Today on the blog we have the fabulous Kaitlin Bevis, author of The Daughters of Zeus Series. I have to say that this series was an amazing read and it’s an honor to have such a brilliant mind on the blog today. So sit back and enjoy the interview.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I've always wanted to be a writer. There's not a specific moment I remember. I colored pictures of stories before I could write and I have this tendency to act out story scenes that goes back as long as I can remember. I used to be a much more enthusiastic actress. I'd run around my house acting out scenes like a little psychopath. Now I just talk to myself while I'm driving in the car.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
When a friend introduced me as a writer. Even after I got published, if people asked what I did for a living, I said I mostly stayed home with my daughter and moderated a website. It never occurred to me to answer that I was a writer until she said it.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
About two years. But the writing process for Persephone was complicated. I came up with the idea the summer Clash of the Titans came out, drafted the entire thing in my head during the movie (really, it was that bad), and went home and wrote a very rough first draft.
I was six months pregnant at the time. Pregnancy affects everyone differently, but for me, at a certain point, it made me feel like an idiot. For the first time ever my college classes resembled the classes I'd seen on television, where the professor asked students and answers would fly out of their mouths over my head. My brain just couldn't keep up. Writing felt about the same way. I'd sit down to tinker with my rough draft and stare blankly at my computer screen before realizing all I really wanted to do was eat breadsticks from Olive Garden.
I was also finishing up my last semester of college, moving to Athens, and dealing with all the chaos that comes with pregnancy, graduation, and moving. So I shelved the idea for a few months, returning to it when my daughter was three months old. I fleshed out my rough draft, wrote a second draft from first person, and found a local writers group, and took the whole draft through writers group in five thousand word chunks every other week.
I can't even begin to explain how much of a difference a good writers group makes. My writers group, rocks. We have a content editor from a small publishing house, a copy editor from the same house, several published writers, lots of writers with academic credit, and an incredible amount of talent. There are two members of this group that could sit down, half asleep, and type out a book that could be published and hit bookshelves across the country tomorrow.
I'm not jealous or anything.
With their help, I whipped my book into shape. The pacing had to be improved, subplots had to be expanded on, character motivation had to be clearer. There were a few changes they suggested that I resisted, and kept the same.
And they were the first things my editor had me change, so lesson learned.
My next draft was practically unrecognizable from the first. I took it through again, then had several friends that hadn't spent the last year working on my story read through it. Finally it was ready for submission.
I sent my story to a few agents known to the group, and never heard back. I sent my book to TOR, and Belle Bridge. I never heard back from TOR but Belle Bridge rejected me because two popular young adult writers were apparently in the process of having books about Persephone published. Which is actually funny, because after I got my contract with Musa, I sent an arc to one of my favorite writers, and she said it was very similar to a book she and a group of well known young adult writers had worked on together, but ultimately decided not to publish.
My editor tells me that's very common. An idea gets in the air between writers that have never communicated, and suddenly everyone in the writing community is working on the same story.
Obviously my story was accepted by Musa publishing. It went through two rounds of content editing, and then a round of copy editing. Now it's out in the world and waiting for readers.
It was a lot of time, and a lot of work, but I've enjoyed every step in the process. I hope you all enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I do. I work as a moderator for a website called Truu Confessions. People go and anonymously confess embarrassing stuff, and I read it and decide whether or not it gets put on the website.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The Iron Queen. The Iron Queen concludes Persephone's arc in the series. Persephone has come to terms with being a goddess and her new responsibilities
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I'm published through a small publishing house called Musa Publishing. But all authors, indie or not, have to do a big chunk of their own self-promotion, so I have a lot in common with self-published writers. I just lack the technical know-how to turn my books into an ebook on my own. I tried, with one of my short stories, Siren Song. I still can't figure out how to get an excerpt to show up, so I just typed it in the description
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
My next book, Venus and Adonis kicks off Aphrodite's arc in the Daughters of Zeus series. Aphrodite (in my version) is a new goddess, and while she doesn't have the same issues Persephone has with accepting her role and responsibilities, relationships are a mystery to her. She needs to figure out how to interact with humans in a way that makes people less inclined to slap her, and she needs to do it while searching for a group of missing demigods and tracking down a group that has weapons designed to kill gods. Aphrodite will get a trilogy, then Artemis, and then I'm considering a prequel with Helen and Cassandra. I have a few non-Greek mythology based book ideas, and I plan on using Nanowrimo to fully develop one of them.
What genre would you place your books into?
Young adult Greek mythology retellings.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I've always loved young adult books, and because that's what I read, my voice is better suited for it. I really enjoy writing young adult fiction. As far as the Greek mythology bit, that just came with the story. I'll write something outside of that genre eventually.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
Melissa. A lot of people hate her, which makes me sad because she's the character I get the most. I've read books about characters with fantastic abilities my entire life. I've wished magic was real with every fiber of my being, and you know what I eventually figured out? If all the stuff I read about was real, I'd probably still just be a regular human. That's why I love Melissa. She has to deal with the knowledge that everything is real, just not for her, and she manages to deal with that crushing disappointment while still being a good friend. I admire her for that, it can't be easy having a goddess for a best friend.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I've been writing all my life. Before I could read I called it make believe, but the same basic components were there. Plotting, developing characters, dialogue. It's all there,
I developed much of my writing style through reading. I would read my books with a black marker and a pen in hand, so I could change anything I didn't like. If the next book wasn't coming out soon enough, I'd create my own version.
