Ask the Author: M.J. Kuhn
What would you like readers to know about you?
My name is M. J. Kuhn, I live in the Metro Detroit area with my husband, a dog named Wrex (after the Mass Effect character), and a cat named Thorin Oakenshield. Apart from my writing, I’m also really into video games! I am a contributor on a gaming podcast called Another Zelda Podcast, and I write for their blog as well, so if there are any Legend of Zelda fans in the house, check it out!
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Among Thieves is a fantasy heist! Six thieves team up to steal a magical artifact while each secretly plots their own betrayal. The back cover summary reads:
“In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.
For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down…but even the most powerful men can be defeated.
Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.”
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I have always loved heist stories. The Lies of Locke Lamora, Six of Crows, the Oceans films – something about a group of lovable delinquents teaming up for a big score has always been fascinating and fun to me. Another element I always love in a story is betrayal – heartbreaking twists and turns that (when done right) can rock the very foundation of a story and its characters. I have often described Among Thieves as “Game of Thrones meets Oceans 11.” A heist… but where every single character has their own motivations and is planning to betray the rest of the team when it best suits them.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
My favorite part of writing a book in general is the dialogue! The characters in Thieves are so snarky and witty, so their exchanges were just a blast to write, honestly. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent sitting alone in my office reading things out loud to make sure the phrasing sounded natural enough. I also really enjoyed the challenge of the heist itself. There were so many elements that had to be interwoven, so any time I needed to rewrite any small part of it… I basically had to overhaul the entire thing! So challenging, but so worth it (I hope!).
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
In elementary school I was obsessed with the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. I always say that is what started my love of fantasy. Diana Wynne Jones is another influence from those early, formative years – I have read my copy of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci so many times that the spine is literally held together with duct tape. Honestly, I don’t recall when or why I decided I wanted to be a writer. It’s just always been something I have known I wanted to do with my life!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
There are so many things I know now that I wish I had known in the beginning! The main piece of advice I have is the fact that grit is way more important than talent. You can have all the writing talent in the world, but if you’re not ready to do the work, you’re not going to be able to write and edit a book. And on the flip side, I really believe that writing is a skill that anyone can learn, not just something you’re innately born with a skill for or whatever. Immerse yourself in blogs and books on writing craft, and above all, just write, write, write. Among Thieves is the fifth full novel I have written. The first four will never see the light of day (I hope, honestly haha) because they weren’t the best I could produce. No word is “wasted,” even if you delete it from your manuscript the very next day! Every word you write helps you become a better writer, and that alone is worth the trouble! I also have a blog on my website where I share other little nuggets of writing and publishing advice, if anyone is interested!
(AMONG THIEVES will be available from all major book retailers starting on 9/7/2021, but can be preordered here!)