LK Kitney's new novella, The Lies We Tell Ourselves, was released on February 7, 2023, as part of the Luna Novella series. You can order it through our site, or through all the usual retailers, in print and digital.
The launch for the 2023 novellas, is on YouTube, and you can watch it here.
Let’s start from the beginning. Who were the writers who inspired you to become an author?
I grew up in a family full of avid readers so I was already writing stories for myself in emulation of so many of my favourite childhood authors before I fully realised the books I loved didn’t just magically appear, and that anyone could give it a try. The possibility of writing in “the future” started to bite as a young teen and was cemented when I came across writers like Christopher Paolini and Catherine Webb who were both published as teenagers, showing me I didn’t have to wait (though the waiting, and living, and maturing, certainly helped!).
However, I think personal friends-who-write should take responsibility as well, especially now at least one is a published author, too. They gave me the confidence to keep going with my own early attempts. Without that, I would probably have given up a long, long, time ago.
What is the very first piece of fiction you ever wrote?
I don’t remember, but I’m sure my mum has it in a safe place somewhere.
The earliest piece I wrote with intention to try and make something of in a professional setting was actually a first draft of an epic fantasy when I was nineteen. It’s terrible and I’m hoping, now I’m both older and more skilled, for the chance to fix it one day. But it did give me the concept of Fiaer Dradorn, the (much reworked from all those years ago) central character of The Lies We Tell Ourselves.
What is the hardest part of writing, in your experience?
There’s no answer I can give here that’s going to make the people who know my true process not cry with laughter. I am a grumbling writer, so it all seems like it’s the hardest part at any given time (it’s not, I wouldn’t write if it was all struggle, I’m just… vocal while thinking). A common tripping point from a craft point of view is figuring out what really happens, rather than what the characters wish happens. Outside of actual writing, it’s staying focused and being kind to myself on the days where my attention is elsewhere, because those tend to be thinking days, rather than typing days, and a lack of visible output isn’t necessarily a lack of progress.
Tell me about your book. What was the inspiration behind it?
The Lies We Tell Ourselves follows a young sea captain, Fiaer Dradorn, in a world still recovering from a devastating magical war as he searches for a lost treasure that drove his father’s paranoid obsessions. Betrayed to the mercy of catastrophic magic that leaves his life forfeit, Fiaer must reckon with the belief in his own monstrosity and his overwhelming desire for revenge. As his plans take form, he is left wondering if true monstrosity is less what someone is and more who they choose to be. It’s a decision he must make before others make it for him, even if it means losing everything he’s fighting for, and his last link to home.
The inspiration for Fiaer’s story is a little convoluted now but, under the allure of writing some high-seas adventures, he’s always been a series of questions: Why would someone choose to be a pirate – an outcast, a rebel? Why would he accept a reputation fed on rumours, lies, and fear and how does that match up to how he sees himself? How much of it is “truth”, and how has he gotten here? Somewhere along the way he became an exploration of finding – or making – the places we need to belong as ourselves, and the risks in rejecting the core truths that make us who we are, too.
Think back at your debut book. How did you approach the ‘getting published’ process? Any tips, resources that you can share with our readers?
This is my debut book, so I’m not sure how useful my take is going to be, but…
Assuming you’ve already got the best possible version of your work you can produce, do as much research as you can stomach. Check the people and work you like, and who they’re involved with. Check the places that seem interesting and what type of stuff they produce. See if it aligns with what you do. Trust your gut, but never be shy to get an outsider perspective too. There are so many friendly groups and forums online for this, and the more you look into things, the more you’ll find your own boundaries and tolerances too. There’s always someone to ask, somewhere. Also, make sure you follow submission rules!
You should make sure you know enough about the business side too, even if that’s where to look for more information when you need it. Places like the Society of Authors and the Writers’ and Artists’ yearbooks/websites provide handy (and free) publishing-as-a-business overviews – with more in-depth information available for membership or cost. Sites like Writer Beware can help give a heads-up for predatory or inexperience-led practices to be wary of too.
And cut yourself some slack. Putting your work out there can feel incredibly vulnerable. It’s okay take the time to process it all. Minor errors - like forgetting to put your own name on the submission files… - aren’t going to ruin your chances in most places. We also don’t win them all. Rejection is allowed to hurt, though try not to let it make you bitter. Despite all the necessity of tempered expectations, keep the love, joy and passion that keeps you writing in the first place.
What is your take on social media, when it comes to being an author? Do you think that an author should have at least one channel of communication with the readers?
I’m answering this as Twitter seems to be haemorrhaging the trust of its users, and undoubtedly before too long, its functionality. That’s come with a bunch of strange feelings, because it’s the place I found other authors sharing tips and tricks and demystifying the business language and expectations. Without it and the ease it brought readers and writers, agents and presses, together, I wouldn’t be able to try what I am, or take the chances I have. It seems decent to try and keep that ladder down for anyone else.
As a reader, following others social media has shown me such a delicious buffet of book choices I wouldn’t have know about otherwise. I think it’s important to keep that availability; to let people find their hidden gems. There does need to be balance though. As handy as it can be to have a line of communication available, things are stressful enough in so many other ways, that if being online brings harm or stress or undue pressures, then it shouldn’t be the end of the world to step back, or even away entirely, and look after the important things.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on a haunted house novella: a group of paranormal investigators filming one of their shows get the fright of their lives when they wake up something dangerous, and realise ghosts are real after all. It’s also about life, and love, setting boundaries and not letting the harmful past continue to dictate things. I’m really excited for this one, but there is so much history to cram into a four hundred year old manor house that it’s still very much a work in progress.
I’m also working on a contemporary fantasy novel series dealing with the revival of living mythology, and the abuses of power both personal and systematic. There’s also love, and self-determination, and sisterhood. This one gouged my heart out in unexpected ways and laid it on the page, and though I’m fully aware of the risk of jinxing things, I’m seriously hoping this is a “watch this space” affair.
Do you have other work coming out in 2023?
Not yet. But I’m going to do my best to change that.
If you had to recommend an author and/or a book, who would it be?
This feels like a trick question, there are so many I could pick, and my answer changes with the weather and my mood, and what someone says they’re looking for. I know for me at the moment, I will put time aside if I get my hands on Aliette de Bodard, Joanne Harris, or Brandon Sanderson’s works, but they’re not on an exclusive list by far and I love being surprised by new-to-me authors too.
You can order The Lies We Tell Ourselves and the Luna Novella books, here.