#313 – 2 Books at 20 Years Old with Citra Tenore

In this episode, we are joined by Citra Tenore, an author who wrote her first book at 11 and published it at 12! We chat about how and why she wrote her second, the start of a sci-fi epic, at 19.

In this episode, we are joined by Citra Tenore, an author who wrote her first book at 11 and published it at 12! We chat about how and why she wrote her second, the start of a sci-fi epic, at 19. We heard about how Citra got into writing, her initial dislike of reading and love of film, how she wrote her first book, why she found that sci-fi was her genre of choice for her second book, and where she finds her inspiration. She also offered some great advice for young writers, as well as advice for any parents of young writers out there looking to nurture that interest. We had a great conversation with Citra overall and look forward to seeing what she writes next!

You can find out more about Citra on her website, and be sure to grab a copy of The Dead Planets’ Requiem vol. 1, the first in her sprawling sci-fi series.

In this episode:

  • Citra talks about her childhood, and how she developed an interest in writing after initially having little interest in books
  • We learn more about where Citra draws her inspiration from, and how her growth as a writer started early and continued throughout her adolescence
  • She talks about what led her to writing her first novel at the age of 11, and the journey to publishing at 12
  • Citra tells us more about her journey to publishing at such a young age, and how the feedback and support she received from her community and readers inspired her to keep writing
  • We asked Citra about her newest release, The Dead Planet’s Requiem vol. 1, and her writing process behind this sci-fi series, as well as how her writing changed and developed over time
  • Citra tells us how she creates her characters, and how she is particularly interested in character interactions
  • She shares some great advice for new writers, young writers, and for parents of aspiring authors – as well as some dos and don’ts when it comes to reading and writing
  • And much more!

Useful Links

Citra’s website

Citra on Instagram

Summer with a Twist

The Dead Planets’ Requiem Vol. 1

Mentioned in this episode:

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

Born in 2002, Citra Tenore (her name is pronounced like “cheetra tenorae”) is an American fiction author from Massachusetts. She published her first novel, a standalone children’s story called Summer with a Twist, when she was twelve years old. After being bitten by the writing bug for good, she dedicated her teen years to her new mystery and metaphysical series, The Dead Planets’ Requiem; the series’ first volume published when she was nineteen. At twenty, Citra’s love for writing hasn’t lessened. As she currently works on the second volume of The Dead Planets’ Requiem and storyboards other, more secretive ideas she has hidden up her sleeve, she looks forward to a future of continuing to pursue her dearest dream.

Episode Transcript

Transcription by www.speechpad.com

Laura: Hey, writers, you’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast,” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts. I’m Laura, Kobo Writing Life’s author engagement manager.

Rachel: And I’m Rachel, the promotion specialist for KWL.

Laura: This week on the podcast we talk to Citra Tenore, who’s an American author from Massachusetts. She wrote her first novel, a standalone children’s story called “Summer with a Twist,” when she was 11 years old, and published it when she was 12. At 19 she has published the first book in her new science fiction series, “The Dead Planets’ Requiem.”

Rachel: We had a really interesting conversation with Citra. It’s always so fascinating to talk to somebody who started their publishing career so young. And so, it was fun to talk to her about her first book “Summer with a Twist,” what the publishing process was like when she was 12, and then how she made the move into sci-fi and the long journey she took to write “The Dead Planets’ Requiem.” She also gave some great advice for young writers and for parents nurturing young writers. And so, we hope you enjoy. We are joined today by author Citra Tenore. Citra, thank you so much for joining us.

Citra: Thank you so much for having me.

Rachel: Just to kind of kick things off, can you start by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Citra: Oh, yes. Well, I’m 20 years old. I’m from Massachusetts, and I write children’s and science fiction novels.

Laura: You wrote your first book at 11 and published it by the time you were 12. So, did you always know that you wanted to be a writer, or did something kind of inspire you to start writing at such a young age?

