Award-winning author K.J. McPike grew up in rural Virginia, where she started writing stories as a way to escape small-town horrors like Drive Your Tractor To School Day. (Yes, that was an official part of her high school’s spirit week.) Nowadays, she has embraced the nomad life and has lived in Spain and Thailand, as well as all over the United States. Her travels have also taken her to places like Argentina, Turkey, Portugal, England, Italy, Mexico, and Ireland, and she is actively adding more to the list. No matter where she is around the globe, she is likely consuming too much caffeine and spending more time in coffee shops than her own apartment.
Keep up with K.J.’s books and her nomadic ways through Instagram and Twitter at @kj_mcpike.
Live with Katie Adler—K.J. MCPIKE: AUTHOR (Audio Below)
Clancy Tucker's Blog—K.J. MCPIKE - GUEST AUTHOR
Adelle Young—INDIE AUTHOR INTERVIEW - K.J. MCPIKE
My Book Place—K.J. MCPIKE
T.L. McDonald—K.J. MCPIKE AUTHOR INTERVIEW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR XODUS?
Oddly enough, the inspiration for XODUS hit while I was mapping out the plot for a different book. As I was thinking about where to take that storyline, I started rubbing the back of my neck, where I have a tattoo of a symbol that combines my first initial with the first initials of my four siblings. Then it hit me that it would be fun to write a book about five siblings and a symbol they shared that had some kind of mystical power. Everything else I originally planned transformed quite a bit through the writing process, but it all began with a tattoo and a little bit of writer's block.
WHERE DID THOSE CHARACTER NAMES COME FROM? (AND HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THEM?!)
I heard the name Xitlali (seet-lah-lee) for the first time when I was still working in Early Childhood Education. One of the girls in the toddler classroom had the name, and I just loved it (and her, too, of course!).
Oxanna (ok-sah-nuh) and Dixon (dik-suh n) are fairly common names (I think), and they just happened to work for my story.
Ulyxses (yoo-lik-sees) is my slightly tweaked version of the name Ulysses and was definitely the hardest to come up with. I needed certain letters in certain places for reasons I cannot disclose until later in the series, and I went through what felt like a million different made up name possibilities before settling on this one.
As far as I know, I made up the name Salaxia (sah-lah k-see-uh). This name came to me as I was toying around with letter combinations that would fit my requirements. Again, can't say why just yet. You'll have to wait and see!
ARE THE CHARACTERS IN XODUS BASED ON YOUR OWN SIBLINGS?
There are definitely pieces of each of my siblings woven into the characters. There are no exact replicas of any of my family members, but some of the dynamics between the five kids reflect how my siblings and I were with each other growing up. It was fun to revisit what it was like living in such a busy house.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH WRITER'S BLOCK?
So far, the best remedy I've found for writer's block is to close my laptop and use good old-fashioned pen and paper. I usually just start writing words on the page, even if those words have nothing to do with my project. I've been known to begin with things like "I have no idea what to write" and go from there (shout out to my tenth-grade English teacher, Ms. Stanley, for teaching me that trick). Once the pen gets moving, there's no stopping it. Best case scenario: I get back on track with my project. Worst case: I get my frustrations out. I figure it's win-win.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Make time to read and write every day. Both are equally important.
Also, try not to go back and edit until you get to the end of your project. I spent so much time editing and perfecting scenes as I wrote them, only to find I had to cut them once XODUS was completed. Cutting scenes always seems to be heartbreaking, but it eases the pain if you didn't spend countless hours working on one before you give it the axe.