Thursday, September 8, 2011

Interview with Kristin Battestella

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

I suppose I am actually dull, even a goody too shoes! But that is why I like to write horrors, paranormal, speculative. I like examining characters, why they are evil or how one can become good after such a naughty road. I love love love the reflections that dark fiction holds up to the society and ideals of the time. When I started writing vampires fifteen years ago, outside of a few of the big names like Anne Rice, I wasn’t finding any of the serious horror spice I was looking for. Initially, I wrote for myself and after years of playing in my own universe, sought publication.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires (or insert the paranormal creature featured in your book here instead), that fascinates you so much?

I like vampires because they say so much about self and society. They are the dark idealized underbelly to us- beautiful, but deadly, ever haunting the undercurrents of life. Why would some like that? Wouldn’t that stink after a few centuries? Can one be so inherently bad and still be a valued and positive member of life? I enjoy the mix of gore and disturbia with psychological clarity. I must say, I don’t agree with our current trend to glorify vampires. I think we can uplift their fiction food for thought, but we must take the warts of evil along with the examination. Stare the scares in the face and overcome!

What inspired you to write this book?

Punishment: Lilith’s Trials, Fate and Fangs Book 2, is an examination on the leader of the Welshire’s rival coven. Part of the material was originally within my 2008 novel The Vampire Family, but the first person account didn’t fit in the book’s framework. With the Fate and Fangs series, I wanted to take time to get to know these players- again their positive and negative and good and bads- before going on to the next full length big finish. Punishment is somewhat abstract, but very personal in its darkness and pain. I was inspired to get down and dirty and go to the uncomfortable places for Lilith!

Please tell us about your latest release.

Love: Ann and the Viking, The first book in the Fate and Fangs collection, was released in August by Muse It Up Publishing. Where that one focuses on some good old fashion vampire love and debate- can one love in such dark ways and not be a vampire? Should they be?- Book 2 Punishment, out this month, spends time on the immortal torment. Can Lilith, such a wicked vessel of ruthlessness, be held accountable for her crimes? What judgment could suffice when someone lives forever?

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

I do try, but I can’t say if it always works! I enjoy researching other languages and cultures for unique names that fit the times and places through the ages. Perhaps others might find it too obscure or silly, but I find a name of characteristic or culture at least adds extra dimension as the character is being developed. I do, however, worry that sometime I end up reusing the same names or same letters over and over. I find names and titles perhaps the toughest things about writing. These are the big shout outs that are meant to say your big things inside and out and I always fear they fall flat. Dang Dickens he had to just go and raise the naming bar for everybody!

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

The crazier or more demented the character, the better to write them! Mestiphles here in Punishment was fun, simply because he delights in pain so much. It’s an uncomfortable area as a human being to go to that kind of torturing place, but the diabolical of the character allows the rug to be pulled out from underneath his possibilities. Likewise, Victoria in Book 4 Debauchery is a treat because she has no social inhibitors whatsoever. When your own characters make you cringe, you know they’re pushing that envelope.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I do create a character file or draft and outline the characters a bit as I am starting on a story or idea. Sometimes it is just a guide, other times it is set in stone. Usually, however, people and ideas can stay stewing in my head for years before I get to write them. In a way, I get to know the character before putting it on the page. Later on as I revise and finalize I draft, I find myself looking at technical things and making notes of where I said the physical things like blonde hair and blue eyes. Those types of descriptive things perhaps aren’t as interesting to me at the onset- the personality is and yes, sometimes that personality does take on a life of its own no matter what plans you had in store!

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

I like the location of Punishment. Lilith is being held in The Void- the mysterious and deadly parlor of Mestiphles where time, light, and space aren’t solid to say the least. It’s a great place to torture someone away from the confines of the rack or the iron maiden! That element of fear, unknown, and the wicked possibilities are my favorite part- to have an entire abstract place built with such a horrible core. It sends chills up my spine!

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?

Fate and Fangs, Tales from the Vampire Family takes place in the same universe as my 2008 novel The Vampire Family, which is still in paperback with Eternal Press. My timelines jump all over the place from the 12th century to today with more medieval, colonial, even speakeasies in between. I suppose the world is largely the same as our own, except this world is inhabited with an array of vampires both good and bad operating on the fringes of society around the globe. Some levitate, transform into wolves or black cats or crows. The Welshire vampires and the Lilithan coven don’t get along at all, and us good people in between are nothing more than fodder for these vampires and Mestiphles mysterious’ plans.

With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?

