Interview with K.A. Tucker

Hey guys! It’s Misty and last week I got to read K.A. Tucker’s Anathema!  While I was reading it, she tweeted at me about a blog tour she wanted to put together.  With as much as I was loving the book, I HAD to have the first spot!  It just so happens that today I have a dentist appointment in the afternoon!  So some of you guys are getting to enjoy this awesome interview and my review ( which is right here), while poor me is getting cavities drilled!  I do hope you enjoy it, we talk about some really cool stuff!  Be sure to check the end of this post! There are TWO opportunities to win a copy of Anathema!  One at the conclusion of her blog tour and one today on this site!

TTS: The Top Shelf would like to welcome K.A. Tucker!  Please tell us a bit about yourself and your book, Anathema.

Hi Misty! Thanks for having me here on the first stop of my book tour! I am the new indie on the block and I appreciate your time :). I just published my first book, Anathema, in ebook and print format in June. It’s a YA Paranormal Romance novel with strong elements of urban and dystopian fantasy woven in (it’s really a mish-mash of all the fun that is YA.) When I’m not moonlighting as an author, I’m a wife and mother of two beautiful, devilish little girls, and I’m employed in a Sales role at one of those giant consumer goods companies.

TTS: In your bio on your site, it says you published your first book at six years old with the help of your elementary school librarian and a box of crayons.  Do you remember what that story was about?

No, unfortunately not :(. I will bet money that it involved a princess and a dragon. Not sure about the prince – they may still have been icky at that stage of my life. And definitely no vampires. At six, that would have been a little too twisted.

TTS: How did the idea for Anathema come about?

I’ve always enjoyed some good ol’ vampire entertainment (Interview with a Vampire is one of my all-time favourite stories and I can’t resist ‘Lost Boys’ whenever it’s on TV). It wasn’t until I read a few YA novels (Twilight being among those books, of course) that my brain began churning with possibilities. At the time – off on maternity leave with my second girl who wasn’t the easiest baby (translation: screamed bloody murder from 7am until 7pm every day for the 1st 3 months) – I needed a mental escape. Anathema began with a question: “What would happen if vampires killed off all the humans in the world?” and took off.

TTS: I really like to ask this question to every author I interview because I find character creation very interesting.  How did you name your characters and did you shape them after people you know in real life?

Ha! I wish I knew a Caden 🙂 No, I can’t say that any of the characters are direct portrayals of anyone I know in real life. Traits that I like and do not like in people definitely had a factor in how I created my characters. But overall the characters’ personalities needed to mesh with their actions and their actions needed to tie to the plot and conflicts I was looking for.  With each new scene, I asked myself how I wanted the character to react to a situation. That is what drove their personalities. I had no idea how Evangeline would turn out at first, except that I didn’t want the typical smart-ass teenager (I do love that type of character but I wanted someone different for my story).  All that being said, Rachel’s physical traits are very similar to someone I knew growing up who I never found overly friendly or approachable.  When I think of Rachel, that’s the first face that pops into my head *shudders*

In terms of names, they all just came to me through trial and error. Some were chosen because of the background I needed (i.e. ‘Sofie’ and “Veronique’ being French; ‘Julian’ and ‘Valentina’ being Columbian). Some were chosen because they just sounded right together (i.e. the Ratheus vamps). Some I just stumbled upon in everyday life. I always knew ‘Evangeline’ would be my main character for the simple fact that I love that name. I would name my child that IF I were having another. What I learned through this experience? I LOVE naming characters.

TTS: Are you the type of writer that writes up an outline of a book or do you just come up with an idea, write and see where it takes you?

Both. Sort of. 🙂 The first draft of Anathema – my first non-crayon book, ever –  was written completely by the seat of my pants. I just wrote. Whatever popped into my head went into my archaic laptop. When it came time to revise though, it was a big hairy mess full of broken plot threads, weak conflict, and characters who did things completely out of character. All of the things that are okay in first draft but are most certainly not okay in the final story.  The worst part about it was that it was hard to sort out.  I did manage to sort through it all –  spending five months tearing it apart in  Holly Lisle’s phenomenal “How to Revise your Novel” course –  and I vowed never to go through that pain again.

Thanks to Holly’s course, I found a happy medium and I’m using it for Book 2 of the Causal Enchantment Series. It’s working out very well so far. I outline the story scene by scene, focusing on what needs to happen with the characters, their conflicts, and the plot. But I don’t go into too much detail. It’s very loose. And then I write the story, keeping what needs to happen in mind and seeing where else it takes me, revising the outline as necessary.

