Kendra Hadnott is an author, freelance writer, educator, and blogger.
Welcome Kendra. You have three books in your Live series. Why did you break this into three separate books instead of making it into one long one? What is it about novellas that appeal to you?
Kendra Hadnott: The entire series will actually be five novellas once it’s complete. I think fiction, especially sci-fi, is a lot easier to get into and digest when it’s broken up into shorter pieces. On top of that, I tend to not like my writing to drag on. The minute I get that ‘are we there yet?’ feeling when I’m writing, I start to reevaluate whether or not I’ve written fluff. After all, if the writer is having a hard time finishing it, imagine what the reader must feel! So, breaking things up seemed like the logical choice for this particular story.
Kendra Hadnott: Death Leaders is your first science fiction book. Why did you change from suspense/mystery? What was the inspiration for this novel? What is it about?
Hadnott: It is. I call “Death Leaders” my baby. It’s the first book that I wrote once I was laid off and the first one to be traditionally published (although it’s since been self-published through my own press). The book is set in my hometown of Chicago, IL and takes place in the near future—2031 to be exact. The story reveals the existence of beings called Death Leaders who have been historically tasked with keeping the world’s population under control without humans ever catching on. When the protagonist, Christopher Rush, is assigned a 19-year-old single mother to kill through medical illness, he thinks it’s business as usual. But as Chris soon learns, everything isn’t always as it seems, and no one is exactly who they appear to be.
Hadnott: All of your books have been written in the last two years. What was the impetus for all this creativity?
Hadnott: Getting laid off was the biggest impetus. I was actually happy when it happened. I kept feeling like I was supposed to be doing something else besides sitting in someone’s office rattling off numbers and statistics. I’d write all during my lunch instead of joining my team on outings. When I received a document, I checked the grammar and language in it instead of looking at the data like I was supposed to. On my breaks, I’d have my head buried in my phone, getting lost in the novel that I was reading at the time. My heart has always been with the written word. I have been writing books since I was seven years old, so becoming an author wasn’t a random choice. It was a logical progression since I had the time, the drive, and the passion. It took three full months for me to write “Death Leaders” and soon afterward, it was accepted for publication by a small press.
Hadnott: As a teacher, how do you find time and energy for writing? What organizational strategies do you use?
Hadnott: Although I used to be an elementary classroom teacher, I’ve taken to more untraditional teaching roles these days (i.e. tutoring, leading before-and-after school programs, etc.). Any profession that allows me to work with children actually gives me energy. So when I come home from work, I’ve been around children so much that I find it really easy to speak in their language. It helps a great deal when I’m writing for children. I prefer to write my titles for adults on the weekends when I’m around more people my age.
Finding the time to write isn’t hard if the passion is there. If the passion is missing, finding the time to write will seem almost impossible. When I first got laid off, I used to wake up every morning at 4am and write/outline until about 3pm that day. Since my schedule has changed, I usually get my writing done in the evenings after school has ended for my students. Between marketing, writing, and outlining, I work on author stuff for a minimum of three hours a day. If I have to get up super early to get my hours in, I do it. If I have to stay up late, I fall asleep on the couch.
Hadnott: What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Hadnott: Well, in the middle grade arena, it was A Wrinkle in Time, hands down. I remember reading that book in grade school and just having this magical feeling. I couldn’t wait to get back to reading class to read it every day because I wanted to keep that feeling with me. Louis Sachar was also a big one. He started off as a lunchroom and recess attendant. I believe that’s why he had such success with his books. He worked around children so much that he was able to become one of them when he wrote.
As far as YA and Adult stories go, I really like Lauren Oliver‘s writing. It’s this beautiful, poetic prose that can make smashing a cockroach sound like the most eloquent thing in the world. James Patterson is a wonderful storyteller. I enjoy reading his books for the twists and turns. Other than that, anything that’s sci-fi, horror, or thriller is probably going to catch my attention.
Hadnott: What is your next project?
Hadnott: I just finished a close-to-the-final draft of a middle grade novel that I’ve been working on for about a year. I’ve heard from Beta readers that it has a very dark, ominous, suspenseful feel. It’s one of my favorite pieces yet!
Hadnott: If you had to write your own personal definition of the word “Success,” what would it be?
Hadnott: Failure would be my definition of success. It’s nearly impossible to experience success or even have a sense of the word if you haven’t failed or seen failure. Success is learning from mistakes. Success is doing something that you once thought impossible. Oprah was fired from her news reporter job; Walt Disney got fired for lacking imagination; Milton Hershey filed for bankruptcy twice before he became a household name. Success is failure gone right.
Hadnott: What is the most interesting course you have ever taken in school? On the other hand, what is the most boring course you have ever taken in school?
Hadnott: In high school, I took this Eastern Philosophy course just to challenge myself. I didn’t think I would actually enjoy it, but I did. That was my first exposure to other cultures and mindsets. I fell in love with the concept of Taoism, and still use it in my everyday life. On top of that, I got to do yoga every week and actually receive a grade for it. The downside is that I would be too relaxed from the yoga to function for the rest of the day, but at least I slept well those nights!
Math fanatics, forgive me, but I absolutely hate numbers. I have never taken a math class that I would deem “interesting”…well, not in a good way, anyway!
Hadnott: If you could become fully enlightened instantly on any one subject, which subject would you choose?
Hadnott: Ever heard that saying, “Ignorance is bliss”? I’m not sure I’d want to be fully enlightened on anything, as it bears a huge responsibility that I believe only God is equipped to handle—and I ain’t Him.
LOL. Very insightful. Thank you, Kendra, for sharing with us today. Best of luck with all your writing.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.