Saturday, January 24, 2015

Interview with Katherine McIntyre

On Sunday I posted a review of Katherine McIntyre's awesome novel, Snatched. Katherine was nice enough to agree to an interview as well, which I'm posting today. I really enjoyed reading her answers and I hope that you will, too! Visit her website for more information about the things you read about here.

Where did the idea for Snatched come from? What inspired the shifters?

I’ve always loved dystopian and survivalist stories, but the idea for Snatched wasn’t straightforward. Part of the concept came from a setting I’d played around with—of folks going back to herbalism in the future. Of course, I was attracted to that since I’ve worked with herbs for a long time, and have a veritable storehouse in the side room of my house. But the shifters were inspired by genetic mutations caused by long-term effects of bad medications. I love the post-apocalyptic settings that are mankind’s folly, and this was one of them, stemming from man’s reliance on modern medicine.

I was really intrigued by the religion of the tunnelers. Can you explain how that works and where it came from? Was it something that had happened before the Rift or because of it?

The religion was something that rose post-Rift. A lot of conventional religions fell after that time, and as part of a society that had returned to more primitive forms of medicine and practice, an earth-based religion flourished with concepts closer to Wicca and other Pagan religions. It draws a little bit of shamanism with totem gods, but also encompasses a Great Spirit, which is sort of like the Wicca Goddess. Since practitioners of Pagan religions tend to gravitate towards herbalism and have a greater knowledge of their use, aspects of those religions took root the strongest, and in a lot of situations, healers and priestesses are one in the same.

There’s a bit of a love square going on in the book amongst Kara, Hunter, Dinah, and Jared, but it takes a back seat to the rest of the action. What made you decide to focus on Kara’s struggle rather than on her love life, unlike other books featuring characters on the cusp of adulthood?

I think all writers have a subconscious agenda—some way that their strong moral beliefs leak into their writing, whether they intend to or not. One thing that drives me nuts in a lot of books is how immediate issues will take a backseat to some love drama. While I like me a good romance, and enjoy writing them from time to time, there’s a time and a place. In so many stories, women are defined by men. She can’t live without him, or she can’t save herself—but that’s never the heroine I wanted as a kid. My favorites were Princess Cimorene from Patricia Wrede’s books, or Alanna, from Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet. I’ve always loved the ladies that show just how complex and tough women can be.  

Tweak is such a great character and she has a unique voice and personality. Was she inspired by someone?

Ha, Tweak was my husband’s favorite character. So, she just kind of clicked for me from the start, but if I could relate her to anyone from anything, she’s got a similar bluntness to Anya from Buffy. She speaks a bit more broken English and is way twitchier, but she’s not used to politeness, or tunneler customs, and tends to just blurt things out.

Who is your favorite character in Snatched? Who is your least favorite character?

My favorite character was Tweak. While I love Kara and empathize with her big sister sense of responsibility a ton, I had so much fun writing scenes with Tweak. My least favorite character at first was Dinah, because in the early drafts, she really didn’t have much personality. That changed though, and the way she handled her hardships really helped me admire her. Out of the main cast, I think my least favorite is Jared—he’s a little too vanilla for me, even though I still love his loyalty.  

What did you find most difficult about writing this novel?

The ending. I actually originally wrote a whole different ending to it which I scrapped. I changed it around the middle section, took it in the Europa’s Nest direction and went from there. The original ending was weird, and sort of repetitive. They broke into places to save people twice in a row and realized that wouldn’t work. Actually, the first version of this didn’t have Tweak!! It had some other characters that didn’t hold a candle to her.

Have we seen the last of Kara Orris or does she have other adventures waiting for her?

I think we have seen the last of Kara Orris, but not of characters like her. One of the most important things to me in fiction is making sure women have realistic, dimensional characters to relate to as well as guys. I get a little tired of the helpless woman and domineering man clichés!

As a follow-up to that question, whether or not a sequel is in the cards, I’m curious as to what happens to the characters. Without spoiling the ending, of course, what can you tell us about the future of Kara and her friends?

I think Snatched will stay a one shot, but I did play around with what would happen to them. There are a LOT of complexities to the shifters that I never went into, one of which is how they reproduce—they’re pretty chilling antagonists. Kara and her friends are a plucky lot though. Chances are, they’ll survive and keep fighting for a better future!

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I do the normal thing when I sit down and write—put on a soundtrack, which I actually customize based on each story. However, I do think I’m a little weird with assigning zodiac signs to each of the characters. I’m obsessed with astrology though and it actually helps me expand on the characters and how they’d react in certain situations. So, for example, Kara is a Sagittarius—she’s able to detach, she’s pretty blunt, but I think she’d have a Capricorn moon or something, because she’s kind of unyielding.

You’ve called yourself a modern day Renaissance-woman and you have the list of hobbies and interests to back that up. How did you get involved in things like soapmaking and beer brewing? And would you talk a bit about Solstice Brews?

So, I have this problem of always wanting to learn something new. With cooking, I enjoy making things from scratch, and I got curious about beauty care from scratch which is what led to the soapmaking. My studies in herbalism kind of bled into the beer brewing thing, because I love a good beer, and while some places like Dogfish Head utilize herbs creatively in beer, there were so many combinations I wanted to try. Which is what finally led to Solstice Brews, my tea blending business! I absolutely love coming up with new blends of tea—it’s an addiction. Most recently, I’m excited to say I came up with a branch of Novel-Teas which are blends I based off of each of my books. The Snatched one is an Oolong with blueberry and lemongrass.  

You have several projects in the works, including an audio book version of your novel, Poisoned Apple. What are you currently working on right now and what can you tell the readers about Stolen Petals, which is coming out April 24? (I’ll include links to your blog posts about these things if you’re okay with that.)

So, right now I’m back in the realm of dystopian sci-fi, but this time with pirates. I’m just a wee bit obsessed with pirates, and I absolutely can’t wait to finish the edits on my manuscript for Red Skies Take Warning—it has all the snarky banter, huge adventures, and of course, epic speeches a girl could dream of!

As for novellas on the horizon, get ready to binge on romance! I’ve got Stolen Petals coming out with Breathless Press, a steampunk romance about two rival bounty hunters—lots of sass.

And Soul Solution was recently picked up by Decadent Publishing, an urban fantasy about a soul collector who meets the perfect woman, yet they can’t be together, because his touch kills.

Finally, any advice to potential writers (or soapmakers) who may read this post?

It’s been said a million times before, but don’t give up. Those first stories may be terrible, and may never see the light of day (my first three or four manuscripts were), but with each one, you learn. If you’re open to learning, the possibilities are endless for you, but that takes time to build. People go into this business with an ego, and I get it—it’s terrifying to put your work out there, especially after the long hours you put into it. However, that ego is only going to inhibit you in the long run and keep you from becoming better. When I get a couple beta readers telling me that something isn’t working, you bet I look at it and see what the problem is. Writers are people, and people are imperfect. The hurt of criticism, or a mean review, whatever—it can be overcome. If you never try and instead give up, you risk losing something greater, because being able to share your worlds and your experiences with other people through story is worth every ounce of the struggle.  


A big thank you to Katherine McIntyre for being awesome. :D


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