Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Interview with author Kathleen Duey

Kathleen Duey
is the author of a heap of books (
here's a full list), but most notably among YA Fantasy readers is the Resurrection of Magic Trilogy.
(Sorry about the weird things happening with the font in this post. Technology is being ircksome today.)

Are any of your stories based on myths or fairy tales that you have heard of or researched? If so, which ones?
The short answer is no. So far all of my worlds are created and my stories are sociological and very human. The Unicorn's Secret and The Faeries Promise Books are built from dreams I had for almost two years in grade school. I would go to sleep here and wake up there. And when I got tired in my dream, I would fall asleep there and wake up here. It was seamless and like having two lives. I loved it.

When did you start writing?
I had the same teacher for 4, 5, 6th grades (little town, tiny school) and she noticed my interest in books and words. She assigned a story per week--just me, other kids had other special assignments. So turned in a short story every Friday for three school years. Her name was Mrs. Fredericksen and I owe my career to her. She was remarkable and changed many lives.

Many of the names in Skin Hunger are very interesting, such as Sadima and Hahp. How did you come up with these names and what do they mean?
Names for characters often just come to me. Sometimes they have meanings, but not always. Sadima is just a lovely word to me, sonorous, melodic.

Hahp is a shortening of a Mayan word: hahpi: 'seize, catch, arrest, take hold (as a sickness does); afflict (as a sorcerer does his victim)' [cl. 2-1]

Somiss is invented. It sounded sinister to me, snakelike. Sssssss....

Limori, the name of the city, is a Romany (Gyspsy) word that means "graveyard."

The cover and chapter pictures in your book are very unique and interesting. During publication, did you have any say in the layout of your book or the cover?
Covers: After days of searching, I came across David Ho's website and knew I had found the artist I wanted, someone who would paint the emotions, not just a scene or the characters. The art director loved David's stuff and welcomed my input. He used all my suggestions. It was a wonderful experience. For the second book, Sacred Scars, coming out in August 2009, I wanted Sadima hanging upside down, which the publisher found too creepy. So we reversed the art and I revised a scene to make the image fit. Both of David's digital paintings are perfect for the books, I think. I can't wait to see what he does for the third one, which I am writing now.
The interior art is by Sheila Rayyan, and it's perfect, too. She is a wonderful artist who is married to another wonderful artist, Omar Rayyan. I suggested compositions for the spot art and was delighted when they were used.

What is your favorite part about writing stories like A Resurrection of Magic series?
The complexity, managing all the details, even when it drives me nuts, is my favorite part.

You have also written many historical fiction books and horse stories. What kind of writing have you found is your favorite?
All my horse stories are historical novels. Many of my historical novels have a horse or a mule in them that helps shape the story in some way. A couple hundred years ago horses were a part of daily life in this country and much of the rest of the world. I grew up in Colorado, on a horse, so those books are built on the thousands of days I spent galloping bareback down dirt roads in the foothills. Horses are honest and kind and capable of real friendship. They taught me a great deal.

Do you have any writing experiences you'd like to share?
Too many to sift, really. It has changed my life and the way I think about everything. It took a long time to learn to write well, and I am still learning. I love that. The best part about this work is that it never gets easy, so it never gets boring.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I have a room in my home that has been converted into a messy office.

What are some of your favorite Young Adult books/authors?
I have been reading more and more YA, but can't keep up even with my friends' books so I always feel weird trying to list them.

I am looking really forward to reading Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, Can't wait for Holly Black's The White Cat. Last book read: Janni Lee Simner's Bones of Faerie, which I loved. I have a stack of novels taller than I am waiting for me...but for now am writing more than reading.

I have a new, very interesting project being looked at by publishers now: STAYS. It will involve a great deal of research, so the fiction pile will continue to grow...

How much editing do you do to a manuscript before it is ready to be published?
It varies. The only real answer to that is: I edit as much as it takes.

You are currently writing a twitter novel, Russet. What made you decide to start writing this? What would you tell someone about to start writing a novel using a media other than paper?
Russet is an experiment for me. I am channeling the character, not consciously plotting, no notes, no clue where it is going. I began it to jolt myself artistically, in part by doing it in public (scary) and not revising (even scarier). People are loving it, which makes me very happy, because I do, too. The story is strange and unexpected, unlike anything I have ever written. I archive the story in a blog but it is posted on Twitter first. So the format is 140 characters or less per entry. The compression is interesting; every word matters. My only advice for people writing for new media is to stretch, experiment and have fun. And be sure you understand copyright.


Volume 1: Skin Hunger
Read an excerpt here!
Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A "magician" stole her family's few valuables and left Sadima's mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima's joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin's irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision.
Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate -- and the first academic requirement is survival.
Volume 2: Sacred Scars
Read my review here!
Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, driven out of Limòri by a suspicious fire, are living in a cave hidden within the cliffs that overlook the city. Somiss is convinced the dark passages of the caves were the home of ancient magicians, and his obsession with restoring magic deepens. Sadima dreams of escape -- for her, for Franklin, and for the orphaned street boys Somiss has imprisoned in a crowded cage. Somiss claims he will teach these boys magic, that they will become his first students, but Sadima knows he is lying.
Generations later, Hahp is struggling to survive the wizards' increasingly dangerous classes at the Limòri Academy of Magic. He knows the fragile pact he has forged with his secretive roommate, Gerrard, will not be enough to put an end to the evil. It will take all the students acting together to have any chance of destroying the academy. Building trust, with few chances to speak or plan, will be almost impossible, but there is no choice.

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