Kirsten Miller wrote Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City and Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb. I am very lucky to have an opportunity to interview her.

How did Ananka change from the first drafts? Kiki?

To be honest, neither of them changed a great deal. I already felt like I knew them quite well before I started writing. But I the other Irregulars have changed over time. Their personalities are becoming more complex, I think. It’s almost as if I’m getting to know them better as friends!

How much do you write each day?

It depends on whether I’ve got my mojo or not. Some days, I can sit in a chair and write for ten (or more) hours on end. Other days, zilch. I still don’t know how it works, unfortunately. So my work schedule can be pretty unpredictable!

I love Ananka’s Blog. Do you write every entry? If you do, where on earth do you find so many crazy articles and pictures?

Thanks! I’m trying to bring in some new talent (interested?), but for now, I write all of the entries. It takes a lot of time and effort, but I love it. The things I post about are the things that interest ME the most, and I’m thrilled there are people out there who share the same obsessions. (Though they do poke fun at my fascination with giant squid from time to time.)

I’ve spent the past couple of years bookmarking every site that features weird and wonderful information. Unfortunately, most of them also feature information that isn’t appropriate for my audience. So I feel like I’m offering a real service to the under-18 community!

I’ve been wondering this for a while. Did Kiki ever start as the narrator? Why did you choose to call it Kiki Strike instead of Ananka Fishbein?

No, Kiki was never the narrator. Kiki and her true identity are the mysteries at the heart of the first book. (Which is one reason it was named after her.) Ananka is the true girl detective in the novel, so I thought it was best to make her the narrator, since discovery is a key theme throughout the series.

How many Kiki books do you have planned?

I would love to do three more. I think each Irregular deserves her own book! The next will focus a bit more on Betty Bent, who’s one of my favorite characters. (And parts of Book Three will be set in Paris!)

What gave you the idea for the Kiki Strike books?

About a million different flashes of inspiration led to Kiki Strike. It’s hard to single one out. But more than anything I wanted to write books that gave girls a sense of what they were capable of doing (and the skills to kick a little butt, if necessary).

How long does it take you to write a book?

I’ve only finished two so far, so it’s hard to say. The first took about two years. (I was writing while working full time.) The second took nine months. I think the latter is what I’ll be aiming for in the future.

Do you have any books other than more Kiki Strike books planned?

Yes! I’m working on a book right now that won’t be a part of the Kiki Strike series. It’s a dark and dangerous teen romance/thriller. I’m too superstitious to give much more away, but I promise that older fans of Kiki Strike will love it!

Do you listen to music while you write?

Unfortunately, no. I need total silence when I’m working. And since I live on a busy street in Manhattan, that often means wearing earplugs! I wish I were one of those writers who could listen to music as they type away, but I’m afraid I’m too easily distracted.

What are some of your favorite books that you have read lately?

I loved A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz and The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty. Both writers appear to share my dark sensibility.

Oh, I also loved A Drowned Maiden’s Hair. Have you ever been to an underground city?

Yes! I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel a great deal, and I’ve been to quite a few underground spots around the world. I’ve visited subterranean “cities” beneath Edinburgh, Buenos Aires, and Budapest to name a few. These days I’m quite keen to visit some of the other “Shadow Cities” in the US. As readers of my blog know, there’s one beneath Fresno that seems well worth a trip!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but I never expected to write for a living. I always thought I’d keep a pile of manuscripts hidden in my closet just as Emily Dickinson stashed her poetry away in a drawer. I figured my descendants would find it one day and decide whether it was worthy of publishing. (But since I don’t have any descendants at this point, I had to take matters into my own hands!)

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

Right now, my favorite thing about being a writer is corresponding with the kids who comment on my blog. I seem to have attracted the smartest, coolest fans in the universe, and it gives me great pleasure to be able to blow their minds with the bizarre information I’ve dug up online.

What the best thing a fan has said (or written) to you?

A boy once said that he loved Kiki Strike because the book had “just the right number of explosions.” I love that!

But the biggest honor is when kids dress as Kiki Strike for Halloween. Nothing-literally nothing-makes me happier.

I would love to see one of those girls! Do you have any pets? I noticed the absence of pets in your books. (Other than rats, mice, and giant squirrels) and I wondered.

Interesting question. Yes, both books are practically teeming with wildlife, but none of the main characters has a pet. I guess that’s because I don’t own any myself. I would like to, but I’m afraid I’m gone too often. If only I could find a dog that could use the (human) toilet and make himself dinner!

Thanks, Kirsten! I had a great time interviewing you.

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