Title: The Girl Who Saved Ghosts
Author: K.C. Tansley
Publication date: October 17th, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Time-Travel, Young Adult
She tried to ignore them. Now she might risk everything to save them.
After a summer spent in a haunted castle—a summer in which she traveled through time to solve a murder mystery—Kat is looking forward to a totally normal senior year at McTernan Academy. Then the ghost of a little girl appears and begs Kat for help, and more unquiet apparitions follow. All of them are terrified by the Dark One, and it soon becomes clear that that this evil force wants Kat dead.
Searching for help, Kat leaves school for the ancestral home she’s only just discovered. Her friend Evan, whose family is joined to her own by an arcane history, accompanies her. With the assistance of her eccentric great aunts and a loyal family ghost, Kat soon learns that she and Evan can only fix the present by traveling into the past.
As Kat and Evan make their way through nineteenth-century Vienna, the Dark One stalks them, and Kat must decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to save a ghost.
1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
The pre-writing time is when I kindle the inferno of inspiration. I call it storystorming. It’s usually 1-3 months of serious contemplation and tinkering with plotting. Fleshing out the characters in my mind. Learning their backstory. Uncovering their motives. Following a plot thread to its conclusion and seeing if that’s a route I want my characters to travel. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book playing out in my mind. When something feels settled, I take notes on that detail—could be on a Post-it, a napkin, a text message I send myself on my phone, but it all gets funneled into a Word document of notes.
Once I do all that, I write a synopsis that is two to three page long before I begin drafting. It is a roadmap for the story and links the beginning to the middle to the end. It gives me big-picture focus as I write, but also freedom to play around with the individual scenes. I daydream the opening scene for a few weeks before I’m confident that I’ve figured out how the story opens.
When I start writing the first draft, I set a 2,000 word a day requirement 5 days a week (about 2-4 hours typing each day). At the end of each writing session, I always write a couple sentences about what comes next. It really helps keep things flowing, so my mind turns over ideas about what happens next all night. In a month, that gives me approximately 40,000 words. I aim for 60,000-80,000 words in a first draft. I give myself 8 weeks to get the first draft done. Then I do a quick read through and polish up major issues.
The first draft gets put aside for at least 2-3 months. Then I come back to it with fresh eyes and do a massive revision before anyone ever sees it.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. It can be a place I visit, a snippet of conversation I overhear, even an interaction with someone. Sometimes other stories inspire me too.
Lots of times I play the what if game to build out my plot and my world and my stakes. What if my character time-traveled, and what if she fell into someone else’s body, and what if that person didn’t know she was there, but she could eavesdrop on the other person’s thoughts? And what if the longer she stayed in the past, the more time she began to lose and risked disappearing forever?
3. How long have you been writing?
I’ve written poetry and attempts at novels since I was a kid. I wrote my first book from 2000-2002 and I happily keep it under my bed. It’s an experimental memoir, interspersing journal entries and poetry. I did show it to an agent once and she was kind and helpful, but I’m not sure that book will ever be for public consumption. It was something I wrote for myself.
I wrote my first draft of The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts in 2006 and that was published in 2015. So, I would say I’ve been writing for publication since 2006.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
It’s never easy. And it’s rarely fair. So let those expectations go right now and you will have a much happier time trying to get published. Write what you want to write and learn you craft and keep trying. Eventually you’ll find your place.
5. What are your favorite:
Books: This is a hard one! These are some of my favorite recent reads: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, The City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Invincible by Dawn Metcalf, Ensnared by A.G. Howard, New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Last Breath by Rachel Caine, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Authors: Richelle Mead, A.G. Howard, Charlaine Harris, John Green, Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, Rachel Caine, Paige Shelton, Ransom Riggs
Genre: Paranormal and Mystery
Movies/TV Shows: The Originals, Shadowhunters, Riverdale, Vampire Diaries
Music: Florence and the Machine, Imagine Dragons, Tori Amos, Taylor Swift, Amy McDonald, Blind Pilots, Birdy, Bastille, Fun, Ingrid Michelson, Sara Bareilles, Passenger, Garbage
Food/Writing snack: I never eat at my computer or when I’m writing. I find it distracting and prefer to be focused on one thing at a time.
Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is her award-winning and bestselling first novel in The Unbelievables series.
As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.