I did that with shows too. As soon as Sailor Moon went off I'd start acting out the next episode. I was so proud of myself, because I was almost always right.
Took me awhile to realize the show had a rather repetitive formula...
While I was in middle school I wrote my first book. It was terrible. I still have it on a floppy disk, and I'm too terrified to open the file because it was that bad. In high school I was able to take creative writing classes and learned how to critique the work of my peers.
I enjoyed writing so much that when I ran out of creative writing classes in high school, I begged my school councilor to let me take it at the college through joint enrollment. In the summer between eleventh and twelfth grade I took English 1101 and 1102. During my senior year I took introduction to creative writing, advanced fiction writing, advanced non fiction writing, advanced poetry writing, and screenplay writing. The next year I took my core classes and even more creative writing classes. Including autobiographical writing, science fiction and fantasy writing, technical writing, and every other writing class I could find. Once I ran out I moved to Atlanta to get an English degree with a concentration in creative writing. I'm finishing up my masters now, and am applying to the Phd program with a creative writing dissertation.
Despite my lifetime commitment to writing, my personal writing didn't really take off until I joined my writers group. I was familiar with the workshop format through my schooling, but there's something different about a group of people who willingly spend Saturday nights away from their family and friends to talk about their writing that just can't be replicated in a classroom.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
The problem with routines is that they become necessary to your concentration. I've moved eight times in the last five years. My husband and I both work, both have school, and now I have a toddler in the mix. Right now I write best at night, but next semester my school schedule may shift and I may do most of my writing in a coffee shop between classes. I have to stay flexible, at least until my life settled down into a more predictable routine
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books? Yes. And all the goodread status updates. I'm a bit self-obsessed, I know, but I can't help it. The fact that people are reading my book is just amazing to me. Fortunately most of my reviews are good, but I am SO tempted to answer when people ask a question in the review, but you can't do that without looking really immature and unprofessional.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
That really varies with the books. For the Persephone books, the titles came first, but I had a really clear idea where the series was going before I wrote a word. The titles were all her titles. Names are very important in the Persephone myth. They set the tone for the gods entire persona. Persephone didn't even have a name until she was abducted. The myth called her Kore, which is Greek for girl. Ovid referred to her as the Iron Queen in his retelling of the Orpheus myth to reflect her changed demeanor as this heartless, stone-cold jerk of a queen. A good chunk of who Persephone was in myths had nothing to do with her, but her lineage (hence Daughter of the Earth and Sky). In my series, each title has to do with Persephone's progression and acceptance of who she is, and who she is becoming
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
For Persephone it was a tough decision whether to go with the classic Greek names or rename the characters something more modern. It was a tough call, but I'm glad I stuck with the classics. Sometimes the names find me, and that creates the character. While I was researching the Persephone myth, I stumbled upon Melissa, which was a title for a priestess of Demeter. To me, Melissa sounds like a young name, a modern name. Not some ancient title. That contrast got me thinking of whether or not the modern gods would have modern priestesses, and what that dynamic would be like.
Place names, I was always going to stick with Greek mythology and as many real places in the real world setting as I could. Memorial Park is real, Demeter's Garden is not. Demeter's Garden is really the only place name I got creative with.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I try, but my characters really develop themselves while I write. Persephone was supposed to be super shy and non-confrontational, then she surprised me and stabbed a guy with a pen in the third chapter and I realized she wasn't going to fit into the box I kept trying to write her in.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Not so much for my books. I don't have an agenda and I'm not trying to pass on any pearls of wisdom, I just like good stories. I did a ton of research so if you're familiar with the myths there's all kinds of fun references in my stories, but I'm not trying to teach anyone anything. I just want people to have fun reading my book.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
EBook. When you've moved as often as I have the novelty of print becomes a bit of an encumbrance. Plus I like having my entire library on me at all times. Stuck waiting in the doctors office? No problem, I have a book. Can't remember something I've read, I can pull it up. I'm never going back to print!
I do sometimes reflect on the fact that should I ever find myself in post-apocalyptic conditions, most of my books will be on a dead phone. But libraries and bookstores should still exist, they just may not be manned, so I figure I can make due.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
Tamsin, by Peter Beagle. It's this fantastic ghost story that.. I can't even describe it, just go get a copy. It's amazing writing.
And of course I've read it more than once! I've read almost every book I've ever owned dozens of times. I read really fast, and I have to read before I can fall asleep. My budget would implode if it always had to be a new book. The library takes some of that pressure off, but I can only check out twenty books at a time, and most of those go to my daughter who is just learning how to read. Plus gas to get to the library is half the cost of one book, so I cant go too often.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
It really depends on who's making it. Harry Potter translated really well because the writers paid attention to the books and what the fans liked and didn't stray that far from it while being conscious of the fact that film is a different medium than books. Ella Enchanted is the absolute worst book to film adaptation ever because the writer seems to have essentially read the back of the book once while texting a pal, waited a year, then wrote the movie. They didn't keep a thing, invented the villain, the conflict, and the subplots from thin air, changed the rules of the universe and then acted shocked by the results.
Your favorite food is?
Your favorite singer/group is?
The Goo-Goo Dolls. I don't know why, but I love most of their songs.
Your favorite color is?
Pink. I know, it's a super fluffy color, and people are always trying to make me feel childish for liking it, but it's a good color!
Remember to check out my 5 Star review of Iron Queen today on the blog and find out more about this amazing series!