Thursday, August 18, 2011

The "Immortal Beloved" Blog Tour - An Interview with Katie M. John


Hello darling readers, today we have a special treat for you. Today marks the 1st day of the "Immortal Beloved" Blog Tour, which starts today and runs all the way through August 24th. Don't even miss a DAY of this tour, there will be interviews with the author, character interviews, giveaways, reviews,a LIVE Twitter chat and SO MUCH MORE! :)


There are lots of blogs participating, such as Reading Away the Days, Secret Lives of Fiction Lovers, and Two Chicks on Books.



So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Katie M. John, the incredibly talented author of the Knight Trilogy, the first book of which was “The Forest of Adventuresand the second novel is called “Immortal Beloved. Katie is an incredibly sweet and kind person, and an absolute joy to interact with, as a person. As an author, her books clearly showcase her immense talent which is at par with famous authors like Stephenie Meyer. She's also a doting mother and a loving wife...and an all around sweetheart! 

Immortal Beloved is set for release on August 25th, 2011 – and I assure you that as far as sequels go, this one’s a HIT! I have read both the books, and am an IMMENSE fan of her writing, so it is my utmost pleasure that she has graced my meager blog with her presence. 






Make sure to check out My Review of "The Forest of Adventures" and check both the books out on Goodreads as well, by clicking the pictures below. 
  








Enamored Soul: Hey Katie, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions for this interview. I am so very glad you agreed to this interview, and it is a pleasure of mine to have you on "The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul" today.

Katie: Hi, Hira. Thank you for having me today.

Enamored Soul:
Katie, my first and most important question to you is, why "knights" and "knighthood" - what led you to step away from the mainstream call for Vampire and Werewolf romances?

Katie: Good question because I so do love vampires lol! There are quite a few reasons why I decided to write a romance about knights. There are so many werewolves and vampire stories out there at the minute that I really didn’t think I had anything new to offer. I loved what Meyer did with the whole Vampire lore as it was so different from the traditional. I’m afraid I’m old enough to remember the last vampire craze as I was about fifteen when Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with a Vampire’ came out. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was my very first proper grown up reads at twelve and I can vividly remember bringing it home from the school library.

I do want to write a vampire story at some point, but I kind of want to write it on my own terms.

I’ve always been a romantic Goth at heart. When other girls had their Take That posters up on their bedroom wall, I had great big reproduction posters of pre-Raphaelite paintings. The one which hung above my bed was one of Queen Guinevere dubbing Sir Lancelot. Little did I know at that point what road I would be taking fifteen years later.

There has always been something incredibly attractive to me about knights: it’s that whole killer / gentleman thing going on. I find their duality completely fascinating – how one minute they would be out in the field literally tearing each other to bits, and the next they would be writing love poetry. In a way they hold a lot of parallels to vampires and hold the same kind of fascination of danger.

I love the shades of dark and light and the complex balancing of a knight’s moral nature. With vampires (pre-Rice and Meyer) they had a much defined nature towards evil.
 
Enamored Soul: Mina Singer, she's one of the most endearing characters I've ever read about - how much of Katie is in Mina's character?

Katie: Thank you. She’s quite a complex character. Not all readers find her easy or ‘endearing’. I didn’t want to write a heroine that was a crowd pleaser; I wanted her to be individual and flawed. I am very fond of Mina and I can relate to her because there is a lot of my own history in her. I always have a wry smile when some critics find aspects of her unbelievable which are actually based on my own, very real experiences.

Mina and I share the same traits in that we are quite introverted and don’t always connect with the way things ‘aught’ to be done – her feelings towards Sam’s illness is an example of this.

I’ve had somebody very close to me be very ill over a sustained period of time and, unlike the way it is often portrayed in films and books (or what we say to the public world) there is often a lot of anger and resentment. It doesn’t mean you don’t love that person deeply, but it comes back to the flaws of being human I mentioned earlier.

Her falling in love with Blake at first sight has also been criticised by a couple of readers. These are the comments that particularly make me smile because I did fall in love at first sight with someone in just the way that Mina falls for Blake. I used a lot of my own experiences of this time to write about their relationship.

Enamored Soul: What made you decide to place the sequel of the excellent debut novel "The Forest of Adventures" in Egypt, the beautiful land of the Pharaoh and Cleopatra?

Katie: I spent three years researching the ‘Secret History’, the Knights Templar, and the whole Grail myths and conspiracies. Through this research I became completely fascinated by the parallels in mythology across the European and Arabic cultures. The templar knights were very much a bridge between the two ‘worlds’ and it is sometimes easy for the ‘West’ to forget that Christianity as a belief system was actually born on the bridge between the two civilisations.

I chose Egypt because Egyptian belief systems were very much interwoven into early Christianity. For example, the Lords prayer shares parallels with the Egyptian prayer of the dead – some scholars even go far as to say that it is just a translation of the text. There are also parallels between Osiris, the Christ figure and King Arthur. They are all recognised as Sun Princes and are associated with light, resurrection and salvation.

