Kenna Devalor (or known professionally/legally as Katie Benninger) is an indie author currently going to college to become a Literature professor, and is entering graduate school in Spring 2022 in their quest to obtain a PhD. Kenna is a nonbinary YA Fiction writer specializing in short stories, thrillers, poetry, and other works of fiction that include LGBT+ references and inclusion. Kenna enjoys writing, reading Shakespeare plays and the works of Oscar Wilde. They’ve currently been extremely immersed in Greek Myths and the classic novel “Giovanni’s Room.” Kenna hopes to inspire others around them and make literature an exciting topic that their future students will fall in love with all over again. They also love to cosplay and study the fine arts/musical theatre as well.
What inspires you to write?
Oh gosh, really it’s been a bit of a struggle since I’m in the middle of the quarantine here on the East Coast, I really feel like the quarantine has really zapped a lot of people’s inspiration. However, I feel that it’s really uplifting when I see others on social media or just talking to people who have done a lot with their time. It inspires me to write *something, anything* big or small, it’s important to keep the mind active even if you’re writing a silly one-page story about how a sock came to life or something, just little clippings of writing can be really great for the lethargy of quarantine. Reading has also been taking up a lot of my time, and seeing how others create a story and seemingly perfect methodized and formulated plot, it’s really inspiring to bring those types of techniques into my own writing. I also find a lot of comfort in Shakespeare, Wilde, Bronte, Byron, Homer, Aristotle, Sappho, etc. and to read their work just inspires me to no end. I get a lot of my ‘describing scenery’ from Wilde, he’s the kind of writer that loves to describe what a rose in a garden looks like for two pages and how beautiful a person is for twelve pages, which is absolutely incredible for my own tastes, honestly. Even though it’s a bit hard to find the inspiration, I always find it in what I read and my own drive to tell a story and I may hit a dead end at times like everyone does at one point or another, but I always do my best, but my main drive is just the passion itself for writing.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m what I’d like to call a “Chaotic Good” writer. I tend to scrap my first few plot ideas rather fast, but I tend to fly by the seat of my pants quite a lot actually. Lots of impulses drive me in the case of the plot and creating the characters themselves make me absolutely giddy and so excited to start writing the story surrounded by the characters. I usually start with the plot, write it in my notes or on a google drive, then I figure out the character’s names, then the title based on the plot, and then I begin writing an outline of the events and small dialogues in between. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing for my first novel, “The End of Ages” It’s extremely organized this time, but my first book “Making Lemonade” my first poetry collection was quite literally a few all nighters and a lot of coffee (hence the ‘chaotic’ term in my writing process) and content from my high school days that I had collected together and added a few more on the fly. It’s an extremely strange process but it works for me. I found that having more of a clear outline for any story whether that be a short story, novel, etc .is best because then you aren’t surprised by anything and if you suddenly have a spark or a great idea that you just *HAVE* to include, then you can work it into your outline which helps a LOT if you have a Google/Word Document of it printed out so you can physically scribble all over it. Also, a little pro-tip: There’s character outline sheets on Google that you can actually print out and write all about your character and their life and quirks and things to get you better acquainted with who you’re going to be working with for a while, which are your own characters.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Not exactly, actually! It’s funny, I really don’t talk to them as if they’re real people as much as I, the creator of them, basically just judge their decisions based on what happens. I don’t want to spoil anything about my novel since it’s still in the wee baby phases of production, but the main character does something incredibly dangerous and they know it’s dangerous and I’m just like “Why!? You’re an absolute disaster!” So I kind of silently judge my characters as I make a face at my computer as I’m writing. It’s as if I’m a very disappointed (but loving) parent with their children when they make a very foolish mistake.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a top 5 Author and A Top 3 Book List for You (Although it’s SO hard to choose just one, let alone five.)
Regarding authors, I love: (In no particular order)
1.) Oscar Wilde
3.) Donna Tartt
4.) F. Scott Fitzgerald
My top 5 Books (At the moment at least!)
1.) The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde (I mean, it’s a classic! Definitely read Wilde’s plays though if you like Dorian Gray. This book is best paired with a rainy day and Earl Grey tea!)
2.)The Secret History – Donna Tartt (This one kept me on the edge of my seat and I’ve been truly obsessed with it ever since and a lot of it actually inspired my forthcoming novel ‘The End of Ages’. This one has got to be one of those ‘sit in a small cafe and drink black coffee’ type of books. )
3.)Mythos – Stephen Fry (Oh, Stephen Fry is not only one of my favorite actors/comedians, but he’s a fabulous and brilliant writer. He retells the Greek myths in his own way but still keeping true to the stories themselves, but just told in a very delightful manner. It’s more of an anthology but I can spend hours reading it again and again. It’s a ‘sweet cream cold brew & a bowl of grapes’ type of book to read.)
How did you decide how to publish your books?
At first, I decided to publish independently, and I felt a lot of freedom and personalization with it. although I’m currently working towards getting an agent so I can publish as well as publicize my novel as soon as the quarantine ends! I find that there’s a lot more freedom of expression with indie/self publishing so if you’re a beginner who has a love for just saying whatever you’d like without interference or censorship, then go to indie route! I’m in that weird limbo between wanting to go more professional with it vs. giving up that freedom of indie publishing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I feel like Social Media will be a huge marketing and publicity tool when it comes to when the books are actually published and in print, and if someone has a following and they independently publish the book, then they can still be recognized for it. I would love to see more independent publishing companies getting a lot more reputation and representation! It doesn’t make you any less or more of a writer to work with indie publishing companies or self publish! It adds to it, honestly!
What genres do you write?
Thriller, Poetry, Dark-Academia Fiction, LGBT+ Inclusive Fiction
What formats are your books in?
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.