Citra: Oh, my god. No. This makes people laugh all the time. I hated books growing up. I absolutely hated them. Actually, my parents, they always mention this thing where I was, like, five years old and they tried to get me to read a book, and apparently I just, like, took it out of their hands and threw it across the room. I hated reading. And I was a really physical kid, just, like, always doing sports, wrestling with neighborhood boys. Like, you couldn’t get me to sit down. And it was becoming a really big problem when I entered school because my ELA was really bad, like, my grades were awful. And so, my father didn’t know what to do. And my mom is from Indonesia, so her English wasn’t great when I was growing up. They were like, “What the hell do we do with this kid?” So, my dad, who did theater acting when he was in his 20s, was recalling when he was younger how being an actor he had to analyze scripts. He had to basically do scene study almost every day. So, he was like, “Maybe I should just get her to watch movies and analyze them.” So, we would watch good films, not necessarily age-appropriate films, and we would just analyze them all night. He would quiz me on, you know, why did a director direct a scene a certain way? And yeah, I kind of fell in love with writing through that, because I realized the importance of having good screenwriters in the film. And that really got the ball rolling, basically. But no, I hated books for a really long time.

Rachel: That’s really interesting because I’m also somebody… Like, I did enjoy reading as a kid, but my dad taught me a lot about storytelling through movies as well. And I’m really curious, were there any, like, classic films that you think have phenomenal storytelling?

Citra: To the chagrin of my mother, yes. I was five years old when I got to watch “Full Metal Jacket.” Like, there was somebody trying to keep me, like, “Hey, can you leave the room? There’s like a little interplay here. You might not wanna be there.” But no, like, that movie had a huge impact on me as a kid. Kubrick was definitely an inspiration. Yeah, lots of things like that. “Kill Bill,” similarly, was one of my favorite movies growing up. Yeah, just, like, he would show me, like, yeah, Hollywood Classics. But yeah, dark, dirty stuff.

Rachel: Yeah, Kubrick and Tarantino, notorious children’s film directors.

Citra: No, I know, I know. Yeah. Actually, I remember in elementary school my teacher said the same thing. She was horrified this one day because me and this boy had gotten into this, like, brutal debate during ELA, because I was talking about how Kubrick was better, and he was talking about how Tarantino is better. And she was like, “What the hell is wrong with this generation’s parents?” Like, we were, like, 10 years old.

Rachel: Well, you can’t deny that Kubrick and Tarantino can tell a good story. So, I get it.

Citra: But yeah, it led me to wanting to be an actress for a long time. So I took, like, film classes and whatnot. And pretty much, like, during that time of being an actress, I realized that… And, you know, directors, and screenplay writers, and casting directors, would even say this to my face like, “You can be as good as you want, but if the script is terrible, I can’t help you.” You know? And that’s when it… I was, yeah, 10, 11, taking classes and meeting with agents and stuff. And that’s when I realized, like, well, I don’t really want a profession where I don’t get to call the shots on whether or not the story is good. And I just became completely enamored by that idea of, like, wow, there are people in a writer’s room who control the story. And really, it reflects on their work and everyone else around them is influenced by them. And that’s really when I started to respect writers. And that’s actually when I started to read books more, and stopped watching films as much. And it was like, “Oh, okay.” Because as a kid you don’t think about people behind the scenes. But obviously, it’s not all you do. But yeah, that was a huge turning point for me when I was little. I was like, “Oh, wow. It’s not just actors.”

Rachel: So, you’re, like, a 10-year-old, 11-year-old kid, you’re watching all these movies and then you’re like, “Ah, I wanna be in control.” So what did your family think of your shift from being this rambunctious kid to writing a full novel at 11?

