The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Kalyn Josephson - This Dark Descent

October 16, 2023 Marissa Meyer Season 2023 Episode 174
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Kalyn Josephson - This Dark Descent
Show Notes Transcript
In this week’s episode, Marissa chats with Kalyn Josephson about her latest YA fantasy, THIS DARK DESCENT. Also discussed: how technical writing can help with creative and novel writing, using Jewish mythology as inspiration for fantasy (golems!), the joy in worldbuilding, how all fantasy books should have a map, how to decide whose point of view to write scenes in when crafting a multiple POV story, the intrigue of morally gray characters, balancing multiple book releases with a day job, and so much more!

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[00:10] Marissa: Hello, and welcome to the Happy Writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thank you for joining me. Just as a quick reminder, we are currently looking for our first official podcast sponsors. If you are interested in advertising here on the Happy Writer podcast, please let us know. You can find contact podcast one thing making me happy this week, believe it or not, I unpacked my last box yesterday. Yes, I did. It's true. It seems like every time I've mentioned to anybody that we recently moved into a new house, everyone across the board is like, oh, I moved into a new house twelve years ago and I'm still unpacking boxes or I've still got boxes in the garage or the attic or wherever. And I was very determined. I did not want that to be me. So I've made a very conscious effort to keep going and not just shove the annoying boxes out of sight, out of mind, into closets and the garage and all of that, knowing that I would definitely just forget about them if we did. And so here we are. What's it been, I don't know, three and a half, four months ish since we moved in and I am officially unpacked. And yes, if you can't tell from the glee in my voice, I am very proud of this fact. One of these days I might even finish hanging up all of the artwork. That is the next big thing on the list. I am also so happy to be talking to today's guest with degrees in biology and creative writing. She currently works as a technical writer in addition to being the author of the Stormcrow duology and the Ravenfell series. Her newest novel, this Dark Descent, came out last month. Please welcome Kalyn Josephson.

[02:19] Kalyn: Hi, Marissa. It's great to be here and congratulations on your move. That's exciting.

[02:23] Marissa: Thank you. It has been know it's been exhausting. It's exciting. It's just been like, a lot of work. And so I'm really happy to be to the point where I feel like, okay, maybe I can just relax and enjoy the house a little bit. Now.

[02:37] Kalyn: I know what you mean. And I think it's especially exacerbated for book people because we all just have bookshelves full of 100 pounds worth of things to move and several, several boxes.

[02:49] Marissa: Why are books so heavy? My husband frequently mentioned as we were packing boxes, it's like, how many boxes do you need for your books? And it was a lot. And they're the biggest pain because they are so heavy. But what can you do? You can't get rid of them.

[03:08] Kalyn: Exactly.

[03:11] Marissa: Thank you so much for joining me. Congratulations on this wonderfully, fun fantasy novel, which I very much enjoyed, I will tell you. I just got back from a road trip with my girls who are really into horses. Horses are like the thing. And this was one of the audiobooks that we were listening to on our very long drives and we all really enjoyed it.

[03:32] Kalyn: Oh, my gosh, that's so cool. Thank you so much. Narrators knocked it out of the park.

[03:37] Marissa: They were fantastic. The narrators are really great. Highly recommended. I will say that I was glad that we were done with the road trip for some of the later passages.

[03:50] Kalyn: Where I was listening to it just.

[03:51] Marissa: By myself and the girls didn't hear that. I'm like, oh, that might have been a little on the dark side for them. I was going to ask you how.

[03:57] Kalyn: Old your kids were.

[03:58] Marissa: Yes, they are eight and I don't think that they heard any of the parts that I like. Maybe we're going to turn it off now.

[04:09] Kalyn: Ravenfall might be a better fit for right, right.

[04:11] Marissa: No, definitely. So the first question that I'd love to start with is I'd like to hear your origin story. How did you become a writer? And I know with a degree in biology, working in technical writing, those things don't seem to pair naturally with creative writing and novel writing. So how did you get here?

[04:33] Kalyn: So I always feel like I think it's really the common question at author events to be asked, like, when did you want to become a writer? And I feel like I have a really unsatisfying answer to that because I don't remember making that decision. It's just something that I have done my entire life as far back as I can remember. My mom claims that she has ****** Doo fan fiction that I wrote and illustrated when I was seven. I've yet to see it.

[04:58] Marissa: Did they solve the mystery?

[05:02] Kalyn: Probably not. It was probably just like ****** Doo walking around or something. But it wasn't until college when I read Lainey Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone where I was like, I want to do that. I want to create a world like that. I want to write a book like that. And actually started pursuing not only writing a book but getting it published. And at the time I had started my college career as a biology major because I was terrified of doing an English degree and not getting a job. But I love English.

[05:44] Marissa: Very real fear for a lot of aspiring writers.

[05:47] Kalyn: Yeah.

[05:48] Marissa: Like to also make money.

[05:49] Kalyn: I would like to also be able to pay my rent. But where I attended college was a quarter system, so it was very easy to take a lot of classes and it worked out pretty simply for me to double major. And I was like, well, I love English. I'm going to read anyway, so why don't I just do this too and just enjoy it in the meantime? And it wasn't until after college that I discovered the plethora of types of writing jobs. Every company, every industry needs somebody who can communicate and write clearly. As I live in the Bay Area, tech was kind of the easiest option available, and I ended up as technical writer at my current job, where I've been for about eight years, and then writing on the side, which has been quite a journey.

[06:36] Marissa: Is there any crossover? Does being a tech writer, has it helped you with your novel writing in any way?

[06:42] Kalyn: It has. Basically what I do on a daily basis is I take very hard to understand technical speak, and I turn it into concise, clear, easy to understand English. And so I've noticed that with my creative writing, I've gotten a lot better at being able to look at something and be like, oh, that could be a word instead of a paragraph or that and that say the same thing. They accomplished the same thing. I'm just going to cut this. Somehow I still managed to overwrite everything that I do, but better than it would have been.

[07:18] Marissa: Me too. I am definitely an overwriter.

[07:20] Kalyn: So guilty.

[07:23] Marissa: Well, I love that. And I am fascinated by one of your initial inspirations, being Lainey Taylor, who I love. She's definitely one of my autobio authors, but she's one of those authors where every time I read her work, I feel like I should just give up, like, I'll never be this good. What do I think I'm doing? So I love that you had the opposite, your reaction, you're like, I could do this.

[07:47] Kalyn: Well, that was then. Now that I am actually in the weeds of writing books, whenever I read her stuff, I'm just like, what was I thinking?

[07:57] Marissa: She's so good. All right, so here you are. Multiple books I actually didn't go to see. What book is this of yours?

[08:07] Kalyn: So this was number four.

[08:09] Marissa: Number four, okay. Four books in. Would you please tell listeners, what is this Dark Descent about?

[08:17] Kalyn: Yes. This Dark Descent is a young adult fantasy that I think would appeal to fans of the morally great characters and found family in Six of Crows and the magical horse racing of Scorpio Races. It is a Jewish inspired fantasy about the eldest daughter of a renowned family who's on the verge of ruin, who joins forces with a mysterious rogue enchanter and a handsome, ambitious heir to win a deadly magical horse race.

[08:46] Marissa: All right, so there's so many things that I want to talk about. We'll start with horses because that was definitely one of the big appeals for me and for my girls. Do you have a history in horses and horse racing? Horse riding? Did you have to just research the heck out of this?

[09:06] Kalyn: So I did ride horses when I was a kid, so I knew a lot of language and horse behavior and stuff like that. But I still did a lot of refreshing, especially on the racing aspects, and had a couple of friends who I know rode horses, read it but I kind of landed on horse racing because I knew that I was going to write a story with Jewish mythology. And I had landed on Golems because I always liked to try to do animal magic in my books. And it seemed like a unique opportunity to explore the Golem mythology in a new way. And at the time I was midwatch of Peaky Blinders and Thomas Shelby, who I think is a very fascinating character, runs horse races, him and his family. And so I think it was kind of those two ideas came together and I'm like, oh, well, if there were Golems in this world with basically enchanted animals, what would people do? There'd probably be a competition and then went straight to horse racing.

[10:04] Marissa: I love that. And I thought the race element is kind of like a really fun take on the what do you call it, the Death competition. There's a word for it, and I'm drawing a blink now. But anyway, the Hunger Game style competition where everyone's trying to accomplish something and lots of people are probably going to die. And this was such a unique twist on it.

