Bestselling Author


Unnatural Creatures: A Novel of the Frankenstein Women by Kris Waldherry

This month’s book pick for Historical Happy Hour is perfect for Halloween! Please join me and the fabulous author Kris Waldherr as we celebrate the launch of her latest novel Unnatural Creatures: A Novel of the Frankenstein Women. Some tales aren’t what you think. For the first time, the untold story of the three women closest to Victor Frankenstein is revealed in a dark and sweeping reimagining of Frankenstein by the author of The Lost History of Dreams and Doomed Queens.

Kris Waldherr

Kris Waldherr’s books for adults and children include The Lost History of Dreams, Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The Lost History of Dreams received a Kirkus starred review and was called “an unexpected delight” by Booklist. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as “utterly satisfying” and “deliciously perverse.” The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club’s Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was lauded by the New York Times Book Review for its “quality of myth and magic.” Her fiction has won fellowships from the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts, and a works-in-progress reading grant from Poets & Writers. Upcoming books include Unnatural Creatures: A Novel of the Frankenstein Women.

In this episode, Jane hosts Kris Waldherr to discuss her novel, “A Natural Creatures,” exploring the feminine perspectives within the Frankenstein narrative. Waldherr shares insights into her creative process, including her deep research, travels, and the thematic focus on familial responsibility and the effects of bad parenting mirrored in her reimagining of Mary Shelley’s classic. The conversation touches on the challenges and highlights of writing, the importance of self-tolerance in creative work, and Waldherr’s future projects. Additionally, Waldherr offers advice to aspiring authors and discusses her venture into self-publishing, emphasizing the novel’s availability and her desire for it to complement Frankenstein in libraries.

Here’s what we covered:

  • [00:00:00] Introduction and welcome to Kris Waldherr.
  • [00:02:00] Inspiration behind “A Natural Creatures.”
  • [00:06:31] Research and setting details.
  • [00:10:44] Writing from three women’s perspectives.
  • [00:18:57] Writing process and favorite aspects.
  • [00:23:39] Staying in touch and Zoom sessions with book clubs.
  • [00:26:25] Audience questions: highlights of writing, challenges, and future aspirations.
  • [00:29:11] Original title and cover input.
  • [00:32:46] Self-publishing decisions and success.
  • [00:37:19] Closing remarks and thanks.


[00:00:00] Jane: Okay, people are jumping on. Hello, everybody. Welcome to this spooky Historical Happy Hour with Kris Waldherr and her novel, A Natural Creatures, a novel of the Frankenstein women, which I just loved and is so perfect for Halloween, as has her amazing background which is much more creative than mine, which you’re all used to.

So I’m going to jump in, Kris, with a brief intro about you, and then I have about a dozen questions, and then we will field questions from the audience. So welcome, and thank you so much for coming.

[00:00:36] Kris: Cheers. Oh thank you for having me, and cheers to you, too, my friend. Whoopsie! With my background, things are disappearing.

It’s like magic. Blue is spooky season, and I’m thrilled to be here. Hi. Hi.

[00:00:48] Jane: Okay, so intro about Kris. Kris Waldherr’s books for adults and children include The Lost History of Dreams, bad princess, doomed queens, and the book of goddesses. Her picture book, Persephone and the Pomegranate, was lauded by the New York Times Book Review for its quality of myth and magic.

Her fiction has won fellowships from the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts and a Works in Progress Reading Grant from Poets and Writers. She is, she’s very multi-talented. As a visual artist, she has had her illustrations exhibited in the Ruskin Library. the Mazza Museum of International Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

She is also the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has over a quarter of a million copies in print. And she teaches the tarot to writers and other creatives. And let me just tell you, she just read tarot cards for me. And it was so fascinating and helped me think about my next project, which I’m struggling with right now.

So Kris, welcome. Oh, you, Kris works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian era house with her family. Thank you again. This is so great. And I loved the novel.

[00:01:57] Kris: Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

[00:02:00] Jane: So this novel is, I love the premise. It’s so unique and fascinating. And so tell me what inspired you to write it and how you came up with this unique premise.

[00:02:12] Kris: All right. A natural creatures. It’s a reworking of Frankenstein from the point of view of the three women in Victor Frankenstein’s life, his mother Caroline, his bride to be Elizabeth and a servant Justine. I’d like to say and I because I can’t resist a pun. A natural creature shocks new life to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece reveals the feminine side of the tale.

