Author Interview: Kristina Hall
Y'all, I am super excited to introduce to you the lovely Kristina Hall! She is another wonderful Christian indie author of three books--the 2-book Science Falsely So Called series, and Strangers and Pilgrims--and I was so honored to be able to interview her!
GJ: What first inspired you to write?
KH: I started reading Christian fiction when I was around thirteen, and I haven’t stopped since. Over the years, I’ve identified what I like in Christian fiction and what I don’t like. I guess it was only natural that I moved into writing and tried to write the kind of book I wanted to read. Let’s just say my first attempt was … interesting. :) Even though I love that story, I doubt I’ll ever publish it.
GJ: What are some of the driving forces behind you and your writing now?
KH: The biggest driving force is God. He’s given me the desire and ability to share the Gospel through my writing and to use my pitiful words to point to His infallible Word.
Another driving force is the encouragement of my family. My sister reads and loves everything I write. My mom is my editor, and my dad, even though he doesn’t normally read fiction, thinks my writing is great.
And, of course, my love of a good story is also a driving force. I really enjoy the process of seeing a story grow from a random idea into a full novel. It’s a ton of work, but it’s worth it.
GJ: Can you name any authors who have inspired your voice in different ways? How can you see their influence in your writing?
KH: I’ve read so much that my writing style is such a huge combination of things I’ve gathered from other authors that it’s hard to narrow down the source. But I think a few authors have influenced me.
Gilbert Morris—I read a ton of his books when I was younger (and he did write a ton!). I don’t think I write in his style, but, like him, I include a lot of Christian content. I guess you could say he showed me how well Christian themes could be woven into a story.
Susan May Warren—Again, I don’t think I write like her (she’s way, way better), but I love how much action she includes in her books. I try to imitate that aspect in my own writing.
Terri Blackstock—Like Gilbert Morris, she doesn’t shy away from including biblical morals in her writing.
GJ: What are some of your most favorite books/genres—to read and to write?
KH: I always have such a hard time nailing down what my favorite fiction book is. But I know my favorite genre (to read and to write) is Christian suspense. I love the action and the high stakes. Even when I write in other genres—because I can’t ever stay in the same genre—some suspense manages to creep in.
GJ: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
KH: I edit. :) Or work on marketing stuff related to writing—something I’m pretty bad at. But when I’m not doing any of that, I read a lot. I also enjoy spending time with my family, lifting weights, arm wrestling, and playing the violin. I know some of those things seem really strange together, but I’m a weird person!
GJ: Looking back, what has changed for you as a writer—be it how you write or what you write about?
KH: My writing has changed a ton since I started back in 2017. I’ve learned so much, and I still have so much to learn. The change was dramatically obvious to me when I decided to publish Things Not Seen, which I wrote in the first part of 2019. When I recently went back to edit it for publication, I had to change a ton of stuff. I ended up cutting a lot of words and improving the writing. I was really surprised by how much I’d learned since I’d written that book. It was kind of scary how much my writing had changed. :)
Changes in what I write about haven’t been as dramatic. I always want to write books that have a suspense thread (no matter the era) and that point readers to God. But there is one change I’ve noticed. When I first started writing, all of my books had romances in them—romances I struggled to write. Recently, I’ve started having the two main characters connected by relationships other than romance. For example, one series (not published yet) features a brother and a sister, and the book I’m currently writing is about an aunt and her nephew. For some reason, I’m much better at writing those kind of relationships than I am at writing romance. I’m happier, and I bet my readers are happier not having to read my cringe-worthy attempts at romance. :)
GJ: Tell me about your latest release—Stranger and Pilgrims! It sounds so intriguing!
KH: I’ve always been interested in the Civil War and Old West eras—some of that interest definitely came from watching a lot of old western movies as a kid. I wanted this book to be in the style of those old movies. I also wanted to write a book about how this world is not our home. As Christians, we’ve got a better country waiting for us.
Here’s the official summary.
Seven years can change a town …
Seven years ago, Harry Reiner left his parents’ ranch in Cantonsburg, Texas, to fight for the Confederacy. Now, he’s come home to a town filled with strangers—strangers who hate him for the side he took in the war. After a confrontation with two of the townspeople turns violent, Harry is left at the mercy of men who would rather see him dead.
Rose Kendrick knows the cost of standing against Edwin Burton, but she can’t leave a man to die in the street. Even if helping him will once again put her at odds with Burton.
As Harry and Rose struggle to belong in a land where they are strangers and pilgrims, they are pulled into a desperate battle against Burton. And Edwin Burton has never lost a fight.
GJ: And your first two books—what inspired them?
KH: Both Things Not Seen and Stand have a Creation apologetics theme. The plot in very simple form is that an evolutionary biologist sees how wrong evolution is and becomes a Christian. Soon after becoming a Christian, he’s called to stand for his newfound faith in a very public—and dangerous—way.
I’ve been passionate about apologetics for a long time. Creation, especially, has been under attack for years. Even some churches and Christian colleges have compromised to the point where they don’t believe that God created as He said He did—in six literal twenty-four-hour days about six thousand years ago.
So, long story short, I wanted to work this important theme into a suspense series. I want people to see that God’s Word is infallible and that they can trust every word of it.
GJ: What does your writing process typically look like?
KH: I used to be horrible about plotting, but in the last couple of years, I’ve gotten better. I’ll never be one of those really organized people who can outline the entire book before they start writing. My brain would explode!
