Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eleven Up: Interview with Kendare Blake

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a
ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious
and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-
witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow
legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous
dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals
call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything
outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead
is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never
faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of
her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and
dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every
person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she
used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

Did you just get shivers? Because I totally got goosebumps the first time I saw the cover for Anna Dressed in Blood. And I knew then I HAD TO READ IT. This book is a total creepfest, but it's also got a hot boy and kissing. All the essentials. This is the perfect book to read under your sleeping bag with a flashlight.

On with the interview!

1. I see you’re a Simpsons fan. AWESOME. My friends and I used to have Simpsons marathons. What’s your favorite episode/quote?
I love the Treehouse of Horror episodes. This year’s was fantastic, with Millhouse turning into a werepoodle and Homer riding Dracula like a rented mule. But my favorite quote would have to be from the song where Mr. Burns puts his own twist on Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest” with “See My Vest.”  (See my vest, see my vest, made from real gorilla chest!) You know, where he has a lot of clothing items made from animals. It’s the episode where he’s trying to Cruella De Ville Santa’s Little Helper’s puppies. I once took a personality test and was a good match with Monty Burns. Very flattering.

2. Your book scared the bejesus out of me! How do you think of such scary stuff? Does Anna visit you in your nightmares? Because she definitely visits mine!
Excellent. I’m hoping to rid readers everywhere of all their bejesus. Where the dark stuff comes from, well, I’ve always had a sort of macabre sensibility. I read a lot of King, and now, his kid, Joe Hill. Poppy Z Brite and Ramsey Campbell, etc. One of my best friends has a fascination with serial killers and we suit each other well. But, though Anna has made guest appearances in my agent, editor, and husband’s dreams, she stays out of mine. I think she knows which side her bread is buttered on.
Just the same, I would never consider myself a “horror writer”. At least, not exclusively. But I understand that this might happen.

3. Could you tell me a little about your writing process? Where do you get inspiration? How quickly do you draft? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you usually have to do heavy revisions?
I am a pantser. And now that I am, I don’t do heavy revisions. That’s one of the nicest things to come out of changing my process from plot to pant. So far, things come out right the first time, and then it’s just a matter of my editor pointing out scenes and lines to be added/subtracted. But I used to write a complete first draft, realize how bad it sucked, sit on it (sometimes for a year or more), then re-write the entire thing to get the final draft. My first novel, Sleepwalk Society, went from a bloated 102k third person soap-saga to a clipped 53k first person existential. So I never revise, really. It’s just a complete f-up, do-over.

4. Cas’s voice was so strong. Do you prefer to write male or female protagonists? Do you enjoy both?
Thank you, first of all. I’m glad you thought so! I had a bit of practice before Cas…there’s a literary novel hanging around with a first person male lead, and I annoyed the guys I knew by asking them pesky questions, about whether a guy would really notice this or that detail. But then my editor told me that one of her male interns who read the book thought I was a dude. I was thrilled. And I’m usually not, when people mistake me for a dude.
However, I do like to write both genders. The first novel’s protagonist was a girl, and my next project is third person, female-centric.

5. Did your head explode when you saw the awesomeness that is your cover?
Yeah. I’m still finding pieces in the sofa. Nasty. Anyway, the cover by far exceeded my expectations. And I was no help. I pretty much said, how about no faces, and my editor came up with the entire concept. And the artist…wow! I was so glad that marketing ok’d the blood on the cover. And the bit of black veinage on her shoulder. Hopefully others like it as well.

6. What are you working on now?
Right now I’m just doing blog fun. Talking about books with other people who like to talk about books. I am in the middle of what will hopefully become my next series, but it’s too early to say much. I will say that the draft is done and I’m doing a few revisions for the agent. She wasn’t super psyched about it until she read it, and for me that’s almost better than having her be excited in the first place. But who knows what will happen? The sub road is never certain, right?

7. If I gave you five dollars right now, what would you buy?
Five dollars? Honestly, it’d be a food item of some kind. I’m trying to think in the “right now”. Maybe a patty melt of some kind, on sourdough toast. Mmm. Now I’m hungry. Damn it, Jill!

8. Apocalypsies question: If you had one character from Anna Dressed in Blood to stick by you during the apocalypse, who would it be and why?
No offense to Cas, but I’ve got to go with Anna. For one, I wouldn’t have to feed her, and two, I’m pretty sure she can’t be destroyed by conventional means, so I wouldn’t have to worry about her either. But what kind of apocalypse is this? Is it a zombie apocalypse? Because I don’t even want to live through that. Zombies. Eeg. They don’t play fair. You can rip off their heads and leave them in twitching piles, but if they even spit in your eye, you lose. Personally, I think the last one standing should be the winner! Undead cheaters. And who decided to make them fast? They used to shuffle. What fool gave them speed!?
Seriously though, a big thanks to Jill Hathaway and the Apocalypsies for having me by. I’m looking forward to your books, several of which have been on my radar for months, with others soon to join. 2012 stands to be a pretty epic year, even if the world doesn’t end.

1 comment:

  1. "So I never revise, really. It’s just a complete f-up, do-over."

    Ms. Blake, you are made of Awesome!

    Can't wait to read Anna.