K. A. Last was born in Subiaco, Western Australia, and moved to Sydney when she was eight. Artistic and creative by nature, she studied Graphic Design and graduated with an Advanced Diploma. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she concentrated on her career before settling into family life.
Blessed with a vivid imagination, she began writing to let off creative steam, and fell in love with it.
K. A. Last is currently studying her Bachelor of Arts at Charles Sturt University, with a major in English, and minors in Children’s Literature, Art History, and Visual Culture. She now resides in the countryside on the mid-north coast of NSW.
Now, on with the interview...
ME: What is your favorite childhood book?
KA: I loved The Wizard of Oz in the little Golden books. When I was a bit older I had an obsession with The Baby Sitters Club and Famous Five.
ME: What is the first book that made you cry?
KA: I don’t really remember the first one, but My Sister’s Keeper made me blubber uncontrollably. There have been plenty of books since that have brought a tear to my eye.
ME: Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?
KA: No, but I wish it was. I’m a graphic designer and I have my own freelance cover design business at KILA Designs, which is a proud sponsor of Romancing the Coast. I also work part-time from home for a friend who is an artist and author. Then there’s being a part-time student as well. I’m currently studying my BA with a major in English, and minors in Children’s Literature, Visual Communication, and Art History.
ME: Whoa... You're a busy little bee. Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it?
KA: I don’t actually write erotica. I write for the YA market in speculative fiction, so urban fantasy, fantasy, and paranormal romance mostly. My stories are more action based than romance though. Although there is kissing. And yes, my family and friends know that I write and publish my own books. They’re pretty supportive.
ME: This is true, standardise questions for a predominantly romance based group, don't always work for everyone :P Do you believe in writer’s block? If not why not? And if so what suggestions do you have to start the juices flowing again.
KA: I’ve never had writer’s block, but I have had a huge lack of motivation. I think if you want to write you will, and for me sometimes it’s just hard to get my butt in the chair. I have so many other things going on in my life that I struggle to keep a routine. I’m a sporadic writer, but when I’m not writing I’m always thinking about writing. Still, I do believe writer’s block is a real thing for some writers. My advice is to just do something different. Walk away for a while, clear your head, then get back to it.
ME: Cool, now let's talk about your process. Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
KA: I started out as a pantser and wrote my first book, Fall For Me, that way. I also wrote Immagica and Sacrifice by the seat of my pants, but when I got half way through writing Fight For Me it was getting harder. I really struggled with that book, and as a result both Die For Me and The Lovely Dark were plotted. I’m now a convert, and outlining is something I’m addicted to. I currently have in excess of twelve books at some stage in the outlining and writing process.
ME: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
KA: Although I’m a converted plotter, I’m very much a wing-it kind of writer when it comes to research. I tend to do it as I go. Depending on the story, I might do some initial research and take some notes before I start to write, but they’re not in depth. I love creating Pinterest boards for my books, and I find I add to these before I start writing, while I’m writing, and even after the book has been published.
ME: Would you rather write standalones, standalones with connections to your other works, or multi book series with no true conclusion until the very end?
KA: I enjoy writing both. I have a four book series, and two standalone books. Although my standalone novels have a lot of scope for other books in the same worlds or with the same characters. In the works I have a six-part series, a couple of duologies, and a few standalone books as well.
ME: Where do your story ideas come from?
KA: Nowhere. Everywhere. I get ideas very randomly. Immagica came to me because I was drawing one night and I designed the amulet that’s in the story. The Lovely Dark was spawned from a title brain-storming session I had with my writers’ group for one of the other author’s books. The Tate Chronicles all started because firstly I wanted to see if I could write a book, and angels and vamps were popular at the time, and secondly because I just had this clear image of someone walking along a busy highway with no memory of who they were. You’ll have to read the series to see where that fits in. My other ideas just pop into my head. Sometimes it all stems from a character, other times an event. Some ideas stay and others leave as quickly as they came.
ME: Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?
KA: Events, no. Places, yes. Apart from Immagica which is a complete fantasy world of my own imagination. My characters are never really based on anyone I know, because they are their own people (stay with me here) and they are as individual as anyone and everyone around us (I’m not crazy).
ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?
KA: Not really. I try and make my characters everything I wish I could be, while at the same time making them their own individual selves.
ME: What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?
KA: This is again totally random. I choose names I like most of the time. I do often look at the meanings though to make sure the name will fit with the character’s personality.
ME: Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?
KA: I haven’t found any of my characters overly difficult to write. I’ve loved writing all of them. If I had to choose, I’d probably say Hope and Justice from The Tate Chronicles. They are only in Fight For Me, but because they’re a hunting duo as well, it was hard to differentiate them from Grace and Archer, and give them their own convincing personalities and such. I found it hard to make them not be like Grace and Archer. Their dynamic is similar though.
ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?
KA: No. I can’t say that any of my characters have pissed me off enough to kill them. Although, I have killed some for various other reasons.
ME: What was your hardest scene to write?
KA: If I told you that it would mean spoilers! Although I can say that it’s a fight scene, and it’s in Die For Me, the last book in The Tate Chronicles.
ME: Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?
KA: Both. I get really excited about writing, especially if it’s a new, shiny idea, but I also get tired sitting at my desk. I don’t have the best posture, so I need to get up and walk around often.
ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?
KA: This is a hard question. I don’t have a favourite animal as such, but crows have always fascinated me. I love birds in general, but the crow (or raven) is mysterious. Birds for me also symbolise freedom and voice. I have three birds tattooed on my left wrist. They’re there as a reminder to always follow my imagination and let my voice be free.
ME: Cool, now for a little advice for the upcoming authors out there. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
KA: You should have started earlier! I didn’t start writing until I was well into my thirties. I wish I had have found my passion when I was much younger. Imagine how many books I could have published by now.
ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
KA: The most common: publishing too early if you want to self-publish. I‘m guilty of this with my first book. I thought it was ready, I thought I was ready, but we weren’t. Another big trap is a writer/author thinking they don’t need an editor, or a cover designer, or a formatter, etc. Unless they’re also a trained editor/designer they’re going to need these people to help them make their book the best it can be.
ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
KA: The money I’ve spent on face to face events, because that’s where I get to meet my readers, find new readers, meet other authors, and make new friends. Also, what I spend on editing. I design my own covers because I have the skills, but editing – I leave that to the professionals.
ME: Great advice! Thanks so much for your time, KA. We look forward to seeing you at RTC2018!