We promised questions.
KM Pfeifer gave us incredible answers:
According to your Instagram you're prepping to release The Judge's Demon on Audible—how has that been going?
It's been interesting and a lot of fun. I was nervous at first. I had seen very little information about indie success when you're doing it yourself, but I was set on trying. I thought I was going to have to BEG narrators to audition since I'm an unknown author, but after a few days they just started rolling in on their own. I approached a few voices I liked but received so many more emails daily from other narrators that were interested. I had to call some friends who love audiobooks to help me go through them. Some were good, others were... entertaining, but one definitely stood out, and I can't wait for everyone to hear how well he brings the story to life.
ow much research do you do? What resources do you find most helpful?
For many years I read nothing but historical non-fiction to learn everything I possibly could. I did read a little fiction as well, but it had to be somewhat historically accurate. I know it's "old school," but books in a library are my go-to even if the internet can be more efficient. History has always been my favorite subject, and I took a lot of French and French history in school as well, so I already had a few ideas of where to find what I was looking for at the library. That helped so much when I was trying to create an accurate depiction of the time period and culture I am writing about.
How do you balance giving us context with moving the story forward?
I think it may be part of one of the many rules of what NOT to do, but I try to use dialogue with a purpose. Since it's a mystery, I try to limit my info dumps and split information up between conversations in a way that readers can understand what's going on while also getting a true sense of the relationships and how information is shared between characters. I would like to think I give a good balance of detail and action. Small talk works in some novels, but I find that certain character interactions can give you better context and entertainment (or despair, depending on the conversation) and really push a plot along.
When you write, do you usually begin with the end in mind, or do you let the story unfold before you as you go?
For the Judge's Demon, I let the story unfold as I went along. I can't remember exactly what I had in mind, but I know I wasn't going to reveal certain identities yet. I originally thought that would be something that would lead into the second book, but the character made the reveal, and that's when I had the idea to end things the way I did. I'd say more, but I don't want to spoil anything. This next book, I knew the ending. I knew exactly who was going to be leaving us and who would live to see another novel. It was more difficult for me to have to write knowing where the path led, but the journey to the end was still exciting.
I've read that The Judge's Demon is a part of the Demons Inside Series. At what point did you decide this would be a series?
I think my characters decided that for me. I love open ended books, so I had known from the beginning that I wanted to leave a bit of mystery in the end, but that also left me with more story ideas. One of my MCs in particular has an important story to tell, but she has quite the journey ahead of her first. :) I called it the Demons Inside, because in each book the MC is struggling with their own inner demons while also trying to navigate the mystery and horrors of what's going on in the story.
Many readers praise The Judge's Demon for "developing a sense of paranoia” and really building up the suspense. How do you go about gradually laying on the intensity?
This is a hard one to answer. I pulled from a lot of my own experiences in life, and some of my own inner demons. It wasn't hard, but the most difficult thing I've ever done, if that makes sense. I spent a lot of time alone. Like Heath Ledger style method writing. I don't know if that was a good or bad thing, but it has definitely brought a perspective into my writing that has even surprised me at times.
Was there anything you edited out of this book? If so, what plans do you have for the portions that you removed?
I did. There was a small romantic subplot I was fond of between two characters, but there was already so much going on that I felt it may take away from what's important. I didn't want the suspense and mystery to get drowned out with too much romance either. I made a mention of it in the first book, but the tension between the two just fit better with the story line of the second book. I'd say who, but I don't want to give too much away, because it begins to grow as one of those characters takes the lead and struggles alot with their own motives and sanity.
Can you share any details on what you're working on next?
The second book, IT WAS THEM, is being polished as we speak. This will be the first official announcement of the title. It's part of the series, same characters, but the story and new mysteries could make it stand alone as well. It will have a little mix of horror, and even the reader will be questioning who to trust. I'm eager to get that one out there, but I'm waiting. I've been approached about traditional publishing, so J.D. Barker helped me construct an amazing query letter so that I could really see what options are out there for my series. I have a lot to think about, because I do I enjoy the freedom of indie publishing and the community surrounding it. So, I've been working on writing the third book and toying with ideas for a fourth while I consider my options.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
I almost didn't publish the Judge's Demon at all. Between the real sense of paranoia and some of the other serious themes and emotions that are presented in the book, I thought it was too personal and scary. It reveals so much... not just the mindset of the villain, but his victims as well. Plus, while I'm not writing about a currently marginalized group of people, I am writing about marginalized people and what happens when non-marginalized people stand back instead of standing up. Readers are very critical of that. I got a few sensitivity readers, but it still made me nervous. I wasn't sure I could accurately put those thoughts into the world. Then a little fiasco with a vanity press made me question if it was even worth it, but I'm glad I stuck it through, because people have expressed good reactions so far.
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