Citra: I mean, it was gradual. Like, they did see that I… I had done, like, some Indie acting jobs. And so, my parents did know that if I wanted to be serious about something, I could. But they also… My dad especially, saw that, like, I would get really bored or, like, embarrassed if I were reading a script and it was just, like, completely terrible, you know. Because he knew and he had went through it before and when he was younger. And I think, especially, when you have a parent whose been in the creative industry, it’s maybe a little bit easier for them to decipher what you’re going through. With my mom, though, you know, not to be stereotypical, but, like, Asian-tiger mom immigrant, she was like, “What the hell is this?” Huge cultural differences, she just, like, didn’t know how to deal with it. And, like, everyone in her community was so confused as well. But, yeah, I would definitely say for my dad, it was really easy for him to understand. But with my mom, it took her, like, months. Yeah.

Rachel: And now that you’ve got two published books under your belt, has your mom kind of come around to be like, “Okay. She knows what she’s doing.”

Citra: Yeah. I mean, you know, she’s like, “I think I get it now.” She’s still a little confused, but, you know, she’s warming up to it, which is much better progress than before. But she’s very supportive, if that’s what you mean.

Laura: So, your second book, “The Dead Planets’ Requiem,” is a sci-fi book that came out in April this year. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about it?

Citra: Yeah. It was originally a young adult novel. And then it was about halfway through storyboarding that I realized, “Oh, okay, this isn’t really just YA. It’s also science fiction. I shouldn’t limit myself.” But it has a lot of mystery elements. It has a lot of drama because I always did like the emotionality of the young adult genre. So, if you’re looking for, you know, an emotional story that’s also dramatic and has mystery…and the characters do get older, so it doesn’t limit yourself to just teenagers, then that book may be for you.

Rachel: Now what inspired the move to sci-fi? Was it, like, your original writing journey? Like, there was a film you really liked, was there a book you really liked, or is it just a genre you’ve always appreciated?

Citra: No. So, like I said, it was supposed to be a young adult novel because I had grown up in that. When I had started reading books, that was when the whole, like, YA dystopia trend was huge, which you probably recall there was, like, “Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” and, like, a bunch of stuff like that. And it was kind of shoved down your throat at my age when I was 11. And even if I didn’t really like the stories, I always just loved the YA structure of, like, building up an ensemble of characters which we don’t really get to see a lot in adult books. And then, no, the storyline, like the science fiction elements were completely accidental in the most strange way possible. I was in trouble and I had to walk my dog. And I kid you not, I saw the sky that was this… Okay. This sounds so stupid whenever I explain it. But the sky was so interestingly laid out that night. It was around, like, 5:00 p.m., and there was this weird array of the clouds. It was sort of like a mixture of, like, the cumulant in these clouds looked like the normal thicker ones. I don’t really know how to say this, but it was overlaid over the entire sky. Like, you could not see the sun, but you could see the orange. And it was like… It was really colorful. The only way I can describe it is if a person were to read the novel and get to a certain scene, they would know exactly what I’m talking about. And, like, it sounds so ridiculous saying it, but that’s literally what got the story going. So, I have to thank my brother for framing me for his horrible action and getting me to walk that dog. So, yeah. That was the very lame opening to my book. And that’s how it all conceptualized.

Laura: And what was that writing process like once you were kind of inspired by that sunset? Did it all kind of come together pretty quickly, or did you have to, like, plan it out a little bit before you started writing?

Citra: Yeah. It was sort of the plot. Again, I did have the young adult story in mind, but, you know, plot-wise it was still a little gray in some areas. And so, this not only became, like, the filler, but it then became what overtook the entire story. Again, I was 13 when I walked that dog and saw that sky. So, I knew that it was gonna be a really long time before I’d actually start writing this because the content that I wanted it just wouldn’t have been feasible for me to write it at that age. I knew that. So I was like, it’s probably going to be little scenes written every now and then. But I knew going into it that it probably wouldn’t come out for a really long time. And true to my word, it didn’t come out until I was 19. So, I had some foresight.

Rachel: So, I’m curious about what happened throughout those six years from, like, the initial idea at 13 to the book coming out at 19. Especially, because the book isn’t necessarily short. Like, this is a hefty sci-fi novel. So, I’m just really curious, what was that process like going from, “Okay, I have this idea. I don’t think I’m ready to tackle it yet,” to writing this giant book?

Citra: So much time. A lot of introspection on my part. You know, it’s tough when you’re young and you have an idea because you feel like you are capable of doing this thing. You’re like, “I thought of this. I know I can do it.” But knowing that, you know, you can’t actually do it, it really takes such a toll on your mental health and you’re like, “I wish I had that maturity.” So what I would do is I would… I really wrote the book out of order a lot, because I figured, you know, the scenes I could handle, may as well get those done. And pretty much over, like, the first two years I just had this notebook of, like, random scenes where if you broke into my room and found this thing you’d be like, “Okay, I don’t know how to even plagiarize this.” There’s, like, no details here. You know, it’s, like, frustrating for my parents because with “Summer with a Twist,” my first book, it’s like, “Okay, that’s a kid’s novel, and that’s why she’s spending all this time in her bedroom,” right? But when you’re a parent and there’s just, like, random stuff in there, it looks kind of, like, that scene in “The Shining,” when Wendy finds this, like, absolute catastrophe on the typewriter. So, thank you to my parents for never doubting me. But yeah. So, out of order writing for a very long time, and then to keep it short, I had seven, eight, drafts of this book, because that’s how long I worked on… Yeah, because it changed so often, the characters changed as well. And of course, you know, in the beginning of the book, the kids are 17. I was 13 when I wrote it. So, you know, obviously, their tone changed over time because as I got older, I understood, “Oh, this is how 17-year-olds talk,” and whatnot. But yeah, it’s brutal when you know you want to do something and you can do it, but you also technically can’t. So, there was a lot of changes. Eight drafts.

Rachel: That’s a lot of drafts. And I think it’s… I don’t know, there’s like a certain level of self-awareness there to be like, “Okay, I wanna tackle this subject matter, but I haven’t experienced enough life yet to do so.” So I think that’s really impressive.

Citra: It’s really very humbling to look at yourself and go like, “Okay, girl, you’re not there.” You know. So, I would read as many books as possible… Especially, because there were adult characters in it, and I wanted to just understand adults a little more. So, I didn’t actually read, like, a lot of young adults, or even genre fiction novels when I was a teenager, because I wanted to not mature myself as much as possible, but just gain a little more insight into how older people interacted. So, you know, I read, like, “War and Peace” when I was 14 because I wanted to know, like, you know, why is this book so popular among adults, and, you know, understand the interactions between older characters and whatnot. Or as opposed to reading like, YA Horror. I would read like, you know, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” or something like that, just to get a very general sense of adult fiction or more mature adult fiction.

So, yeah. But there was a lot of…actually, I did read “Trainspotting” when I was 15. I think it was the second book that I accidentally read. I don’t think I read it in order. Traumatizing, don’t do that when you’re that young. But I needed to do that for certain scenes. And no, it was a little depressing but it was also really fun now that I look back on it, to, like, go through those phases of trying to get myself to understand people. And that’s really what it’s about, just understanding people. Because when you’re young you really only know about the young world around you.

Rachel: Did you have, like, a preconceived book list that you’re like, “Okay. Like, these are the classics that I should look into?” Or was it just kind of books as they came up you just started to read them all?

Citra: I mean, not necessarily. I mean, again, my parents both liked to read. So, they both had books laying around that I would pick up and read. So, I feel like whether or not I was going to write this book, I’d read them anyway because I tended to do that. Like, if my parents bought a book I’d read it, and then they’d be like, “What? Why would you do that? There’s, like, horrible stuff in there.” So, that was never a problem. But definitely, with, like, a couple of scenes with, like, substance abuse for example, which is a minor theme in my book, like, there’s some scenes with that. I definitely had, like, a few druggie books on the list. So, that was sort of a book list. And then in terms of, like, dramas, no, not really. I mean, I read dramas anyway. I love historical fiction anyway. So that was going to happen regardless. But it was, like, I purposely read more difficult labeled historical fictions because of this. But yeah, like, if I weren’t writing this, I don’t think I would’ve read “War and Peace” at 14. Probably I would’ve waited three years before giving myself that cry fest.

