Having recently moved to Maastricht, in the Netherlands, I set out to find links with the English reading, writing and book community. Via a chance phone call to Maastricht’s English Bookstore, I met Kirsty after we both joined in the store’s Halloween event. Kirsty is also relatively new to Maastricht and it was after her arrival there, that she made her move into writing and self-publishing, as she explains here.
You have a background in visual art. What inspired you to begin writing?
I’ve always been a reader, and volunteered in my school libraries before working for the public library and eventually becoming a librarian, so books have always been in my blood. I think if you grow up surrounded by stories, at some point you'll wonder if you could make one yourself. And when moving to the Netherlands and Covid quarantine left me a little aimless, I decided it was my time to try.
Who are your favourite authors?
Currently, my favourite authors are Joe Hill, Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire, Hugh Howey, Jim Butcher, Chuck Wendig, Daniel O'Malley, Ernest Cline, and Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a nice mix of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and good old realistic fiction. As a child I read anything I could find by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Enid Blyton, Nancy Springer, Lemony Snicket and Janet Lunn.
Have you been influenced by any particular books you’ve read?
Constantly. Life is better with one foot in reality and one in a story. Specifically, yes, I once cut my long hair into a pixie cut (which I always wanted to try and loved) because a favorite character wears her hair that way and, this way, I could secretly cosplay as her every day.
How many books have you written?
'Knock Knock', a rhyming get-to-bed story; 'Wandeling Walk', a story told through a single word on each page in English and Dutch; and 'The Book of Warnings', a spooky illustrated poem.
Do you explore other formats e.g. poetry, short stories, graphic novels?
Not in any way that I would want to share with the world.
You also design and illustrate your own work. What is it like to be involved in both the writing and illustration process?
My inner control freak wouldn’t have it any other way - especially with children’s books, where the illustrations are so critical to the storytelling. I can be very minimalistic with my text - I always liked formats like haiku or tweets that force you to be concise - so the imagery adds depth to the story. The illustrations show you the jokes in 'Knock Knock', tell most of the story in 'Wandeling Walk' and they pump up the horror in 'The Book of Warnings'. I start by outlining the text, then work on illustrations, but go back and forth continually to make sure they work hand in hand.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I decided to publish because I felt I needed to be brave - not something I feel a lot in my life, but there it was, and I decided to self-publish because it was cheap and easy. Self-publishing made my Covid project something I could see through to the very end, which is incredible. This wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago, or would have been much more difficult.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on my digital art and learning some new programs for it, and I'm doing a couple of custom projects, turning friends' photographs into digital paintings for them.
What are your future writing plans?
I might turn back to children’s fiction or a short novel, but that's still bubbling away in my brain and needs more time.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I like the puzzle aspect: there's a final picture or story to reach and you need to work each word, sentence, paragraph together into the final result. As someone who always needs a project on the go, I love having something to mull over and think on when it’s quiet or you need somewhere to park your brain, if that makes sense. It’s similar to reading in that way: it’s a little world you live in for a while.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I’m pretty sure everyone works differently so my tips just work for me. I'd say experiment and find what works for you. And - show someone your work, but don't take their opinion too seriously, good or bad.
Find more about Kirsty and her work @ www.kirstyboar.nl. All Kirsty's books are available from the English Bookstore, Frankenstraat 149, Maastricht and @ Amazon. 'Wandeling Walk' is available in Dutch/English, French/English and Dutch/French editions, and a colouring book is available to accompany 'Knock Knock'.
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