This week on My Screaming Twenties celebrates the recent release of The Black Naught, Kindra M. Austin’s newest novel.
An interview with the incredible Kindra M. Austin
KRISTIANA: The Black Naught is your seventh published book, how has publishing changed for you over the years? What do you know now which you wish you knew when you started?
KINDRA: My debut novel, Magpie in August, was published in 2017. I feel like I entered into the self-publishing industry at just the right time, when good information was becoming more plentiful and fairly easy to discover; I’m talking about book anatomy, and the art of formatting and typesetting, which are all things a professional self-publisher should know.
There is a stigma attached to self-published authors. Though it’s true that the reputation of self-publishing has rightfully improved over the past five or so years, the stigma still does exist because of authors who do not know what they are doing–they do not produce books using industry standards. I was one of those authors, as Magpie in August was poorly formatted. I was so embarrassed when I realized my mistakes that I unpublished Magpie until I could republish a clean book.
Formatting is tedious, and I have since fallen in love with this craft. I continue to learn with every book I produce. Now, I feel free to experiment with different styles, while keeping to industry standards. I’m fortunate to work with my Indie Blu(e) Publishing partner and co-founder, Christine Ray, who trusts my skills, and is a constant source of support and encouragement.
KRISTIANA: In conversations about The Black Naught, you have said this story is how Magpie in August should have been told. What do you mean by this? Why is Magpie’s story so important to you?
KINDRA: Magpie in August was born in the summer of 2012. I was feeling anxious about my mother’s return to Michigan; she had taken my sister to live in Texas twelve years earlier, and they moved without even telling me. I was angry and heartbroken, but I still looked forward to their summer visits. I never had words with my mother even though a part of me hated her for her life choices. When I received the news that they were both coming home, I was of course happy about being close to my sister again, but the idea of having to relearn how to live near my mother had me in a tailspin. Our relationship had always been tumultuous, but I loved her so. I loved her, and she knew it, and she would often use my love for her against me.
See, I am Magpie.
Writing Magpie in August was cathartic, and just what I needed at the time to work out my feelings regarding my mother, and my childhood. However, Magpie was always meant to be a ghost story. Since my teens, I’ve been inspired by gothic literature. Although I am proud and thankful for what Magpie in August turned out to be, this book was always speaking to me, begging to be told to the fullest. The Black Naught is the result–the atmosphere has changed, and I think my mother, if she were still alive, would prefer The Black Naught to Magpie. My mother always had a spooky quality about her, and she loved a great suspense story.
KRISTIANA: Would you say The Black Naught is a departure from your previously published novels?
KINDRA: I wouldn’t say The Black Naught is a departure; in fact, I think it’s a prime example of my distinctive writing style. My kind of fiction is literary by nature, character driven, and highly psychological, in that I explore and expose the human psyche on levels that give my characters beating hearts and breathing lungs. I pride myself on maintaining my style without ever being predictable. If I ever write something with an expected climax, that would be a departure.
KRISTIANA: Can you tell us a bit more about the title and what it means without any spoilers?
KINDRA: The Black Naught follows Magpie Carey, an odd young woman who must examine her past in order to reconcile with her alcoholic mother, and release herself of the guilt over the death of her little sister, Renny. It’s a slow-burn, macabre story about love, loss, and redemption.
KRISTIANA: Are there any specific influences (other writers, artists, musicians) who inspire your storytelling?
KINDRA: I love slow-burn, suspense/thriller films like The Others; The Beguiled; Marrowbone; The Lodge; and THE VVITCH. I also like the wild episodic style of Quentin Tarantino films, namely Reservoir Dogs. Regarding fiction writers, I’m heavily influenced by Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar; Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw; Richard Matheson’s A Stir of Echoes; and Edgar AllanPoe’s’ William Wilson. Musically, I rely on Lana Del Rey, Mozart, and Evanescence for inspiration, as well as Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale.
KRISTIANA: In three words/phrases, what can a reader expect from The Black Naught?
KINDRA: Goosebumps, tears, and a dropped stomach.
KRISTIANA: What’s next for you in the world of writing, editing and publishing?
KINDRA: I have one new novel in the front pocket, and another in the back. The first to be published is called Unknow You. It’s a neo-noir type of novel that I plan to market to literary agents. If no one wants it, I’m happy to publish it with Indie Blu(e). This story has murder, sex, cigarette smoking, and detective work. The second is called Royce with the Rose Gold Hair. This one is definitely going to be marketed to literary agents. It’s a horror/fantasy, set in the early nineties, about a young woman with killer instincts and a low tolerance for assholes.
The Black Naught by Kindra M. Austin is available to purchase below:
(Available internationally too)
To follow Kindra M. Austin and her work: