Words with a Wordsmith: Kris Waldherr
By Rebecca D’Harlingue
September 23, 2022

Kris Waldherr writes books that explore the hidden stories of women’s lives.

If you could write any other genre, what would it be?

Romance! During the pandemic, it was the only genre my brain could handle—we were so stressed out here in NYC. I’m a big fan of Kate Clayborn, Courtney Milan, Mimi Matthews, among other authors. I’m actually working on a historical romance now and having a lot of fun with it.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I’ve gone on several—I adore travel. Most recently, I went to Geneva to research my latest book Unnatural Creatures: A Novel of the Frankenstein Women. It was a thrill to visit the locations near Geneva where Frankenstein takes place: Plainpalais, the Mer de Glace, Mont Blanc. I even visited the grounds outside the Villa Diodati, where Mary Shelley began writing her gothic masterpiece as a result of a ghost story competition in 1816. It was very exciting to walk in her footsteps! I also visited the UK and France when I was researching my debut novel The Lost History of Dreams.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

This will sound a bit unexciting, but purchasing Scrivener was easily the best money I’ve ever spent. When I write, my brain doesn’t work in a linear fashion; fragments of dialogue, characters, and scenes come to me in unexpected ways. Scrivener allows me to get these fragments down and then rearrange them as I see fit. I also tend to revise scenes many times. With Scrivener, I can save all versions as separate subdocuments within my main file, so I can compare as needed. If that’s not enough of an endorsement, you can easily export your Scrivener file as ebooks for reading on your Kindle or iPad for easy reading. I honestly can’t imagine writing a novel without Scrivener.

Do you have another artistic outlet in addition to your writing?

I do! Before I became a novelist, I was (and still am) a book illustrator and designer. I began my publishing career illustrating and designing children’s books at a Big Five house in NYC. More recently, the limited edition of Unnatural Creatures was both designed by me and features frontispiece art that I drew. I also sew clothes when I have time—I seem to go on sewing jags about twice a year—and love my garden. For a while I was growing water lilies in containers, but they were constantly being dug up by raccoons. (Yes, we have raccoons and other wildlife here in Brooklyn.) Years ago, I used to take ballet classes, but those went to the wayside when I had my daughter. I also used to play cello in a community orchestra—one day I’ll get back to it.

Do you speak a second language? Do you think differently in that language? Does it influence your writing?

I speak French at a very intermediate level. (Well, read French really—my comprehension isn’t nearly as advanced.) During the pandemic, I began learning French to read primary research sources for a novel underway. For a while, I was even taking weekly French classes on Zoom at the Alliance Française. I don’t know if knowing French has influenced my writing outside of the pleasure I take in being able to decipher a page on my own. In addition, I joke that I’m fluent in Ikea international picture language. I can put together your Billy bookshelves without breaking a sweat. 😉

Kris Waldherr writes books that explore the hidden stories of women’s lives. Her newest novel is Unnatural Creatures, a sweeping reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein told through the eyes of the three women closest to Victor Frankenstein: his mother Caroline, bride Elizabeth, and servant Justine. Unnatural Creatures was named an Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novels Review, who praised it as “a splendid achievement from a writer at the height of her powers” and as one of the 25 best books for Halloween by Reader’s Digest. Kris’s debut novel The Lost History of Dreams was a Victorian-set gothic inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It received a Kirkus star and was a CrimeReads Best Book of the Year. On the nonfiction side, Kris is the author of Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends and The Book of Goddesses, a One Spirit/Book of the Month Club bestseller. Kris lives and works in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her family and a noisy Bengal cat and a stealthy Ragdoll.






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Rebecca D’Harlingue

Written by Rebecca D’Harlingue

Award-winning author Rebecca D’Harlingue writes about seventeenth-century women forging a different path. Her debut novel, The Lines Between Us, won an Independent Press Award and a CIBA Chaucer Award. Her next novel, The Map Colorist, comes out in September, 2023.

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