Interview with H.S. Kallinger

When did you first start writing?
I started actively writing at 14. I've been telling stories since I was 5, in Kindergarten. I used to entertain my friends for hours with fictional character exploits or story-based play. I started my first novel at 15. It was terrible. Let us never speak of it again. I began writing fanfic in 1998 when it was done through elists and e-mail. It gave me a lot of practice, and I also beta read for others, which improved my own personal writing skills. I finished my first novel a few years ago that I had been working on for several years. It's not very good and is unlikely to ever see the light of day.
Describe your desk
My desk is pretty cluttered. I have a coffee cup, a pair of toddler shoes, my phone, an XBox 360 controller, floss, vitamins, books, a TARDIS cookie jar, my glasses, a pan flute, some pictures my girls drew me, ibuprofen, a stack of DVDs, necklaces and many other random items scattered across it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm agoraphobic. When I had my first book totally done and ready to move to the next stage, I started reading what that meant. Wooing an agent? Going to conventions? Travel? I'm a disabled work at home mom of 3 who can't drive. None of that was an option for me. I just wanted to entertain people, tell my stories. I love giving people a place to escape for a bit of time, something to make them happy. Independent publishing had become a whole new animal from when I had last looked into it only a couple years before (when 'vanity publishing' was the only real option if you weren't up for the chasing agents and publishers game). Suddenly, it felt like a whole world of options was available that hadn't been before. It was perfect for me. I could reach people around the world and make my works affordable! I loved it.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Well, the book I'm writing at the moment is the fifth in the Lost Humanity series. The series started with a nightmare in which I dreamed the entire first half of the book. It was so real that I was confused when I woke up because, to me, I had just been in an entirely different place and was a totally different person. It was so vivid and bizarre (as I didn't recall myself at all, which is basically unheard of for me) that I had to tell someone right away. She told me I should make it into a book -- so I did! No one ever seems satisfied with one, though, do they? The next thing I knew, I was being pestered into a sequel. So the first book is entirely different from the rest of the series in that it's primarily psychological horror while the rest are primarily urban fantasy.
What are you working on next?
I'm planning on working on a post-cyberpunk lite/sci-fi/lesbian romance next. Although I also have a project for a modern fantasy started as well as a horror novel, an elfpunk novel and another vampire-centric urban fantasy series. I really want to work on my sci-fi project, though. Sci-fi has been one of my favorite genres as long as I can remember.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, first and most obvious is being a mom. Taking care of my kids, my husband, my birds. I counsel self-injurious and suicidal teens and young adults on a volunteer basis. I spend too much time on Facebook. I read, although it's mostly just been comic books and science articles the last year.

I take online classes (usually medical or psychology based -- my interests lie strongly in neurology and cardiology -- although I'm taking a history class right now... which would be a shock to all my history teachers growing up). I help moms struggling with breastfeeding issues, again on a volunteer basis.

I watch Netflix and Hulu, although not often (I just did a Doctor Who marathon to catch up for the 50th Anniversary, too). I go to the movies. I have coffee every other Monday with my editor. I'm volunteering next month at Ahn!Con, the Kansas City YAOI convention. I listen to music and practice guitar, too.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My kids. This is actually a pretty meaningful question for someone with severe recurrent depression (chemical, not situational). Before I had kids, I had parrots (well, I still do, but as much as I love them, they aren't quite as meaningful as the tiny humans I get up to care for -- that is not to diminish their importance, though). So, caring for others keeps me going. Of course, sometimes it's my muse, refusing to shut up and let me sleep.
Who are your favorite authors?
Anne McCaffrey, Jim Butcher, Mark Twain, Christopher Pike, J.K. Rowling, Michael Crichton, early Laurell K Hamilton, L.J. Smith, Peter David, Beverly Cleary, Francine Pascal, Bruce Coville, R.L. Stine... I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. I tried to include authors that I loved growing up, too.
What do you read for pleasure?
Urban fantasy, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, comics, manga, webcomics, fiction with unusual main characters/premises, science articles, Cracked articles, etc. I don't read as much as I used to because I spend so much time writing! It doesn't help that reading often stimulates my brain to want to write. I just finished the first issues of Deadpool Kills Deadpool and am currently reading Cold Days by Jim Butcher (as of December 2013).
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Nook. I'll read on my phone, but I prefer eInk.
What is your writing process?
I'm a linear writer. For years, I wrote my book stuff in outline + burst form. It was a slow mess, I struggled terribly with transitions, lost interest, had jumbled sections that didn't quite fit... I compare it to constructing a body. Most authors seem to do it like Leeloo in the Fifth Element was put together -- skeleton, organs, muscles and then finish it off with skin and hair. Not me. I start at the feet and work my way up, sure, but I construct my body as a whole, then I clean up the dirt, close up the holes, make it all pretty and put clothes on it. My imagery tends to run a little morbid.

