A few years ago, at the Broad Universe / Spencer Hill Press table at the very first Anthocon, this sweet young woman wandered over. There was chemistry between the bunch of us right away and the group of us table folk absconded with the lovely Kendra L. Saunders for dinner, got her to join Broad Universe, and all promptly bought copies of her first novel, Inanimate Objects, which is a beautiful story of art and immortality in the vein (there’s a pun there…) of The Great Gatsby. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Then she wrote an entirely different styled book, Death and Mr. Right, which I (and the rest of my friends) also fell in love with. For entirely different reasons. In the humorous style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, Death and Mr. Right is a romp through Boston and beyond with the diva-like Death (recently-made-former agent of nightmares) as he tries to get back his job, the list of the names of the damned that he lost (oops!), and above all, not fall in love.
As you might imagine, things aren’t going so well…
Kendra is an awesome person, and she is kindly sharing her awesomeness on my blog with an interview!! Why? Because Death and Mr. Right is now available for you to love and laugh milk out your nose over, too!
Thanks for stopping by, Kendra!
Oh, thank you so much for having me! And I just wanted to say- thank you so much for The Great Gatsby mention. That’s one of my favorite books.
What kind of research went into writing Death and Mr. Right? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
While writing Death and Mr. Right, my friend Megan took me to Boston for a full day of exploration and research! We wandered Newbury Street and some of the popular spots, then down by the swan boats, which I guess a lot of people think are really pretty. I found them to be extremely depressing, haha. The most beautiful spot in Boston is the Church of Science, across the street from the Prudential Center. We found it by accident, because it started raining and we made a dash for cover… the reflecting pool in front of the Church of Science is just breathtaking, though, even in the rain. You feel like you’ve teleported to Italy or something. If Death and Mr. Right becomes a huge cult hit, I want to offer tours of the major locations in the book, and that would be the most important one. I took a lot of pictures of it, which can be found on my facebook page!
Also, during my research, I found out that Pandora’s “Box” was actually a jar! That was a cool fact that I had no idea about previously.
You also have a passion for fashion, which definitely seems to find its way into your work. As the person who is constantly getting notes from her critique group that she adds too much horsey stuff–but generally isn’t into fashion at all–I’m curious how you are able to let in just enough of your passion into your writing without overwhelming–and while making it interesting for those of us who normally don’t think about fashion? 🙂
The newest book, The Unlove Spell, has maybe the most of it, because Marling lives in New York City, her friend Kyran is a fashion label obsessed metrosexual and Viktor Arson is a total babe, so we usually hear about what he’s wearing. In one part, Kyran says something about standing outside of an Alexander McQueen store and feeling too afraid to walk inside, lest he burst into flames of unworthiness. So there was lots of designer label talk in that one.
I have had the extraordinary privilege to meet a lot of designers that I really admire and have conversations with them in interviews or just while hanging out, and have learned so much. For my freelance work, I talk a lot about fashion (in interviews and articles) and I’ve been an InStyle subscriber for ten years! So it’s very possible that my projects in the future will have more and more of a fashion theme, but generally I try to describe in humorous ways, usually, or with a very light hand. That being said, I recently wrote a short story inspired by one of Zac Posen’s photos on instagram, about a designer, and I’ve been inspired for several pieces by fashion, models, and designers. Music and fashion are my greatest inspirations!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
Definitely for me, writing is a way of processing things that have happened to me. Maybe someone was really cruel and I couldn’t react at the time (I’m a slow reactor and very bad at confrontation), so I process it in fiction. Maybe I met a stranger who was intriguing but disappeared from the fabric of my life… I can bring them to life in fiction. Maybe someone is dancing around the edges of my life… I can get to know them through fiction. Maybe there’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit (England, Austria, etc)… fiction is a transportation device. And if I miss a place, a person, a feeling, I can resurrect it in writing. Truly, writing is the best and cheapest way to live a thousand lives.
Also, getting to travel in the name of research and promotion is great. I’ve had wanderlust all my life and this is the perfect job to allow for that.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
My writing space changes from day to day but my favorite place to write is at the Concord, NH Starbucks. I’ve written most of THREE novels there (and even dedicated Death and Mr. Right to them!) I like to have a latte (no sugar) and a cup of water at the table with me. My doctor made me promise to cut back on caffeine, but the smell of espresso is just magical! I have to have headphones so I can retreat into my mental writing cave. Spotify has become my best friend… it’s an online music database that allows you to listen to whole albums or playlists that you create, for free. It’s great because the artists don’t lose money and you don’t have to pay to listen to new albums. I have a playlist for every major project I’m working on, as well as a “soothing” one, a “love” one, a “girl power” one and lots of others! Plus with spotify, you can receive suggestions from other spotify users. Fabio Costa (Project Runway contestant and co-owner of NotEqual) is one of my favorite people to get suggestions from. He has great taste in music and we can nerd out over indie albums together. Feel free to find my playlists and check them out, and be sure to check his out too!
