Interview with Malissa Kent

Published 2014-01-05.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything but horror. I worked at for three years, where I had access to thousands of free print books. I used that opportunity to snag anything that sounded interesting, which greatly expanded my reading horizons! I grew up reading almost exclusively Fantasy, from Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter, but my shelves are now very eclectic--from epic Medieval French poems in the original middle French to narrative nonfiction to historical romances. In fact, since my house has a built-in bookshelf that runs all along my dining room, the first thing guests are drawn to are my books!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a 3rd-generation Kindle, only because I used to work at Amazon. My next e-reader will be a Kobo; I love that you can buy books through your local independent bookstore on it!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town north of Seattle. Seattle was the big city, the place we sat in traffic to visit once a quarter, visiting the same 3 places each time. The town I grew up in had little in the way of a downtown, and even less in the way of entertainment. Since it took 20 minutes to get anywhere exciting by car, I spent a lot of time reading in order to find the adventures I so desperately craved. I read my way through my school libraries and my town library. I also played make-believe a lot, often including my little brother and any willing neighborhood children, creating imaginary adventures for us to go on. It wasn't much of a leap from there to start writing down these imaginary adventures. I always try to write the adventures that I would have loved to live, often set in far-off places or times.
When did you first start writing?
The first time I called myself a writer I was in fourth grade, but I have "books" that I wrote for class in third and second grade, too. For the second grade book we each created a stamp to use on the cover. I made mine in the shape of a first-place ribbon.
I wrote a lot of bad poetry in middle school (didn't we all? Please say yes.), and made a few attempts at a novel. I got the idea for my first Fantasy novel when I was 12, and those characters have stuck with me ever since.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I still have it, actually. It's the story from second grade with the 1st-place ribbon stamps dotting the cover. It was about me (as a unicorn) and my two best friends (as a cat and a rabbit) helping to build our school's new playground. I actually did help build the new playground--the Kids Oasis--and it's still standing and being enjoyed by kids at that school today, just like the ending to that first story.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This is a concept I've been working on for over a decade, struggling to figure out how to make it say what I want it to say. It's partly about my experience studying abroad in France as a 16-year-old on September 11, 2001, and coming "home" to the Seattle area in August 2012. A completely different country greeted me than the one I had left, and I had severe reverse-culture shock. For a long time I thought the only place I could feel at home was France. This novel takes the idea of nationality and turns it on its head, making it a more conscious decision than a random act of birth, but is set in a Medieval Fantasy world.
What is your writing process?
I do a lot of writing in my head before I commit anything to paper (or screen). Of course, what I end up writing down is never exactly what I had in my head... When I'm writing novels, I write in longhand, on sturdy notebooks. That's my draft 0.0, as one of my writing friends just called it. Draft 1.0 is typing those hand-written pages, which is where I do my first round of editing. Then it's off to the races with on-screen editing, though I'll also print out the full draft and edit on paper to catch all those pesky typos. If I'm writing a short story, though, I tend to go directly to the computer.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My day job takes up most of my time. Outside of that and writing, I read a lot, and try to attend as many local author events as possible. My fiancé and I love to cook, take classes, and travel. And when we're not actually traveling, I'm typically daydreaming about where our next trip might take us. I also carve out some time for freelance editing and the occasional consultation on e-publishing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love the exploratory nature of writing. When I'm writing a character, I get to become someone else entirely for a while. I do research into weird topics, like Parisian fashion inspired by the Eiffel Tower. I've taken broadsword lessons and chainmaille classes; I've spent a week at a castle and been accidentally locked inside a French graveyard, all for the sake of research and getting to know my characters better. The better I know them, the better I can let them tell their stories to the world. And if I'm lucky, my characters will allow readers to experience a point of view they hadn't encountered previously. And hopefully have some adventures along the way!
What are you working on next?
I have a few more short stories in the pipes: A Steampunk short set in the same alternate 1889 Paris as "The Heart Is the Matter," published in Ann VanderMeer's wonderful anthology Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution. A Fantasy story about a lord who was turned into a dragon, and then back into a man, in the vein of "The Match Makers." A Sci-Fi short about a near future where mega-corporations decide everything for individuals, in the vein of "Mind Melding."
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Books by This Author

The Match Makers
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,470. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Fairy tales, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Rasp--known in some cultures as Rumpelstiltskin--and the Fairy Godmother work together to match princesses and princes. But when a princess guesses Rasp's true name, his match making abilities are gone. And what seems like a blessing may turn into a curse...
Mind Melding
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,580. Language: English. Published: August 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(4.00 from 1 review)
Convicted criminals are no longer sent to prison as a lost cause...they're offered rehabilitation into normal society. Inmates enter the mind of a civilian for a few days to observe the thought processes of a normal, non-criminally inclined person. Indira is a bank robber who has been in the program since its inception. She's out to escape prison for good. Short story, app. 4,000 words/15 pages