[10:33] Kalyn: Thank you. Yeah, it was really fun to explore because I've always really liked that trope. I think the Darker Shade of Magic series does it very well. A far Wilder Magic is a fantastic example, and it was fun to kind of explore myself and try to put a unique twist on it.

[10:50] Marissa: How did you go about coming up with what the different races would look like and what different obstacles makeira our main character was going to come in contact with?

[11:02] Kalyn: Well, initially the book only had one race, and it occurred at the very end.

[11:07] Marissa: Oh, how interesting.

[11:08] Kalyn: Yes. And then a very nice critique partner of mine was like, hey, nothing happens for the first two thirds of this book. You're right.

[11:15] Marissa: I think that.

[11:19] Kalyn: So they suggested, what if the race was broken up into multiple parts and then it was used more effectively then to advance subplots and character and other parts of the story instead of being the culmination at the end. And at that point, I already had my magic system, which is reliant on gemstones in order to produce enchantments. And there are four different types of gemstones that result in four different types of enchantments, which are behavioral, which is like personality stuff, physical, like strength, enchantments energy, which is stuff like lights and ethereal, which is stuff like enchantments to never get lost. And so when I realized that I was going to break up this race, I already had kind of a natural structure there, and I was like, okay, well, we'll do four, and each one will be representative of one type of enchantment. And then within that race, you would see tons of different types of enchantments of that type.

[12:14] Marissa: Did you plot out the races or are you more of just like, start writing and see what happens.

[12:21] Kalyn: At least when I was writing this, I was somewhere in the middle where I would plot out kind of big beats and then write between them, like connecting the dots. Since then, I have become much more of an outliner. I kind of wish that I had for this book, too. But I actually found the races to be the most difficult part for me to write because I did want them to accomplish more than just action and more than just the race themselves. Actually, where I drew a lot of inspiration was from Mario Kart, which is why that same critique partner calls this my Jewish Mobster Mario Kart book, which I think is probably the best pitch I have. Basically, I was like, I want the courses themselves to be dangerous and I want what the writers are capable of doing within those races to be difficult. So I looked for both for ways where the actual race courses would be enchanted and then the items available to people in the races would be enchanted.

[13:31] Marissa: So you've mentioned Jewish mythology and that you drew a lot of inspiration, particularly from golems. And I had, like, a vague idea of what golems were, but I know very little about Jewish mythology. How much were you drawing inspiration from that? Or was it really just like the golems and then from creating your own thing?

[13:55] Kalyn: On top of that, I drew a lot of inspiration. So my initial kind of motivation for this book was that I wanted to write a Jewish second world fantasy because I wasn't aware of any at the time. The only two Jewish fantasies I could name really were 9th House and Swing Silver, which were both fantastic but weren't quite this kind of second world fantasy that I was looking for. So I knew that's what I wanted to do. And golem, this was the first thing that came to mind. But there is a lot from the book that pulls from Jewish mythology and culture and religion. The Kinnish people in the book are basically an analog for Jewish people. So I did a lot of world building around making that clear. However, it is not a one to one parallel. For example, in the book, there are the four Harbingers, which are the gods that brought magic to humanity that the Kinish people believe in, whereas Judaism is strictly monotheistic. But in contrast, I did a lot of things where there's a very heavy focus on study in Judaism and there's a very heavy focus on study in Kinism in the book. So there are a lot of cultural and religious parallels, but like I said, it's not directly one to one.

[15:14] Marissa: All right, so you mentioned world building and you've mentioned magic systems, which I love. Do you enjoy the world building aspect? Because for me, it's always like one of the most tricky parts about writing fantasy is trying to create a world that feels different and unique and like a magic system that has really cool things but also isn't so cool that you don't have limitations on it. And I don't know, I get so in my head about all of that. Is that a part that you really enjoy about writing?

[15:49] Kalyn: Yeah, actually it's my favorite part. Magic is where the magic system, I should say, is where every single one of my books began. The Storm Crow came to me for the idea of giant magical crows. Raven Fall is about a family of psychics and this dark descent. They said the first thing that came to mind for me was the golems and then shortly after the enchantments. And I really enjoy kind of figuring out all the rules. And my favorite part is I always like to have what the characters know about the magic system in the beginning and then what they learn throughout the process, throughout the book. And I think that's a little bit of my science side creeping in. I like science based magic systems. In the start descent, it is basically a chemical reaction where a combination of magic being funneled through a gemstone and a spell results in a different type of enchantment. And because of that, I think my magic systems tend to naturally lend themselves to a development process where people are researching constantly and discover more about it and new applications. So I tend to start out pretty limited and then grow. And I've yet to thankfully, I've yet to run into the scenario where I'm like, oh, no, I've just given them unlimited abilities and they can do anything. I try to be very careful about ensuring that I know my rules and I know my limitations, but I'm sure that one day I'm going to back myself into a very deep corner.

