Janet Lee Carey is well known for her rich and engaging fantasy novels, including Dragon’s Keep, which received a starred review from School Library Journal that stated, “Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger in their memories.”
What was the inspiration behind Stealing Death?
The idea was seeded by some fairytales and folktales I read in Grimm and in the American Jack tales. I knew I’d write a novel someday concerning a boy who challenged death, yet I waited twelve years to write it. I needed the right character to emerge and the right location for the tale. I found them when I met Kipp and entered Zolya with him. It was then the tale began to unfold.
How is Stealing Death different from your other novels?
What a great question. First I’d have to say the difference has to do with setting. I grew up in northern California in the redwoods and usually set my fantasies in green places or along the seashore. The arid landscape of Zolya was very foreign at first, but the dry windblown country full of wild animals had a distinct culture I found fascinating. People also had a way of speaking I could “hear”. This is a little hard to explain other than to say I “hear” my novels like a kind of music -- the story voice begins and I listen and write it down. I’m now working on the sequel to Stealing Death and I’m still discovering new things about Zolya and the Zolyan culture. I know now that I couldn’t have set Stealing Death.
How do you go about researching your novels?
I always have teetering stacks of books by my desk as I write a novel. I also go in for “experiential research” and try out things my characters are doing when possible. Kipp’s on horseback a lot in this novel, so I signed up for a trail ride and rode a feisty horse named Missy. After a few illuminating hours in the saddle, I scrambled back to the book to add more details while I was still walking as wide kneed as a cowboy and dusty from the ride.
My writing friends and I have some pretty wild stories about our experiential research. Author Justina Chen Headley’s travels in China made her characters’ journey in North of Beautiful vivid and authentic. Peggy King Anderson picks up slugs to “get a closer look.” Katherine Grace Bond climbed onto her roof with a five-pound bag of flour trying to experience what it would be like to climb down a fire escape with a baby in your arms. The trouble was there is no fire escape at her place. Compared to my daring friends, horseback riding is small potatoes. I should get my hands on a bow and do some archery next given the fact that my character Zalika is such a pro.
What has been your greatest influence to write?
Whenever I read a challenging and beautifully written book with dynamic characters and well-imagined world, I want to run straight to my desk and start tapping the keys.
Tell us something that we might be surprised to learn about you.
- If there were a surgery to add gills so I could breathe underwater, I’d line up for it. (Blame E. Nesbit’s novel Wet Magic I read at age nine).
- I ice-skated on the Baltic Sea when I was four years old.
- I usually do some kind of outreach with each book launch. This time I’m raising money for a PlayPump to provide clean drinking water to a village in sub-Saharan Africa. There’s lots of info about this terrific organization at PlayPumps International. Please do come visit my pump on the Stealing Death: Water For Life challenge page.
At my writing desk I’m continuing the world building – returning to Zolya for a second book with Kipp, returning to Wilde Island for the second medieval fantasy following Dragon’s Keep entitled Bound By Three, Dial Books 2010. And I’m revising Wind Taken sequel to The Beast of Noor, which will be out with Egmont USA in 2010.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Without you a book is a box with an artistic cover and pages covered with little black squiggles. Reader + book = story. You are the reason I write.
For more information about Janet Lee Carey and her books, please visit her website here.
I have a copy of Stealing Death (ARC) for a giveaway.
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Contest ends @ midnight (CST) November 3, 2009. U.S. and Canada Residents Only (Sorry!)