Wednesday, October 5, 2011

7 WOW Wednesday: Kiki Hamilton on Writing for the Love of the Story

Today's guest is Kiki Hamilton, who has always been an avid reader and turned to writing YA after falling in love with the rich world of Harry Potter. Her talent and dedication to learning the craft are a great example of how things come together. Catch her on her website, or on twitter.

Writing for the Love of the Story

I feel very fortunate in my path to publication. I had just finished my first book, (which remains unsold) and had sent it off to an agent to read. While I waited to hear her response I started writing THE FAERIE RING. The whole first draft fell out of head onto the page in just thirty days! It was SO MUCH FUN to write!!!

When the agent got back to me asking for revisions I mentioned that I’d written this other story. Fast forward a couple of months - the agent signed me and took on both books and sold THE FAERIE RING about nine months later. I feel VERY fortunate that Tor Teen bought my book. My editor, Susan Chang, loved the story and the characters and was great to work with. Our work together during editorial revisions really became a true collaboration and I think we were both thrilled with how the story came out.

In between revisions I worked on building my web presence and started blogging and getting to know other authors. I had no idea how FANTASTIC the blogging community was (to be honest – I didn’t even know it existed!) but everyone was so wonderful and supportive.

About a year after I sold the book the class of 2k11 kicked off (which is 15 authors whose debuts release in 2011) as well as the Elevensies (~90 authors debuting in 2011.) I count myself so lucky to have met these other great children’s authors! Many of us will be friends for life. And it has been so nice to be able to share the ups and downs of this journey with others going through it at the same time! I traveled to BEA in May with most of the authors of Class of 2k11 and we did several group signings around the city, as well as individual signings at BEA. After a year of online communication it was fantastic to get to meet them in person! Now we are plotting how we can do group signings and author panels around the country!!

As for my jump from writer to author – I can very clearly remember getting my first manuscript back from a pay-for-hire editor and realizing I didn’t know how to write a publishable story. So I started taking online writing classes and joined several critique groups and really started working at learning the craft. I’m STILL working at learning the craft. I find that I learn in layers – grasp one concept and apply it - then learn the next concept and try to remember to apply it etc. etc.

I’ve also learned that my writing process is different for different genres. For instance, for fantasy I write in silence and write in a linear fashion – from start to finish. I don’t write scenes out of order, I don’t write the ending before I get there. However, I just wrote a YA contemporary and my process was totally different! I had a playlist that I listened to whenever I wrote, I wrote the ending when I only had about a third of the book written;I wrote scenes out of order – the whole thing was completely different – as were the stories!

If I were to give advice to any writers out there struggling to get an agent, or struggling to get published I would say this: NEVER GIVE UP. You are the only one who will work hard enough to pursue your dream. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get to where you want to go. Take the time to learn – take classes, be open to critiques – because revision is an essential part of writing. No one writes in a vacuum – we all need feedback and fresh eyes on our work to know which parts shine and which parts need a little more shining.

Write the story only you can tell. Write for the love of the story. Write for your characters who won’t come to life if you don’t breathe it into them on the page. As Buddha says – ‘happiness does not come from success – if you do what makes you happy, you’ll be successful.’

Good luck!



  1. It's so wonderful to hear your story Kiki, and the different styles you use to write. Also, love how you were inspired to write by Harry Potter!

    Love the Buddha quote. So much online to inspire me today. And I can't wait to read the Faerie Ring!

  2. Such an interesting post! I particularly liked the part where you mention that you "grasp one concept and apply it - then learn the next concept and try to remember to apply it."

    And I totally agree with you, when I'm having fun is when I have my best writing moments.

    Finally, I just wanted to congratulate you on the publishing of Faerie Ring. I looks like it's going to be a very good read :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story Kiki and inspiring us to keep working on our craft and to never give up. I loved The Fairie Ring. You certainly got the writing right with your debut.

  4. Thank you all so much! So nice to see my friends here :-) and THANK YOU Martina for persevering and working with me to get this post up!!! I appreciate being featured here on your blog and all your hard work!!


  5. It's beautiful to see someone who is so relatable go from just a fan who enjoyed writing to publishing her first novel! Some of my biggest and most awe-inspiring, joy filled moments have been when I've written something that moves me. Just last night I sat up, unable to sleep at 3am. It wasn't until after I wrote, fell asleep and woke up the next morning that I saw just what I had written and how glad i was I had.

    Love the guest post, Kiki!

  6. Thanks for the inspiring post, Kiki.

    My favorite quotes are: "You are the only one who will work hard enough to pursue your dream. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get to where you want to go," and "Write for the love of the story." Awesome advice. :D

  7. What an inspiration! I love the idea of learning in layers, too.


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