[17:17] Marissa: It does happen. That's one of the fun challenges of writing is and then you got to figure your way out. Yes, I do love that tip of figuring out what your characters know at the beginning and then what they're going to discover over the course of the story, because it just automatically then gives character growth. It lends itself to character arc and gives surprises for the readers. That's a great little tip.

[17:46] Kalyn: Yeah, it's definitely one of my favorite parts.

[17:48] Marissa: And do you know what they're going to discover? Or do you ever surprise yourself? Or I guess it would be more accurate to ask, does the books surprise you?

[17:57] Kalyn: I usually know. I think that sometimes my explanations change largely because of plot holes or things where I find where I've contradicted myself. I'm like, oh, that can't actually be the reason why this is true, because of this other thing that I said. But usually I know the end goal of what they're going to work towards.

[18:18] Marissa: All right, and then let's talk about another aspect of world building. There is a ton of political intrigue in this book, not in a boring World War II narrative or anything, but in a really juicy family dramas and succession battles and betrayal and a stirring rebellion and all of this. Similarly, is that something that you really do a deep dive into figuring out before you start?

[18:51] Kalyn: Yeah, I spend a lot of time kind of whiteboarding and then I transfer all of my ideas to a notebook that I have for each book that will always clearly outline all of the different political structures and whatnot at the start of the book. There's actually a little bit of front matter that has a couple of different diagrams that are straight from my journals that they decided to include because I may have gone a little too far into that and people needed a guide. But that is one of the parts that I actually find the most difficult because I find it the least interesting because I am so just, like, caught up in the magic of fantasy books. That really is my favorite part. And then the characters and plot and whatnot. So I find myself having to really force myself to sit down and figure out political systems and whatnot, which is good because they keep featuring in my books, even though I don't love.

[19:48] Marissa: Are you drawing inspiration from history at all?

[19:51] Kalyn: No, actually, I don't. Really? Okay. I think there is definitely an influence in the Stark Descent, like I said, from Peaky Blinders and kind of that era and time, but I really don't do a lot of direct parallels.

[20:05] Marissa: I have never seen this Peaky Blinders. You're making me feel like I should probably watch it.

[20:10] Kalyn: You have to watch it.

[20:11] Marissa: I've heard a lot about it. It definitely has come up a lot.

[20:15] Kalyn: It is so good.

[20:18] Marissa: And then while we're on the topic of this political intrigue and all of these families and that element of world building, you've got such cool bonus material in this book, and having listened to it on audio, I almost missed it. And it wasn't until I was preparing for this interview that I was flipping through the arc that was sent to me and I'm like, oh, my gosh, there's a really cool map. Oh, my gosh, there's like a family hierarchy chart. Am I not saying that right? I don't think. And there's all this cool stuff. Was that your idea? How did that come about?

[20:53] Kalyn: The map was actually no, I think both yeah. All three of those were suggested by my publisher, though I would have asked for the map if they hadn't suggested it because I just think that every fantasy book should have a map because it just makes things so much sense.

[21:09] Marissa: I have never had a map, and people who've listened to this podcast since the beginning know that it is one of my biggest envies. Someday I want a map.

[21:23] Kalyn: Honestly. So the Stormcrow, I had to ask for it, and this circuit said, I'm thankful they brought it up. But going forward, I'm always going to ask just in case.

[21:34] Marissa: Yes. I guess it doesn't hurt.

[21:36] Kalyn: Yeah, it was really cool, actually, because initially they were just doing the map and then they suggested the front matter too, which, like you mentioned, has kind of like the royal family and noble houses and tells you who's who and then also kind of outlines the other power structures. Which I just think is a really nice reference when you're learning all these terms, when you start a new book.

[22:00] Marissa: No, and I love to be able to flip to the beginning, like, if you get lost, but you're not sure exactly who is this person? Where do they fit into things? And also, it's just pretty, like your designer or illustrator, whoever. I don't know if they're credited in here somewhere, but they're really pretty pages.

