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An Interview with Kristin Oakley, author of The Devil Particle

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Years ago, Kristin A. Oakley wrote The Bomb, a flash fiction piece about a character named Paul. She was also working on a third book in the award-winning Leo Townsend series, but Paul couldn’t be ignored, so Leo had to wait. The Bomb is now the four/five-book Devil Particle Series. In addition to creating Paul and Leo’s stories, Kristin reviews books and writes about being a novelist in her newsletter, available at kristinoakley.net. She lives in the Milwaukee area and likes to hang out in coffee shops, drinking chai lattes, and writing characters into impossible situations.



Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember, so maybe it was simply in my makeup? My parents always encouraged my writing. I still have the letter and my short story my mom typed up for me and helped me submit to the Saturday Evening Post when I was twelve. And then I received my first, very kind, rejection letter.

Stephen King has had a strong influence on my style of writing (it’s very cinematographic), though I haven’t written horror (yet). I also remember my high school English college prep teacher asking me when I was going to write my first book. That stuck with me, and thirty-some years later, I released Carpe Diem, Illinois.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I was a real estate/general practice attorney for a few years and then became a law librarian for a medium-sized law firm in downtown Boston — a job I enjoyed. When I had my first daughter, I became a stay-at-home mom — a job I loved. I homeschooled (unschooled) my two daughters and became an advocate for unschooling (child-led learning). I wrote editorials for a local newspaper and articles for Home Education Magazine (no longer in existence), but it wasn’t until 2007 that I remembered the words of my high school teacher and considered writing a novel.

My readers might be surprised to learn that I lived in Belgium for fifteen months and loved every minute. When we left the country, I was dreaming in French.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

In The Devil Particle, evil is a known substance that can be collected from everyone and contained. I wanted the science behind this to be plausible, so I took my friend Dr. Bill Banholzer, professor of chemical and biological engineering, out to lunch. While discussing what these evil particles might be, our conversation turned to The God Particle (a book by Dick Teresi and Leon M. Lederman) and it occurred to me that my evil particles should be called “devil particles.” Bill agreed and then recommended I talk to a particle physicist. I did and that is another wonderful story.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I was floored when I first saw the book cover. Patrick Knowles from Reedsy designed the cover, and he did a fantastic job. When I first held the book in my hands, I hugged it.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, “When the Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish, “You Found Me” by The Fray, and “O Fortuna” (Carmina Burana) by Carl Orff (or is that too much?).

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I’d like readers to be entertained and invested in the characters, and enjoy exploring the philosophical questions The Devil Particle series asks.

The perfect reader for these books is someone who enjoys thrilling stories with characters who are flawed but try their hardest to do the right thing. This reader is also interested in asking the big questions: why would God allow evil to exist and what would a world without evil look like?

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I had a book launch party at Mystery to Me Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin, and was thrilled and surprised by the terrific turnout and support from my readers. We had a wonderful time!

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

While working on the edits for The Runner — the third book in the Devil Particle series — I realized it should be two books. So, now I’m revising The Runner, creating book number four, and will revise The Renegade (now book number 5). I hope to release The Runner in 2024 and the last two books in 2025. 2024 also marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Carpe Diem, Illinois, so I’m releasing a 10th-anniversary edition with a new cover and additional author notes. It’s going to be quite a year!

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