And it, I’ve loved Frankenstein for so long. It’s one of my top three favorite books. The other one being Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I sense like a gothic theme going on here. There’s a lot of other books I love too, but those are the ones that I return to when I reread regularly.

So I first read Frankenstein when I was 12 years old, and it was one of those scholastic book fair situations where I went in and I just found myself drawn to this cover of this with this monster on it and stuff and at that age, of course, you’re focused on things that are scary and thriller ish so I don’t think I don’t think I ever.

I never gave up my allowance money that quickly for a book before. Nice. And I knew that it was going to be really scary, but what I hadn’t realized when I read it was how complex it is philosophically. There’s so many questions of Frankenstein. There’s questions, the one that most people think of is about scientific hubris.

Does man have the right to play God? But the one that now as an adult that I take away the most, especially now that I’m a mother myself, is that I think Frankenstein is the ultimate book about bad parenting and how it really messes people up. So I, my, my premise with Unnatural Creatures is that The three women who populate the main characters Caroline, the mother, Elizabeth, the bride, and Justine, all three of them are orphans in some way, and all three of them have been affected by bad parenting, as much as Victor Frankenstein’s creature has been, because he basically abandons him.

So I take it from there about what happens when these three people, all who have had very similar experiences, but react differently. What happens from there. And I also think that it really reveals the feminine side of the tale, because Frankenstein, even though it’s written by an 18 year old girl, Mary Shelley was only 18 when she wrote it it’s a very masculine tale.

Oh, I didn’t realize that. That’s amazing. Yeah, she wrote it. There’s a famous story about how in 1816 was the year without a summer because there was a volcano eruption in the Southern Hemisphere, and so Mary Shelley, Had traveled to Geneva with Percy Shelley, who wasn’t yet her husband with him, they had basically run away.

And they were hosted at the Villa Diodati by Lord Byron and his personal physician, John Polidori. And Mary was accompanied by her stepsister, Claire, with whom she had a problematic relationship. And because they were stuck indoors with this awful weather, they decided that they would each write a ghost story.

And Frankenstein was the result of that. But for all of that, even though Frankenstein is written from the point of view of Victor and the monster and there’s this arctic explorer named Robert Walton, the women in it are very thinly written. So I essentially went out trying to recapture what their internal lives were.

And I should also hold the book up too so people can see it. And we can have it, disappear and come back, but here it is. It’s available in hardcover, softcover, as well as audio book and ebook. Yeah, it even has this pretty binding that I designed, which you can see in the ethers.

It’s I don’t think Mary Shelley had zoom but I imagine the atmosphere was something like this. Yes. Very foggy and mysterious and rainy.

[00:05:55] Jane: Perfect. So that brings actually into my next question. I really felt the setting was so distinct and almost a multiple settings, obviously, but you did such a beautiful job creating the details of each of the settings and such a great sense of place.

And so I know that you did a lot of research for the story. I know you traveled as part of it. And I also read that you went to a technology of Frankenstein conference, which is fascinating. So tell me a little bit about how. How you did your research and how it served in terms of figuring out setting and all of those beautiful details.

[00:06:31] Kris: Oh first off, I was helped in that Shelley’s book is, has such vibrant details in it. There’s a lot of descriptions that I think were definitely influenced by her travels. Throughout Europe, and she actually did write travel guides that she sold then to try and support herself and her husband when he was disowned by his father.

So I that having some of that language there to draw from was an incredible gift. The whole novel was just an incredible gift and a joy to work with, but I’m somebody that I really need to actually. Research and see a place and experience a place before I can comfortably write about it. They call it I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of what is it the Nielsen strengths register I’m like high input that I just need to take it as much as I can and do as much research as possible.

So before I even said a word on paper. When I decided I was going to write this book from the viewpoint of Shelley’s, Three Women and Frankenstein, I did go to Geneva for a week and just walked around where Mary Shelley lived, and for that summer without a with Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati, and I did walk by there, and she does mention a number of places in Frankenstein that I visited and took lots of photographs, like there’s Belle Reve where Victor Frankenstein had his country home and he just, there’s just like a lot of details that you can draw from, like Chen, which was overtaken by the French, and in 1792, there was just a lot.

But most of all, From doing a close reading of Shelley’s text, I, something came up to me that I hadn’t noticed was mentioned very much in other retellings of Frank Sines, which there are many and there’s some wonderful ones out there, but there’s a line that is written in a letter describing Justine the servant, in which it’s mentioned that she’s educated by Caroline the mother, because, and this is a Paraphrase quote, we are not like those in England and France.

