Last week I reviewed Tiana Warner's killer mermaid book Ice Massacre. I then sent her an email asking for an interview, thinking that I either wouldn't get a response or would get a polite refusal. (This is still such a tiny, new blog, lurking in its dark little corner of the internet, I honestly didn't think she'd bother.)
Surprise! Ms. Warner agreed to be interviewed! Because she's just awesome that way. So without further ado, let's get this party started. But, uh, leave your crossbows at home.
I’m going to ask the question that every author hates: what inspired you to write Ice Massacre?
I like this question because my answer originates in Disneyland.
So I came up with the idea of flesh-eating sea demons while visiting the happiest place on earth. At the time, the “real” legend of mermaids hadn’t been explored much – the one where they use their supernatural beauty to lure sailors to their deaths. While running around wearing mouse ears, I thought, what would happen if the dangerous kind of mermaids existed? What if an island had to share its surrounding water with a population of these mermaids? And so Eriana Kwai was born. Then came the Massacres, and female warriors being the island’s only hope — and given that world I’d created, Meela and Lysi were inevitable.
What are your favorite books/authors that you like to read and why?
I’m the biggest, most hopeless Harry Potter fan. I love Rowling’s new series as Robert Galbraith, too, and am bouncing up and down waiting for the next one. Potter aside, I read a variety of genres and have a lot of favourite books. A couple of recent 5-star reads were The Rosie Project and The Help.
Who’s your favorite character in the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai series and why?
Meela and Lysi have become my invisible BFFs. Getting inside their heads for five years will do that to a writer. Honestly, I’ve also got a soft spot for Dani. I love characters like her who are so insane and unstable you wonder what the heck happened to them to make them this way. And I have to give a shout-out to Spio (Ice Crypt).
Ice Massacre has some really dark and bloody moments. Have you received criticism for putting these scenes in a YA novel? How do you respond to them?
I haven’t actually received criticism for that. I think the success and relatively extreme violence of The Hunger Games was a turning point in YA. Reading about what these young warriors must face makes for a gripping story.
What I like about books is that the extent of the gore is left to the imagination. While the author can describe what’s happening, it’s not like a movie where you actually see pooling blood and gaping wounds. It makes it a little friendlier for readers who don’t want to envision such a level of violence.
Why write for teens? Why not adult literature?
Writing for a teen audience is so much fun. You don’t get quite the same enthusiasm (Tumblr posts, artwork, social media sharing, fanfic, etc) from an all-adult audience.
Related to the above question of violence, many adult books get extremely graphic about both violence and sex. I personally prefer to have most of that implied instead of outright described. With teen novels that level of detail is left out, so it’s up to readers to imagine as much or as little as they’d like.
You have a degree in computer science, but although Ice Massacre takes place in the 21st Century (at least, that’s what I got when I read it), the technology of Eriana Kwai is very limited. Why did you give the characters crossbows and knives instead of machine guns?
Two reasons. First, they aren’t a culture built around guns, so machine guns would need to be imported to Eriana Kwai from the mainland. The island is much too poor and isolated for that. Machine guns are expensive. Eriana Kwai has nothing to trade and virtually no recognition on an international scale that would allow them to purchase and import all these dangerous weapons.
Second, traditional weapons like crossbows are just way more badass!
I was surprised to learn that your books are self-published. Why did you go this route rather than with a traditional publishing house?
The landscape of publishing is changing, with the success of indies skyrocketing. Companies like Amazon make it easier than ever to get books in front of readers, and the number of agents taking on debut authors is declining. If an author is up for tackling the business side of her writing career, there’s no reason not to self-publish. I like that I keep control over my stories, from editing to cover design to price. I also like being able to follow my own schedule – no waiting on agent and publisher timelines. The only notable drawback I’ve seen so far is that it’s harder to get into physical bookstores. But with most book sales happening online these days, it’s a compromise I’m willing to make.
Would you survive the Massacre? Why or why not?
I like to think I would because I’m fit and strong and keep my cool in stressful situations. Then again, I’m a wimp about being cold, I get seasick, and I’m pretty sure I would get seduced by a mermaid. Also the amount of physical and mental strength those Massacre warriors need to have is insane. I think most of us would crack under the strain.
Any closing thoughts or final comments?
Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed and for your excellent questions!
For this week’s post I interviewed Kim Murphy, author of the paranormal Dreaming series, Whispers series, and the Promise trilogy. Her books have won a Next Generation Indie Book Award, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, an IPPY from the Independent Publisher Book awards, and a nomination for RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.
She’s also a fellow history geek with a degree in anthropology, and has published a few nonfiction works about the Civil War (We had a minor geek-fest during our email conversation. It was awesome.). She also has two adorable dogs and is unafraid to address women’s issues in her writing, so she wins all the things.
Thank you, Kim, for joining us on Dragons, Zombies and Aliens!
DZA: Tell us a little bit about what you're currently writing.
Kim: I'm currently researching a spinoff/continuation of The Dreaming series. I haven't gotten far enough to talk much about it yet, but it will basically be some of the same characters from the trilogy in a different "realm."
Where did the story of The Dreaming series come from?
With my anthropology background, I've always been intrigued by the shamans. Historians often like to argue that the European cultures didn't have shamans, then I stumbled on the cunning folk. The cunning folk were the healers of European societies (each culture had a different name), using herbs and magic. Many had spirit guardians as well.
All of my stories are based in Virginia because it's easier for me to research. Again, historians argued that the cunning folk never made it to Virginia's shores. I haven't uncovered any records to the contrary, but during the 17th century the cunning folk were much more common than doctors. The average person of the era couldn't afford a doctor. Those who could often didn't trust them. Because the cunning folk were so common, I believe they did arrive on Virginia's shores. In fact, some of the witch trials held during the era have definite signs that the accused women may have been cunning women.
The Dreaming series is a mix of the modern and the 17th century. The two time periods have a definite connection.
What's been the most difficult part of writing The Dreaming series?
The most difficult part was researching the Native people of the 17th century. Most of what's written are biased historical records. I dug deeper by reading the anthropological records and contacting the Native people themselves for their side of the story.
Give us an insight into your main character. What makes them special?
In modern times and under hypnosis, Phoebe Wynne tells the story of an ocean crossing to Colonial Jamestown. Soon after, her tale continues with mass starvation in the colony. With no recollection of the current century, she claims that she escaped death by running off to the Paspahegh, a nearby Indian tribe.
The other main character is Lee Crowley, a seasoned police detective. He's skeptical of Phoebe's story, but being a Native American himself, he's intrigued. Phoebe also seems to understand his pain and anger of being caught between two cultures.
She shows him "the dreaming," which is a cunning woman's shamanic journey. I think that makes her special because even though Lee has no idea if she's telling the truth, it helps him make a connection to his own past.
Why did you want to be a writer?
Writing chose me. I've written stories (mostly historical/paranormal) for as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my books, Whispers from the Grave, started out as a ghostly short story in a high school English class. The sequel, Whispers through Time, is dedicated to my seventh-grade English teacher because she encouraged me. What's even more fun is that we're friends as adults.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I often don't take my own advice, but the story doesn't need to be perfect in the first draft. Sometimes I'll waste time over a word or sentence that doesn't sound right, and I'm not satisfied. That's what edits are for. Finish the story first. Once it's written, then worry about the flow.
Is there anything else you'd like to add that I haven't included?
Walks Through Mist is the first book in The Dreaming trilogy, followed by Wind Talker, and finally Circle in Time.
Thank you for inviting me on your blog!
You can find Kim on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
You can find her books on Amazon and Books-A-Million (BAM).
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!