How did you become a writer?
I started writing for therapy. My therapist asked me to. I was depressed and very much wanted to kill myself. Journaling forced me to get the pain on paper, and the more I did it, the more I wanted to write stories. Not my own sad depressing story, but stories that have been germinating in my head all these years. It's like I've opened a faucet and out they came, pouring.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
Gosh, there are too many. Perhaps the biggest are Russian writers Pushkin and Chekhov and morbid Russian fairy tales I grew up on. Then in my teens I have discovered Stephen King (translated in Russian) and have devoured every book of his I could find. Then came Bulgakov, Nabokov, Dostoyevsky, J.R.R. Tolkien. Later, when I came to US without knowing English, my lit teacher in college said I should write. I couldn't believe him. "It's not my first language," I thought. Then my daughter hooked me up on Chuck Palahniuk, and I fell in love with his style. Then there was Harry Potter and if I won't stop now, I can keep going for another 10 pages... So books. Books were my teachers.
When and where do you write?
I write at a writing desk in my bedroom. Every day. I don't really go anywhere, put on some colorful socks in the morning, drink a bucket of coffee, tweet a little (okay, I tweet a lot), and then start and don't stop until I have written at least 2K words.
What are you working on now?
CORNERS, a book about 4 kids jumping in and out of 30 books after they discover that corners of the world can be turned like pages of a book. It's a fun story, really, because I get to revisit all those books I loved reading when I was a kid, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Little Prince and One Thousand and One Nights and Pippi Longstalking.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I don't believe in writer's block. When I'm stuck, I get up and jump around or do a silly dance or stand on my head (for real) and think and think and think. I wait for a new thought to pop in my head, then sit back down and keep writing. If I'm still stuck and slow, it's either because I haven't slept much (then I take a nap) or because the story doesn't excite me anymore. Then I go back and reread it from beginning. That usually gets me going. Or, if still stuck, I read something brilliant. Always gets me unstuck.
What’s your advice to new writers?
Write a lot and read a lot. Every day. Don't worry about rules or being read or making a living. Worry about the music of your writing. The rhythm. Train your ear. Listen to the rhythm of others. That will help you discover your own. Your voice. That's all there is to it, really. It's that easy and that hard.
Ksenia was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture and not dreaming that one day she'd be writing. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their combined three kids in a house that they like to call The Loony Bin. She gives all her ebooks away for FREE and tweets a lot.