We treat our services are equals. Yes, I read so I began to think What was happening at that time and I realized the French Revolution. Yes, yeah. And there was also another area in which it’s mentioned that Justine walks Shane to visit her aunt, and I thought why did Shelly mentioned Shane so specifically and I did some research there and I realized that in 1792.

Shane, which is a village about a league or three miles outside of Geneva, was overtaken by the French as part of their expansion during the French Revolution, which they were trying to bring these, these ideals of liberty and fraternity and so on and so forth, which was really an excuse to expand their empire.

So that opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for me that I realized that. I really suspect, maybe not directly but indirectly that Shelley was referencing a lot of the political happenings at that time. The 18 that rather the 2018 technologies Frankenstein that was just a goddess and I was lucky that I began working on this novel, it was the bicentennial the first publication of Frankenstein.

And so I went there and I was able to talk to scholars I said am I imagining this. Connection between the Revolutionary War and all these other things going on in Shelley’s Frankenstein and somebody said, there’s papers written about that. And I’m getting chills even thinking about it. Yes, it’s there.

And he pointed me to a number of resources that were just like it opened it up. Everything up. And during that period, we all think about the French Revolution, but there were revolutions going on all over the world at that time as well as earlier in the United States. And so it’s definitely a theme that I think is woven through Frankenstein.

And there’s even some people who, there’s a theory that the monsters a symbol for revolution.

[00:10:22] Jane: Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah. So fascinating. And yeah, I just I, the details were so lush in every sense. I just, I loved it. And so now another question you brought up the three women and you wrote it from the three women’s perspectives, Caroline, Elizabeth and Justine why three characters and which one came to you first?

[00:10:44] Kris: That is a great question. Initially, the book was going to be Elizabeth and Justine, as I saw them as mirror images of each other, because both of these women were quasi adopted by Caroline, who was the mother. And that Elizabeth was brought into the Frankenstein family, and essentially groomed to become Victor’s wife, whereas Justine was rescued by Caroline from an abusive mother who later dies.

Remember, theme of orphans throughout. And she was educated by Caroline to become the perfect servant. So in a way, Caroline was shaping these women in the same way that Victor was trying to shape his creature, only she didn’t abandon them. So the more I thought about it, I felt like I had to include Caroline, because she was there in the beginning, and I really just wondered about how did she influence Victor, and that was a really interesting question to ponder and to try and solve, as I wrote.

And it works, too, with a narrative, because the A Natural Creature begins with Caroline meeting Justine, and Elizabeth is already there, and it goes over 16 years. So it starts with Caroline, and then the narrative moves to Elizabeth, and then to Justine, and then to both Elizabeth and Justine until the end.

[00:12:00] Jane: And that was interesting to me, too. The structure of it, it works so well. You had, like you said, Caroline, Elizabeth, Justine, and then both of them toward the end. And like that, it was, it’s a really unique way of telling a story. And did you plan that out from the beginning?

What was, Are you, this goes to the question, are you a plotter, are you a pantser, do do you plot things out?

[00:12:24] Kris: I’m cracking up because I just taught a class on Zoom about an hour ago and I had the same dialogue with my students. I am a plantser meaning that I do a bit of both.

First, I’d just taken all of the inspiration, meaning the research, the, travel if I can. Of course, with the pandemic, one couldn’t really travel so much, so sometimes there was Google Earth, thank goodness for Google Earth and videos on YouTube and such. But I do a bit of both. I started in a kind of intuitive fashion once I’ve taken in all the research, and then I go back and I try to shape it and it’s I always think it’s a little bit like sculpting a little bit.

But originally I had thought that I would have the three women, their narratives, going back and forth but instead, it just made more sense to have each one. Symbolizing or focusing on a part of the story and it was tricky. I had two rules for writing a natural creatures. The first one was that the entire book had to be through a woman’s point of view.

And for the most part of this, there’s a few places where I had to by having somebody write a letter. That kind of thing. And the other one was that it had to work exactly with the framework of Frankenstein’s timeline and history, so I had these huge these huge spreadsheets with all of the different notations of what character was where and when, what was going on in France, what was going on in Geneva, so yeah, it was, there was a lot of back and forth, but I just, it seemed like it was just the most streamlined to have it.