[22:17] Kalyn: Yeah, it was Virginia Allen is the artist for the map, and she's spectacular. And then was the designer who did pretty much all the interior elements.

[22:27] Marissa: I love it. Did you provide, I don't know, a sketch or something for them to go off of?

[22:33] Kalyn: Oh, yeah, really horrible sketch. I learned my lesson after the Stormcrome app because I provided a really terrible sketch for the Stormcrome app, and then they just used that and they made it really pretty. But I was like, oh, no, I didn't realize that you were just going to copy that for this dark descent. I sent it in and then with, like, very bold letters, it does not have to look like this.

[23:00] Marissa: Take this and do as you will.

[23:02] Kalyn: Yes.

[23:04] Marissa: Let's talk characters. We've got two viewpoint characters. We've got Makira, who is the horse rider of the competition, the one who actually is the one doing the racing. And then we've got Ari or Ariel, who is the one who creates the golem horse that she rides, which so cool. Did you always know it was going to be from both points of view?

[23:29] Kalyn: Yeah. When I came up with the initial idea of the horse race, the first question I asked myself was, like, okay, well, who would enter this? It's extremely dangerous. If you like horses, your horse is probably going to die, so why would you do this? And that kind of led to the natural creation of a character who has no choice, that is forced to enter. In this case, Mikira's father is an unlicensed enchanter, which is illegal and punishable by death. And when the heir to a noble house who has always coveted their enchanted horses discovers that, he uses it against her and basically forces her into this bargain where she has to enter the race without an enchanted horse. And once I had reached that point, I realized, all right, well, I need a character who's actually going to create this golem horse because the Golem's magic is undetectable. So McKee will be able to ride a, quote, unenchanted horse while still having a chance to actually win. And that's where I ended up with oh.

[24:27] Marissa: So one thing that I think is interesting to point out, usually when we see a book with two points of view, authors are constantly alternating back and know chapter from one, chapter from the other, chapter from one chapter from the other. And you didn't stick to we sometimes we get two or three from Makira and before we switch back, et cetera. And that might seem like a really in the weeds writer nerdy craft question, but where did that decision come from?

[24:59] Kalyn: So when I'm writing multiple point of views, the question I always ask myself is who has the most to lose in this scene? And that's how I decide whose point of view to write it from. So that pretty much is what dictates for me when I switch back and forth. And I think this dr scent was a little bit unique in that as opposed to a story where two characters are doing the same thing or after the same goal and you're alternating whose perspective you're telling that story from. For example, if they had both been writing in the race, I had kind of two parallel stories running alongside each other that intertwine constantly. So I also needed to be able to jump from one to the other and spend as much time as I needed to in each plotline.

[25:46] Marissa: Did you have any tricks, anything that you used to try to get into each head of each character or try to summon their voice as you were writing?

[25:59] Kalyn: Yeah, mainly that the two of them, I think, are writing on very parallel tracks for a little bit of pun humor, in that they're both kind of going down a similar journey in that they're responding to a situation. Or rather a life where they have been without power for so long and it has made them afraid. And it has made them untrusting. And they are both presented with this opportunity to kind of take control of their lives and they go about it very different ways. So when I was switching from one character to the other, I was intentionally kind of looking at the same question through different lenses and I knew that whatever one did, the other would probably do the opposite. And so easy to switch back and forth because I knew that Makiro was this kind of hot headed, determined, extremely loyal person who would do anything with people she cared about. And Ari was this very cool, intelligent, very curious, kind of grounded contrast. And so it was pretty easy to switch back and forth because they were just so different.

[27:06] Marissa: Was there one that you felt like you related to more?

[27:10] Kalyn: I thought it was going to be Makira when I first started writing this because she's kind of that spark of anger that you never quite get to express in life.

[27:21] Marissa: I love characters like that. Like, I want to live vicariously through. Exactly.

[27:26] Kalyn: You're like, oh, that was satisfying. But it actually ended up being Ari because she was kind of my own exploration and reconnection to my Jewish heritage in that she is a character, feels very cut off from her people, from her family, from her culture, and learning more about it and reconnecting with it is a very big part of her storyline. And so I was surprised to find myself very invested in her.

[27:59] Marissa: Way back in this conversation, you had mentioned morally gray characters, and I noted that because, wow, there is definitely some moral grayness happening in this book.

