Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Alma Katsu

Posted September 14, 2012 by girlswit in Uncategorized / 17 Comments

Bio: Alma Katsu is a writer living in the Washington, DC
area with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. She was born in Fairbanks,
Alaska but spent most of her childhood in Massachusetts, in the
middle of where colonial history was made. She started writing as a stringer
for local newspapers while still in high school and continued as a freelance
writer through her college years at Brandeis
University, where she
studied writing with novelist John Irving and children’s book author Margaret
Rey. She moved to Washington,
DC to take a job with the federal
government and stopped writing fiction for about twelve years to concentrate on
her career. She returned to writing fiction at age forty and was accepted into
the writing program at Johns Hopkins. The Taker was one of two novels
she worked on while at Hopkins.
It took about ten years to get The Taker in its present form. The
Taker
was published in 2011 by Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster in the US, in World English by Century/Random House UK, and
translation rights sold to six countries. When not working on her latest book, Alma sometimes hangs out with the Northern
Virginia chapter of the Writer’s Center. She is a member of
International Thriller Writers because they were quite nice to her when she was
going through a thriller-writing phase, and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley
Community of Writers.

Learn more about Alma Katsu by following her at:

Alma Katsu’s Facebook
Alma Katsu’s Website
Alma Katsu’s Twitter

Interview:

 
What is
your favorite ice cream? 
 
 
Wintergreen chip. I grew up in Massachusetts, where there used to be a lot
of mom & pop ice cream stands that made their own specialty flavors. I
haven’t seen anyone make this particular flavor in a long time, though.

 

If you
could work with any author who would it be? 

 
I’ve met a lot of great authors whom it would be totally fun to
work with. It’s hard to narrow it down to one. I may have the chance to work on
a collection of linked stories soon with MJ Rose—if that happens, maybe I can
come back and tell you about it!

 

Who is
your favourite author and is you writing style similar to theirs? 

 

Like many writers, I have a lot of favorite authors. Among my
favorites writing now are Tana French, David Mitchell, Sheri Holman, and Audrey
Niffenegger. My favorite writers who are no longer writing include Edgar Allan
Poe and Shirley Jackson. Some people have told me that my writing reminds them
of Jackson’s,
which is a huge compliment.

 

What
are your must-have accessories while writing? 

 

In the summer, a glass of iced tea. I usually write first drafts
in long hand using a Pentel RSVP fine point pen and spiral notebooks. My
whippets, Abby and Beau, are usually within petting distance.

 

Has
your background as a senior intelligence analyst helped your writing in any
way? 

 

I didn’t think my career had influenced my writing until an
editor pointed out that all my characters tend to be really manipulative and
scheming. That pretty much describes the environment in which I’ve spent most
of my working life. While not everyone in the intelligence business would fit
that description, sadly a good number of them do.

 

You’ve
written two short stories, The Devil’s Scribe and The Marriage Price; any plans
for more short stories? 

 

I hope to have a couple more short stories out before The
Descent, the final book in the trilogy, publishes next year. I think reads
enjoy seeing new sides to the main characters. Plus I’m lucky enough to have
some really loyal readers who enjoy the rather unique world of The Taker and I
like to thank them by making new stories available and giving them additional
peeks into the characters’ lives.

 

The
dreaded writer’s block; Ever have it? If so, what do you do to get through
it? 

Normally it’s not a problem. I’m from the school that believes
in writing every day and doesn’t wait for inspiration. It seems I get more
ideas for stories than I can get around to writing. But you always worry that
some day the well will run dry.

What
gave you inspiration for the Taker series? 

 

I grew up in a very spooky old part of Massachusetts, and that combined with a love
of reading Gothic tales and horror stories instilled in me the desire to tell
dark, fantastic tales. Also, I wanted to see if I could write the kind of story
that would sweep readers away, something with characters you couldn’t stop
thinking about. 

What
kind of research did you do for the Taker series? 

 

In some respects, I didn’t have to do that much, particularly
regarding the post-Colonial period, since I grew up in an area that had been
settled in the 1700s and seemed to have learned a lot through osmosis. I had to
do more research on the early history of the state of Maine since that was more
obscure (but fascinating) and a lot of what I learned ended up in the book in
one way or another.

What
would you do if you were immortal like the characters within the Taker
series? 

 

I am not a fan of immortality, particularly Adair’s brand of
immortality. He is a capricious, volatile master who draws the most lost and
dangerous souls to endure eternity with him as their punishment. It seemed a
perfect Mikado-like, “let the punishment fit the crime” sort of circumstance. I
like to think that I haven’t done anything bad enough to attract Adair’s
attention.

 

How
would you describe the Taker series? 

 

The Taker Trilogy is about the power of love: love that
transcends time, love that transforms us from our all-too human selves to
something better and nobler. For love, we can overcome the worst in ourselves.
The Taker books are about two individuals who truly sacrifice all for love.

During
a video interview you stated, “Unfortunately I’m kinda like Lanny”;
which of the Taker series characters do you wish you were more like? 

Hmm, I don’t know that I wish I were more like any of the
characters in the book! They’re all imperfect and so no better than me. I made
them to be interesting to follow but not necessarily role models.

What I meant about being ‘unfortunately’ like Lanny is that I
can be blind in love. There was a time when that was what I thought it meant to
be in love, that you took the person as he was, with no caveats or
reservations. It’s a nice thought, but maybe not too realistic.

 

What
can you tell us about final book in the Taker series, The Descent? 

 

It’s the most romantic and magical of the three books. It’s the
one in which all the questions are answered. I think readers will be surprised
and delighted—at least, I’m really hoping they’ll be delighted. I know they’ll be surprised when they find
out what’s going on and the source of Adair’s magic.

 

What
question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you
answer that question? 

Sorry—coming up blank on this one! I’ve gotten a lot of wild and
interesting questions, so I haven’t felt particularly lacking.

 

Do you
have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for all your support and kind words of encouragement!
Thank you for being adventurous and willing to take a chance on a book that’s
probably quite different from what you expected.

 

Now for the giveaway! Thank you Alma for providing the awesome book swag for
this giveaway.

First prize: The Taker (hardcover) plus swag pack
Second prize:The Reckoning bookmark, post-it, sticker, and book card
Third prize: The Reckoning bookmark, post-it, and book card
Fourth prize: The Reckoning bookmark and book card
Fifth prize: The Reckoning bookmark

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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