Focus on Caroline, focus on Elizabeth, and focus on Justine, and then back towards the end.

[00:13:56] Jane: So interesting. And so I, it just, I like want to break out in hives. It sounds very tricky.

[00:14:03] Kris: It was definitely felt a little bit like a high wire act, especially taking on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is To my mind, one of the greatest novels ever written.

It’s so filled with humanity and wisdom, and I’ve read it so many times over the years, and every time there’s something new, I take away from it. So if you haven’t read Frankenstein, whoever’s out there, please read Frankenstein. It’s one of those books that I’m very passionate about, that everyone should read at least once in their life.

[00:14:28] Jane: I had to bre brush up on my Frankenstein ’cause I haven’t read it since high school. But I should mention to people too, you do not need to have read Frankenstein to read this novel and get, and enjoy it and get so much out of it. Do but reading it, reading Frankenstein as well is just.

Even better, right? Like a companion.

[00:14:44] Kris: Yeah, I tried to make it so it would work and that was another tricky aspect, making it worth both ways. So if you’ve read Frankenstein, there’s a number of easter eggs in there I think that you will find very enjoyable. And if you haven’t read Frankenstein, there’s other pleasures but maybe you’ll read Frankenstein afterward and see where I was able to draw from Shelley directly.


[00:15:03] Jane: definitely. One thing I was, like I said, I was going back through notes about the novel Frankenstein and one of the major themes of Frankenstein is, and I, where I read this, I’m like, Oh, and this is one of the major themes in your book as well as familial responsibility and what people owe each other.

[00:15:22] Kris: And I feel like you really pulled that theme through in this novel as well.

Yeah, one of the reviews mentioned it’s about the conflict between love and loyalty. Yes. And there’s a lot of that going on, but that’s also about the parental relationship as well. It’s like, why do you owe your child when you bring them into the world?

And even the creature at one point says to Victor, God made man this beautiful in his image. And what have you done? And why do you owe me? And Victor’s only answer is just to shirk that responsibility, which is what leads to so much tragedy and loss.

[00:15:55] Jane: Yes, definitely. So as I was reading this to it felt very cinematic, and I know you are a visual artist, and I’m wondering, I you know I talked to writers about this like I.

When I’m writing the story, I feel like it’s movie in my mind and trying to get it on the page. And so is that, do you, is that how you write? Are you very visual? Do you, is it all a movie in your mind or how is it for you?

[00:16:23] Kris: That is a great question because I think that We all approach our stories in different ways, and again, this is something I tell my students, lean into your strengths.

My strengths are a very strong visual sense and atmosphere, and that’s, and I think going with deep character. So it’s very easy for me because I can see what it should look like, and I do, of course, doing all the research up front helps a lot. But yeah, I definitely think that it’s being a visual artist, and I can tell you, Jane, it’s a lot easier to write to describe a scene than it is to paint it.

Oh, I’m sure. There really is a whole thing about a picture being a thousand words. A thousand words is easier than painting a picture.

[00:17:00] Jane: Yeah, I completely, I have no, no talent in that area. My daughters are both very artistic. I, yeah, I can imagine. I can only imagine. I, so I get this question a lot.

And so I ask it to people to, to my guests. Do these characters, these three women are so well drawn. They leap off the page. Do you have trouble letting go of the characters after you finish a story?

[00:17:22] Kris: It is hard, I have to admit. There was something that Sarah Waters once said that when I, the one time that I got to hear her speak about her book, The Paying Guest, and somebody asked her a very similar question.

She said that she tries to imagine them walking away and saying goodbye. But it’s hard sometimes and I also feel that the characters we write that they do reflect aspects of ourselves, I’m a mother. So I definitely identify with Caroline and her need to protect her children, especially, I parented through the pandemic, like many parents obviously did a few of kids who had no choice.

And it was, I thought, having a toddler was hard. This was so beyond everything I could imagine, just like the sheer fear for your child’s health, as well as their mental health. And it was just so complex so I think that having written this book, while The pandemic was going on.

It definitely had a special resonance and then Elizabeth was very much about loyalty and I’m somebody that you know, I’ve definitely happened loyalty sometimes over things that are in my best interest in my life. And Justine is just somebody that she just wants love so badly that she’s willing to take chances that others may not in order to gain it so I think there’s a little bit of.

them in me, definitely. But, I also know that they’re Shelley’s creations, and I hope that she approves, and that I’ve gotten her blessing in whatever realm she may be, which I hope is far sunnier than it was in Geneva in 1816.

