K.L Kranes is a Virginia author debuting her first novel, The Travelers. This novel is about two Wiccan tribes and the love story between the two main characters, from opposite sides of the feud. I reimagined Romeo and Juliet story that takes place in the underbelly of our beloved state. I had the pleasure of speaking with K.L. Kranes about her experience writing her debut novel, a feat that took her 10 years to complete.
This book is an important part of K.L. Krane’s life. One scene is even based on one of her own memories with her husband. According to Kranes “[The Travelers] centers on this relationship between Marc and Dagny, who actually meet by chance on a plane. That chance encounter was actually based on how I met my husband, obviously without the witches and magic. But, many of the details in that meeting in the book are exactly what happened when I met my husband on a plane from LA to Australia. I had an editor once make a comment that the scene wasn’t realistic and would never happen like that and I could only think ‘but it did!’”
What is The Travelers about?
K. L.: The book follows Dagny and her family, who are Travelers. Imbued with magical abilities, they can transfer their souls from body to body, staying young forever. But it is not safe in the world for Travelers. For centuries, Dagny’s family has been pursued by an unknown enemy bent on their destruction. The only way to stay safe and hidden is to keep Traveling. But when Dagny meets Marc, everything changes. For the first time, she wants a future that doesn’t involve changing bodies. Despite the risk, Dagny vows to stop Traveling and be a normal girl. But as her enemies start closing in, Dagny starts to wonder if she can ever really be normal and if she can actually trust Marc.
What makes The Travelers stand out from other fantasy novels?
K. L.: The Travelers isn’t just a standard fantasy novel about witches, where a girl meets a boy, falls in love and sinister forces try to tear them apart. My overall goal was to create a story about two groups of people who hate each other and, then, make the reader feel sympathy for both sides. Therefore, the book changes perspectives often. Although Dagny is the main focal point, it doesn’t just follow her character. The book takes a scene or experience and shows it to you from several different points of view. I hoped this approach would underscore the idea of trying to understand differences rather than judging with little information (i.e, “walk a mile in someone’s shoes”).
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
K. L.: Dagny is a Traveler, which means she is part of a group of witches that can move their souls from body to body and stay young forever. Travelers are rare and powerful, but also hated in this Wiccan world. Even among Travelers, Dagny is different. She is even more powerful than other Travelers. But, Dagny doesn’t want this power. She just wants to be a normal girl. I think that desire makes her special. Everyone wants to be a superhero. Here is someone who has great power and can stay young forever, travel the world with ease. Instead, she would rather grow old in one place and live a normal, peaceful life.
In a previous interview you describe her as “feisty.” Why is that?
K. L.: Travelers are hated in book and because Dagny is so powerful, her family fears even more for her safety. They keep her life strictly controlled. Unfortunately for them, Dagny is headstrong and impulsive. At the beginning of the book, she tries to be a good daughter and sister. But as the novel progresses, you see her rebel against her family, refusing to let their prejudices and fears become her own.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
K. L.: The idea started with the concept. I wanted to write a book about two people on opposite sides of a feud who’d been taught to hate each other and how they overcome that engrained hostility. I also wanted to turn the tables on the typical story often seen in YA fantasy books, particularly vampire novels where the older, wiser vampire falls for a young girl. And I didn’t want to write another vampire story, plenty amazing ones have been written already. So I came up with the idea of Travelers who move from body to body and stay young for centuries and made the main character a female Traveler who falls for a technically younger boy.
How much research did you have to do for this book?
K.L.: This may sound strange, but I tried not to do too much research. My fantasy novel is about magic and Wicca. However, I didn’t want it to be reflective of the actual Wicca religion. Sometimes I would research symbols or meanings for inspiration. But, in general, I wanted the witches not to be constrained by current convention.
What is the hardest thing about writing this novel?
K.L. I think the hardest part was actually showing it people. I spent 10 years writing this book, not because it took me 10 years to write it. But because it took me a long time to build up the courage just to show it to my husband. Then, it took even more years before I showed it any additional people. My parents and best friend only read it with in the last year during the publishing stages.
What draws you to the fantasy genre?
K.L. I’ve always enjoyed the dark, mystical aspect of stories. My first favorite books growing up were by R. L. Stein, Stephen King and Anne Rice. As a girl I wanted to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I like that fantasy takes you into a different and exciting world, but still reflects something about real life. In fantasy, novels you can explore issues and concepts through a different lens and I think, sometimes, that can be even more effective than showing people reality.
How long did it take to write your book?
K. L.: It took me about 10 years. However, as I said previously, I didn’t write it the entire time. I shelved the book for years on end at different points because it took me so long to build up the courage to show it to anyone, let alone submit it to a publisher.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
K. L.: My best tip is to stop whatever you are writing and write something else. For me, it’s kind of like when you can’t think of a word or an idea, so you do something else and then it pops into your head. Writing something completely different, even it if it something mundane like an email, clears my head and helps me move forward on my other project.
Why do you write?
K. L.: The simple answer is because I love it. I can start writing something and spend hours on it and it feels like only minutes have passed.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
K. L.: I wish I wrote a lot of books. However, I recently read Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I couldn’t help thinking as I read it how much I wished I could write something so unique and powerful. To me, it was like The Color Purple meets Gulliver’s Travels. I’d never read anything like it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
K. L.: Don’t be afraid to show people your writing or wait so long before submitting it to publisher.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
K. L.: Probably the same advice I’d give my younger self. Don’t be afraid. Show your work to people. Feedback is critical and helps to shape you as a person and a writer.
Be on the look-out for this Virginia Native’s debut novel The Travelers paper back was recently released on June 23, 2016! It would make a great read for October or gift for the Halloween lover in your life! Also, be sure to check out her blog at klkranes.com/blog.
Written by Nicole Brobston