I’m excited to have the lovely Kelly Gay here for a few questions today. Kelly’s fantastic Urban Fantasy The Better Part of Darkness will debut this coming Tuesday. My ramblings about this terrific read are here.
I want to share the pleasure of reading The Better Part of Darkness, that means a giveaway. One lucky commenter will get a copy for their own reading pleasure. Details are at the end of this post.
First of all, tell us a little about yourself.
Well, let’s see… Just your average bookworm who loves to spend a lot of time in make-believe places. I have two kids, live in the ‘burbs with a Great Dane named Yeager and two very large cats (brother and sister). I’ve had a lot of random jobs through-out my life. I can drive a dump truck and a backhoe. I can tar and shingle a roof, and frame out a house. I can thread films through projectors, clean your house, wait on your table, and sell you men’s underwear (a talent, I tell you!). I spent several years working with horses – show barn manager, groom, exercise rider, but the best was playing nurse at a big breeding farm. I helped delivery sixty-five foals in one season.
THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS is your debut novel, tell us about it.
BPOD takes place in Post Revelation Atlanta about a decade after two alternate dimensions, very similar to our idea of heaven and hell, are discovered. The beings in these worlds resemble our myths of angels, demons, gods, and monsters. And since the Revelation, they’ve integrated slowly into our society, working among us, becoming law-abiding or lawbreaking (take your pick) citizens. My heroine, Charlie Madigan, is a divorced mother of one. She works for the ITF (Integration Task Force) with an off-world partner, a siren named Hank. Her job puts her right in the middle of the off-world population where she makes sure that everyone obeys the law. But when a new off-world drug is released in Underground, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right
How did you come up with the title for THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS?
The title came before the initial idea. I was looking for a better title for a paranormal romance novel I’d written. I was just playing around putting words and phrases with ‘Darkness’ when I hit on the right combination of words. I knew it was special, so I saved it. This was also right around the time I was playing with ideas for a new story, one where I wanted to explore the what-if question: What if our myth/beliefs of heaven and hell were based in truth, in real places?
How did you come up with the characters? I'm curious because you don't see many divorced moms in Urban Fantasy as a main character.
I’m never sure how the characters come to me; they just seem to show up in the world already stewing in my head. I knew the next book I’d write would be urban fantasy, and I knew I wanted to go outside some boundaries with my heroine. From the very beginning, Charlie presented herself as a mom and a divorcee. I’d just always pictured her that way, someone with a complex past and a lot of realism living in this alternate world. The choice for me was whether to keep her a mom, since I wasn’t sure if readers would accept the whole mom/dangerous job thing. But then all I had to do was look at all these real-life women heroes. The cops, the federal agents, the women in the military, and I knew that if nothing else, it worked for Charlie and it worked for me.
What was the hardest part of writing THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS?
It wasn’t a hard book to write. The hard part was finding the time to sit down and work on it. I was pregnant, like BIG and miserable, while writing this book, taking a full course load of classes at the local college (yes, I am probably the world record holder for how long it’s taking me to finish my degree), and we’d just moved into a new house… I started feeding chapters to my critique partner, and she kept requesting more. It was her enthusiasm that made me sit down, when I was exhausted, and complete this book. My being a published author is all her fault.
Are you happy with cover art for your book? Did you get any say so in the cover art?
Yes. I’m very happy with it! When my editor told me that Chris McGrath was doing the art work, I was *happy dancing* all over the place. I know every author’s experience is different as far as input, but my editor really wanted to make sure I was happy with the cover. I was able to share my thoughts--my likes and dislikes, which were actually taken into account. In the end, though, I knew that final decisions on things would not be mine. And I totally get that part of the process. It’s business. I’m just very lucky to have an editor who thinks of our relationship as a partnership. He really wants to know how I feel about things, and I am so grateful for that!
How many books do you have planned for the Charlie Madigan series?
In my initial deal with Pocket, I sold a sequel, which is coming out Aug, 31, 2010 called THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN. I’ve plotted through to the third book, and have that proposal out now. I’d love to see Charlie work through some of her issues, and explore some of the relationship things that are coming her way.
How does it feel to have your first book published? Has it lived up to your expectations so far?
It feels incredible. There are some days where I have these quiet moments – like, is this for real? Is this really happening to me? I got so comfortable in my role of aspiring writer; I mean, that was a role I took on almost fifteen years, so, now, stepping into this new role – it’s still a little unbelievable at times.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’d like to sleep. But when I’m not writing, I have a million other things to do – taking care of the house, the animals, the kids… There’s hardly time when everything is done and I can just chill, but when there is, you’ll most likely find me taking a walk, coloring with my kids, or online playing Aion with my kickass female gladiator (named after a Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter character), who has wings, people! Beautiful, angelic white wings!
Congratulations on your new YA series, Gods & Monsters! The first book is titled DARKNESS BECOMES HER (I love the titles of your books), can you tell us about it?
DARKNESS BECOMES HER is my new YA novel, which releases Spring 2011 from Simon Pulse, with a second book a year later. I call the series, ‘GODS & MONSTERS’, but I don’t know yet if that will change. It’s dark, urban fantasy, set in a post apocalyptic-like New Orleans (forsaken and abandoned by the government and most of its inhabitants due to two massive hurricanes that destroyed the city a decade earlier). It's now a sanctuary for the supernatural, a place run by the Novem, nine of the oldest (and strangest) families in New Orleans.
My heroine, Ari, is a hardened teen, with some unique qualities. She’s searching for answers, clues to an obscure past that lead her to New 2 (what folks now call New Orleans). With the help of some misfit kids living in an abandoned Garden District mansion, Ari discovers a curse that has stood since the time of the gods, one that is beginning to stir inside of her and ignite the age old war between gods and monsters.
It has a dark, lush, gothic feel. The city is decaying, ebbing back into the swamps, so the atmosphere is very dark and creepy. And I'm blending some ancient mythology (the gods) and the vampire, witches, & shapeshifter mythos (the monsters) together, connecting them with an ancient curse that lives inside of my heroine.
What inspired you to write DARKNESS BECOMES HER in this setting?
My love of all things dark and creepy. And my love of New Orleans. It’s such an inspiring city with so much history and amazing architecture. But I also wanted to make the city different, to move it into the future by a decade or so, and, at the same time, make it resemble the days when the city was a frontier town and first being carved out of the swampland. Only now instead of rising out of the swamp, it’s sinking back in. And I love the idea of, for instance, the Garden District taking on an abandoned air, those great mansions being covered by Spanish moss and vines, and yet still standing and housing strange inhabitants.
How did you come up with the name 'Kelly Keaton' for your new YA series?
Keaton is a family name. My grandparents held that name, and my grandmother is credited with opening my mind to world of fairies and all things fantastical. She'd take me for walks in the woods when I was a child, holding one hand, while pointing out mushrooms and tree stumps with the other, telling me those were fairy castles and umbrellas. She had such an amazing, creative mind, and she was a big supporter of my writing dream. She passed away less than two months before I sold my first book. She would’ve been thrilled to tears to hear that news, so I’m just really proud to bear her name in this way – I know she’s getting a big kick out of it!
Kelly – thank you for stopping and answering a few of my questions!
For a chance to win a copy of The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay:
- Leave a comment or a question for Kelly.
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- Leave your email with your comment ONLY IF it is NOT part of your profile.
- This giveaway is open to Everyone.
- Giveaway ends on Monday, November 23rd at 8PM CST.
- If the winner lives in the US the book will be come from Amazon.com, outside of the US it will come from The Book Depository.