K.T. Sterling (1986) has always loved to write stories, but she never thought of becoming a writer. There were other problems. Her childhood was difficult, so she fled into the fantasy world of books. Preferably in the world of Harry Potter. After a while that wasn’t enough to escape. After one of the many arguments with her mother, she took a pen and paper and started writing herself. She was nineteen years old when she created her steampunk world “Testra”.
She continued to write, even after her criminology degree, through the many administrative jobs that brought her nothing but depression and burn-outs. That way she finished a first manuscript. She also had a manuscript ready for a sequel and ideas for a third book in the series.
In 2018 she attended a workshop by author Pen Stewart. She gave her profound advice on exactly where she stood. Nowhere. She had written so naively because she knew nothing about the rules, about structure, about perspective. She had followed her advice; followed writing lessons and focused on writing competitions. That has paid off. She has published short stories, won a prize and published books.
That is why she always gives advice to broaden your horizons. She was so blinded by her story that she could no longer really see. She had to learn first. And where do you do that better than in writing competitions? Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something different … and then diving back into your story with a fresh look.
Writing does K.T. especially to write off emotions. She had a difficult childhood with her parents and had very dark thoughts. She writes about the things she sees, hears and, above all, what she feels. That’s why Testra is so twisted and corrupted because she used to be able to put all her bad feelings into it. It helped her get mad at the person she couldn’t get mad at in real life, especially her parents. It helped her take out the colleagues who bully her or the classmates who had once bullied her. Testra is therefore dark, because she then had dark emotions. But come on, she also wrote Testra when she was already together with her husband, so there are certainly positive parts in it.
In that respect, writing is certainly liberating her. It is often said to write everything off you. That’s why the stories she writes and the characters, are always a big part of her.
Writing is also special because it are the characters who guide her, the characters experience it and she writes it down. That sometimes happens at the most unpleasant moments. Like just before she falls asleep or in the middle of the night. These are also the moments when a new character or a new story introduces itself to her.
She often thought she was strange because these things happened. Because the characters were doing things she didn’t want to happen. Because the antagonist killed someone she had another plan for in the next book.
But after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”, she knew such a thing is not abnormal. Stranger things exist. It is a book that she recommends to every writer.
About Testra’s Heir
It is difficult to explain in words what Testra means to her. It is her heart and soul that is in it. The characters have become part of her and, conversely, a lot of her is in them. She has known them for more than fifteen years. She cried and laughed with them.
Testra is the world she created when she was nineteen. She never thought she would write a book. The stories she wrote in her childhood were very different. Testra’s characters kept walking around in her head, making it clear that their story needed to be told. So, she started writing. And writing. And writing.
At one point the real world passed her by and she only lived in her own world. She lived there for years. She slept, worked, ate and wrote. Everywhere. On the bus, train, in the rain, before a job interview, even during a job interview, at work, on the ground, … in the most strange places. It was as if everything had to be on paper as soon as possible. The characters did not leave her alone for a moment. They were always present in everything she did. She had squeezed out a first manuscript of 479,000 words. A second manuscript followed soon after.
In total she spent fifteen years on it. Testra is a world that is complete to her. One day she hopes to be able to share it with you. That was the idea, otherwise she wouldn’t have worked on it for so long, otherwise the characters wouldn’t have kept walking around in her head, telling her what’s going on.
Testra’s Heir is a steampunk / fantasy book series.