So, Egypt became a natural choice because the whole myth structure fitted together beautifully. The belief in the underworld, Duat, also allowed me to  invert the Eurydice/Orpheus myth where he enters the underworld to bring back his true love Persephone.

Enamored Soul: I love that in this book, the knight isn't just saving the damsel in distress - the damsel is doing the saving as well. I think we definitely need more brave and adventurous heroines in literature - what are your thoughts on the subject?

Katie: I felt it important that it mustn’t always be Blake rescuing Mina because relationships are about saving each other. There was a real danger that because Blake is a knight, it might fall into the trap of him constantly sweeping her off her feet and coming to her rescue. There’s no denying that this element is slightly sexy – even the most independent and competent woman has moments in her life in which she would just love for somebody strong and capable to come to her aid. Being strong and capable all of the time is impossible and unhealthy, regardless of your gender.

There is still an issue in literature of heroines being placed into opposing sides – they are either passive and victim-like, or are hardened to the point of fierce (but lonely) independence. In a way this reflects the feminist dilemma. You see me engage with this idea in the way that Delta, Mina and Daisy are all different in their outlook and attitude. I wanted to try and avoid gender stereotypes (either way) as much as possible, and create characters that were just who they were without the politics.

Enamored Soul:
In the beginning of "Immortal Beloved" Mina is left alone, while Blake has journeyed on in his quest - the sheer pain and emptiness that Mina experiences is gut-wrenching. Was it difficult writing about our beloved Mina going through this hardship?

Katie: It was a real challenge to try and get the balance right. I wanted to express her true sense of desolation and sadness but avoid making her over indulgent and slipping into moaner mode. Mina is a character who feels things acutely and I make no apology for that. We see her deal with a private pain, and the reader is invited into her heart and mind to share it.

I wanted to go beyond her just feeling sad and tackle the issue of teenage depression and self destruction head-on. For several years I was a Head of Pastoral Care at a secondary school (high-school). I saw first hand how deeply teenagers could feel, and how they often felt isolated and unable to articulate their varying emotions. I was able to empathise with them as I was quite a troubled teenager myself. Several of my close friends went through destructive periods, involving behaviours such as, getting drunk, taking drugs, anorexia, joy riding and self harm. I only included issues in the story which I actually felt qualified on both a professional and personal level to comment on, and have had experience of.

Sometimes these ‘teenage issues’ are dumped into television programs and books as a shock element or for ‘educational’ value. I think this can sometimes be clumsy and alienate young people more. Events aren’t always on a ‘dramatic’ scale which is not to say they aren’t to be taken seriously. But, there is a sense of norm in these behaviours: Most of us will feel these kind of impulses in varying degrees, at some point in our lives.

Writing Mina’s reaction to Blake leaving was very much a form of catharsis. It laid a lot of ghosts to rest. Mina, needed to go through this in order to move into her more ‘adult’ self, so although it was painful see her struggle through, I understood the value of it.  

Enamored Soul:
Every girl needs a girlfriend like Delta! Smart, hilarious and ever-loyal, do you have a Delta in your life? And what can we expect for Delta's character in Book Three?

Katie: Delta is my favourite character too. I have a deep affection for her. When I started writing her, I had no idea how ‘big’ a character she would become. She was originally a very minor character and I thought it would be Daisy who would be Mina’s closest confidant.


I’m a detailed plotter and planner and yet Delta has managed to defy my plans at every point. I always smile when I talk about Delta’s behaviour – in a way I’m proud of her for bending the rules of my writing. I trust her character completely, and so when Delta tells me what were doing, and goes off on her own way, I’m happy to try and keep up on the keyboard. She makes me laugh when I’m writing and editing. In a way she kind of acts like a Shakespearean fool (often the cleverest character in the whole play. She adds a sense of grounding and insight into situations, providing a balance for Mina’s oversensitivity.

Delta has already decided how she wants the trilogy to end and we are now in negotiation with the other characters! As you can imagine, Blake has his own (very fixed) ideas. Blake and Delta clash quite a lot but he respects her. Delta challenges a lot of his very traditional notions and they are solid friends.

I was very fortunate to have a friend like Delta when I was a teenager and there is a lot of her in the character.

Enamored Soul:
In some ways, my heart goes out to Sam far more than Blake - everyone needs a Sam in their life. Is your husband more of a Sam or a Blake?

Katie: Oh, my! How do I even begin to answer that one? My hubby is a combination of the two of them, but more on the side of Sam than Blake. He’s not as ‘broody moody’ as Blake, but is as romantic.

