Interview with Clara Kensie, Author of Run to You

Today I'm so excited to welcome Clara Kensie to the blog. Clara is a fellow Harlequin author and we met at RWA last year. Her debut, a YA serial, RUN TO YOU, will be published by Harlequin TEEN. The first installment, RUN TO YOU: FIRST SIGHT will release on February 1st with the next two installments releasing on February 8th and 15th. A sequel will be released by Harlequin in June.

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What is your writing process like?

Before I write one word of my manuscript, I brainstorm and outline the plot based on Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure in a mind-mapping program called Scapple. Then I start writing in Scrivener.

My first draft is a mess. It is not fit for human consumption. I actually don’t call it a first draft—I call it a discovery draft because it’s just to see what I have. I write the discovery draft as fast as I can, without going back to edit. If I realize something needs to change, I make an annotation, then keep moving forward as if I’d already made the revision.

When the discovery draft is done, I print it out and make notes with my favorite pen, a red fine-point Sharpie (which, for reasons long forgotten, I’ve named Amazing Grace). Using my notes, I re-write the entire thing. Throughout this stage, I do a lot of brainstorming. I use Scapple to brainstorm everything from the overall plot down to each scene. I also consult with my author friends. There are major revisions in this draft. Chapters are moved from Stage Two to Stage Five to Stage Three. Characters change from cocky to nice, or from nice to cocky. I pick a different villain. Entire chapters are cut. Entire chapters are added.

This is by far the hardest draft to write and it takes me the longest. When a scene or chapter is giving me difficulty, I print it out and make notes on it with Amazing Grace, then re-write it. I find daily word-count goals to be too stressful and tedious, so I set chapter goals instead. I make a schedule with how many chapters I need to write each day. 

Once the second draft is finally finished, I send the manuscript to my trusty critique partners. Then the revision process begins again as I incorporate my CPs’ feedback, along with any insights I may have had. After a final polish, I send the manuscript to my editor (the esteemed Natashya Wilson,) and/or agent (the fantabulous Laura Bradford). Of course, then the revisions start all over again, beginning with the edit letter, then the line edits. I use Scrivener, Scapple, and Amazing Grace for those, too.


Where is your favorite place to write? 

I’m most productive when I write in my guest bedroom, which I now call my writing cave. I planted a cheap little desk in there and put my laptop on it. I hang a sign on the door that says Do Not Disturb (except in case of fire or zombie apocalypse), turn on my playlist and plop headphones over my ears, open my laptop and turn off the internet, and start writing.

But my favorite place to write is anywhere with my writing friends. I get together with them quite often, at coffee shops or at one of our houses. It’s nice to have people right there to brainstorm or to ask their opinion on something. I admit, though, that I’m not as productive when I write with others nearby.

Do you ever get writer’s block? Any tips on how to work past it?

I’ve never had writer’s block. Yet. I’m sure it will come, though. I often struggle with how to write a scene or a chapter, but I’ve never sat at my computer and stared at it blankly, unable to find any words.


Who are some of your favorite authors?

Stephen King. He will always be my favorite. I started reading his books when I was way too young. THE STAND is one of my favorite books of all time, and the psychic elements of CARRIE and FIRESTARTER have a big influence on my novel RUN TO YOU. Of course, I have to include J.K. Rowling. Fannie Flagg wrote another of my favorite books, DAISY FAYE AND THE MIRACLE MAN.


What inspired you to write RUN TO YOU?

RUN TO YOU is my first book ever. I’d always wanted to write a book—I took creative writing classes in high school and college—but I never had the discipline to sit down and do it. A few years ago I decided to give it another try. I made a list of things I wanted to include—I wanted it to be young adult, I wanted it to be a thriller, I wanted it to be a romance, and I wanted my characters to be psychic. But I was coming up empty for a plot. 

A few days later, I was pulling out of a parking space at the grocery store, and a bunch of “what ifs” popped into my head: What if a teenage girl is the only non-psychic member of her family… and what if they flee from place to place with different identities in each location… because… they’re on the run from a telepathic killer? And then what if she meets a boy…

I went home and wrote the story in, like, two months. It just poured out of me. No planning or plotting—I just wrote it straight through. 186,000 words. The only reason I pursued publication was because I felt I needed to justify all the time I spent writing it. Ha! Of course, I soon discovered that my masterpiece needed major, major revisions, and those revisions took years longer than the two months it took to write the original draft. I cut 100,000 words and re-wrote almost all of the 86,000 words that remained. I wrote the first word of RUN TO YOU in November 2009, and it’s being published by Harlequin Teen in February 2014.

Tell us a little about your hero/heroine. 

Tessa is the only member of her family without a psychic power. Her dad is a remote viewer (he can see through other people’s eyes), and her mom and siblings are psychokinetic (they can move things with their minds). Because Tessa has no powers, her family over-protects her. They treat her like she’s breakable. On the run from a killer hired by the government, Tessa and her family flee from place to place, hiding behind aliases to stay alive. Tessa is desperate to save her family, but being on the run for half her life makes her respond to everything that scares her by running away from it—including falling in love.

Tristan is the boyfriend I wanted to have when I was in high school—someone supportive and smart and charismatic, with maaaayyyybe a little bit of a dangerous side to make him exciting. He has an easy smile and warm blue eyes and brown hair that turns gold in the sun. To others, it looks like everything comes easy to Tristan, and for the most part, it does—until he meets Tessa. He’s a peacemaker: he wants everyone to be happy, but more than anything, he wants to keep Tessa safe and make her happy.


RUN TO YOU releases on February 1st.  What other projects do you have coming up?

The sequel to RUN TO YOU comes out in June, 2014. I’m currently working on my next projects, a dark, dark, dark YA contemporary, and a YA romantic mystery/thriller with elements of magical realism. I have an endless list of future projects. All of them are YA except for one New Adult, and they are a mixture of paranormals and contemporaries.


Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.


RUN TO YOU Book One blurbs

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RUN TO YOU PART ONE: FIRST SIGHT (available February 1, 2014)
Part One in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Sarah Spencer has a secret: her real name is Tessa Carson, and to stay alive, she can tell no one the truth about her psychically gifted family and the danger they are running from. As the new girl in the latest of countless schools, she also runs from her attraction to Tristan Walker—after all, she can’t even tell him her real name. But Tristan won’t be put off by a few secrets. Not even dangerous ones that might rip Tessa from his arms before they even kiss…

RUN TO YOU Part II Second Glance.JPG

RUN TO YOU PART TWO: SECOND GLANCE (available February 8, 2014)
Part Two in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Tessa Carson has unlocked her heart and her secrets to Tristan Walker—but Tristan has secrets of his own, and his might just mean the end of Tessa’s family. Unaware, Tessa embraces falling in love and being herself for the first time since she was attacked when she was only eight years old. But secrets can’t be run from forever, and sometimes love is too good to be true…

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RUN TO YOU PART THREE: THIRD CHARM (available February 15, 2014)
Part Three in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Betrayed, heartbroken, and determined to save her family, Tessa Carson refuses to give in to Tristan Walker’s pleas for forgiveness. But her own awakening psychic gift won’t let her rest until she uncovers the truth about her family and her past. And Tristan is the only one who can help her sift through the secrets to find the truth hidden in all the lies…


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