If I’m home, I like to sit in my room surrounded by my stuffed animals. Because I’m a grown up.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
Well, most people don’t realize I have an embarrassingly extensive knowledge of Sting’s discography. Not even a joke! I have all of his albums up until the lute one, and even some singles. And I have “Soul Cages” on vinyl, thanks to my friend Isaac. I’ve also seen a couple of his movies- The Bride (which I told the Nostalgia Critic he should review) and Brimstone and Treacle. And yes, I own his books too. He’s been a major creative influence on my writing and life. The lyrics from “Soul Cages” are just surreal masterpieces to me. He’s a master storyteller.
Also, Andrew Bird wore the scarf I made for him in a music video with Margaret Cho. Look it up! So cool!
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Oh, there have been so many of them! But my greatest was definitely going to New York City in May of this year for BEA, staying at the hip Jane Hotel with my sister, getting dressed up in my gorgeous Dmitry Sholokhov dress and high heels, attending a fancy breakfast as a guest author, taking a taxi to the Javit’s Center, signing review copies of Death and Mr. Right to tons of strangers and familiar faces alike, and Dmitry joining me at the event as my guest. It was amazing! We chatted and caught up a little after he arrived and I met his lovely friend Anastasiya, and then we posed behind the Spencer Hill table and suddenly there was a whole row of people standing in front of us with cameras. I’ve never seen so many cameras in my life! It was a surreal experience. Even Dmitry commented that it was a lot of camera flashes. I felt like a princess or something! Later that evening, my sister and three of my best girlfriends got together with me back at the Jane Hotel for drinks and conversation, and then my dear friend Megan and I took a late-night walk along the waterfront. To have so many wonderful people with me for that event was a beautiful experience. And Dmitry has been such an inspiration for me, both as an artist with a lot of ambition and big dreams and good sense of humor, and also because he was the muse for Viktor Arson in “The Unlove Spell.” It was the most magical day of my life! (If you don’t know about his work, you should look him up on twitter and instagram, both of which are @dmitrysholokhov )
Now that we have had a taste of your awesomeness, what are the deets about your book so we can all buy it? (ISBN, where to buy it, etc.)
Death and Mr. Right drops October 1st. It will be for sale in most Barnes & Noble stores, on amazon and worldwide at bookdepository.com. There are many things you can do to make this funky little book into an indie success. You can call or visit your local bookstore and ask them to order a copy of the book, you can tweet me ( @kendrybird ) with the hashtag #deathandmrright , you can take a picture of yourself with the book and tweet it or instagram it with the #deathandmrright tag… I’m going to feature the pictures on my site, along with a link of your choice, if you’d like. So hit me up!
You’ve got a very active life in social media, and you promote your work in a lot of untraditional ways. What advice can you offer other authors who are looking to help promote their books and are trying to get online more?
Choose two social media platforms that you really like and concentrate on those. Some people try to do it all- facebook, twitter, instagram, blog, pinterest, tumblr, whatever… it gets to be a burden, especially if you’re new to it. I suggest you use two that you really like, and use one more for personal contacts and one more for ‘fans.’ Facebook is great for personal contacts and twitter is great for fans. With facebook, you have more of a human connection, but you also have the gatekeeper of adding people as your ‘friend.’ With twitter, you speak and anyone in the world can listen. Post about what makes your life unique. Fans and followers want to see things they can’t see in their own lives, like places you’ve traveled, cool people you’ve met or whatever else. Also, don’t be afraid to tweet people you admire. Everyone is so connected now, and there’s comfort in that, even for someone ‘on top.’ I’ve interacted with Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Ross, Tom Hiddleston and many other of my personal heroes on twitter. So don’t be afraid to try talking to one of your heroes!
Speaking of your active online life, how can fans (un-creeper-like) stalk you to find out what you’re up to and what else they can possibly give you money for? 🙂
I LOVE to hear from everyone! My twitter handle is @kendrybird and I’m on instagram @kendralsaunders and update my website regularly http://www.kendralsaunders.com In addition, the radio interviews I do go up on my youtube channel after they air. I’ve interviewed Dmitry Sholokhov, Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Fabio Costa, Melissa Fleis, Miranda Levy.. you can hear those on my youtube channel! http://www.youtube.com/KendraLSaunders I also upload video journals there from my travels. Recent ones include my trip to NYC for Death and Mr. Right’s signing at BEA, and my adventures at NYFW!
What are you working on now, and what other projects can we look for from you in the near future?
I’ve recently finished writing The Unlove Spell, which is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It’s about a young witch named Marling, who lives in New York City and isn’t very good at magic. She tries to put an unlove spell on her former lover, sexy Russian writer Viktor Arson, to keep him from falling in love with anyone else, but she accidentally puts it on herself instead. The story begins five years later, when their paths cross again and she finds out Viktor’s family are actually fae royalty. The fae and witches have a long, ugly history, and Marling has to decide… does she really love him, or is that just the unlove spell she placed on herself?
It’s a comedy and it’s fun and it’s set in New York City. It’s currently with my very favorite agent, so my fingers are crossed!
I’m also mostly finished with a poetry and short story collection about these two people who are never quite right for each other, but they keep crossing paths in different lives and realities. It’s really melancholy and I’m excited about the idea of sharing it with the world!
Once again, thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Kendra! It’s always a blast to hang out with you!
Thank you so much, Trish! You’re amazing, and I have so much respect and love for you!