Spotlight on Changeling Press: Kira Stone
Changeling Press turns 20 in 2024. To celebrate, we’re featuring Changeling Press authors all month at TRS.
Meet Kira Stone
Kira Stone has been around the block…the writer’s block, that is.
From vamps and witches to historical heroes, from futuristic scientists to paranormal corporate executives, from Canadian werewolves to off-world shifters, Kira has written about them all. Manlove has sparked hot and heavy in many of her plots, but Kira also finds a lucky lady to keep the sexy heroes company from time to time. While Scotland remains her favorite place in the world, Kira is constantly in search of new adventures to add to the creative primordial ooze where her best stories are born.
An Interview with Holly Hewson at TRS
HH: What inspired you to start writing and how did your journey with Changeling Press begin?
Kira: I started writing while I was still in college. I still remember vividly how the idea came to me as I was sitting in a beginner’s Criminal Justice course next to one of the sexiest guys from my high school. I stared out of the window at nothing (my favorite pastime in class, which is probably why I ended up dropping out of college the next semester, lol) and had a mental picture of this Black woman entering an old farmhouse. I wondered why she was there. So I started writing about her. Thirty years later I still haven’t finished that story. I wrote it in pieces and somehow they just don’t go together. The idea remains though.
As for how I got started with Changeling, that is all Willa Okati (now Will Okati). She was part of an online writers’ critique group I joined. It was a small group, maybe five active people. Anyway, she picked one of my books to work with me on. Soon she declared it good enough to publish and insisted I send it to Changeling. I didn’t think Devil’s Man was ready for Prime Time, but she had told M about it and M said she was interested. A few days after I submitted it, I was offered my first publishing contract. And the rest is a very happy history.
HH: How do you develop your characters? Do you draw inspiration from real-life experiences or pure imagination?
Kira: Character development usually happens as I write, in flashes of inspiration. One of those “they talk to me and tell me who they are” things. When I draw from real life, it’s usually a quirk they have. Something I’ve read or heard about. I think one of the few times I actually based a story on a real person was with One Angel’s Wish which was recently re-released from Changeling Press. (It was originally published with Samhain.) I based the main character on a person I knew who committed suicide. His death bothered me for a long time, so I wrote the story to give him a happy ending that he didn’t have in life. (NOTE: In the story, suicide is NOT a theme.)
HH: Can you walk us through your creative process? How do you go from an initial idea to a finished manuscript?
Kira: When I first started writing, I was a complete pantser. I found, however, that I could easily get lost along the way. Sometimes I wouldn’t have a “middle”. The story would end up too short and readers would be disappointed. Or I’d have too much “middle” to get to the end. Many times my editor asked me to cut the word count and the story suffered for it. So I got in the habit of creating a loose outline. Well, that’s really not a good word for it. It’s a story summary. I say what I think will happen, beginning to end. As I write, I add more detail to the summary. It’s a guideline to keep me on track but also fluid so my creative side can breathe. I still have the urge to jump forward and write a scene I hope will be included later in the story, but I’ve schooled myself to keep writing linearly. Overall, I think my stories are better this way.
HH: Of all the books you’ve written for Changeling Press, which one is your favorite and why?
Kira: Wow. It’s really hard to pick just one. Blood Price (the first book in the Blood Oath series) is probably my favorite. It’s an urban fantasy book about vampires and magic. I wrote it because Willa Okati challenged me to write a gay vampire novel, and she would write one too. Sounded good except for one small problem. I knew NOTHING about vampires at that point in my life. I read a lot of fantasy books but somehow missed the vampire genre completely. And I never jumped on the Buffy train. But as it happens, I was on a road trip with my aunt when this opportunity came up. So as we drove, I picked her brain on all things vampire. She was a treasure trove of tidbits. By the end of the vacation, I had a solid idea that eventually turned into four books full of gay man love, sexy vampires and magic. With a little bit of mystery thrown in.
HH: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your writing career and how did you overcome them?
Kira: Writer’s block is a very real thing. Mine is just coming back after a 15-year hiatus. This is largely due to a change in medication. Something I was given for migraines opened up my clogged creative airwaves. While I’m not back in complete control of my muse, I am writing again.
HH: Can you share a memorable experience or feedback from a reader that particularly touched or surprised you?
Kira: Andy. To this day, his name warms my heart. He was young, just 20 or so when he wrote to me, telling me how much he loved my stories. He started out as a fan, but we became good friends. We eventually lost touch, but his sweetness and light in my life is something I’ll always treasure.
HH: Changeling Press is known for its diverse genres. Is there a genre you haven’t written in yet but are curious to explore?
Kira: I loved it when Changeling would come up with an idea for multi-author series and we’d have 10 or more authors participate. That’s not necessarily a genre, but something I’d love to see happen again. Outside of that, I’m probably most interested in coming up with Urban Fantasy stories.
HH: Do you have any unique writing rituals or habits that help you stay focused and creative?
Kira: I don’t think I do anything that’s unique. I read a lot. I pay attention to people when I go out. I Google strange things when they pop into my brain. (Did you know that cockleshells from the English nursery rhyme are actually shells from edible mollusks?) Basic stuff, really.
HH: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who dream of being published by Changeling Press?
Kira: Follow the submission guidelines on the website!! They’re not hard and if you do so, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
HH: How do you see the future of digital publishing evolving, and what role do you think Changeling Press will play in it?
Kira: Since I’m just getting back into writing after a long break, I feel I should know more about this topic before answering. I know Changeling Press will strive to recruit quality authors. They will continue to push the boundaries of what people expect them to be. They will do what they can to keep their publishing house at the forefront of the ever-changing reader market. Changeling Press has survived when other epublishers have closed their doors. I think that says a lot about their adaptability and drive to succeed.
A special story about Changeling Press CEO, Margaret Riley
Mental pictures mostly. Her with freshly dyed purple hair. Her with a smudge of grease on her cheek from whatever sewing machine rebuild she’s working on. Her happily slaying pixels with a look of intense concentration on her face as she plays her favorite game. Her laughing when she reads us a line from a book that has amused her.