[28:14] Kalyn: Yeah.

[28:15] Marissa: What draws you to morally gray characters?

[28:19] Kalyn: I just think they're so complex and interesting because I think it's very easy to say what is right and much harder to enact it, especially when life and the world and people with power around you are making it pretty difficult. And I've mentioned a couple of times that I was watching Peaky Blinders at the time that I wrote this, and I was fascinated with why I was so interested in Thomas Shelby and why I liked his character when he does so many horrible things, and yet I was so invested in him succeeding. And that's kind of what I tried to draw on when I was writing this book, especially with Damien's character, who's the sponsor that enables McKee to enter the race and also finds Ari and brings her into the fold. I wanted to look at people doing good things for bad reasons and bad things for good reasons and what motivates someone to do those things. And I think you kind of see two sides to that coin with Ari and Makira, because Makira is this extremely moral person who is just constantly put in between a rock and a hard place over and over again and asked to make the right choice. But every time she makes the right choice, it only hurts her and her family. So she's constantly being challenged whether or not she can hold on to these morals, whether or not they're realistic. And then, in contrast, Ari is kind of drawn into the darkness and kind of loses herself to this pursuit of power and control because her life has been so out of hand for so long and she's been afraid for so long that she's just desperate to find some sort of control. And I think it was really interesting to look at what kind of choices she would make in pursuit of that.

[30:07] Marissa: No, I agree. I love morally gray characters as a writer, but also as a reader. And you mentioned sometimes there's a character that we are just entranced by, even though we question what they're doing. But if you can see the why behind it or what's brought them to this point and what's brought them to making these decisions, and then it just really kind of forces you to think, well, gosh, do I. Think what they're doing is wrong. What would I do in this situation? And I love all of those questions.

[30:37] Kalyn: I agree.

[30:39] Marissa: Okay, I'm going to switch topics real quick before we get to our bonus round. So this episode is coming out on October 16. Do I understand correctly that you have another book coming out the day after on October 17?

[30:59] Kalyn: I do, yes.

[31:00] Marissa: Holy schnikes. I had no idea when we booked this podcast that you had two books back to back. Tell us, what is that about?

[31:08] Kalyn: So that book is called Hollowthorn. It is the sequel to my middle grade fantasy, Ravenfall, which is this cozy, spooky autumnal book about a family of psychics who run a sentient inn at the crossroads of the human world and the otherworld and the boy who comes to them for help solving a magical family mystery. It is very rooted in Irish mythology, whereas Hollow Thorn, the sequel, is very rooted in Jewish mythology and follows those two main characters as they head off into the other world in order to save the tree of life from a demon who is trying to steal its power.

[31:45] Marissa: That sounds incredible. I love that you're drawing from different mythologies, too.

[31:50] Kalyn: Yeah, it was really fun to explore and to kind of draw them both together into the sequel. Less fun to publish two books and paperback edition of another one within three weeks.

[32:02] Marissa: Yes. So talk to me about that. How are you managing to promote two and I guess kind of three books at once? That is a lot.

[32:13] Kalyn: It's been a whirlwind. It was kind of funny when I first realized that both this Dr. Fen and Hawa Thorn would be coming out in the fall of 23, I was like talking to both publishers. I'm like, all right, we can do this. We'll find a suitable amount of time in between. And then they both put them on the same day.

[32:30] Marissa: Oh my gosh, publishers.

[32:35] Kalyn: And it was like the one day with my day job that I couldn't do. I couldn't take time off. I was going to be so busy. So I went to them and I.

[32:42] Marissa: Was like, can we please move both.

[32:43] Kalyn: Of these and can we move them away from each other? But unfortunately, we didn't want to push the stark descent into October because October is very dominated by spooky books. And there were a couple of weeks within September that we couldn't do because of the Jewish high holidays. And so I didn't want to publish my Jewish book during a time when Jewish people were going to be offline and not even paying attention. So that's how we ended up on the end of September. And then we pushed Hollow Thorn, which is a spooky book, into October. And then the paperback for Ravenfall was going to come out September twelveTH. But then Barnes and Noble actually picked it as their October pick. And so we had to move it to the same day as the Stark Descent. Wow. Basically what I ended up doing was kind of focusing my efforts on the Stark Descent since it was the start of a series and then kind of like interspersing some Ravenfall stuff. And now that the Stark Descent is out, I have shifted all of my focus to marketing Hollowthorne, kind of put it on the back burner because it's a sequel, but it also just felt very strange to market. Like cozy spooky book with Dark Death book.

