Saturday, July 14, 2012

"I'm a sucker for all things Disney" - Katie Jennings author of The Dryad Quartet

Tell us about you.
I’m a mid-twenty-something year old girl with an imagination for days and a supportive husband who thinks I m a colossal nerd. I write because I love it, and because breathing life into characters is the greatest escape I ve ever found. Most of my time is spent puttering around online, editing my latest book, or feeding people food to my cat. I live just north of Los Angeles, and enjoy reading fantasy and romance novels, watching Once Upon a Time, playing around on Photoshop, and finding new music to fall in love with. I believe in, above all else, happy endings.

Tell us about your books.
The Dryad Quartet is a contemporary fantasy series revolving around the fictional land of Euphora, where beings inspired by Greek mythology exist to preserve the balance of nature and human life, and to protect the living from the evil residing in the Underworld.  It's a world where Mother Earth and Father Sky exist, secretly hidden from human awareness, and yet crucial to the creation and stability of our world.  They are joined by those who control the elements, the Dryads, as well as the Fates, Muses, and Furies, all of whom play an integral role in preserving Earth and guarding those who inhabit it. Each book in the Quartet focuses on one of the Dryads, beginning with Capri, who controls Air.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
I started formulating my ideas for the Dryad Quartet with the basic premise that I knew I wanted to write about people who could control the elements.  I knew I wanted specific characters for each element, Air, Fire, Earth and Water, and that they would be responsible for maintaining the balance of our planet.  From there I started researching into mythology and took much of my inspiration from that, utilizing characters such as Mother Earth, Father Sky, the Muses, the Fates, etc.  I brought them all together and then decided I wanted the entire series to be set in modern times, in our own world, essentially.  I myself prefer fantasy that is relatable that way; with places and people that we ourselves can understand but is made extraordinary by the fantasy element in the story.  So while the characters themselves may live in a fictional land, Euphora, they still interact with our world.

What can readers expect when they open your book? Give us something that isn’t on the book blurb.

The first book in the Quartet, Breath of Air, follows the story of Capri, the Air Dryad.  Her tale is a sad and lonely one, spanning from her mysterious abandonment in an alleyway in Virginia to her eighteen years spent in an orphanage.  She never knew where she came from or who she was, and her lonely childhood made her into a very humble, kind and shy person.  When she is discovered by the Water Dryad Liam, he takes her home to Euphora where she is reunited with her father. Capri learns that she was kidnapped from Euphora when she had been just three years old, and that her mother had died protecting her.  She also learns that it was an unknown demon who took her, a demon working for one of the members of Euphora who has since been banished.  The main arc of the story is Capri trying to solve the mystery of who the demon was who took her in an attempt to find justice, only she quickly discovers that the plot is much thicker and the truth much more disturbing than she ever could have imagined.  Her search for the demon will open many locked doors and put her perilously in danger.

Where do you get your ideas?
Some ideas are spontaneous, while others have a clear source.  For the Quartet, the concept behind it was more a sudden thought I had that then expanded upon itself and eventually formed a story.  For my current project, my inspiration came from a specific song that I have loved since I was a child.  And my next planned project was sparked by my obsession with the tv show Ghost Adventures and my love of all things paranormal.

Who is your greatest inspiration?
Nora Roberts.  She is so incredible, I can't even describe how much I love her work.  The characters she creates are so vibrant and real that I feel as though they are people I have actually met.  They stay with me even years after I read the book, which is an amazing feat for an author.  I started reading her work back in high school, and since then I have devoured at least half of her two hundred book collection.  I guess my favorite thing about her other than her obvious literary gift is how she got started.  She was snowed in with her young children and just sat down and started writing.  She wasn't anything special, she just had a love for romance and a love for characters.  If I ever had the opportunity to meet her, I would thank her wholeheartedly for helping me voice my own passion through words, and for giving me lifelong friends in the form of her amazing characters.

Who are your favorite authors?
Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, Jim Butcher, Tamora Pierce, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton.

What is your current project?
My current project is a family dynasty fiction novel. It is about a prestigious hotel family; an American empire that has its roots in the Industrial Revolution and its home in the posh Upper East Side of New York City. But the family s past comes back to haunt the newest generation as their great grandfather s suicide from nearly sixty years earlier is suddenly discovered to have been murder. Throw in a lot of hidden motives, lies, more murder, and a complex cast of characters that weave together to form the great Vasser hotel family. It s a bit darker and more adult than the Quartet books, and runs more along the vein of a romantic/mystery/thriller novel.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
I feel honored to have had many people compliment me on my characters.  It was so important to me to create characters that were fleshed out not only physically but emotionally.  I wanted them to be real and relatable, flawed and yet interesting and likeable.  They needed to resonate with readers and make a lasting impression upon them.  I also have a habit of making a few of the good guys out to be somewhat of villains, which I've been told makes for a tough decision over whether or not the character is liked or hated as the story progresses.  Again, flawed characters are some of the best and most memorable ones!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
The best writing advice I've ever received was to write what I wanted to write first, and worry about what other people would think later.  Writing is supposed to be, for me anyways, a fun and exhilarating hobby.  And to let other people's opinions and judgment cast shadows of doubt over my passion is a sad and miserable thing.  So I always write what's in my heart, and then may tweak and adjust it later on to suit my genre or my readership.  But even then I rarely change a thing.  There are always going to be people out there who don't like my work, and I suppose that's the advice I would extend to other authors.  Not everyone will like what you do, but some will.  Enjoy the praise, and work through the criticism.  Just don't let it destroy your passion.

Are you a panster or a plotter? 
Plotter, for sure! I'm a Virgo, so I have to have EVERYTHING planned out to the tiniest detail before I even begin writing. I hate getting halfway through writing a book and then realizing I need to add something in to what I've already written. It's near impossible for me to do that comfortably, so I try very hard to get the majority of it right the first time through.

Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author
1. : I sing in my car.  And in the shower.  And while I do chores.  But I have the worst singing voice on the planet so don't expect me on American Idol anytime soon!
2. : I love cats more than dogs.
3. : I am a sucker for all things Disney and can easily quote and sing along with my favorites as I watch them.
4. : My weakness is cheeseburgers.  I don't care what restaurant I get them from, they are all delicious, and it's amazing that I'm not 400 pounds.
5. : I'm addicted to 80's movies.  My two favorites that I've seen a million times are When Harry Met Sally and The Big Chill.

Where to connect online

What format does your book(s) come in?
Kindle and print

Where to buy