Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Kandi J. Wyatt.
About the author
Even as a young girl, Kandi J. Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that's her own five or the hundreds of students she's been lucky to teach. When Kandi's not spinning words to create stories, she's using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.
Where to find her:
- Website: http://kandijwyatt.com/
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/kandijwyatt/
- Google: http://plus.google.com/u/0/+KandiWyatt/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/kandijwyatt
- Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kandijwyatt
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13817774.Kandi_J_Wyatt
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kandi-J-Wyatt/e/B00ZTC4T10/
- Dragon’s Future: https://today-wedid.com/2015/07/24/dragons-future-by-kandi-j-wyatt/
- Dragon’s Heir: https://today-wedid.com/2015/12/07/dragons-heir-by-kandi-j-wyatt/
The One Who Sees Me:
- Kyn: http://reneescattergood.com/author-spotlight-dragon-courage-series-by-kandi-j-wyatt/
- Serena: http://laurielclewis.blogspot.com/2016/08/book-nook-spotlight-character-interview.html
- Ardyn: http://reneescattergood.com/author-spotlight-dragons-posterity-by-kandi-j-wyatt/
AN INTERVIEW WITH KANDI J. WYATT
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
I wear many hats. The one that really defines me is family. I’m a wife and have five kids. From there, I’m a teacher. I teach junior high and high school students. If I didn’t have a paying teaching job, I would still be teaching at my local church. I’ve been teaching in some aspect or another since I was sixteen. I’m an artist, but the last several years my pencil drawing has moved to computer art. Only since 2015 have I considered myself an author. It kind of took me by surprise when I submitted a story to a publisher and it was accepted. I’m also becoming a photographer’s assistant. My husband is moving into portrait photography, and I’m able to help out in the studio or on location.
- How did you become a speculative fiction author? Have you always been interested in speculative fiction?
Speculative fiction is what I’ve always read and enjoyed writing even as a kid. I loved reading mysteries and animal stories, and as I grew older, I moved to Narnia and Tolkien and other science fiction and fantasy stories. It wasn’t until 2005 or so that I actually wrote anything of length in the fantasy genre. It was the first full-length novel I had ever written. Life took over and I quit writing until 2009 when the Dragon Courage series idea came to me. It amazed me that I could write a full novel in a month and still be wife, mom, and teacher. What was even more astounding was when one book followed another. Then in the summer of 2010, the characters quit talking to me. I didn’t push the story but continued with art for the series. I was proud of what I had done and enjoyed reading the stories to my kids.
Fast forward five years. In February of 2015, I attended the South Coast Writers Conference. The keynote speaker mentioned her publisher was accepting submissions. I debated with myself, and finally hit submit without telling anyone. That little push of a button changed my life! Three weeks later, I had to decide if I would accept their offer. When I did, I became a speculative fiction author even though I didn’t claim the title until later in that year.
- You've written the Dragon Courage series of middle grade fantasy novels (Dragon's Future, Dragon's Heir, Dragon's Revenge, Dragon's Cure and Dragon's Posterity). What inspired you to write this series?
The series really wasn’t a series at first. It came from a conversation or two on a Christmas vacation with our family. My daughter complained we had named her wrong because she isn’t a morning person and her name is Dawnya. I jokingly asked if she should be called Duskya. Later on that trip, we passed Three Mile Canyon. I envisioned a dragon spraying fire down a canyon wall. We passed turnoffs for Wyeth and Philippi Canyon. Those became names in the story. I took the conversation with my daughter and thought Duskya was going to be the main character. Instead, her brother started to tell the story.
As I reached the epilogue, my daughter told a friend, “My mom’s writing a book.” The friend asked, “Is it going to be a series?” My under my breath response was, “Not if I can’t finish this first one!” By February, Dragon’s Heir had taken shape. Its humble beginnings were in a school parking lot as I waited for my son to finish wrestling practice. From the time I wrote the epilogue of Dragon’s Future, I knew I wanted to tell Ardyn’s story. However, other characters kept getting in the way. First Braidyn had to have his say, then Kyn, then Carryn. I loved each story, but knew there was a story for Ardyn. Dragon’s Posterity became his story and wasn’t finished until after Dragon’s Future had been accepted by the publisher.
