Krista Walsh, photographed at Black Squirrel Books & Cafe, Old Ottawa South.
It’s always a pleasure to discover local talent and more so when that person can inspire others! Krista Walsh is, at 29, a fantasy author who has, in the short span of three years, published five novels and is about to launch a sixth, completing “Meratis”, her second trilogy.
Fascinated with the fantasy genre, Krista, an Ottawa native, has been writing from a young age. When she decided to publish her first book, she faced the very difficult and competitive challenge of finding a publishing company that would. Not one to give up, she rolled up her sleeves and decided to do it herself, joining forces with a growing community of authors and literary creators. Through self publishing and her blog, The Raven’s Quill, she weaves new tales, creates unique characters and shares her world with her readers.
Behind a quiet demure and smiley disposition, we discovered a strong and determined young woman who has, at least for one full year, had the courage to make possible her dream of writing for a living. Krista embraces her next months with great optimism and the hope that her readership will grow and her many projects and ideas will become a reality.
We caught up with Krista at the Black Squirrel Books & Cafe, a special place where books, coffee and people come together to celebrate the love of reading.
You have written and published five books in under three years and a sixth is underway. That’s incredible! Why is self publishing the best option for you?
“My mentor in England first walked me through the steps in October 2013, and I haven’t looked back. I love having the final say in my cover artist, and my choice of editor. I love being hands-on throughout the entire process from draft to final product, and learning every part of the business side as well as the creative side. Every day I learn something new about marketing or self-editing, so my process is constantly evolving. On the opposite side, when readers have issue with my work, that’s all on me, as well, but I consider that a great excuse to learn where I can improve.
I’ve surrounded myself with an amazing team of artists, proofreaders, editors, readers, all from networking and reaching out. The self-publishing/indie community is the other incredible benefit of choosing this method of publishing — we’re working together to raise each other up whenever we can. We share our experiences, offer support and encouragement. My team is invaluable to me.”
What made you decide that you needed a year away from your full time work commitments just to write?
“The biggest reason is because at the moment I have the opportunity to do so. Fortunately, my family and my partner are among the most supportive people I know. From the time I started writing (at about 6 years old), my parents have always encouraged me to express myself through words. They would always take the time to read my massive epics about ghosts and kids on adventures, and never made me feel I should focus more on “societally recognised” careers. In January 2015, I dropped down to part time work, balancing a 2-day a week day job against 5 days a week (what are weekends?) writing, and I increased my productivity from 2 books a year to almost 4. I loved having the extra time. My stress levels decreased, and I was generally a happier person. I was able to focus on learning my business, improving my marketing, and therefore seeing more of a return on my efforts.”
You strike us as a very hardworking, confident young woman who has fearlessly paved her own way in the competitive literary world. Do you, at times, feel overwhelmed by it all?
“Oh goodness gracious yes! Even having the entire week to focus on my dream job, I still have days where I want to crawl into hole for a month or six. As much as I love putting words together, it’s still work. There are days where my to-do list is a page and a half long and every item as a deadline or is something I dread doing. There are tasks on both the business and writing sides that I can’t bring myself to enjoy, but they still need to get done. Getting notes back from readers, or getting poor reviews is enough to make me bury my head in the freezer with a bucket of mint chip ice cream.
Again, fortunately, I’m surrounded by people who are there to draw me back into the real world and hand me a spoon so I can at least eat my comfort ice cream on the sofa while I sort through my stress and form my plan of attack. I love my job, and while there will always be stressors and frustrations, there are far more rewards to keep me coming back.”
As an Ottawan, what do you most love about the city and in what ways has it impacted your writing career?
“The walks. Ottawa is a beautiful city with so many gorgeous routes to lose myself on to think or de-stress or find someplace to write. From May to September, I often grab my notebook and find someplace by the Canal or the Rideau River to read or jot down notes. In the winter, I like discovering new local coffee shops that I can work in for an hour or two — I see that as a great mutual support system among business owners.”
Thanks Krista for introducing us to Black Squirrel Books and for sharing your story. We love how you’ve followed your dream and turned your passion into a reality!