Sam’s a wonderful character in his own right. I was worried at the end of TFOA that he would become a bit pathetic and made a determined effort to ensure Sam shone in Immortal Beloved. Sam is good man and has a heart of gold. Mina loves him dearly and truly. Sam is full of integrity and honesty as well as a lot of fun to be around. He would make a wonderful husband – far better than Blake. He’d offer you security, friendship and laughter as well as being cute to look at. 

Enamored Soul:
What more can we expect for Sam's character in Book Three?

Katie: Sam and Blake have an interesting relationship in that it isn’t the usual love triangle fall out. They both have enough about them to somehow elevate their acquaintance above that. They become unlikely friends and rely on each other tremendously in Book Three. They become more like brothers in the way that they don’t always like one another, or what they have done, but they are bonded by something bigger than petty squabbles. Sam has a significant role in Book Three but I can’t really say more than that without spoiling #2.


Enamored Soul:
I love how steadfast and true Blake and Mina are in their love for each other - do you believe love as pure and strong as that can only exist in fantasy/literature?

Katie: No I don’t only believe it is the stuff of fairytales. True and steadfast love is totally attainable in ‘real’ life, but what isn’t attainable is ‘perfect romance’. I’ve been married for ten years to my hubby: we went to school together. I was about to write that I am lucky to have such a strong marriage, but then I stopped myself because it has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with a lot of hard work on both sides. The quests that Mina and Blake undertake are a metaphor for this.
Romance isn’t a natural state of being human; it has to be ‘made’ in much the way a writer has to craft and plan the romance in a story. In real life, ‘magical’ moments require effort and thought. 

Enamored Soul: Wow, I absolutely LOVED every sentence and every chapter of "Immortal Beloved" - but way to leave us on a cliffhanger! *bites nails* What happens next? *begs* Please, please, please tell us in which direction you will be taking our dear Mina, Blake, Sam and Delta?

Katie: Oh, clip yourself in for a rollercoaster ride. Book three is mental. I’m genuinely beginning to regret calling it the Knight Trilogy as Quartology might have been a little easier on me! Things take a very dark turn in Book Three. We return to Europe and to the really gothic fairytale stuff. There are three routes in Book Three, and the characters travel different paths in different combinations. We head back into the forests – this time in France and also into the icy mountains of Switzerland. There is a lot of drama and you are all going to be furious at me over some of the decisions I have made (hopefully in a kind of good way). Make sure you have a box of tissues ready – you’re going to need them. BTW only the first ninety percent of it is planned.

The absolute ending – well you’re guess is as good as mine. I was thinking about doing three endings and you get to choose in a sort of nineteen eighties style! (Only joking.) I almost have the ending in place – the question is; will it be happy ever after?

Enamored Soul:
Katie, thank you for being SUCH a doll and taking the precious time to answer all my questions. Thank you, also, for writing such amazing characters, and such a beautiful and adventurous narrative. I'm truly a big fan - thank you so much! :)

Katie: No, really – thank you.  




So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, straight from the source, Katie has made you and me privy to details very few people on the planet know of, for which we are truly quite grateful. Make sure to MARK YOUR CALENDARS – the date is August 25th, 2011 and “Immortal Beloved” is set to make waves, so make sure to go and get your copy. Also, Katie was generous enough to offer the readers of “The Chronicles of an Enamored Soul” some goodies, so time for a GIVEAWAY!

Here’s what we have for you today:

x 2 e-books of “The Forest of Adventures”
x 2 e-books of “Immortal Beloved”

= FOUR LUCKY WINNERS!


And since this is an e-book giveaway, it’s INTERNATIONAL! This one is as simple as it gets, in order to enter, leave a comment with your name, your preference of which ebook you’d like and your email address so that we can contact you if you win. For extra entries, tweet the giveaway; make sure to mention both @inluvwithbookz and @KnightTrilogy in your tweets, and leave a separate comment. Add an additional entry (each) if you follow Katie and Me via Twitter. And if you create a sidebar post/blog post about this giveaway, leave three additional comments for three additional entries. The contest ends August 30th, 2011 and the winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

Also, come back on August 21st for a review of “Immortal Beloved” on my blog, and make sure to visit Jaime and Patricia (say hi to them and Katie from my side, please!) of Two Chicks On Books
who have Katie on their blog for a guest post TOMORROW  *GASP* - you can’t miss it! :)

5 comments:

  1. Great interview. I love reading about an author's process, and I find it interesting that she chose to step away from the popularity of the vampire books. I also appreciate that she wanted her heroine to be her own person, warts and all.

    I wish her the best of luck with this series!

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  2. Hey

    Love the interview! Thanks so much for particpating!

    Can't wait for your review on the 21st!

    Megan

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  3. Wonderful interview Hira, excellent questions and very informative answers. I also loved to read about the author's process.

    Welcome back :)

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

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  4. What an awesome interview. I would love Immortal Beloved. I am going to see if I can find the review since it's the 22. I hope your doing well!

    =)
    Mary
    mary_reiss @ hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete