Today I invited Kristina Mahr to join us and talk about her newest release, All That We See or Seem.
Kristina Mahr devotes her days to numbers and her nights to words. She works full-time as an accountant in the suburbs of Chicago, where she lives with her two dogs and two cats, but her true passion is writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and waking up at the crack of dawn every weekend to watch the Premier League.
Now some questions!
How did you come up with the idea for All That We See Or Seem?
Luckily for me, my sister has the most vivid possible dreams! So one day, way back in February 2014, she told me about a dream she had about a girl who falls in love with a boy she meets in her dreams. As you can imagine, it sparked a lot of questions in my mind. Who was this girl? What were these dreams like? Was it all happening inside of her head? What hope was there for her and this boy? All of these questions haunted me in that lovely way that story ideas do, until the pieces that came to form All That We See Or Seem fell together.
Which books or authors have influenced you the most?
One of my foremost influencers is Marisa de los Santos. She writes adult fiction, but she has the most beautiful, lyrical prose. Specifically, her novel Belong to Me is full of lines that make me want to dramatically clasp my hands to my chest and fall to my knees, they’re just so gorgeous.
My other biggest influence is Maggie Stiefvater. Not only is her writing style also right up my alley with the poetic feel to it, but her characters come to life so vividly and distinctly. Scorpio Races is one of my all-time favorite novels because of this. Reading it is like stepping into the pages and being part of that world.
And then, I absolutely have to mention Tahereh Mafi. Her Shatter Me series… goals. Absolute writing goals. She essentially writes poetry in prose form, and she does it so stunningly, I have to pause every now and then to reread lines over and over again just to marvel over the way she manages to arrange words.
What is your writing process like?
I start with an outline, but I always laugh while I create it, because I know there is simply no way I’m going to stick with it. But it gives me an idea of the story I want to create. Along with the outline, I like to know the world in which the story will exist. And, most importantly, I like to understand the main characters – who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish. From there, I’m ready to start writing! The first 10k words or so typically spill out of me onto the page because there’s nothing like beginnings. They’re exhilarating and exciting. But then, inevitably, I hit a wall. I refer to my outline and see how far I’ve strayed, and now that I know my characters better, I reevaluate what’s to come. I create a plot map to have a visual of upcoming scenes. I do the majority of my planning at this point, now that I’ve got a beginning.
I’m also the type of writer who cannot stand to write a messy first draft. I edit as I write, and I have a hard time leaving a scene behind unless I’m completely happy with it. It might make the first draft take a little longer, but it helps a lot in terms of revisions.
What gave you the most difficulty when writing All That We See Or Seem?
Bran was probably the trickiest character for me to write. I know Reeve backwards and forwards, and Arden was just so much fun, but Bran… he was a tough nut to crack. He keeps his emotions very in check and has some pretty high walls built up, and especially when writing first person from Reeve’s perspective… well, she has no idea what he’s thinking a lot of the time! But as the writer, it was my job to break him open and let the reader (and Reeve!) get a glimpse of what makes him tick. What he wants, what he fears. How he became the person he is. I hope I succeeded. I certainly feel like I came to know him and love him! (I’m heavily biased, though. I love all of my characters.)
What is your favorite writing fuel?
Iced tea! So much iced tea. I need it to start my days like other people need coffee.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope that the strongest theme in this book is – hope. Even when circumstances seem impossible to navigate, and there is absolutely no reason to have hope, I am a firm believer that anything is possible, and you can see a lot of that belief of mine in Reeve. None of us are stuck on our path. We don’t have to play the cards we’re dealt – we can find new cards. Better cards. The cards we want most. And we can play those instead. (Is that how card games work? I feel like it’s not. But this is the metaphor I’m sticking with.)
What’s your next project?
While I wait on edits to come back to me for A Dream Within a Dream (the sequel to All That We See or Seem,) I’m in the early planning stages of a novel based on a short story I wrote a couple of years ago called Heartfire. You can find the short story here: https://bandofdreamersstories.tumblr.com/post/142534503879/heartfire. I am so excited to write this book and dive back into the world I built two years ago!
About All That We See Or Seem:
Every night, seventeen-year-old Reeve Lennox finds herself under a noose.
By day she is a lady of Acarsaid’s royal house, daydreaming of adventure and love. But every night in sleep she wanders through a nightmarish city, an invisible witness to the screeches of monsters and the screams of their victims. Her only consolation is Bran, a battle-torn young man with a selfless heart and eyes that reflect the stars.
Yet while Reeve falls deeper into her dreams, in truth she is engaged to Arden, a mercurial nobleman who has long been cured of his belief in love and breathes fire and flattery like other people breathe air.
Torn between two lives, Reeve struggles to remember what’s real. Until night and day collide, with a revelation that threatens all of Acarsaid.
Purchase your copy today and don’t forget to add it to your shelf on Goodreads!