TTS: Were there any moments that the story didn’t go the way you planned or personally wanted it to go?  How did you deal with that?

Absolutely! I wanted a tight fast-paced story that would grip my readers, make them wary of who they could trust, and send them spinning with twists and turns. When I got through my 1st draft, my main characters were not exactly who I wanted them to be and the back story was too complicated. Sofie and Evangeline’s relationship was obvious, Viggo’s character was flat, and there was no compelling obstacle to Evangeline and Caden’s relationship. What did I do? I tore my 1st draft to shreds. Not literally. I pulled apart every piece of it to figure out how I could get what I wanted and anything that didn’t fit 100% with the story, I cut. From there, Rachel was born (can you imagine the novel without Rachel? I can’t!), Viggo became… what he is (no spoiler here 🙂  ) and the mysterious connection between Sofie and Evangeline evolved.

TTS: This book is considered YA.  It’s pretty dark storyline wise and I could see it being an adult novel with a lot of darkness to it.  Did you feel that pull as you were writing? Is there a reason you decided to keep it young adult?

I think my gauge for ‘darkness’ is a little different from other people. Maybe it’s because I was watching Predator when other kids my age were watching E.T. and the Smurfs. When I was eleven, I wrote my class speech about the end of the world with detailed description (Terminator may have influenced that one… Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a staple in my household growing up). I remember my classmates’ eyes popping out of their sockets as they listened. Needless to say, I wasn’t chosen to share my speech with the rest of the school that year…

I wrote Anathema with the hopes of cross-over potential, meaning adults would enjoy it as much as teens. It’s set outside of high school, removing the ‘gotta get to class’ juvenile aspect. It has all kinds of fun non-human creatures that all ages can love, and it has big ‘a life or death’ conflict in it for more than just the main character, making it an adventure. Who doesn’t enjoy an adventure?!

For me, what sets it apart from adult Paranormal and Urban Fantasy novels that I’ve read is the level of detail with the romance. I find it awkward to read romantic scenes and downright frightful to write one. You won’t catch me reading any Erotica. If you do, watch for a minute – you’ll see me throw the book in the air and run in the opposite direction, red-faced. I love the acceptability of writing ‘fade to black’ scenes in YA. I’m happy to let the reader’s mind wander as far as their age group allows them 🙂

TTS: You have so many interesting concepts going on in this book.  I’m dying to ask you about them all.  Where did you come up with Merth and its properties?  (If you wish to tell the readers what Merth does, you can.  I wanted to leave it up to you. )

I’ll talk about it without talking about it 🙂  This is another one of those concepts that I just stumbled upon in my search for creating big conflict (I know – not very methodical. I stumbled upon most of my story).  I needed to give humans some way to control vampires without killing them. I could have used silver chains but I wanted to be a little more creative. The way Merth grows and how it works just evolved in my head. Kind of how Sofie’s causal enchantment filled her brain 🙂  When I picture ‘the Sea of Merth’ in my mind, it’s absolutely beautiful.

TTS:  I love how you kept some cannon vampire abilities like their strength and their ability to compel.  You changed a lot of things too.  I think the concept I like the most is how you tied werebeasts into all of this.  How did you come up with the idea that vampire venom could allow vampires to control animals?

LOL. Another stumble. I think it was inspired by the Lost Boys movie, where the head vamp had a dog protecting him.  I asked myself, “What would happen if a vampire bit an animal?” And that’s how Max, Scout, and Big Brown came to be. To be honest, Max was always in the back of my head as a character that needed to be in my story. I love how he turned out! Scout and Big Brown came to be because I needed the Ratheus vamps to feel safe in their caves, at least for a short time. That gave them the opportunity to have some fun 🙂

A lot of my ideas arise from asking myself ‘what if’ questions and problem-solving for plot that doesn’t make sense. I come up with ideas and then look for reasons why they wouldn’t make sense, and then I look for ways to make them make sense. It’s like fitting pieces of a puzzle together.

TTS: When readers read Anathema, they’re gonna be left wanting more.  When can they expect book two?

