Julie Kagawa was nice enough to do an exclusive interview for Lytherus about her amazing Blood of Eden series, of which the last book, The Forever Song, hit shelves on April 15th. We asked Julie about the characters and world of the Blood of Eden books, as well as what she’s been reading, how she writes, and more. Warning, we talk general plot points that are relevant in more than the first book, so their may be some spoilers for those who haven’t read further than that.
Sixty years after a devastating virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, vampires now rule the world. Seventeen year old Allison Sekemoto lives in a vampire city, hunted and starving, but unable to leave because of the mutant rabids that roam the land after dark, killing all they come across. She hates the vampire overlords, and refuses to submit to them even though it would make her life easier. Until one night she is fatally attacked by rabids, and a mysterious stranger appears with a choice: die as a human, or become a vampire. Now the creature that she once despised, Allie must struggle to hold onto her humanity, to not succumb to the monster within. Her journey takes her across a plague ravaged America, battling rabids, human raiders, a vampire king who is more than he appears, and a terrifyingly insane Master vampire who possesses the secret to destroying the world.
2- This is such an interesting world. Take us into the creation of the premise, with the vampire cities, Red Lung virus, and all the supporting elements. It’s like combining two types of story into a wonderful blend of both. Were there any challenges with this?
Well, originally, I wasn’t going to write a vampire book. I was finishing up the Iron Fey series, and I wanted to do something a bit darker for my next series. I had this idea for a bleak, post-
apocalyptic world where a plague had wiped out most the population, but didn’t really have a plot for it…until my agent suggested I might try writing a vampire series. Then I wondered: what would happen if I combined the two–vampires and post-apocalyptic–and from that, the Immortal Rules was born.
3- I really enjoyed Allie and Zeke’s story. There was a lot of trust that went into their relationship, and a lot of hope and support. Was it challenging, writing their love, with her as a vampire and he a human, and the dynamics with that? Was it hard as a writer to shift that once he was changed?
I think the most challenging thing about Allie and Zeke’s love story was making Zeke a gentle, loving, truly good-hearted badass, as strange as that sounds. In the beginning, Allie is still struggling with her monster side. She was cynical and jaded, and doesn’t really think she could be redeemed. She needed someone like Zeke to believe in her, to show her she wasn’t a demon, and that there was still good in the world. He was the reason she fought for her humanity, to be worthy of the love of a human. When Zeke was Turned, the roles were reversed. Allie was now the teacher; she had to show Zeke that he wasn’t a monster, and she was able to do so because he had taught her, back when he was human.
4- Your villain is pretty bonkers. Though there are lots of obstacles against the protagonists, Sarren is the over-arching baddie. Talk to us about getting inside his head and what it took as a writer to bring him to that level (I’m thinking how lethal he is with the torture and messing with the mind)
Oh, Sarren was a fun and but extremely complex character to write. I needed a villain that was truly scary, one that would even challenge three very strong vampires. And to me, the scariest villains are the ones that are not only extremely smart, but also have valid reasons for the things they do. Sarren is psychotic and insane, but he was driven that way by Kanin’s betrayal. He believes the world is corrupt and twisted and full of evil, beyond redemption, so better to hit the reset button and let everything start over. There are methods to his madness; he doesn’t do anything without reason, which makes him a realistic and more frightening villain. And of course, because he is also brilliant and a master of manipulation, he knows how to push the character’s buttons, how to hit them hardest and make them question everything.
5- Though I really loved Allie, I thoroughly enjoyed the side characters of Kanin and Jackal. Though totally opposite, they both added a nice breadth to the dynamics of the story. How was it developing these characters? They, to me, are the two sides of Allie that she’s constantly struggling with. Was that intentional, or did it just sort of turn out that way? Who was your favorite?
It was definitely intentional. Kanin represented the vampire who had made peace with his monster by living by his own moral code and striving to keep his darker nature under control. Jackal had made peace with his monster by giving into it completely and not fighting his instincts. Both showed a side that Allie could become, and both had compelling reasons for being that way. In the end, Allie had to choose what kind of vampire she wanted to be for herself. As for favorites, I honestly couldn’t tell you. That’s like asking a mom to choose between her kids; I love them both in different ways. ^__^
6- With the vampire market pretty saturated these days, why did you decide to pursue a vampire story? Any things you did to try and keep the story new and fresh and exciting for readers who might have been a bit wary to pick it up?
Well, like I said, I’d told myself I wasn’t going to write a vampire book, mainly for those exact reasons. There were so many vampire books out there, I felt I didn’t have anything new to add. But once I came up with the post-apocalyptic bent, I felt pretty good about the story. I knew I wanted to bring back the old-school vampires, the vampires that weren’t nice or friendly or “just like us,” who could survive on animal blood. I wanted them to be more like the original children of the night. The creatures that caused people to flee inside and bar their doors when the sun went down. I wanted these vampires to be monsters. That, and the bleak, post-apocalyptic setting, combined with rabid zombies, bloody fight scenes, and an Asian katana-wielding vampire heroine, I hoped would be enough to intrigue people to pick it up.
7- Talk about your writing process. How do you get ideas to the page? Many of our readers are writers too, so any suggestions are great!
I usually have a beginning and the ending of a book in mind, and a high points I know have to happen in the story, and I write toward those scenes. But those “valleys” in between usually come to me as I write. I’ve learned that you can’t wait for inspiration to hit, because you could be waiting forever. You just need to sit down and write; ideas will come to you as you go along. If I get stuck on a scene, I’ll either slog through it, or I’ll skip that scene and keep going. I can always fix it later. The most important thing is to put words on the page.
8-Take us through a typical day for you. Any routines you need in place to help you write?
I get up. I do morning things, I let the dogs out to do their morning things. Then I head outside to feed the chickens and gather eggs. After that, I come in, go to my office and check email, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and various other sites. (Read: procrastinating.) Sometimes I’ll open Pandora and get some music started. Eventually, I’ll open the document from the previous day and get to writing. I try to write 1,000 words a day, every day, whether I’m “feeling it” or not. They don’t have to be a perfect 1,000 words, they just have to be on the page. Barring life and the unexpected, that’s what I do every day, until I’ve finished a book.
9-What have you read lately that you’ve loved? We’re always looking for new book recommendations!
I know I’ve been living under a rock lately, or maybe deep in the writing cave. My most recently finished books were Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Divergent by Veronica Ross, and The Fault in our Stars by the fabulous John Green. All wonderful, wonderful books, but I think everyone could have told me that.
10-What can you tell us about Talon, the first book in your new series coming out in the fall?
Dragons! It has dragons! Modern day dragons that walk among us in human form. And dragon slayers with guns. And a centuries old war between them. Did I mention it has dragons? Lol, sorry. I’m super excited for Talon, if you couldn’t tell. Dragons have always been my favorite subject; I’ve loved them since I was a kid. Talon tells the story of Ember, a dragon caught in the middle of a war, whose path crosses those of a young soldier and a rogue dragon, and the choices they all have to make. It’s not just a love story; it’s a story about war, power, blind prejudice, and what makes something “other.” There is a love story in Talon, but there’s also hate and betrayal, battles and death, heartbreak, sacrifice and, of course, dragons.
Thanks Julie! Be sure to enter for a chance to win one of three sets of the Blood of Eden series!