Laura: What was the editing process like for such a large book?

Citra: Oh, very, very harrowing. My father is a technology writer, and so he basically does, like, technology ghostwriting for companies and lots of grammatical editing, and he absolutely gets bored by his job. And I was like, “Well, if you’re bored and you want some escapism, why don’t you edit my book?” Because he had done the grammatical editing of “Summer with a Twist.” And very nicely. You know, I never once when I was reading his edits, felt like, you know, a middle-aged man was editing this young girl’s book. I felt like he always respected my voice. And maybe that’s because I’m his daughter. So he was a little more biased to not go in too much. But, definitely, with science fiction and it being this big, I wanted his insight. So, he was the only person who got to view it in the early phases, and he was there for the very brutal, heavy editing that you go through when you’re at your final draft. He was there for all of that. And I’m still very indebted to him to this day because of that.

Rachel: I’m really curious about your journey to publication, both from your first novel’s perspective, like as an 11-year-old, 12-year-old putting out your first book, and then kind of how that differed from releasing “The Dead Planets’ Requiem.”

Citra: When I was 11, I didn’t necessarily know I wanted to publish it. I remember just really enjoying writing “Summer with a Twist.” And kind of, like, as a joke I published it, or thought of publishing it. It was really like, “Oh, yeah. I’m not sure if I did that.” And then I didn’t and was like, “Oh, crap, why don’t I stick with this?” You know? And yeah, we did, like, a really small PR push with “Summer with a Twist,” mainly local Massachusetts news. But it’s really interesting, like, when you have kids, you’ve never met before read your book or say they saw you in the news and really love it. That has a huge impact on what you think of it. And suddenly, it goes from just being something you did for fun over the summer to, “Oh, wow, they’re kids and now they’re liking my work, and thinking about it, and driving 45 minutes to a signing,” you know?

And then, like, my elementary school had called me back to, like, talk to a group of kids about it, and help them with English Language Arts, which is completely ironic considering how much I failed that when I was younger. Yeah. It’s really interesting how a public’s perception can change how you perceive your own work because I feel like a lot of artists don’t really have the confidence to recognize that they can do something, and it’s not until other people are actually actively enjoying it, that you go, “Oh, maybe I should do this seriously.” So, yeah, definitely, just even that small PR approach with “Summer with a Twist,” really changed my mentality. And of course, I loved the creative industry whether it was acting, or, you know, directing, or books. I wanted to be a part of it. So, yeah, it was a lot of factors. And of course, then with this book, I was much more serious. And it was, like, I just knew writing it, like, obviously, if I’m gonna spend so many years on this, I would hate for it to just rot on my computer. I should publish it. That was pretty much the journey.

Rachel: And this book is “The Dead Planets’ Requiem,” Volume 1. So, one would assume there will be at least another volume. At which point in the writing process did you realize this was gonna be a series?

Citra: Oh, I thought when I was first writing it, or when I was storyboarding it at 13 that it would maybe be four books. And then when I was about 15, I was like “Actually, the first one, if I cut it in half, would come out kind of clunky, or maybe leave the reader unsatisfied at the end.” So I thought I’d just jam it into the end into one book. Sorry. And then, you know, the storyboarding as a 15, 16-year-old, I knew that it wouldn’t be finished with just two books. So, I mean, the two books being crunched into one. So, I have… Yeah, for a while now I intended for it to be more than one. Whether or not there’ll be two or three volumes, I’m still deciding. Currently leaning towards two. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I somehow I elongated it because I’m unreliable that way. So, I like to talk in my books.