🙂 1st draft and revised outline is done for Asylum. Once the book tour is finished, I’ll dig in to the revision. Then it’s a matter of lining up all the professionals. The cover should be out in September.  I’m hoping to have it out before Christmas but time and budget constraints may sway that so I can’t commit yet.  I could do a lot of it myself but, frankly, I don’t have the time to learn about book formatting and photoshop. That and I am not a cover artist. The guy who did my awesome cover? Now HE is an artist.  I could forego my editor but I can’t stand reading books riddled with errors and I don’t want my readers to deal with that either.  I’d be horrified if I put out a book with poor editing and, in my opinion, it’s inevitable without a fresh set of eyes (and a person who knows what to look for). Plus, I love my editor. She’s fabulous.

Now, if everyone goes out and buys a copy of Anathema right now for a whopping $0.99 (a promo for the book tour) or the not-so-steep regular prices of $2.99 for ebook and $13.99 for print, time and budget may become less of an issue. Hint, hint 🙂

TTS: Are there any other projects besides this series that you’re working on?

I’m a one-book-at-a-time kind of girl. That goes for both reading and writing. I become fully consumed by whichever world I’m living in and I don’t like to mix my worlds. When I’m writing, my head is constantly drifting off towards plot ideas. I don’t know if I’m capable of writing two stories at the same time. At this point, there aren’t enough hours in the day. If that changes, I’d try it out. There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ going on in my head that could evolve into some cool stories, I think.

TTS: I want to thank you once again Kathleen for joining us.  This has been a real honor as I enjoyed your book immensely.  Thank you for sharing it with me and for agreeing to let us be the first spot on your blog tour.

Thank you! I appreciate the time you took to read my novel, write the review, and come up with these great questions. I also truly appreciate your support for Indie authors (you’re a smart lady 🙂 )

 

Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons.

She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snab, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit.

Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

She is working on the sequel to Anathema, to be released in 2012.

Contest Alert!:

Kathleen is giving away a signed, print copy of Anathema to one lucky winner at the end of the blog tour. Anyone can enter by visiting her site atwww.katuckerbooks.com (read giveaway rules posted). Do you want up to 10 extra chances to win? Visit each blog stop for an Anathema Quiz question. Answer it correctly and your name is entered! Simple!

Here’s your quiz question for today, Blog Stop #1:   What valuable possession of Sofie’s does Evangeline break outside Newt’s Brew?

To submit your answer, click here http://www.katuckerbooks.com/10-days-of-anathema-grand-prize-entry-form.html

And if you haven’t read Anathema yet… Here’s your chance to win a copy from us!

 Top Shelf Contest

Kathleen has graciously given us one copy of Anathema to give away! All you need to do to be entered is comment on this post.  I’ll leave this open till 5PM Eastern.  I should be back from the dentist by then 🙂 The winner will be drawn using random.org!  Good luck.

Synopsis: Evangeline has spent her teenage years in obscurity. Her foster parents have the emotional aptitude of robots and her classmates barely acknowledge her existence. About to turn eighteen and feeling like a social pariah, she is desperate to connect with someone. Anyone.

When Evangeline meets Sofie after literally stumbling upon her café, she believes she’s found that connection. Willing to do anything to keep it, she accepts a job as Sofie’s assistant and drops everything to fly to Manhattan, where she is thrust into a luxurious world of Prada, diamonds, and limitless cash.

With such generosity and kindness, it’s easy for Evangeline to dismiss certain oddities . . . like Sofie’s erratic and sometimes violent behavior, and the monstrous guard dogs. She’s even willing to dismiss her vivid dreams of mob-style murders, beautiful homeless people living in caves, and white-eyed demons that haunt her each night as figments of her imagination—especially when one of those figments is the gorgeous Caden. When she wakes up with bite marks on her neck, the fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare. She slowly unravels the mystery surrounding Sofie and friends, and the reality of the bites and the “dreams.” What she discovers is far more mysterious and terrible than anything she could have imagined.

In a world where everyone has motive to lie for personal gain, Evangeline must decide which deception is least likely to get her killed.

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

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Misty

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

  • Connie Dash

    Sounds like a great book! And I love anything paranormal… especially vamps! Was a great interview and I look forward to reading this book… even if I dont win 🙂 It is in my ‘books to get’ list 🙂

  • bella

    Oh my this book is amazing!! Great interview as well!!!;)))) YAY!!! :)))

  • Great interview! I know i totally want to read this. Like, totally!

  • This contest is closed! I will announce the winner shortly.

  • Congrats to Connie Dash! 🙂 I’ll email Kathleen with your name and email and she’ll email you with your prize 🙂