Interview with YA mystery author K.C. Tansley

I’m kicking
off a new month and new week with YA author K.C. Tansley. She’s here to chat
about her new young adult murder mystery, The
Girl Who Ignored Ghosts.
This is the first book in The Unbelievables series.
Feel free
to leave comments for her below. She’ll be stopping in to answer any questions
you may have.
K.C. Tansley
lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She
tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes
about them.
Never one to
say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound
of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape
Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting
beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts
is the first book in her YA time-travel murder mystery series.
Welcome K.C. Please tell us about your
current release.
The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is a YA time travel murder mystery.
It is the first book in The Unbelievables series.
In The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, prep school
junior Kat Preston accidentally time travels to 1886 Connecticut, where she
must share a body with a rebellious Victorian lady, prevent a gruesome wedding
night murder, disprove a deadly family curse, and find a way back to her own
What inspired you to write this book?
It was a concept my best friend, Anthony, and I dreamed up when we were
in 7th grade. The 11-year-old me loved the idea of ghosts, curses, spells,
castles, time travel, and a murder mystery.
I was a huge fan of soap operas like Dark Shadows and Santa Barbara and
that’s where the romantic thread came in. Back then, I only thought about the
story I wanted to tell and this was it. Anthony and I never got beyond the
character sketches and general concept because the original idea had way too
many characters. He still has a notebook somewhere filled with dozens of
character sketches.
Decades later, when I was working on Wall Street and mourning the end of
the Harry Potter series, I thought if I could write my own novel, then the
characters would always be with me. That was when the 28-year-old me remembered
the story the 11-year-old me was dying to tell. I emailed Anthony and he gave
me the go ahead to work on it. And then the work truly began.
Excerpt from The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts:
     The two weeks leading up to finals were the perfect time to do
research at Gilman Library—if you needed to be surrounded by people. Bustle and
noise didn’t distract me anymore. I was much more likely to be disturbed by
quiet. Or, at least, what the quiet conjured up. Old buildings like Gilman were
the worst.
I made my way to the library’s elevator. My progress was slowed by
the twenty pounds of research material that I carried. I slid my thumbs under
the straps of my backpack, trying to relieve my aching shoulders, while I
Professor Astor’s classes were unusual—even by McTernan
standards—and his paper topics were insane. But he was a prestigious university
professor willing to teach prep-school kids, so the school let him teach pretty
much whatever he wanted. This semester was “The Lore and Lure of Historical
Places,” which might sound innocent enough, but Astor had me investigating a
notorious double murder that had happened in 1886.
The professor expected McTernan students to do as much as his
students at Georgetown, but he helped anyone willing to do the work. For my
latest assignment, he’d loaned me some incredible resources from his personal
collection. I couldn’t wait to explore the books in my backpack, but
investigating a grisly mystery and a family curse meant that I had to take some
special precautions. Working alone in my dorm room was out of the question. I
needed the frantic energy of my classmates preparing for finals.
Once the elevator arrived, it was a short ride to the fourth
floor. The place was packed, just the way I liked it. I found a free chair at a
table with three sophomores. They didn’t look happy about my intrusion, but I
was a junior, so they had to deal.
I had a lot of work to do. If I was going to discover anything new
about what happened at Castle Creighton, I had to start by reviewing what was
already known. While I read, I needed to look for blank spots and anything that
had been overlooked. Professor Astor’s willingness to believe that I might be
capable of unraveling a 129-year-old mystery was one of the reasons he was my
favorite teacher.
I slipped on my headphones, cranking up some Taylor Swift. I
needed happy music to explore something this dark and scary. Then I pulled out
my binder and reread my notes on Castle Creighton.
The castle sat in the middle of an island just a few miles from
the village of Wright in Connecticut. It felt a world away from the hustle of
Washington, D.C. I’d only seen a few photos of the place, but my first thought
was desolate and creepy. Maybe it was the isolation of the island or the
Medieval Gothic architecture of the castle, but the place seemed designed to
provoke bad dreams. I couldn’t help envisioning what I could face there—an
endless line of restless ghosts, waiting for someone like me.
What exciting story are you working on
Right now,
I’m working on the sequel to The Girl Who
Ignored Ghosts
. It picks up a month after everything that happened in
TGWIG. It’s so exciting to get to continue the adventures with Kat and Evan.
We’re going to discover so much more about the Langley family in this book. And
if I’m channeling Toria, there will be more time travel for Evan and Kat too.
When did you first consider yourself a
It started
out as a life long hobby. I wrote incredibly angsty poetry all through high
school and college. Back then, it was just something I wanted to do. As I got
older, it became something I snuck in time to do. Even after I wrote my first
manuscript, I didn’t think I was a writer. I was just someone who wrote. I
didn’t start using the title writer until I got more serious about it. When I
was writing my novel with the intent to publish—that’s when I felt like I was a
writer. So probably around 2009.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I write
full time, but I also teach part time to pay the bills. My days are mine. Two
evenings a week, I teach. Those are half days of writing and promoting.
A typical
day starts with me rolling out of bed and sliding into the chair at my desk. I
spend an hour checking email and social media. I break for breakfast. Then I
get down to writing. When I’m drafting, it’s 2000 words a day of writing. When
I’m revising, it’s 50 pages of revising.
Around 1
p.m., I get in an hour workout. Then back to promo work like ad creation,
social media, writing guest blogs, setting up events, etc.
Right now
I’m creating workshops for school visits. Between developing the talks and
creating the Powerpoints, that’s a few months of work.
My graphic
designers all have day jobs, so I have to check email at night and respond to
them about ad design, newsletter design, and website updates. My day usually
starts at 9:30 am and ends at 1:00 am.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I have to
feel what my characters feel. So if my character is depressed, I have to summon
up that emotion and go into it. Sometimes it’s exhausting to write because my
characters go through so much. I have to be right there with them, feeling my
way through it. They say to torture your characters, which means I torture
myself right along with them.
With The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, I couldn’t
time travel and see how it felt. So I had to approximate it. Think about what
emotions it would trigger and summon them up. So shock, fear, and uncertainty
were things I was constantly tapping into.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
This is a
true story. When I was five and my cousin was six, my grandmother asked us what
we wanted to be when we grew up.
My cousin
was playing with a cash register and replied, “A grocery store check out lady.”
When my
grandmother turned to me, I said. “Green.”

“No, Kourtney, what do you want to be?”
“I want to
be green.” It was my favorite thing in the world.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
My tagline
is “Believing in the unbelievables” and I do. I’ve had some creepy ghost experiences.
When I lived on Wall Street, there were several nights in that haze
between dreaming and fully awake where I saw ghosts at the end of my bed.
People dressed in clothes from another era and exuding an eerie bluish light.
It turns out there were some horrible fires that destroyed buildings down
there. I think when people die tragically something of them remains.
Thanks, K.C.!

2 thoughts on “Interview with YA mystery author K.C. Tansley

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Fun to learn some new things about you, Kourtney. And I love that you have a set writing schedule during the day. I should give that a try; I tend to work on things as they come to me. I usually get done what I need to get done, but having specific time slots for different tasks sounds more efficient. It's obviously working for you! Continued best of luck to you with your book launch. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Carrie! I find it really helps to block out time everyday. it's always good to try out other people's methods. That's how I stumbled onto what worked for me. 🙂 Aw thank you! Hugs.

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