy is meant to be a standalone, but they also continue the same story which will hopefully come to a satisfactory conclusion at the end of Book 3.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Lately–finding time. I have a busy day job and two small kids. Don’t ask me why do I think I have time to write at all.
In general, I think of writing as my indulgence time. When everything works just right, nothing can compare to the fun of it. When things don’t work, it’s challenging and usually means I must step back and rethink something.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Persevere. The odds of getting published are nearly impossible, but if you are good at writing you will get through eventually. It is important to believe in yourself and not to give up.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Since my challenge lately is time, I don’t really have writer’s block. If there is something I need to write I go for it. If things don’t flow naturally I just force myself to put it on paper anyway so that I could edit later.
I tend to start novels and put them aside, and then find it hard to commit to working on just one. This is easier with publisher’s deadlines, when working on a series, because there is no possibility of straying to anything else. If the Majat Code series takes off I hope to be writing these novels for a while. If not, I will probably have a block choosing what to work on next.
Who is your favorite author and why? 
I have a number of authors I really love, but since we are talking about fantasy, I choose Terry Pratchett. His writing is very light and humorous, yet he conveys depths that many serious writers fail to even scratch. And his prose is just so beautiful. I try not to miss any of his books, and have a few favorites I re-read from time to time.
What books have most influenced your life?
Again, there are several, so I will go with the ones that came to mind first: Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” and “The Idiot”. He writes as if he understands your soul. After reading his novels I walked down the street and expected everyone to see through all my feelings and thoughts and to know all my problems. It took a while each time to come back to real life. I think reading these books, at fourteen, first opened my mind to the underlying currents of the human mind. It changed both my life and my writing.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
I try to forget them and move on. I think this is the only way to handle them, really.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
I would have said a pen, a notebook, and a reference shelf, but I have stopped writing longhand and I do tent to drift to the web for research these days. So, for a modern author, a computer with fast internet connection, and possibly a Kindle or a Nook for reading.
Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I don’t like gore, so my threshold for gore is pretty low. If a scene is horrible enough I normally describe it more through characters’ reactions than through actual visual details. It could be more powerful, actually. And, just to keep the records straight, there is no excessive gore in “Blades of the Old Empire”.
It is different with erotic content. I am all for it if it serves the story. If it takes over a scene, it is probably a bit too much. Again, “Blades of the Old Empire” is fairly i
nnocent in that sense, but I’ve grown bolder with it lately and am exploring it more in the sequel.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Probably practicing some fighting scenes with my dog, since no one else would do it with me. She didn’t mind.
Don’t forget to give us links to your website etc.
Thanks! You can find me at:
www.annakashina.com (links to my blog at http://annakashinablog.wordpress.com/)
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593
https://twitter.com/annakashina
And my book at:
http://www.amazon.com/Blades-Old-Empire-Book-Majat-ebook/dp/B00EX42MQO/
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blades-of-the-old-empire-anna-kashina/1116251239?ean=9780857664136
http://www.randomhouse.com/book/236954/blades-of-the-old-empire-by-anna-kashina

and other major retailers.