ASPIRE: indies taking the world by storm / Kara Swanson


"the only way in or out was by plane," Kara recalls, of the place where she grew up, wewak, papua new guinea. here she spent fifteen years of her life, and cultivated her talent for the written word - living with her missionary parents, in a tribal community. "I was raised in the jungle; my earliest memories are of swimming in crystal-clear rivers and climbing palm trees."

i came into the conversation prepared with the perfect cup of coffee, an open google doc, a gel pen and a few sheets of blank graph paper (i almost never use the lined stuff). i logged onto google hangouts, and Kara and i talked for what felt like merely an hour, but in reality was over two. as if her background story isn't enough of a conversation starter, the eloquent and passionate dialogue that seems to come effortlessly to Kara will grab you by the throat and draw you in like a good story does. twenty one year old Kara is all bright, sparkling eyes, a beaming smile, and a contagious laugh.

"I feel like growing up abroad, in Papua New Guinea, with such a crazy unique backdrop, must have really helped to shape and inspire you as a writer." i comment, imagining the landscape as she describes the rural community where she lived in Wewak.

"As the only English-speaking girl my age in the tribe, I quickly found that my best friends consisted of ink and paper. My time there, surrounded by a completely different world, helped me to realize that books can transport you.” 

"was there a specific ah-ha, wow, i know I want to be a writer moment, or was it just a slow evolution?"

“I never really had a distinct point of ‘i want to be a writer’ - it was just what i did. It started with co-writing a story with a friend. I remember this shot of confidence when I finished, and I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue."

both C.S. Lewis fans, we geeked over Narnia, inevitably. 

"I was home schooled," a smile spreads across Kara's face, and you can see in her eyes that she is back in that small village of her childhood. "at night, in between some required reading for our education, my dad would read us Narnia as a reward. we loved it! Narnia was really a turning point for me as a writer too. It was a major example of how beautifully allegories can be written into stories."

allegories and themes - something that's important to Kara and something that she spends much time and energy weaving into her stories.

"The Girl Who Could See reflects a lot of what I was going through at the time that I wrote it... many of Fern’s struggles are reflective of my own battle with Lyme.”


"All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?"


this captivating tagline is one of the first things that greets you on Kara's new release's Amazon page - and an impressive stack of shining five-star reviews to back it up.

i take a sip of my coffee, glancing over the many notes i've already taken. "did you find that writing helped you through your battle with Lyme?" i ask.

Kara nods without hesitation. "I contracted Lyme just before heading back for another term overseas, when I was 15. It manifested slowly, starting with dizziness, fatigue, and grueling joint pain. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong. By the time I was 17 I was experiencing so much pain on the daily, I would find myself laying on the floor in pain, just trying to get through simple things like school work. Finally, I was tested and we discovered it was Lyme."

i had just seen an instagram post from Kara several days before, a photo in which she proudly holds up her drivers license, now able to drive after years of Lyme making this an impossibility. 

"During that time, one of the few things i could do was write…" she says, thinking back, "I was experiencing slight hallucinations on the regular, and struggling with brain fog, but when i sat down to write, it was like everything just clicked and my brain would clear. That was actually when I started working on The Girl Who Could See. I incorporated a lot of what I went through into the main character. That feeling of, what am I really seeing? Is this real?"


"That's intense. that's amazing that you could pull something out of a dark experience like that and use it for good, and use it to convey a story that will help other people."

"I wanted to communicate that sensation  of standing between two worlds and feeling like you don’t fit in either of them," Kara says thoughtfully, "but ultimately coming to the conclusion that sometimes it’s actually better to stand out."

i scribble down a few notes as she speaks, smiling because as she says this, i'm thinking "wow, that should be on like a tee shirt or something."

"You went indie with The Girl Who Could See, and you're doing some pretty amazing stuff with that. as an indie author, what advice would you give to an aspiring author who's thinking of diving into the indie publishing world?"

"hold it loosely," is Kara's mantra-like response, "think about what your goal is and what you want to do with the book, and what you hope to accomplish. what's your intent? what's your purpose? That is what will drive you forward. Give you the passion to truly do this--and you can do it. realize that publication is not an unattainable goal--but a mountain that can be climbed. And done so with great success. But only if you don’t see that mountain as the only path, but realize that your story is important because it’s yours. A special gift that only you can give, in whatever way that is. Find your why and keep a loose grip on your work... and realize that it's not yours, it's God's."






Grab your copy of The Girl Who Could See


- and get her short story, Seaglass




23 comments

  1. I LOVE THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE!!! I bought it when I bought The Blood Race and both books have made such an impact one me! This series is so amazing!! I love reading about other people who want to do it their way instead of following the way the world tells us we have to do it!

    <3
    ~Ivie
    Ivie Writes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw you had reviewed it! That's so cool! I am thrilled that you enjoyed/were inspired by the post, Ivie!

      Delete
  2. Wow though, this one was incredibly inspiring. <3 I'm in love with this series already.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAAAAY, I'm thrilled you're enjoying the series so far, Anna! This one was definitely an uplifting one - Kara is quite the inspiration :)

      Delete
  3. Aghhhhhh so inspiring and wow what gorgeous covers?????

    ReplyDelete
  4. Such a fabulous series and wow you write so GORGEOUSLY but I have said that before right? :D this is such a unique way of formatting your interview *nods* like straight from the news ;) thanks for doing this for all of us!!

    Lisa
    thisinkwell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! That means a lot to me. <3 Thank you for reading & enjoying!

      Delete
  5. Wow, what a special experience to get to interview and chat with her! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It totally was! Glad you enjoyed this post, Evangeline!! <3

      Delete
  6. This series is my absolute favorite. But then again, I'll forever be head over heels in love with anything that spills from your fingertips.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am in love with this series! (well, really I'm in love with basically everything you create lol)

    As a 17 year old currently battling sickness myself, I think this is honestly the most relatable, inspiring and comforting thing I've read in months. Have I mentioned that I am in love with this series because I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS SERIES <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aww, man, thank you SO MUCH for those sweet words, Katie... that is so encouraging to hear :') thank you!

      I am so happy that this post could be an encouragement to you as you stay strong in your own journey... you are in my prayers, girl. <3

      Delete
  8. I was super excited about this popping up in my feed - I adore Kara Swanson and it was so nice to see this beautiful post.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ahhhh, same! Glad you enjoyed it, Kara Lynn!

      Delete
  9. Whoaaaa. All that dialogue was just GORGEOUS!!! <333

    ReplyDelete
  10. man I love this series so much. You're a wonder, Kate.

    I've been meaning to get around to reading The Girl Who Could See for ages now. Maybe this is the year. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yet another wonderful pt. to this series, Kate. SO GOOD.

    k.

    ReplyDelete
  12. THESE POSTS ARE SO GOOD MY GOSH. Absolutelly loved reading this!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. THIS IS INCREDIBLE and ohmyword those covers. Is this what love feels like? :0

    ReplyDelete
  14. Heya, Kate - I have a bit of a time-sensitive question to ask you, but can't seem to find a way to get a hold of you (the contact form on your author site isn't working) - any chance you can shoot me your email address so I can email you?

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

    ReplyDelete

comments are like dark chocolate and they make this kid way happy. I love hearing from you guys! (check back because I reply...and I love checking out your blogs, so don't leave me without a link to yours!) ♥