[33:51] Marissa: Yeah, I mean, those things don't not go together.

[33:57] Kalyn: True.

[33:59] Marissa: And you're also holding down a day job. So do you have a schedule that you you're working by or like just nitty gritty? How are you balancing it? How have how have you balanced it?

[34:14] Kalyn: Yeah, I I do a lot of writing in the morning and at lunch, but I also tend to do most of it after work since I'm already in that work mode, so I just go straight into it. But honestly, I use pretty much all of my PTO from work in order to meet deadlines.

[34:34] Marissa: Are you also writing at the same time?

[34:37] Kalyn: What do you mean?

[34:38] Marissa: Like, do you have another book under contract that you're trying to get turned in?

[34:41] Kalyn: Oh, thankfully, no. Both of my options are already figured out. Already written?

[34:52] Marissa: How did you manage that?

[34:54] Kalyn: Well, so I had stuff that I wrote while on sub with this Dark Descent and Ravenfall. So when it came time to send options, I was like, oh, look, I already have something that we were going to sell if this art Descent didn't sell. So thankfully I had stuff in the back burner. But I do have to write the fourth Ravenfall book sometime next year.

[35:15] Marissa: You don't sound too concerned. Well, that is very convenient and another excellent reason that when people are on sub or when you're querying your agent, start writing the next thing, it could pay you back in the future.

[35:32] Kalyn: Yeah, honestly. And never completely give up on the stuff that doesn't land an agent. Ravenfall was the second book that I queried, and the Storm Crow was the fourth. So the Stormcrow, I signed with an agent, and then later I came back to my agent with Ravenfall and I was like, hey, I think this is actually a middle grade book. What do you think? And that one worked out.

[35:49] Marissa: Oh, wow. So you've really had this backlog of work that you've now been able to kind of start pushing through the publishing channel. That sounds very convenient. I like this plan.

[36:02] Kalyn: I was very relieved.

[36:05] Marissa: I love it. Well, congratulations on both this dark descent and Hollowthorne coming out.

[36:11] Kalyn: Thank you.

[36:12] Marissa: Okay, are you ready for our bonus round?

[36:15] Kalyn: Yes.

[36:16] Marissa: What book makes you OOH?

[36:20] Kalyn: What book does make me happy? I just read a middle grade called The Curse of Eelgrass Bog by Mary Aberling that was there's probably going to be a word for this that I don't know and probably should as a writer, but when something is so sad and wistful but also so happy at the same time so they both make you cry? Yeah, that's what that book did. I kind of saw where it was going midway through, and then the process of getting there was just so cathartic and it was so good.

[36:58] Marissa: You've talked about this a little, but what are you working on next?

[37:04] Kalyn: The sequel to The Stark Descent, which should release September of next year. The third Raven fall book is written, and the fourth would be my next thing to draft.

[37:14] Marissa: Do you know what that's going to be or do you have plans for them?

[37:17] Kalyn: Yes, I've got an outline and everything. I've been required by contract to do outlines, and I have since been converted.

[37:26] Marissa: Lastly, where can people find you?

[37:30] Kalyn: I'm mostly on Instagram at Mjosephson and occasionally on TikTok at Kaylin Josephson, and then I also have a

[37:40] Marissa: Awesome. Kaylin, thank you so much for joining me today.

[37:43] Kalyn: Thank you. It's been great.

[37:45] Marissa: Readers definitely check out this Dark Descent, which is available now, and Hollow Thorn, which will be out tomorrow. Of course, we encourage you to support your local indie bookstore, but if you don't have a local indie, you can check out our affiliate shop slash Marissa Meyer. And don't forget to check out our merchandise on Etsy, Instagram and T Public. We've got some great stuff for Nanorimo coming up. You can find all the links to that in our Instagram profile. Next week, I will be talking with Sh Cotugno about their Jekyll and Hyde inspired graphic novel, the Glass Scientists. If you're enjoying these conversations, please subscribe and follow us on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author and at Happy Writer Podcast. Until next time, stay inspired, keep writing and whatever life throws at you today, I hope that now you're feeling a little bit happier.