Thursday, August 12, 2010

Author Interview - Karen Kostlivy



What a beautiful view of the city from the top floor! We are on location today at the headquarters of the International Pen Pal Club and it’s quite exciting to be here with Young Adult author Karen Kostlivy. I had no idea there was such an advanced network for things like this but the technology and equipment here is fascinating! It’s too bad the location is top secret; I’m sure the children would love to explore here! I’m guessing that closet type machine over there is the magical way Mason gets transported or is there a different way that happens?

Karen:  Oh, that machine is not how Mason gets transported from country to country; at this time, it's top secret. However, if the readers keep reading the other books in the series, they will soon discover Mason's secret on how he gets magically transported.





Deanna:  This sounds like a wonderful series of books, Karen. Tell us a bit about you that your readers might not know.

Karen:  My friends know this about me but my readers may not. I love coffee! I am straightforward person in my approach to life and my career. I’m loyal to my family and friends. I’m also extremely creative, a day dreamer type of soul. My gift that I have been blessed with is that I’m a wonderful troubleshooter and problem solver for business and individuals.  


Deanna:  What made you want to become a writer?


Karen:  What happened is that I wrote parts of a story for an English assignment many years ago. My professor encouraged me to finish it and submit it for publication. I thought yea right, me as a writer. So I shelved the story for years, but it would not leave me. However, I would work on it from time to time. Then one day it hit me that I really had a great story that children would truly love. So I started to take my writing seriously and revised a lot of the story and Cyber Writers was created. 


Deanna:  I’m glad you took your writing seriously and broke out on your own. Do you write under a pen name?


Karen:  I use my maiden name for business and my writing. Sometimes my husband gets called Mr. Kostlivy and he is cool with that. 


Deanna:  Do you read the same genre that you write in?


Karen:  Prior to my book being published I did not read any middle grade fiction. My readers tell me that Cyber Writers and the Zebra of Life is similar to the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. So I have just started to read their books. 


Deanna:  Is there a certain type of character that is easier to write than another?


Karen:  When I create my characters it is fairly simple especially the protagonists. However, I do have put a little more thought and time in creating the antagonist. My reasoning I think is that I’m involved with more positive people than negative, mean-spirited people. 


Deanna:   Tell us about your main character.


Karen:  Mason Witt has become a modern day hero among my readers. He is not perfect and has flaws, he is an average teen that loves skateboarding and gets himself into trouble once in a while and my readers love that aspect of Mason. He is funny, adventuress, smart, and he likes to take action instead of waiting for someone else to solve any issues he may face. Mason also cares and roots for the underdog.  


Deanna:  Where did you get the inspiration for your main character? 


Karen: The character Mason Witt is a coalition of my two sons’ personalities when they were younger. My son Camron is a tad more serious, whereas Masson my youngest son has a more carefree spirit. I combined the two boys’ personalities and some of their traits to create Mason Witt. On a side note to make it fair between my two boys I used Masson’s name in the book and I put Camron’s image on the cover, they both love it and think I’m a pretty cool mom. 


Deanna:  What a clever idea for the cover. I bet the readers love it, too.  Can you tell us a little about your book? 


Karen:  Cyber Writers and the Zebra of Life, is a middle grade fantasy and adventure for ages 8 and up.  My skateboarding hero, Mason Witt, is a member of Cyber Writers - an international internet pen pal club- he gets an urgent plea from a fellow cyber writer Lutalo who is from Africa. Mason is magically transported to an African village where he and Lutalo team up for an exciting quest of rescuing the amazing Zebra of Life and Lutalo’s father who has gone missing in search of the evil kidnappers who stole the Zebra. The two boys encounter numerous thrilling adventures along the way and they meet fantastic characters to help them on their journey.  The boys on their journey learn about the importance of character and the value of courage, family, friendship, trust, loyalty, and faith. 


Deanna:  So your readers can also learn something while having fun as they read. Where do you hope to take your writing in the future? 

Karen:  I have no false expectations regarding my writing; however, I would love for Cyber Writers to be a successful series. I have been told numerous times by teachers and librarians that Cyber Writers is being compared to The American Girl Series, but for boys and The Magic Tree House series, but for an older audience, due to the educational components of my stories. My goal is to have a team of writing partners that will co-author some of the books in the series with me. I only intended to write six books in the series, however, I have been encouraged to write as many books as I can that will feature different cultures and countries. I also have a FaceBook page for Cyber Writers.

Deanna:  That has to be exciting to know others want more of your work. Congratulations, Karen! Do you have any closing thoughts or comments for readers? 


Karen:  First, thank you for having me as a guest today. Second, I would like to invite your readers to visit my website at: www.cyberwriters.net and they can listen to the first chapter, read an excerpt, and for the kids there are some puzzles they can print out.  Also, for teachers and students there is a Webquest that includes a very detailed lesson plan. Later this year I will have instructions for craft projects for librarians and teachers on my website.


Deanna:  Karen, thank you so much for being here today. An interactive website sounds like fun for those who visit. 

Readers: See Karen’s contest information below so you can enter for a chance to win a copy of her book! 

Contest Info:

 - Follow or 'Like' Cyber Writers on Facebook
- Leave a comment telling Karen who you would like to win the book for! Leave a question for Karen also if you have something to ask her. 


Thank you to each of you for stopping in to meet Karen today. We’ve enjoyed learning about her and I hope some of you will soon be adding her books to your shelves!