Kristina Adams is an author of women’s fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes poetry (when she has time), and blogs about writing and productivity. Her second book, What Happens in London, is out now.
What Happens in London is the follow up to your debut novel, What Happens in New York. Did you always envision the books as a series or did this just naturally evolve?
It’s based on a series I wrote as a teenager and in my early twenties, so I always planned for it to become a series. What I didn’t plan for is the direction it’s taken me in.
I started the series from scratch in 2015 because I’d changed so much since I created the characters—both as a person and as a writer—and I wanted what happened to the characters to reflect that. The published series is a lot darker and real than the original.
Unlike the original series, I have several spin-offs planned that centre around secondary characters from the series.
Tell us a little bit about what readers can expect from What Happens in London?
A little bit of everything (no, really).
It’s set a couple of weeks after Hollie and Fayth return from New York. They’re back to reality but have both changed dramatically since the beginning of What Happens in New York.
They soon realise they don’t fit into their old worlds any more, but they’re not necessarily ready for new ones either.
The book deals with everything from relationships to anxiety to disability to grief to entrepreneurship to stalking. I set myself one hell of a challenge in writing it!
What are your experiences of self-publishing and would you recommend it to others? Do you think it works better for certain genres and books that link in a series, for example?
I felt that it was the right path for me, but it’s not for everyone.
There’s a lot more work in self-publication than there is in going down the traditional route.
I like that I have control over things like the cover design and marketing, but both of those things are incredibly time-consuming. If I didn’t have to focus on things like that I could write books a lot faster.
I think it depends on what drives you and what’s most important to you as a writer.
If you just want to write for fun and focus on writing, traditional publishing is probably better for you.
The average self-published book only sells 5-10 copies, so if you don’t put the marketing in, you’ll be forever stuck in that bracket.
A lot of self-published authors do say that you need a series to grip your readers and keep them coming back.
I have noticed an increase in sales of both books since What Happens in London was published, but it’s still too early to tell if it’s because it’s a series or just because there’s now more ways for people to find my books.
I would say that most authors these days write series for a reason, though—I once heard that someone needs to read six books by a particular author before they even remember the author’s name! (I really hope that’s not true.)
Which writers inspire your writing the most?
Richelle Mead had a big impact on me as a writer. I started reading her books at the suggestion of a friend, and the way she approaches relationships between the characters really changed how I approach them. I’m not usually into vampire novels, but I really connected with the characters.
Matthew Syed, who started off as a sports journalist, also really inspires me. While I’m not into sports (you’ll struggle to find someone who dislikes sports more than me), his book, Black Box Thinking, had a huge effect on me. I read it right after I published What Happens in New York, and it definitely affected how I approached What Happens in London, and also some of the changes I made to the second edition of What Happens in New York.
What is your favourite underrated novel or lesser known author?
It’s not technically a novel, but Black Box Thinking isn’t very well-known in the literary world.
I think it’s a book EVERY writer should read, though.
There are a lot of lessons we can take from it on perseverance and hard work.
You can’t always wait for the muse to show up—sometimes you just have to sit down and write.
I’ve mostly read nonfiction in the last year, so coming up with a novel is really difficult!
Did writing and publishing your first novel change your writing process at all?
Yes, far more than I expected. I used to write intermittently and when I felt inspired. I’d stress myself out quite a lot by insisting I didn’t have any ideas, but it was because I put too much pressure on myself.
When I decided to rewrite and publish What Happens in New York, I wrote daily, even if I didn’t want to. I also started free writing, something I’d always struggled to do in the past. Pretty much every spare moment I had was spent writing.
While I’m not quite so obsessive now, I still spend as much time as I can on my books. I always make sure to have a few hours each week to myself to watch my favourite shows and/or do some baking, though.
I’m going to look at the lessons I’ve learnt and the mistakes I made in my upcoming nonfiction book, Productivity for Writers, in the hopes that other people can learn from my journey.
How does doing a ‘digital book launch’ compare to a physical one?
I thought it would be less work, but it still required a lot of planning.
Organising a physical book launch requires finding a venue, getting some drinks/snacks, designing launch posters, contacting the local papers…it was so much work and while I enjoyed it, it was also quite stressful.
I had a lot of things going on at the same time as the book publication this year, so felt I’d do things differently. Many of my readers are also based abroad, so I felt that doing something more digital would mean that anyone could attend, and I’d get to do things a little more last-minute.
I still had to plan out what I wanted to talk about and tidy my writing room, though. If you put those things together it probably took as long to organise the digital book launch as the physical one!
Have you started on novel number three yet?
I actually started it before What Happens in London was even finished—it’s really important to me to have a vague idea of what happens in the next book so that I can foreshadow things.
I tend to keep my outlines flexible, though—I think it’s important for our characters to keep us on our toes. If they don’t surprise us, how can they surprise the reader?
The next book will be a novella in which Fayth deals with the aftermath of What Happens in London, then book three will be set in Barcelona and focus on all four characters again.
I’m also working on the aforementioned spin-offs, one of which I hope to publish this year or early next year.
My plan is to publish either Fayth’s novella or one of the spin-offs this year, along with Productivity for Writers.
Famous last words, maybe?
You can find out more about Kristina’s books at www.kristinaadamsauthor.com.
You can also check out her blog, www.writerscookbook.com, where she shares details of her publishing journey and advice on writing and productivity.
Follow her on Twitter at @KristinaAurelia.