Blog Tour & Giveaway: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra Highley

#MattArcher @KendraHighley
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I'm happy to be a part of the Matt Archer: Monster Hunter Blog Tour....this is the month for it of course! I'm also happy to be able to give you a little more insight to Kendra C. Highley. Check out the inteview below.

Kendra C. Highley Interview (Craft Focused)

How did you start your writing career?

As a kid, I was always either reading or making up stories. My first attempt at publication was entering a short-story contest in fifth grade. I can’t remember what my story was about exactly, but I think a magic coin was involved. I won honorable mention—there was a ribbon! I was very proud.
Ten years later, during my sophomore year, I had to write a short mystery story for English class. I gave it to my mom for proofreading, and she told me I should think about writing a book. The idea stuck, but it took me a while to get started—life was busy. An English Lit degree, lots of unfinished manuscripts and twenty years later, I finally got serious about my craft. Now it’s truly become my passion; I love putting words on the page. It has a deeper meaning for me, too…my mom passed away right before I turned eighteen, so I’m glad I finally followed her advice.
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

There’s a pretty long list of people who’ve mentored me as I started working toward publication. I’ve been very lucky to have a crew of amazing beta readers who push me to improve. They’ve been there every step of the way.
When do you find time to write?

I typically write whenever I can cobble together a half-hour. Sometimes that’s my lunch hour, sometimes that’s after everyone goes to bed. I try really hard to get at least an hour in a day, and longer on the weekends.

Where you do get story ideas?
The cellar of my imagination is pretty overcrowded. I’ve always loved story-telling and make-believe, spending the time during my work commute creating tall tales. Sometimes I get ideas from something I overhear, or from things my kids tell me, but usually stories tap me on the shoulder and whisper, “Write me.” Kind of weird, huh? I tell people, “I hear voices, but it’s okay—I’m a writer.”

What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Probably the rough draft phase. I love the madness of the blank page and blinking cursor, but since I don’t work by an outline, when I get stuck, I’m really stuck.

Where do you research for your books?

I do a lot of internet research. Because there are military elements in Monster Hunter, I spent a lot of time on the US Army website. I also hit the library frequently. Luckily for me, a few of my beta readers (as well as some friends) served in the Army, so I had good fact checkers. But I love the internet. When I was in school, it would take hours in the stacks at the University library to find information I can gather in minutes now.

What does your family think of your writing career?
My family has been very supportive. I worried about it at first, given the time writing a novel takes. I’m married with two children and I work full-time—finding writing time always means sacrificing something else (usually housework or TV time). But my husband and kids take it all in stride. My son loves Matt Archer – it started out as a story for him and he is Matt’s #1 fan. My daughter thinks it’s cool that Mommy writes books. And my husband is always there when I feel like quitting, telling me to keep going. Without their support, this would have been very hard.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

Believe it or not, yes. It was a little scary at first, but my husband has a very good eye and is an awesome proofreader. He’s always the last person to read the manuscript before sending off a final draft.

What do you think makes a good story?
For me, the characters have to resonate. I love pulse-pounding action, but if I don’t care deeply for the characters, the story won’t leave me with a lasting impression. Tug at my heartstrings, make me identify with the main character, and I’ll drown in the story, then tell everyone I know they should read this book.

What books have most influenced your life?

Well, I have a degree in English Lit, so I’ve had the good fortune to exposed to a lot of great literature. I adore Jane Austen. Her prose is so witty and wry, and her characters are well-drawn. I didn’t even feel like it was homework with the Profs assigned her books as reading. In the young-adult/middle grade space, I vividly remember discovering Cynthia Voigt’s books in sixth grade. Dicey’s Song was unlike anything else I’d read, but so beautifully written and compelling, I read it—and the rest of the Tillman series books—over and over. Voigt’s fantasy novels (The Kingdom series), especially Jackaroo, are amazing as well.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

I learned two things from better writers who were kind enough to critique for me early on:
        1) Kill your darlings. This is basic advice, but I really struggled with it. I’d be enamored with a brilliant (or so I thought) piece of prose and really work hard to keep it, even if the scene did absolutely nothing to forward the story. It took a while to beat that advice into my head, but it was necessary.

        2)Don’t let your villains become “moustache-twirlers” or your heroes be “goody-two-shoes.” Shades of gray in characters is of vital importance. The scariest villains are nuanced; you understand why they’ve gone bad and identify with them a little bit. The most memorable heroes usually have to overcome some kind of personality flaw to succeed. Without the nuance, they become cookie cutter.

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

I’ve tried to develop a thick skin. Every piece of feedback is meaningful, so I try to learn from each review, even if what I’m learning is when to ignore something or when to follow the advice. There’s been a lot of press lately about authors reacting unprofessionally to poor reviews, and it can have repercussions for all of us, so letting tough reviews roll off is usually the best course. Especially since everyone knows there are trolls upon the internet. Or, to quote Kristin Lamb: “Don’t feed the trolls.”
Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?
I tend to sneak a few significant names into all my manuscripts. In Matt Archer, Colonel Ryan Black is named after my husband and several of the soldiers are named after family or former co-workers. The funniest one is probably Uncle Mike. My brother-in-law is named Mike, and I named Matt’s uncle after him as a joke, intending to change the name later. But the fictional Uncle Mike didn’t want his name changed. No matter how many times I tried to use something new, I’d catch myself typing Mike, so I left it as is. The real Uncle Mike thinks that’s pretty funny.

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

Chocolate, a sense of humor and patience. No matter how many words I crank out, writing a novel is a process, not an event. This is hard for me, because I’m kind of impatient by nature. One of the things I have to tell myself over and over is “the book won’t be done in a day.” Then I go eat some M&Ms. That usually helps.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

Yes! Please visit There you’ll find book excerpts, news, and the Monsters and Mayhem blog.  

The Book:

Matt Archer: Monster Hunter (Matt Archer #1)
By Kendra C. Highley
Release Date: 08/18/12
299 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park.

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.

But that's not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle's bag has a secret, one that will change Matt's life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it's chosen Matt as its wielder.

Now Matt's part of a world he didn't know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?

About the Author:

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.


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