An Interview with Krista Walsh, the Force Behind Greylands
Last week was cover reveal time for Greylands.
Today, as promised, I welcome the uber talented Krista Walsh to my Blog. Welcome, Krista, make yourself comfortable. Anything I can get you? Glass of wine, dark chocolate, pillow to sit on? I realize that bench isn’t the most comfortable but if you want to suggest the flying monkeys vacate the couch, feel free.
KW: Um, no, that’s quite all right. They look far too
menacing comfortable to disturb them. The bench is great. Lovely plywood. I don’t suppose there’s any way to make that dodgy one stop staring?
kls: Sure. Here, let me just put this hat on him. At least it will shade his face a bit. *fits knit cap over monkey’s head* There, all better. So, first off, tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Krista Walsh? What do you have out there, and what’s in the works?
KW: I’m a writer from Ontario, Canada trying to break the mould of “Canadian literature”. Not nearly enough recognised genre writers up here. To that end I’ve focused so far on a wide array of fantasy. My short story “The Serpent’s Kiss”, published in the Day of Demons anthology, and flash fiction piece “The Night Belongs to Me”, in the Bleeding Ink anthology, are both dark fantasy. I also have a historical fantasy novella, “Circle Unbroken”, in Devin O’Branagan’s Witch Hunt: of the Blood collection, an experience I was lucky enough to share with you!
kls: Yes, and it was a great experience shared with an excellent group of authors.
KW: In the works? Oh so many. My epic fantasy novel Evensong is out for query at the moment, but depending on how well things go with Greylands, I may just choose to self-pub that one as well! The follow up, Eventide, is written and just waiting for edits. I’ve also started a short novel, temporarily called Why Can’t I Come Up With A Good Title? that I’m hoping to have available early next year. This last one will be my first real attempt at non-fantasy, more crime-based, so I’m curious to see how it turns out.
kls: About Greylands: where did the idea come from? What prompted you to invite authors to play in your world?
KW: Greylands was one of those things that just popped into my head one day. Honestly, I think it was inspired by the Thieves’ Guild in the video game Skyrim, but only loosely. I liked the idea of an underground band of loveable scoundrels. A common theme in the stories I’ve started but not finished (yet) is a world where technology has failed and civilisation has plummeted back into the dark ages. Greylands takes place a little before the complete reboot, in a time where we sort of see why technology has failed. Reason: economic crisis. What happens when our society relies entirely on technology – to the point where we lose basic survival skills because they’re no longer required – and then can no longer afford to maintain it? Money is funnelled to where it’s needed and the lower priorities (schools, libraries, public transportation) get shut down, prices for necessities go up, and corruption breeds.
Right from the start Greylands was intended to be an open-world concept. Readership on the Raven’s Quill blog was steady, but I worried I was getting boring, spouting the same nonsense over and again, so I thought: Why not get the readers to participate? I wanted to make it a little more interactive. And it worked!
kls: I’d say it worked, all right. Quite awesomely. Did you ever suspect Greylands would develop into what we have today?
KW: I had no idea. I didn’t know what sort of submissions I would get, for one thing. If any! It wasn’t until the third month or so when I had a consistent group of authors sending in their stories that I really noticed how Greylands had evolved. Most of the authors involved hadn’t—and still haven’t—exchanged a word with each other, and yet they managed to play off of each other’s work, expanding on it, developing it, in ways that a bunch of people sitting in a room would have had a hard time managing, I think.
kls: That still never ceases to amaze me. You certainly had an idea of how you wanted the plot to go. I know you planned for a slightly different ending. So how did you handle it when things started to stray? Or was that never a problem?
KW: I love the current ending to Greylands. The only rule I had in my head at the start of this is that I would (do my best) not to control where people took their stories. There were a few I had to edit for content, but the direction people took their characters was up to them and I resolved to base my next monthly story on what was given to me. I’ll admit I broke my own rule a little closer to the end just because I could see how things were wrapping up, but I think (hope) the authors will agree with me that I was pretty flexible! In regard to the ending, I’ll confess a quick flash of “oh no! This plan I had won’t work anymore! What will I do!” but once I re-read all the stories and thought it over, the answer became clear – and even better than the original.
kls: *whew* Which I say because I personally know I lobbed a bit of grenade into the ending. But it seems to have all worked out. So did any of the authors surprise you with how they portrayed your characters, how they handled the plot, or any other way?
KW: Firefly surprised me. When I first introduced her in The Adoption, I had in mind a Hispanic girl, able to kick some serious ass. Chelsea S. Miller took her and transformed her into this wounded creature, full of hate and anger, forced to become a working girl to keep her place in the Shadows. I think her story best represents one of the themes of the book, the idea of lost innocence with a sort of desperation to hang onto it at the same time.
For plot, I must say that Chris Henry’s story arc opened up a whole other doorway. His character, Dieb, finds *mumble mumble* in a storage locker. If he hadn’t, the ending wouldn’t have worked nearly as well and half the plot would never have existed. A perfect example of the organic growth of the Greylands project.
kls: Okay, I know this is like asking a mother who their favorite child is, but were there any particular characters you were extra fond of? *lowers voice and hides mouth behind hand* Fletch made me ask that question. I wasn’t going to.
KW: Ah! It is like asking a mother who her favourite child is!! Damn you, Fletch! Without insinuating that any of the characters are less than fantastic, I’ll have to narrow my favourites down to three: Maverick, because I’ve got a soft spot for the yummy rogue; Fletch, the wounded animal who hates the world but maintains that one small shred of decency that only a debt to an old friend can bring out; and Dieb, because he makes me laugh. Probably unintentionally.
kls: Yeah, I’m thinking Dieb wouldn’t intentionally make you laugh. And Maverick . . . *sigh* Yum. That is all. Moving on, what was your biggest challenge in bringing the final Greylands to fruition?
KW: So far, to date, there haven’t really been any. The whole group is really enthusiastic and have been quick to offer their help and support on everything I’ve needed. You made a brilliant cover, and author Colin F. Barnes is helping this poor novice in self-pubbing with the formatting and other technical steps. With still a week to go before the release date, it’s possible something will come up, but I’m staying positive!
kls: Are there any plans for a follow-up? If so, will you handle it the same way or will it be less organic?
KW: There’s certainly room for a follow-up, but I haven’t decided yet if there will be one. Would I like to? Absolutely. The Greylands Project was the most fun I’ve had in ages. I think part of me is afraid that it’s the sort of magic that only happens once. All of the authors were on the same wavelength. If I did do it again, I would aim for the same process as before. Half the fun was seeing what people came up with, how they interpreted their characters, etc. Just as much of a surprise for me as for the readers.
kls: Where can folks purchase Greylands?
KW: By the time I’ve been walked through all the stages, Greylands should be available on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, B&N, and (hopefully eventually) Kobo.
kls: And don’t forget, you can win an e-copy of Greylands just by spreading the word via Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc. Just leave me e comment with the link, or tag me in the comment and I’ll put your name in a hat. Each link earns one entry. Contest runs thru November 4th. Thanks so much for stopping in, Krista. And for inviting me along on this journey. Anything else you’d like to add?
KW: Only to say a huge thank you to you, first for inviting me here today, for participating, for being there to bounce ideas around, for the wonderful cover and a million other things! Another thank you for the rest of the authors: Colin F. Barnes, Chelsea S. Miller, Chris Henry and CJ Duarte among others. Greylands has been an incredible experience and I couldn’t have done it without you and the readers who fell in love with the world as much as we did!
kls: It was a super experience and beyond cool to see how it all came together. Thank you, Krista, for making it possible.