[00:18:48] Jane: I’m sure she does. So talk to me about the writing process.

What is the part that you love? What’s your favorite part? And what is the part that you dread?

[00:18:57] Kris: Oh, gosh. I dread the most writing the middle. And I think a lot of writers say that because that’s where in the beginning you’re filled with inspiration. And in the middle you’re just like, why did I think this was a good idea?

And usually by the end you can pull it together. But honestly, the worst for me is I don’t like doing first drafts at all. I love having my draft down. And so I, that’s why I like to do things like National Novel Writing Month or other things, and that’s also why I do a lot of research, it makes it easier.

But my favorite part is when I have a draft and I’m just deepening it, and I’m seeing what I’ve put there, and it’s like tying threads together. I sometimes compare it to weaving, where you set up a pattern, you just have to complete it. That’s always very pleasurable, because I can see where it’s going.

and how I can deepen the characters and stuff because by that point, once I know the characters and it can take a while, it’s really a joy, but it takes me a while to get to that point. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m an intuitive writer in that things come down that I’m not sure about, like Caroline, I, she’s an anxious person.

And a lot of that just came out and I’d written that portion before the pandemic but then refining her during the pandemic, it was certainly a lot easier. So they each kind of have their, their token characteristic, if you will, that I heightened, which you know, jumple points for actions and choices they make.

[00:20:18] Jane: Yes. Yeah, definitely. I, it’s funny I, everything you were saying I was like, yes, I find that first draft the hardest, absolute hardest and then I really enjoy the revision process so much.

[00:20:29] Kris: Yeah, the revision process is great, but there’s some writers who are the opposite. Yes, which is and I’m always astonished because I’m like, it’s can I have that draft already?

That’s why I hold my nose, do the nano, set my, timer. Yes. Yeah. Word sprints with friends where you’re like, okay, I’m going to do a thousand words in this hour. Damn it. That kind of thing.

[00:20:47] Jane: Yeah. Drag it across the finish line.

[00:20:49] Kris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

[00:20:51] Jane: So you teach and advise writers and we, I’m, I know we have some aspiring authors in the audience.

What’s the best writing advice you can give them?

[00:21:02] Kris: Oh, self tolerance. Yeah. I would say tolerate yourself and know your strengths, lean into them. Yeah, I would just say recognize that what you have to say is something which nobody else is able to, and to just cherish that and really lean into it, instead of thinking I must do this I must do that.

And Also, I would say try not to listen to the inner critic, which is super hard, believe me, I know. But at least once you get to that end point, like the first part, there’s a saying that Stephen King says about what is it that he says? I think it’s something like, write with the door of your studio shut, but edit with it open, meaning only taking others advice then.

Yeah, lean into your strengths. If you’re not sure what you do, ask your friends, why do I do well? Because that’s what people are reading. You for not for what you can’t do. I think there’s all this focus on what do I need to strengthen on my writing instead of what do I do? What is it that is precious about me?

Why do I have to give the world? That’s what I would say.

[00:22:01] Jane: Yes, that’s excellent advice. What are you working on now? Do you want to share? Are you not quite ready yet? Oh,

[00:22:07] Kris: it’s a little soon, but this one is going to be I can say that it is in 19th century Venice. Yes. And it’s a little more fantasy oriented, and and it’s, I’m still like I can’t, I am starting to do the research a little new, but I can also tell you that I’m, this is my little deep secret that’s not so much of a secret is that I’ve also been writing historical romances under a nom de plume.

So that right now I’m trying to decide what to do with but it was just something after writing a natural creatures, and you just write something that was much lighter. really fun because it’s one of those genres that, I’ve always read romance on and off since I was a teenager, but during the pandemic, honestly, it was one of the few genres that I could read, especially at night when my mind was just so stressed out.

And there’s so many amazing writers working in the genre right now. It’s really a golden age.

[00:23:00] Jane: So many amazing writers. And I’ve heard that a lot of people during the pandemic, they could only read one book. Really light romances and things. Yeah. Yeah. But even

[00:23:10] Kris: though there, there’s a lot of depth to them, like somebody like Kate Claiborne, she’s amazing.

There’s so much emotional truth in her work. And, but there are others who are lighter and just really, and that’s what we need right now. And that’s great. Yeah,

[00:23:23] Jane: I totally agree. So I know on your website you zoom with book clubs, reg

[00:23:28] Kris: you I do. Yeah. And I also teach via Zoom too.