I thought I was done with the world of Dragon Courage, but then I had a discussion with a fan who wanted to know about Duskya. Then I kept reading the same comments in Amazon reviews. So in December of 2015, I began work on a prequel that would tell the story of what happened between the prologue and chapter one of Dragon’s Future. After finishing it, I sent it to a fan to beta read for me. She came back with a suggestion to have that story be a journal that Duskya’s granddaughter would read. I went back to the drawing board and created a new story and integrated the other into it. Dragon’s Heritage releases in April.
- What kind of a fantasy series is Dragon Courage? What can readers expect from it?
Dragon Courage is a family friendly series. I’m a mom and teacher and wanted to tell a story that would teach. The first book really just tells a story, but the connection of family and friendship and courage all come together. The rest of the books have a specific theme. Dragon’s Heir shares the journey of balancing justice with mercy, while Dragon’s Revenge shows what happens when revenge takes precedence over peace.
Dragon’s Cure is my mom heart showing through the most. I wanted to warn my daughter about relationships at a time when she would still listen and didn’t have any boy in mind. I also wanted to take on the issue of abuse which is close to my heart. Inadvertently I added another issue that at the time of writing wasn’t even known about—human trafficking. As I read through the story to edit it, I was amazed at how accurately I portrayed the whole process.
Throughout the series the theme of redemption carries its own weight. In some ways it surprised me as each character changed, but in other ways it shouldn’t. I believe people can change. It may not be on their own accord; it may take intervention, but they are not stuck where they are.
- Could you tell us something about the protagonists in this series? What kind of characters are they?
The protagonists are normal everyday people who have good clean morals. Some have said they’re too clean. They take what comes their way and deal with it to the best of their ability to make things better.
Ruskya in book one is a timid, shy character that has depended on his twin sister for courage until he becomes a dragon rider. Then he comes into his own as he fights for his family and his colony’s future. Braidyn saw a bully in action as a child and vowed once he became a rider to not let people bully. He sees justice as the end all but learns if he’s to truly be a leader, he needs to gain mercy as well. Kyn brings peace and healing wherever he goes.
- What has been the most rewarding part of writing this series? And what has been the most challenging part?
The most rewarding part is seeing kids reading and hearing people actually like my story that I only wrote for my own kids. Probably one of the greatest days was telling my sixth and seventh grade Language Arts students to pull out their book for reading and hearing one boy complain. I told him his problem was we hadn’t found the right book for him yet. He responded saying that would only happen with my book! I brought in my books the next day for the class library. He read that first one and moved on to the others and I’ve seen him have other books in his hands now.
The most challenging thing would have been trying to finish Dragon’s Posterity. I’d read through books 1-4 and the part I had written of book 5 and nothing would come. I’d draw, nothing. I knew there was a story; it just didn’t want to come. When it did, it was with relief. Then I wondered if I still had what it took to make a good story or if the first books were an anomaly. To my relief, no one has really said, “that’s where the story stalled out.”
- Will there be more sequels?
I currently have plans for a trilogy called Stories of the Carr. They will center around the setting of Dragon’s Revenge. One will be during the war with the dragons. Another will take place after the youngling challenge of Dragon’s Posterity. The third still hasn’t come to me. There’s still time. Who knows after that. I’m sure there are more stories in the lands of Dragon Courage. We’ll see what happens.
- What are currently working on? What can readers expect next from you?
I have several projects in the making. The first priority is turning the Dragon Courage series into audio format. Dragon’s Future should be available in early March. Dragon’s Heritage the prequel to the series is in the proofreading stage right now. It’s due out April 4. The next publishing project is my very first fantasy novel, Journey from Skioria. It’s a classic, epic fantasy story for middle grade to young adult. An eight-year-old is washed overboard and finds herself lost in the woods. Small woodland people find her and help her find her way back to the humans. Next year, an Ancient Egypt historical fiction story will be released. It’s looking at an old story from a different angle. Then the Myrtle Beach trilogy will be my next big project. This is a series that takes place in modern times with rural American middle school students. In the first story, four friends find what they think is a thunderegg. Their science teacher helps them realize it can’t be what they thought it was. They vow to protect what they found, and soon discover they may have to protect their community from their discovery! Each book will feature a different fantasy creature and build on what happened in the last. After all those are finished, then I can return to the world of Dragon Courage.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
I love your support and your ideas. If you want to know more about what’s in the works or get my infrequent updates, feel free to join the Dragon Rider Society. The best way to support an author is to leave reviews. The next is to tell your friends and family. Most books are read at the suggestion of someone else. Feel free to connect with me. I love getting to know the people who read my books.