Saturday, 2 November 2013

Author Interview: Kaitlin Bevis

Kaitlin Bevis has written Persephone, Daughter Of The Earth And Sky and The Iron Queen.

1. What is your name and where do you call home?
My name is Kaitlin Bevis, and I live in the city of Athens, Georgia, where my books are set.

2. Do you have a pen name?

3. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
The Iron Queen. The Iron Queen concludes Persephone's arc in the series. Persephone has come to terms with being a goddess and her new responsibilities.

4. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
My next book, Venus and Adonis kicks off Aphrodite's arc in the Daughters of Zeus series. Aphrodite (in my version) is a new goddess, and while she doesn't have the same issues Persephone has with accepting her role and responsibilities, relationships are a mystery to her. She needs to figure out how to interact with humans in a way that makes people less inclined to slap her, and she needs to do it while searching for a group of missing demigods and tracking down a group that has weapons designed to kill gods.

5. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I've always wanted to be a writer. There's not a specific moment I remember. I colored pictures of stories before I could write and I have this tendency to act out story scenes that goes back as long as I can remember. I used to be a much more enthusiastic actress. I'd run around my house acting out scenes like a little psychopath. Now I just talk to myself while I'm driving in the car.

6. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
Yes, but only for honest reviews. False flattery does no one any good. Most of the books I've gifted have mostly gone to established reviewers who've proven they'll be honest.

7. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
My publisher did most of the work. I had a form I filled out with suggestions that had the key elements (a hand, a pomegranate, 6 seeds, snow) and David Effaw, my awesome cover artist made it beautiful. I've got a great cover for the audiobook that I can't wait to show off that's similar, and equally gorgeous by Kelly Smith.

The cover for the second book (Daughter of the earth and Sky) came from one of the early scenes of the book, and the third book was more or less the same as the first.  I knew I wanted Persephone, Zeus' castle, and a vine. It all came together from there.

8. Which is your favourite cover of all the books you have written?
The one for Persephone. All my covers are great, but there's something so breathtaking about that one. I don't know if it's because it's my first book or if it's just that awesome :)

9. Is there anything you would change about your book covers?
Aphrodite's head and hand got cut off the top of the second cover. I'd fix that, lol.

10. Do you have a playlist in mind for any of your books? 
Oh gosh, I am not a music person. I was asked by another blog to put together a playlist for Persephone and I've been really stressing over it because I just don't work like that. The whole listening to a song and being inspired thing just doesn't happen to me. I've never had a story going along in my head with music or gone "wow! this really applies to me!" The closest I've ever come to that are Broadway musicals where the song is literally telling a story (or ballads of course). I've been reading the lyrics to every song I can think of trying to see what would apply to my books the most. Something tells me that is a weird way to approach that.

11. Did you listen to any particular songs whilst writing your books?
I can't, it's too much of a distraction. The song lyrics get stuck in my head. My husband tends to have the TV on while I'm writing and that's not typically distracting. Though one time my writers group noticed Hades had started channeling Dr. Who (David Tenant). I fixed it, but it kind of works. He's got the whole timeless thing down.

12. Would you have different book covers for different countries?
As of now, I don't. I don't think that's really up to me though. I think the publisher determines that. I don't really understand why different covers would be needed for different countries. I'm sure there's some reason that has to do with marketing to that particular audience that's just better left up to the experts.

13. How did you come up with the title for your book?
For Persephone's arc in the series, the titles were all her titles. Names are very important in the Persephone myth. They set the tone for the gods entire persona. Persephone didn't even have a name until she was abducted. The myth called her Kore, which is Greek for girl. Ovid referred to her as the Iron Queen in his retelling of the Orpheus myth to reflect her changed demeanor as this heartless, stone-cold jerk of a queen. A good chunk of who Persephone was in myths had nothing to do with her, but her lineage (hence Daughter of the Earth and Sky). In my series, each title has to do with Persephone's progression and acceptance of who she is, and who she is becoming.   

14. Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?
I wouldn't have mentioned Hercules in book one so I could use him later. In my version of the story, though set in modern day, many of the myths haven't happened yet. Instead of relying on the Persephone myth to explain winter, this culture used the lesser-known Boreas and Oreithyia myth. Some gods already existed, played their roles, and died, and others still haven't been born yet. I lost a ton of potential story in the next arcs demigod-centric plot line by establishing that Hercules' life, death, and myths had already occurred.

15. Do you have a book trailer? And what are your thoughts on book trailers?
Yes, I do! You can check it out here:

I think they're awesome. I never discovered a book through a book trailer, but you tube wasn't really a thing when I got into YA books.

16. Do you have a “Dreamcast” in mind for any of your books?

Skyler Samuels to play Persephone for sure. She was awesome in The Nine Lives of Chloe King and everything else I've seen her in. She definitely has the range to pull off the changes Persephone is going to go through during the series. Hades is tougher. I picture someone like David Tenant or the guy from Grimm, but they're quite a bit older than Miss Samuels. I wouldn't want to cast Hades as a teenager but I don't want him looking like a creepy old pedophile either. The girl who plays Lydia from Teen Wolf would be a fantastic Aphrodite. Beyond those three, I haven't really thought about it. But oh, it would be so exciting for my books to be made into a movie!

