Behind the Book: Magic and Laughter with Debut Author Kristiana Sfirlea

A couple months ago, I read a book that was simply a work of art. I fell in love. I laughed. I cried. I immediately asked the author when I could get the sequel.

That book was Legend of the Storm Sneezer by Kristiana Sfirlea, a book Reader’s Favorite called “one of the best fantasy books for MG readers and younger teens that I’ve ever encountered.”

I followed Storm Sneezer’s release religiously, and I even won an incredible book box from the publisher (some pics below)!

As it just so happens, Kristiana and I both have the same literary agent, which of course means that we have to be buddies now. So, I was able to interview Kristiana for this blog, and her responses are just as laugh-out-loud hilarious as her book!

1. Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m a homeschool graduate, a former historical reenactor, and I’ve played a bunch of spooky characters at a haunted house attraction! (Definitely inspired my love for spooky things.) I love jigsaw puzzles, Nutella, Christian rock music, and books, books, books!

Homeschool graduates unite! Is there something about homeschooling that drives us to writerdom?

2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever done for your writing?

Heh. Um…shoved a button up my nose?

Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. The sad thing is, the scene I was writing that required this unusual experiment got bumped into Book 3! So now you’ll have to wait in suspense wondering why on earth a perfectly respectable not-child would shove a button up her nose for research.

But I would like you to imagine the sheer panic said respectable not-child felt when she had trouble getting the button out of her nose and wondered how in the world she was going to explain her predicament to the ER doctor. (Thankfully, it never came to that.)

I think this is the best answer to this question I’ve ever gotten!

3. Where did you get the idea for Legend of the Storm Sneezer?

When you’ve worked on a story for almost a decade, it’s kind of hard to remember where it all began! But I do remember thinking that I wanted this book to turn as many stereotypes on their heads as possible. So of course I had to give my two main characters power over shadows and storms for their magical abilities. I wanted readers to expect them to be “bad guys” or at the very least “edgy,” and then be totally off guard when they’re the complete opposite. My hope is that Legend of the Storm Sneezer will inspire readers to start thinking outside the box and consider different perspectives instead of insta-judging.

That’s so neat! There’s a similar thread to my book coming out in November, Wraithwood. Without giving any spoilers, let’s just say the good guys have some unexpected quirks.

4. What was your writing process like?

I’m a turtle writer—very slow, very methodical. I don’t have too many story-altering drafts (usually just clarification and cutting unnecessary words). Probably only two or three that actually change core parts of the plot. I spend a lot of time in my head and scribbling ideas on paper before tackling each chapter, which works really well, because it gives me the ability to treat each chapter like it’s its own mini story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Fellow turtle writer high five!

5. How did you learn your book baby was going to be published?

I woke up one morning, reached groggily to slap off my phone alarm, and saw a text from my agent that said, “Check your inbox when you have a moment. :)” I couldn’t have gone from dead asleep to bolt upright faster if you’d blared Skillet’s “Awake and Alive” at max volume in my ears!

I was completely taken off guard because it was right before Christmas (usually the least likely time to get a publishing offer), and while I knew Monster Ivy had my full manuscript, they’d already let us know that they would most likely be getting in touch sometime in February. So it was basically the best surprise (and early Christmas present) ever!

That sounds like our agent! Kristiana and I share the same amazing agent, who apparently has a propensity for early morning exciting announcements. In my case, my phone ringing woke me out of a dead sleep, and the response to my groggy hello was, “Go check your email!”

6. What is the most extra thing you’ve done to market your book?

Make a million. Handmade. Storm cloud. Squishies.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the little guys and they aren’t terribly difficult to make, but I don’t think I realized just how many I’d be making. But then I see how excited people get when they receive one, the social media posts of the little Stormies hanging out on bookshelves and desks, and I’ve decided they’re worth every handsewn stitch.

I have two of those squishies now. They’re ADORABLE!

7. Badly summarize Legend of the Storm Sneezer in one sentence.

13-year-old girl sneezes magical storm cloud at birth and is committed to an asylum by the friend she thought was imaginary.

I thought this was supposed to be “badly”! I would still want to read this!

8. Who is your favorite character in Legend of the Storm Sneezer?

I don’t have favorites. My author heart isn’t capable of it! But since I know someone here loves a certain obnoxious ghost wolf, I’d love to talk about my boy, Gormonger.

Gor is my problem child, and I love him very, very much. Most of my characters have this cleverness and wit and flair about them, and then there’s Gormonger who just…doesn’t. And I love him for it. He’s this big, messy loudmouth that’s been thought of as a bully for so long he thinks that’s all he’s good for—till two very special someones show him otherwise. I adore his character arc to pieces. It’s one of my favorites of the book!

Ack, I love Gor so much! He is my giant anger fluff child!

9. When do I get that sequel?

So, I actually finished Book 2 back in June 2019, and now that all my debut craziness is dying down, I’m starting edits on it again. I thought it was going to be super easy when BAM! Inspiration clobbered me over the head with a new title for the book that calls for some plot tweaks. Oh, but it’s going to make the story so. Much. Better! If you think Legend of the Storm Sneezer is a giggle-worthy title, just wait till you hear Book 2’s! And it promises all the zaniness, spookiness, and heart of the first book. Count on it.

I can’t wait! Until then, I’ll enjoy my squishies and my hardback AND paperback copies of Legend of the Storm Sneezer. Thanks so much, Kristiana!

As an author, Kristiana Sfirlea knows what it means to get in character. She spent five years volunteering as a historical reenactor and trying her best not to catch her skirts on fire as a colonial girl from the 1700s (leading cause of death at the time next to childbirth). Working at a haunted house attraction, she played a jumping werewolf statue, a goblin in a two-way mirror, and a wall-scratcher—so if she’s standing very still, growling, checking her reflection, or filing her nails on your wall, be alarmed. Those are hard habits to break.

Kristiana’s speculative flash fiction has been published by Havok, and her debut novel Legend of the Storm Sneezer is a whimsical Middle Grade fantasy involving time travel and things that go bump in the night. She dreams of the day she can run her own mobile bookstore. Or haunted house attraction. Or both. Look out, world—here comes a haunted bookmobile! (And this is precisely why writers should never become Uber drivers.) She loves Jesus, her family, and imaginary life with her characters.

Check her out at the links below!

One thought on “Behind the Book: Magic and Laughter with Debut Author Kristiana Sfirlea

  1. SEQUEL coming…. oh boy. I missed the launch party on line while I was reading “Legend….. but I know it was a success because it was Krisit!!!!


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