Once I come up with an idea I want to use, I sit down (usually way too late at night) and work out some details—background information on characters, what they look like, what they act like, etc. I also briefly summarize the morals I want to include. I outline the first few scenes, then I start writing the first draft. As I’m writing the first draft, I keep plotting a few scenes ahead of where I am in the story, and I keep going that way until I finish.
After I finish the first draft, I like to let the book sit while I work on something else. When I’m ready to publish it, I come back to it and start my editing process. During the editing process, I read through the book twice, changing anything I don’t like. After my second read-through, I hand it off to my editor. When she’s finished, I insert her corrections and read it through once more. Then I publish it.
Of course, some books have needed more read-throughs, so I adjust accordingly.
GJ: How do you research your novels?
KH: When I’m writing something that needs research, I do a little initial research before I start writing. I also research as needed when I’m writing the first draft.
I wouldn’t say any of my books are heavy in historical facts, but I do my best to make them as accurate as possible.
GJ: Which book was the easiest to write, and which was the hardest? Where did you stumble and second-guess yourself?
KH: Out of my published books, Strangers and Pilgrims was the easiest to write. I was a more experienced writer when I wrote it, and it just seemed to flow well. Things Not Seen was probably the hardest. I was a little intimidated by the two main characters’ “debate” scenes.
Besides that, it was also the first book I published, and it needed a lot of work to get it to the level where I was comfortable putting it out in the world.
As for stumbling and second-guessing myself … I do that all the time when I’m writing. What if I get stuck in the middle and can’t come up with more scene ideas? What if I’ve messed up facts? Am I presenting the morals in the way I should? What if a lawyer reads my court scenes and tears me to shreds? And on and on … Lots of fun!
GJ: Out of all of your books, which one is your favorite? Why? (Bonus question: who’s your favorite character?)
KH: That’s such a hard question! I like each story in its own way, but I’m going to have to go with Things Not Seen as my favorite book (that I’ve published). I just love the moral, and I think it’s really relevant to the time we’re living in. And I love the ending … which I’m not going to talk about here because I don’t want to give any spoilers. :)
A bonus question? Do I get extra credit? :)
Derek Walker (the main guy in Things Not Seen and Stand) would have to be my favorite character in my published books. I really enjoyed writing his character arc and seeing him change from a staunch evolutionist to a Christian willing to give up everything for his faith.
GJ: What do you want, most of all, for readers to take away from your books?
KH: Of course I want my readers to enjoy my plots and like my characters, but most of all, I want them to be pointed to God. If they’re not saved, I want them to know that Jesus saves to the uttermost. If they are believers, I want them to see they can trust the Bible. And I want them to grow closer to God and learn more about His Word.
GJ: Have you ever endured any discouragement as an author? If so, what inspired you to persevere?
KH: I’ve had those days where I don’t feel like writing, those days where everything I write feels like trash, those days when I think the book is never going to be ready to be published.
I’ve kept going because I love writing and I do it to glorify God. I know He’s with me and that He’s in charge of what happens with my books. That doesn’t mean I’ll feel like writing every day. That doesn’t mean some of my writing won’t be trash. But it’s okay. And I’ve actually had way more encouragement than discouragement.
GJ: What are your greatest aspirations for your future, be it as a person or as a writer?
KH: I want to glorify God, both in my writing and in my life. I’d love to be a best-selling author who can write full-time, but I don’t know if that’ll happen. I’m currently in between day jobs, so I’m writing full-time right now, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do that.
GJ: What has being a writer taught you?
KH: It’s taught me to depend more on God and to keep going when it’d be easier to give up (because some stories are just hard to write). It’s also helped me try things I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise—like throwing my writing into the world for other people to read. I’m still getting used to that one.
GJ: What led you to indie-publishing?
KH: One of the main reasons I self-published is that I like writing about controversial topics the mainline Christian publishers wouldn’t want to publish. Now, my books are totally clean—they don’t contain cussing, graphic violence, or explicit romance. But they are what a lot of people would call “preachy.” I write that God created the world the way He said He did. I write salvation scenes. I have people giving others the Gospel. I include Scripture. And I won’t water down my morals to make them acceptable to a broader audience as I’m afraid traditional publishers would want.
Another reason I self-published is that I’m a control freak. I enjoy designing my own covers. I like being able to publish the book when it’s ready instead of waiting. And I appreciate being able to write about the topics I think God wants me to write about.
GJ: What are your thoughts for other aspiring writers on writing and publishing?
KH: Please keep in mind I’m still learning about writing and publishing. Most of the time, I feel like all this is a big experiment. A fun experiment, but an experiment just the same.
My thoughts on writing … Write a lot and read a lot. You can’t get better at writing if you never do it. Yeah, the first attempts are rough. But when you keep writing, you’ll get better. It’s a slow process. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve regressed and are writing even worse than when you first started, but you’ll learn. You’ll improve.
My thoughts on publishing … Do your research and don’t fall for any scams. There are a lot of companies out there who’ll charge a bunch of money to publish your book. I’ve done it basically for free using Draft2Digital and Canva. Well, I did have to pay for stock photos for my covers.
Make sure your book is well-edited. And make sure you have a website—I didn’t do so great at this … I created my website a couple weeks before I published my first book. :) If you asked me this question in another couple years, I’d probably have more advice, but that’s it for now. :)
Kristina Hall is a sinner saved by grace who seeks to glorify God with her words. She is a homeschool graduate and holds a degree in accounting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, arm wrestling, lifting weights, and playing the violin.