17. What is your opinion of ARCs?
I think they're great. I won an ARC of Kelley Armstrong's The Reckoning once. Still very excited about that. With my publisher, I don't often have ARCs in enough time to use them to catch mistakes that may have slipped past me and the editors, or to build up much of a buzz, but I can generally contest them out to my readers a week or so before the release date, which they seem to enjoy. My publisher is working on scaling back their schedule enough to get ARCS out to advanced readers and reviewers further in advance, which is really exciting to me.

18. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
Ebooks. When you've moved as often as I have the novelty of print becomes a bit of an encumbrance. Plus I like having my entire library on me at all times. Stuck waiting in the doctors office? No problem, I have a book. Can't remember something I've read, I can pull it up. I'm never going back to print!

I do sometimes reflect on the fact that should I ever find myself in post-apocalyptic conditions, most of my books will be on a dead phone. But libraries and bookstores should still exist, they just may not be manned, so I figure I can make due.

19. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
No. I'm published through a small publishing house called Musa Publishing. But all authors, indie or not, have to do a big chunk of their own self-promotion, so I have a lot in common with self-published writers. I just lack the technical know-how to turn my books into an ebook on my own. I tried, with one of my short stories, Siren Song. I still can't figure out how to get an excerpt to show up, so I just typed it in the description.

20. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
I've read almost every book I've ever owned dozens of times. I read really fast, and I have to read before I can fall asleep. My budget would implode if it always had to be a new book. The library takes some of that pressure off, but I can only check out twenty books at a time, and most of those go to my daughter who is just learning how to read. Plus gas to get to the library is half the cost of one book, so I can't go too often.

21. Have you ever bought a specific edition of a book because of it’s cover? (For example a UK, US or Canadian version)
I got the first edition of the So You Want to be a Wizard series. That series was one of my favorites growing up, and it was really important to me, for some reason, to have it in the first edition covers because none of the other covers measured up. Beyond that, no. I'm really not much of a cover person. I look at them, and occasionally ooh and ah at the covers for other countries, but unless the book is just really special to me, I won't seek out a different edition based on covers, especially now that I'm more into ebooks and the covers update themselves.

22. What is your opinion of novellas?
I like them when they're a free or nearly free extra the authors provided to give different characters a spot light or to provide a different perspective. Kelley Armstrong does novellas as promotional tools best, I think.

Otherwise, they're just too short to be worth any money (for me). I burn through books. The longer they are, the longer I get to experience them.

23. Have you ever read a book just based on it’s cover?
No, I read books despite their covers. You have to understand that I grew up in the 90's reading mostly young adult and fantasy books. I'm convinced that if those two genres had a cage match for worst covers of the decade, the audience would die of boredom before the winner was declared. 

Really, the covers were all awful. Especially all the fantasy books with the half-naked women on the cover. Book covers gave my bullies ammunition. My first thought when I downloaded my first ebook was how great it would have been to have an ereader in middle school so no one would ever, ever see my book covers. The phrase "never judge a book by its cover" existed because otherwise people might never read. Book covers are so much better today.

24. Has the quality of the cover of a book ever put you off of reading it?
No, I'm long since immune to the terrible cover. I'm a blurb girl.

25. What is your favourite film based on a book?
Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter franchise, oh, and also The Last Unicorn (I'd list that as my absolute favorite, but I watched the movie before I read the book so my opinion could be biased). Those are the best book to screen adaptations that managed to actually be loyal to the books they came from.

26. What is your favourite book genre at the moment?
Young adult books. All of them, particularly dystopian YA books. The whole genre has changed so much from when I was the age of the intended audience. The books are just incredible, and because the authors can't rely on graphic violence and sex to ramp up the tension, they have to devote more energy to the characters and plot.

27. What books have made it onto your wishlist recently? And why?
I'm so far behind on books right now! I need to read Kelley Armstrong's latest YA novel, but its not at the library yet. I just discovered the Divergent series, so I can't wait for Allegiant.

28. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
The Kitchen House in print. It's a book for my book club, but so far it seems really interesting.

29. If you could invite any four celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Hmmm... David Tenant. He was the best Doctor. Though I think if I met him in person I'd just die, or clam up like I did when I met Peter Beagle. Kelley Armstrong, Scott Westerfeld (not celebrities, I know, but they are to me), and Rapunzel (any disneyland cast member will do) to keep my daughter occupied so I could enjoy dinner :)

30. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Lucky for me, both of those questions have the same answer. Join a writers group and listen to what they say. I see so many writers complain that they tried writers groups but the people just "didn't get" their story, or their advice was just too off the wall. Here's the thing about people in the writers group. They are your best gauge of what your reviews are going to look like should you ever get published. If they, avid readers and writers, don't understand your work, I guarantee they are not the problem. My books would not be a fraction as good if I didn't have them to bounce ideas off of or to say "wow, your character is being really bitchy right now, do you want us to hate her?" If you can't handle constructive criticism you're never going to be able to handle your edits, much less your readers!

People who offer constructive criticism aren't being stupid, and they aren't trying to hurt your feelings, they're working on making your book accessible to other people. Readers don't have the luxury of being in the writers head and getting an instant explanation for something, and as a writer it's hard to get that distance when you know your characters and your world so well. A good writers group makes a huge difference.

31. Do you have any hobbies that aren’t related to reading & writing?
I run...sometimes. I used to be much more into running, but then my daughter outgrew her stroller. I'd really like to get back to it because I think its important to be able to outrun zombies (I'm actually only half-joking).

32. Where can your readers follow you?

Twitter: @kaitlinbevis

Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!

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