[00:23:32] Jane: And you teach via Zoom.

And how can our listeners best stay in touch with you on social media? Where are you at?

[00:23:39] Kris: Okay I’m Kris Waldherr on all platforms, basically. If you want to join my mailing list at Kriswaldherrbooks. com, that’s the best way to get, notices of whatever’s going on. I’m also registered with the Novel Network if you want to book me with a book club as well.

Yeah, I’m pretty easy to get a hold of and luckily my name is so unusual it’s hard to mess it up if you spell it correctly. I can be found.

[00:24:03] Jane: That’s right. I have one more question and if I, there’s some questions from the audience and if, Oh, great. Put them in the q and a or in the webinar chat and I’ll field the questions.

But great. So if anyone else has additional questions, just add ’em there. But before I take questions, I have to tell us about the goddess Tarot and how you got involved in creating Tarot cards and teaching Tarot to writers and creatives. Okay. Yeah, that’s probably a long answer, but I’m just so fascinated.

[00:24:30] Kris: All right. I will give you a very Concise answer. First off, this is the goddess Tarot. Tarot. I’m sorry. I don’t even pronounce it right. And it is a based on the writer Waite Smith, which is the tarot deck that most people have worked with. It’s very popular. You would recognize it. Everybody recognizes it.

You only see it in movies where somebody like pulls the death card. It’s Oh, someone’s gonna die, which is not at all what that card means. But what happened was I made a book that I also illustrated called the Book of Goddesses. And I noticed that all of the goddess illustrations corresponded to the various cards in the tarot deck.

So that’s how that came to be, and to my surprise the deck took off. It has over a quarter of a million copies in print. Which is basically what enabled me to go and become a novelist as a midlife crisis kind of thing. I’ve been working with the tarot for a while since I was in art school, and I always tell people the connection between tarot and illustration and writing novels, fiction or nonfiction, it’s all forms of storytelling.

They’re just all forms of storytelling. And I do read for people in various capacities. I work with a lot of authors and it’s more about creativity and blocks and I really enjoy it. But if anybody. Is afraid of the terror. I always say, it’s not going to tell you anything. You don’t already know at some level interesting.

So it’s there. It’s there. It’s just like another form of mirroring it back to you.

[00:25:58] Jane: Fascinating. And I will say Kris read two cards for me before we came on and I was a little I’ve never had terror cards read to me before. Clearly, because I can’t even pronounce it so I was really fascinating and helped me think about some things in terms of my writing.

Process and next projects and things.

[00:26:16] Kris: You definitely looked a little trepidatious. I was, I have to admit, yes, .

[00:26:21] Jane: But you were game. You were game. You did it. Yeah. So thank you for doing that. Oh, my pleasure.

[00:26:25] Kris: And for putting up in my trepidation, , you know what I read for so many p I’ve been reading since I was like 19 and I don’t even know how many people I’ve read for over the years.

So I, I’ve see at all this point. Oh, I don’t want to tempt it. I’d like to think that I am. accomplished enough as a reader from doing it for so long that, that I can handle it, but knock on wood, I won’t get into a situation I can’t handle. Excellent.

[00:26:50] Jane: Okay, so questions from the audience.

One from an anonymous attendee, what was the highlight for you in writing this story? And what were the challenges of, so there’s a couple of questions here from the same person, and is there a story that you still aspire to write?

[00:27:05] Kris: Oh gosh a story that I aspire to write, I have to admit, it keeps coming back to me even though I don’t want to, is I think eventually I’m going to have to write about Elizabeth Siddall and Dante Rossetti, the Paraphylites, which is another tragic arc.

And I want my next book, I want to be like, it’s going to have a happy ending. There’s a, I don’t want to spoil the natural creatures, but it has a happier ending than Frankenstein does, I would like to think. And what was it, what was the hardest part of writing this book?

Definitely writing all the deaths because Frankenstein is, it’s basically the story of a noble family’s fall from grace through the actions that Victor Frankenstein takes. It’s like Hamlet in a way. Like you have this young, brilliant scientist instead of a prince and he’s so gifted and he, instead of having his father being killed or whatever and being riddled by doubt instead he just has to find out what the secret of life is, but he’s unable to take responsibility for it and that inability that indecisiveness is what leads to all this tragedy which undermines his family.