When I had my dream, I had to reexamine my methods. First, I thought about the first author I knew wrote from his dreams -- Stephen King. I went and read his writing advice. Lo and behold: a fellow linear writer. I used to knock out fanfic like crazy without ever doing outlines and prep work. That appeared to be pretty much what he was suggesting. I used what was useful and disregarded the stuff I don't personally like about his writer's voice.

So I sit down and write. I take notes as I go (keeping a timeline, notes for continuity, character information, etc. -- I've got around a dozen files or so -- do shoddy drawings to keep track of rooms in houses, action scenes, character sketches, etc.) and sometimes I do write a clip of a scene in advance (usually not more than a scene or three), but for the most part, it is very little different from reading for me. I don't know what's going to happen next (and when I do try to 'plan' something, the story likes to mock me and veer off in a totally different direction) a lot of the time.

I guess all of that could have been said with two words: "I write."
How do you approach cover design?
I try to give it relevance to the story inside. I prefer literal relevance and old school urban fantasy style design, but I used new style with my second book, Pet. I enjoy doing a design on both the front and back covers, too. I use free stock, typically from stock.xchng and donated photos from friends (as well as my own).
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. My fans give me the confidence to go on. I'll admit that I don't think highly of myself. I grew up being told that the arts were a good hobby, but couldn't interfere with 'real' work (my mom and sister are both artists and while they make money from their work, it has never been profitable). It was made quite clear by career counselors, society, etc. that writing was worthless. So I went into psychology instead (something I love, whereas writing is something I do because I have to--a compulsion... indeed, I used to despise it as a chore to keep me sane).

But all along the way, I had a few dedicated friends who wanted to read every new thing I wrote. My poems were circulated around the school. My teachers encouraged me to write (and gave me alternate assignments to further encourage it).

Then came fanfic. Suddenly, I had tons of fans telling me how happy (or emotionally manipulated) my writing made them. That made me intensely happy. The only time I really feel fulfilled, like my work matters, is when it makes other people happy (which is another reason I went into psychology, although I originally wanted to study forensic psychology). They kept me going, and eventually, I even married one.

Today, it's still all for my fans. I wouldn't be where I am now without them, and I would just throw all these stories out (because I have to write if I want to get to sleep!). I love my fans.
Published 2013-12-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Castles
Series: Lost Humanity. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 281,180. Language: English. Published: July 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » General
Book 5 of the Lost Humanity series follows Zack Henderson's journey through life as a newly changed vampire and the unexpected, hard challenges brought on by his new nature, particularly within his family.
Predators
Series: Lost Humanity. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 351,470. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Psychological
Death has been following Zack Henderson for ten years now. He woke up surrounded by it on a train a decade ago. He's watched it take friend and foe, strangers and family. It's weighed heavily on his mind. It was through death that his life finally began. He understands better than most how fragile life is, and he's done being prey. At some point, you have to stop running from death and embrace it.
Bridges
Series: Lost Humanity, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 295,360. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Horror » Undead
Bridges is an Urban Fantasy novel from author H.S. Kallinger and the third in the Lost Humanity series. Normal is a point of view. Zack and his family aren't very traditional, but they are most definitely a family. Now a new threat from the darkness has moved into town to attempt to destroy it.
Pet
Series: Lost Humanity, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 169,770. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Horror » Undead
Pet is a Psychological Horror/Urban Fantasy novel from author H.S. Kallinger and the second in the Lost Humanity series. Hate is a four-letter word—one that hits home for Zack Henderson only three years after being the victim of terrible violence. In a world with vampires, humans can still show that being dead is not a prerequisite for being a monster.
Hotel of Lost Souls
Series: Lost Humanity, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 102,800. Language: American English. Published: December 11, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Horror » Undead
(3.00 from 1 review)
Set in a world where vampires are fact, warring and coexisting with humans throughout history, this Psychological Horror/Urban Fantasy novel follows the first person perspective of Zack Henderson as he suffers the dissolution of all he had believed and expected from his life. The focus is on three young adults who are captured, held against their will and develop Stockholm Syndrome.