Rachel: Yeah, that was gonna be my next question, whether you knew how many volumes it was gonna be. So, is this kind of just, you’re gonna write the second half of the story and see if it’s gonna be one book or two, or are you just gonna kind of see where the story takes you and go from there?

Citra: Yeah. So, it’s not that I don’t have any direction of the story. It’s that just my writing sometimes can be, like, a tangent, like, and I have to work on that. But no, it usually comes down to whether or not the pacing leads up to two more books or one. Because some authors can really like having it just be broken down and getting to the point. Sometimes they like to stretch it out. And there were definitely parts of volume one where upon, like, rereading I was like, “Oh, this could have been shorter,” but for preferences, I just didn’t make it that way because I just like it long, you know, because I just thought a scene needed some more dialogue. So, my books are very dialogue-heavy, and it always depends… The length of a scene is dictated by how much I want the characters to really interact with each other. But I like heavy dialogue because I like having readers feel like they know the people.

Rachel: And you’ve mentioned a couple of times storyboarding out your books. And I’m curious what this looks like, and is this something that you picked up from being so interested in film, or did this come with learning how to write a novel?

Citra: I’ve attended a few events with other authors, older, wiser people, you know. And every single person is like, “Why are you storyboarding, what is wrong with you?” But it might be a reflection of my age there because when you’re so young you feel like you need to have everything written down. And so, that could be it. It could also be that I’m a neat freak. But yeah, I like to have a really detailed outline. And by detailed I mean, like, it’ll be 50 pages. Because I just am that way. I’ve never met another author who does that. And it’s possible it’s a habit I’ll outgrow. It definitely seems like that is the trend with older authors, is they…like, after a few years of their career they totally understand the handle. Like, they know what they’re doing, they don’t feel the need to consult a piece of paper. But for the time being, I am that way. I need my notebook.

Laura: So, being that there was such a long amount of time from, like, your first book to now your second, how do you think your writing has kind of matured over that time, and did you take any classes on craft or anything like that?

Citra: The only, like, advice I really sought was maybe just reading more mature books, that really had a huge impact on the way that I would structure sentences, or, you know, even full scenes. I don’t think, like, in terms of the style of my writing has changed all that much. It’s still very character heavy. Obviously, not as humorous. You know, science fiction, dramas, are not known for being, you know, the most laugh-out-loud comedies out there. So, I definitely toned down on that. Adopted a more dark tone in some sense. But no, I really always loved character-driven stories and the buildup of that ensemble. And so, when I really look at it, it’s not all that different in terms of, like, how I introduce people, and how they get into the story, and how I get the reader to feel at the end, because that was one of the things that got me into writing. I just loved reading character interactions. I always thought those are the most memorable parts of any book, whether the plot was good or not. So, no, I don’t think all that much has changed.

Rachel: And I’m gonna apologize because I feel like this question is a tough one. But what do you think is one of the most important things you’ve learned throughout your journey as an author?

Citra: Oh, wow.

Rachel: Just a lowball question. Super easy.

Citra: I mean, I’m still so young, right? So, I think the number one thing I’ve learned is… Actually, it has nothing to do with writing. I really think that if you ever choose to write a book in your life, you learn so much about yourself, what you can handle. One thing that actually, I did not expect to learn is whether or not you’re a judgmental person. Because when you’re writing a book, and especially when you have characters who are not similar to yourself, you know, maybe you knew people like that in real life and thought horribly of them. And then there’s this weird moment where you’re like, “Well, am I using them as a flaw point, even though for so many years I thought, no, really. I think that is a huge thing. It really does test how you see the world, and how you want readers to think you view the world as well. Like, the biggest thing with writing is you learn what you can handle, what type of person you are, because I feel like a lot of people don’t actually know that. And it’s so strange when you sit down and actually think about that. Yeah, it is a loaded question, but it is true that you learn a lot about yourself in the most uncomfortable way possible sometimes.