Any of the Fate and Fangs books can be read as standalones from each other or the original novel The Vampire Family. The in-universe occult Professor James introduces each tale and an appendix of characters is included. Some characters appear in more than one novella, but mainly each tale focuses on one defining character and its subtitled theme: Love, Punishment, Struggle, Debauchery, Lust, Humanity, Resurrection. The Professor, however, is an interesting fellow. He claims to be objective over his tales but he is clearly more involved than he is sharing. There are also plots laid here for the next full length sequel, tentatively titled Requiem for The Vampire Family. Readers have been asking me for a sequel for a few years, but I thought it was important to share their individual tales and explorations before proceeding with the coven war heavy. Fate and Fangs takes time to pick and choose one or all of your delectable delights.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

I am one big quirk. Recently, I’ve begun using an exercise ball as my desk chair, and I still write things out in long hand, I suppose that is an odd ritual in itself now. I also love pens, the weirder the better! I write at odd hours, too, mostly overnight.

Do you write in different genres?

The school used to be to specialize in one genre, which I suppose I technically have because I’ve been working on this vampire series so long. However, I will try any genre at least once. I like to vary it up-that is probably why it takes me longer to produce a book. I have to break from a manuscript for awhile and change gears. A fresh set of writing eyes with new insights can infuse amazing things into your material. I like different angles of fantasy and dark science fiction, true horror and other paranormals. I must say, I don’t think I’m any good at mystery though! I have however, enjoyed collaborating with my neighbor and fellow EP author Leigh Wood on her dark medieval fantasy erotica. I’m enjoying seeing just how many literary boundaries and taboos she can break!

When did you consider yourself a writer?

Hmm, I think this comes back to the terms of writer versus author. I feel I’ve always been a writer, even before I could write the stories down, I was creating magical play and plots that eventually got to complex for me to remember and had to be put to the page. I enjoyed telling the stories before I knew all the mechanics of being a writer, but I’ve always felt one nonetheless. I’m not so sure about the term author as yet. Technically, sure I am one as I am certainly published and have been since I was a teenager. When you get your first credential, you like to toss the moniker around as it is something special. Now, however, sometimes I get shy about it in comparison of others who are really seriously big and professional million dollar names. They are authors, I’m just a writer! Though it is a silly distinction, I think one should not loose that personal zest of being a writer delighting in the words and tales themselves- even when one does become a big fancy author! I think folks expect something of you when you are an author, you are doing it for them. When you are a writer, you are the only person who can surpass your own expectations.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

Being able to stay up all night and write whilst I sit on top of a big blue ball!

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

I have favorite spots- the bathtub and the snuggly recliner- but really I’ll read just about anywhere. Which, reading at any moment possible, I’m noticing is really becoming a thing of the past. Even if folks are always reading something on a smartphone or has an ereader out and about, it seems one will always whip out a device for a game or a chat before a book. I miss the interaction of folks sitting together and reading, sharing, discussing, taking the time to know one another’s mind and what makes our imaginations tick. A book hath not a battery life!

What can readers expect next from you?

Book 3 in the Fate and Fangs series is due for Halloween from Muse It Up. Struggle: Elizabeth in America deals with Antonio’s wife as she journeys to colonial America and searches for solitude away from her unhappy vampire home. Elizabeth meets a Kiowa warrior named Rain and shares his bloody and dangerous hothouse and visionquest experience in order to face her own vampire truths.

Where can readers find you on the web?

Anywhere and everywhere except Twitter!

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Here’s a sample from Punishment: Lilith’s Trials!

The void around her was dark, thick with blackness that no human eye can penetrate. The bell tolled, and Lilith stood in the echoing abyss alone. One solitary funnel of light rained down upon her long, golden ringlets and charred white gown. On earth, she had charm with illuminating, manipulative grace. Her cascading tresses were always perfect and her frock flowing with effortless deception.

But here…Here Lilith was in shambles, her enchantment at last broken. The decadent gown—once so satin and lavish—now ripped, frayed, and scorched from the magical fires she cast so carelessly. Straggling, stringy hair fell upon her faded and ugly green eyes, and her shaking hand pushed the clumped locks aside. She had always been pale, but Lilith was no longer beautiful. Her porcelain look was completely devoid of color, and its sickly white hue a striking blight against the darkness. She could not see me in the void, but nonetheless she knew something foul and punishing was there. Lilith cried out to the abyss.


Thanks for having us!

Thanks for being here today Kristin.

1 comment:

Kristin Snouffer said...

Thanks for hosting us again Roxanne!