So those were really hard to write, and very painful. But, but conversely, there is one scene where and it’s another pretty well known death in the novel that I really did enjoy writing. Not because I was happy to see this person go to their fate, it was more because there were so many creative challenges in it, and I wanted to write in a way that would be empowering to the character involved.

And that’s something I don’t want to spoil when you read, and I think you’ll understand why. And I also really love, there’s a kind of a forbidden love story that I wove through, and I love writing forbidden love stories. You’re my favorite. It’s all that kind of like sensual yearning, the, why do I feel this way?

Oh my God, I love that . I love that. Yeah. I love that aspect. I love doing that. So that was really fun to write. That was great.

[00:28:58] Jane: Oh, Kristine Mott, who is, I don’t know if Kristine has missed a happy hour. Thank you for coming again, Kristine and asked, was this the original title and did you have input into your cover, which I know you have.

A lot of important to your cover.

[00:29:11] Kris: It was not my original title when it was first going to be about Justine and Elizabeth. It was called the monster’s bride, and it was meant to be a pun in which you were sure who was the monster Victor or the monster, but it’s really not what the book was about.

It’s not about the women’s relationships with them as much as them dealing with this situation that is surrounding them and it’s like this gradual new surrounding them and how do they survive. And then for a long time it was presumption because the first play of Frankenstein in 1823 was called presumption or the fate of Frankenstein.

And I really felt that with these three women, Caroline and Elizabeth and Justine, all three women had been elevated by their associations with the Frankenstein. So it was active presumption. As much as Victor’s presumption in creating the monster. But then my agent wisely talked me out of that.

And then we had a whole list of titles and my agent surveyed her office and we went with a natural creatures cause it makes sense. It works on multiple levels. Because, the way women are perceived, especially in regards to feminism at certain times of history, as well as the monster itself.

And I also think that there’s this definite theme in the book that plays out about natural creatures, meaning there’s animals that show up in various points of the narrative versus all the different characters and the choices they make. So that was that. The cover I designed. Yes. So that was, yeah, my background is as a book designer and yeah, I worked for seven years at Penguin Books.

So I, this is something that I decided to independently publish it and I did everything start to finish because I just felt that this book would work really well and I could see a very clear way to market it. And I did do a Kickstarter, which we had a limited edition, which included all these other extras and so Cool.

It was a really, it was a really gratifying process because I just, I saw people like Sarah Grant with her the book of the Most Precious Substance and other people who like Mimi Matthews, Clarissa Hardwood Margaret Porter and there Larissa Laura Morelli. There’s a lot of options now.

And I, I just felt that it was time to try that. Not that I don’t want to traditionally publish, but I think it’s just, I was just really ready and I could see so clearly how to publish a natural creatures and I decided to do that with my agent’s blessing. Yeah. I think that, part of it was also during the pandemic there was nothing going on and publishing and I felt well I’m gonna have to wait another year, and I’d rather just get moving on it, especially because I felt that the idea was such a good one that I was afraid somebody else would come up with it, though I’ve never seen.

I’ve seen books about that the women are Frank said but it’s usually just from Elizabeth’s point of view.

[00:31:54] Jane: Yes, yeah, I, and there is always that fear of if I don’t jump on this idea, it might show up, someone else might.

[00:32:02] Kris: Yeah, and I was just really ready for it. When traditional polishing works can be really wonderful, but I’d also had, some experiences that, they were fine, but they were, I just knew that I could do a job that I would feel really good about.

And my goal has always been that. Either I do a good, as good a job as a traditional publisher or better. And so that’s what I aim for. But. But also to say that I had so many people helping me who were professionals. So it’s more say self publishing, you’re not self publishing. You’re really setting up a small publishing company.

Yes. And that’s basically what I did, and I will do other books that way. Possibly my historical romances, I don’t know. I’ll see, whatever I feel. If I feel I can do a really good job or a better job than a traditional publisher, then I am game.

[00:32:46] Jane: Yeah, and that is, I think it’s, you’ve taken. You’ve done it so well, and I think that there’s people like you that are just changing the publishing industry in that respect, like MJ Rose is another one that comes to mind, just like taking control and of all their rights and like you said, it’s you’re great.

Thank you. I think you publish under Muse Inc.

[00:33:07] Kris: It’s muse Publications, and I’m an LLC. Yeah, it’s weird. I have a separate corporate entity for me.

[00:33:13] Jane: I just, I just wish you so much success with it, because I think the time is right for this, these kind of, timeshares.

[00:33:19] Kris: Yeah, it was a little scary, but I just felt that if not now, when? Yeah! And, And the main thing was that I could just see so clearly how I wanted to publish this book and I really didn’t think a publisher would have the same vision. Yeah. So that was very exciting to me. Very. And I’m thrilled that the critical reception has just been, I mean it’s the best reviews I’ve probably ever gotten.

Oh, wonderful. It was an HNS editor’s choice, and it has something like a 4. 7 rating on NetGalley, which is notoriously nasty, and pretty similar on Goodreads, which I’m okay, good, I’m glad people are enjoying it, and yeah so I guess it helps to have that sense of freedom sometimes.

[00:33:59] Jane: Yeah, absolutely. I’m gonna, I’m gonna end with this question. Okay. Is there an edition of Frankenstein that you suggest? Is there a particular edition that you suggest? I do.

[00:34:10] Kris: I would say there’s, I think it’s the Oxford University edition that has all these great critical essays on it.

I’m pretty, I think it’s Oxford University edition. Okay. And I think that one is the 1818 edition, which is the, there’s several editions of Frankenstein. There’s also an annotated version that, that’s annotated about the science, and I can’t remember the name, because I should have had my pile over here.

Now we get up and go get it, but it would spoil the illusion that I’m in this misty forest. But that’s also really good. But I primarily drew from the 1831 edition, which I have a whole afterword because in that edition Elizabeth is an orphan and without. Blood ties to the Frankenstein, which kind of furthest my supposition that Frankenstein is really about bad parenting.

Yes. Yeah.

[00:34:57] Jane: Excellent. And that was from Denise. Gerardo. Thank you, Denise. And I know I said that was the last question, but this one’s really important. Kristine asks. Where can you, we get your books since you’re self published, but you can get your books anywhere. Really. You can get them, they’re everywhere.

[00:35:11] Kris: Yeah, they’re distributed everywhere. I have to say that Amazon as much as they’re, I know they’re like the evil big box, they actually pay the most royalties, but they’re everywhere. And there’s a hardcover too, and it’s basically, I made sure to make them available. Anywhere you want to buy them if you want an autographed version, you can just message me.

I have some here that I can ship to you directly.

[00:35:34] Jane: Yes. And they are because you’re an artist. They’re beautifully designed as you saw the cover. It’s a beautiful book and just wonderfully written that all of the reviews. All the great reviews are deserved.

[00:35:45] Kris: Thank you. Yeah, I had some really what made me the happiest was having librarians write things like this book is a masterpiece, I’m definitely going to recommend this to my patrons and stuff.

Because I, one reason I decided to go wide instead of limiting it to Amazon only is because I really want this book in libraries and to be beside Frankenstein as something that’s the other side of the story. It’s a parallel story, really. Yes. Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:36:10] Jane: Thank you. Thank you. And so thank you so much for coming on.

[00:36:13] Kris: Oh, thank you for having me. And thank you all for the wonderful questions and being here. Yeah. Yeah, it’s been great.

[00:36:21] Jane: It’s been great. And this will be on YouTube recorded and also in podcast version. And Kris, I will send you links to those when they’re right. When my marketing department husband, Charlie.

[00:36:31] Kris: And I also want to mention, too, that I do have an e book of Frankenstein. It’s the 1831 edition, which includes the first four chapters in the prologue of Unnatural Creatures. If you’d like that, message me through my site, and I will gladly send you the link. I sent it out to my mailing list this week, and I’m setting it up as when you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll have a link to download it.

I just haven’t done it yet. It’s been a busy week. Oh,

[00:36:55] Jane: yeah, I understand. Oh, Sandy Nichol says my library is buying it because I asked for it. So that’s

[00:37:00] Kris: Thank you! That’s exactly what I want. I see that there are other authors who are doing this and it’s very inspiring. Yes. And I think for some books it makes sense.

[00:37:09] Jane: Totally makes sense. So thank you. Perfect for Halloween. Happy Halloween.

[00:37:13] Kris: Yeah, thank you for having me and thank you everybody for coming. Yes. And yeah. Thanks.

[00:37:19] Jane: Awesome. Have a great night everyone. Cheers. I’ll see you on our chat sessions, Kris. All


[00:37:23] Kris: Take care, Jane. Bye.


Hosted by Jane Healey, Historical Happy Hour is a live interview and podcast featuring premiere historical fiction authors and their latest novels.

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