Rachel: I think what you said is really interesting though, that you learn how you see the world, but also how you want people to think you see the world. I think that’s really interesting.

Citra: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s not something that I try to think of, or anyone really does because it’s weird and, like, narcissistic to be like, “Okay, what do you think of things?” You know? But especially, when you’re writing characters, you know, you can’t syringe yourself into them. It has to entirely be them. And you have to, in order to write them, read about people like them, or read people like them. And I definitely feel like sometimes I’ve read books where it was very clear that that author had, like, opinion of a certain type of person. Like, their ignorance is kind of loud through the page in that sense. And I never wanted to be that way. But there were a couple of times where I was like, “Oh, you know, maybe I shouldn’t be as judgmental of such and such.” You know, when you’re young, you don’t know much about the world. And yeah, but I do recommend people write some story in their life because it’s a really weird portal into your brain where you just…yeah, you uncover things about yourself that you just never thought you would think before. So, no, it’s a really great introspective journey.

Rachel: We’re recording this in November. And Laura and I are both in the midst of attempting NaNoWriMo. I don’t know if either of us are doing well with National Novel Writing Month, but we’re both trying right now. But I’m really curious about your characters. You’ve mentioned a few times you really like character interactions, you like to write character-heavy books. Is your character development part of your storyboarding, or do you allow the characters to come alive throughout the story that you want to tell?

Citra: For some of them, like, the more dramatic character changes, obviously, those have to be planned out. You can’t just, you know, start a book where someone’s, like, super flowery and cutesy, and in the end, they’re just, like, a badass. Like, that’s not gonna happen, you know. Like, that’s not how it happens. Like, for character acts and development, or character aggression in some scenarios that obviously had to be planned. But when it comes to, like, the way they interact and the dialogue, no, that’s not usually planned. That’s something that just rolls off because, I don’t know, I don’t feel the need to plan that. But definitely, with, like, where they go in the story, how they fit in, the way that they act, that is all written down years in advance.

Laura: Do you have any advice for younger writers who are thinking about publishing a book?

Citra: That’s so funny. I just did this contributor article two weeks ago and they asked me the same question. I was like, “Are you asking me advice? I’m so shocked. I don’t have anything to say.” I would just say, yeah, take your time, really. It’s so disappointing to hear, and it’s, like, again, really uncomfortable to go through, but you have to know yourself. Can you do what you’ve envisioned for yourself? Are you genuinely ready to do it? Yeah, it’s not, like, something you just get done quickly. You really have to take your time because it’ll come out sloppy. Like, my first drafts were so bad. I kind of wish you could see it. Like, they’re so terrible. But because I forced myself to take my time, I’m so much happier with the results. And there really shouldn’t be a timer on your book, because your imagination just should not be limited that way.

Rachel: I think that’s great advice. I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re giving great advice and I’m gonna ask you for more because a lot of our listening audience is made up of parents. And so, I’m kind of curious, do you have any advice for the parents of young authors or young aspiring authors?

Citra: Okay. Kind of questionable advice I’m going to give. How should I say this? Be a little bit permissive of what they can and can’t read. That definitely had a huge impact on me when I was a kid. You know, I don’t recommend for your daughter’s 14th birthday letting her watch “Pulp Fiction.” I don’t like it. But I do. You know, if your kid sees a book on the table that you bought for yourself, and, you know, you were maybe thinking of holding it off on them for a couple of years, if they show interest in it, that’s a good thing. And just let them, because they’ll learn things and maybe they’ll understand you a little more, if you want that. But just letting them broaden their horizons. And with books it’s beautiful, you can do that because it’s not, like, them in any way, like, corrupting themselves because they’re just reading. So, yeah, just letting them roam through different genres, and different characters, and different ages, that should be fine and it should help them a lot.

Laura: Yeah, that’s a great point, because I definitely remember, like, reading certain books when I was younger, and my mom was like, “Oh, my god. What is that?” But it’s a great way to kind of, like, learn about the world around you, especially in your, like, teen years where you’re kind of constrained into your bubble. It’s a way of…yeah.

Citra: Definitely, yeah. I mean, I don’t mean like, you know, erotic books, but just in general, you know. If they’re not feeling like reading a YA crime book or a kid’s crime book, and they see something more mature on the table. I would say, you know, if you don’t want them to read certain scenes, just block it off. But for the most part, no, I do think kids should have a lot of access to anything knowledgeable, even if it is a little older. And let’s face it with the internet democratizing everything, they’ll probably find out on their own anyways. So, why not a book instead?

Laura: Exactly. they’ll probably see it on TikTok anyways.

Rachel: I’m going to make an assumption here that you are writing a book too of “The Dead Planets’ Requiem.” Do you have any sneak peeks you can give us? Spoiler-free. You are welcome to say no, but I’m just curious.

Citra: The only thing I’ll say is it’s more metaphysical. And that’s it. Yeah.

Rachel: Interesting. Was there anything that you read that made you kind of wanna go into the more metaphysical world in your writing, or is it just where the story’s taken you?

Citra: No. Like I said, I never really read genre fiction while I was writing this. But I think because I grew up in a household that was, you know, fairly religious, and I think with any kid who grows up in that type of place. And then as you get older you start to maybe segue into a different way of thinking. There’s always that question of like, “Oh, you know, what is really out there?” And I’ve always been fascinated by that. You know, my family and I, we always talk about just things beyond this world as we know it, just because it’s an interesting topic. Like, there’s so many theories, there’s so many faiths, and there are also people who just have general ideas. And I don’t know why, but that always really fascinated me, that unknown. I don’t really know how to answer this in a very politically correct and, you know, clean away, because I don’t think there’s ever really a polished way to talk about things like life, death, and God. So, all I’ll say is that those three things heavily influenced Volume 2.

Rachel: No, I think that was a great answer. You don’t have to stress. It’s very good.

Laura: Do you have any plans to write a book outside of “The Dead Planet’s Requiem” series? Any plans you want to share?

Citra: Yeah. It won’t be science fiction. I do have something in mind. Similarly, it’s sort of like a speculative fiction. But regarding, like, the genre, I’m not quite sure if it’ll be, you know, realistic or sort of a fantasy-sequel thing. I genuinely don’t know because I’m still in the early phases. But I can tell you that after writing a book in any genre, I get so sick and tired of that genre that I just want to move on. Like, I could never write another kid’s book for another 20 years, because, like, it just exhausted me having to look at a kids’ draft every single day. And definitely, with science fiction, I’ve been looking at it since I was 13. I know that when I wrap up “The Dead Planets’ Requiem, ” I’ll want nothing to do with sci-fi. So, yeah. I don’t know it will be, but it looks like it’s leaning towards fantasy.

Rachel: I love that. And before we let you go and carry on with your day, where can our listeners find you online?

Citra: Oh, just my website, citratenore.com…

Rachel: Amazing.

Citra: …is where you can find almost everything. And you can find all my books on pretty much on any online vendor.

Rachel: Perfect. We’ll include links to your website and your books in our show notes. Well, Citra, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. This has been wonderful.

Laura: Yeah, thank you.

Citra: Thank you so much for having me.

Rachel: Thank you for listening to the Kobo Writing Life podcast. If you are interested in picking up Citra’s books, we will include links to those in our show notes. And if you are enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us as kobowritinglife.com. And be sure you are following us on all of our socials. We are @KoboWritingLife on Facebook and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.

Laura: This episode was hosted by Laura Granger and Rachel Warden, with production by Terrence Abrahams. Editing is provided by Kelly Robotham. Our theme music is composed by Tearjerker. And thanks to Citra for being the guest. If you’re ready to start your publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.

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