What better way to celebrate the fall Equinox than with my new friend and emerging author: K.K. Allen!
K.K. writes fantasy romance novels for all ages. Though her books are characterized as being "young adult/new adult" fiction, they really speak to all ages. It’s always so impressive to me to find a writer who can connect with everyone, who can take that “first love” and make me feel it again, and K.K. does just that.
Please welcome: K.K. Allen.
Let’s start at the beginning: how long have you been writing? How’d you start? What made you want to write? Where do your ideas come from? You know…the basic questions!
My love for writing began as soon as I could read, and I often fantasized about writing a book others could get lost in. At 10 years old, desperate to learn to type, I pulled out my mom's old typewriter and began to master the hunt and peck method as I copied the words from a Children's picture book. Fast-forward two years later, I had become a fairly decent typist, but when I sat down to write a book of my own I picked up a pen and a notebook. For some reason, it was easier to let my thoughts flow when I wasn't strapped to a computer. At the time, my writing was heavily influenced by all of the teen angst that surrounded me and it's still something I enjoy writing about, I've just adapted my writing for an older audience. Everything around me inspires, but art and nature are themes that stimulate my senses the most.
With those out of the way, I have to say, as soon as you said gods and goddesses, I was hooked. I’m such a geek for mythology that I soak it up as much as I can. What made you combine mythology and magic and the sea in Enchanted?
Great question. Honestly, I've always had a thing for witch stories. As a kid, I was obsessed with The Worst Witch. I had it on Beta! Most of you may not know what that is, but it's an older form of cassette tape. The Craft and Teen Witch were also favorites of mine. I can't help but think The Summer Solstice Enchanted was influenced in some way by all three, except it didn't start out that way. When I initially started writing this series, it was purely a Contemporary Romance . . . and then something happened. I began toying with the idea of adding a mythical element, but I wanted my characters to be as realistic as possible. It was 2008, on the day of the summer solstice when it all began to click. I began researching the day and how it was celebrated around the world by all cultures and religions. I was captivated by the facts and myths of midsummer, which has been one of the most important solar events throughout the evolution of humankind. The Summer and Winter solstice, along with the Autumnal and Spring equinox, are times to appreciate nature and the balance of life. Tying the Greek Mythology into my story just seemed natural at this point, as its purpose is to explain the origins of the world.
The Equinox, book two of the Summer Solstice series, has so much going on in it. It’s really well paced and a never-put-down read from start to finish. But I’m curious, you seem to be playing with some really interesting themes outside of witches and wizards and magic in this book. Does pollution of our waters relate to you beyond the confines of the story? Is it something you have an interest in as an activist as well or is it just a love of the sea?
I've always been infatuated with the beauty of the seasons and nature and I'll always be an advocate for taking care of our environment. It's upsetting to see how careless people can be at times, so it's definitely something I'm passionate about. I'd love to encourage teenagers to take a stand for the things my characters stand against, like bullying, and littering, because these are all things we have the power to change through voice and action. However, I didn't want to come across as preachy. These books are meant to be fun, and an escape from reality in a sense, so the storyline of pollution within the Equinox is more to show what Enchanters are, what they care about, and what their purpose is.
What made you choose to write New Adult/Teen fiction? Did you find it important to make that decision before you started writing your novels or was that the way they turned out after you were finished?
This story is very much a Coming of Age story as well as Young Adult, or New Adult as some call it. It was important to show Katrina's growth throughout the series, which allows readers to better connect with her. Because of her age and the story of first love, making this a Young Adult novel just seemed natural.
I guess that leads nicely into your writing process in general. Do you have a particular method you use when going about writing your novels?
My writing process begins with an outline that I change about a hundred times before I feel good about the concept of a story. As I grow the outline and build upon the structure, I change and rearrange things until ideas click. Even then, if I feel something is off when I sit down and start writing (still with pen and paper, I might add), I allow myself to change things within the story. Once I'm in writing mode it's important to put myself in my character's shoes to live and breathe what they do. Since my story takes place near the places I mention, I make a point of visiting those places to make my descriptions as real as possible. If I can't believe it, neither will my readers.
Now, my favorite thing about “New Adult/YA/Teen/Coming of Age” fiction is that it really has appeal to all age groups and all readers. What makes The Summer Solstice: Enchanted and The Equinox and, more importantly, The Descendants, so relatable?
Even with the magical aspect of my books, adults love the connection they feel to Kat. We've all been that awkward teenager. We've all dealt with bullies. We've all experienced first love and can remember how amazing the simplicities of a relationship were at that age. Also, I think the fact that I write in first person allows readers to connect with Kat better, because they get to read her every thought and feel everything she feels.
Can you give any hints about The Descendants? When is it going to be released? And what’s going to happen with Alec and Johnny and Kat?!?
I'll be posting The Descendants cover and date reveal on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/authorkkallen, TONIGHT, September 23 at 9PM ET. I encourage everyone to check it out and share the news!
As far as hints . . . let's just say all three characters are definitely in The Descendants, I just can't tell you in what capacity. I can also say that while Enchanted is 15% romance, and The Equinox is 50% romance, The Descendants is 75% romance :) So, if you're into that, then you'll want to catch up on the series and get The Descendants when it comes out.
And lastly: do you have any advice for other authors out there, either just getting started or looking for a few helpful hints?
Aspiring authors! Read a lot, write a lot, and when you feel the spark of a story, just go for it. Every author has a different method of coming up with story ideas, writing, and editing. Also, understand your audience before you write and begin creating your online presence by blogging, connecting with other authors and readers, and building a network for yourself. It's fulfilling work if you're doing it for the right reasons, so enjoy the experience!
A huge Thank You to K.K. for taking the time to talk with me. I know I can’t wait until her cover reveal and for the third book in her series to come out. The Descendants is sure to have me on the edge of my seat just as the Enchanted and The Equinox did. In the meantime, and for that cover reveal, check out her links below to get all the latest news about K.K. and what she’s doing.
And, as a special treat, she’s letting me post a brief excerpt of Book One, Enchanted, on my site for everyone to enjoy!
SLXL Enchanted Excerpt:
I sit in front of the mahogany vanity that towers before me. It’s a monument much like everything else in my room. If the objects aren’t generous in size then they make up for it in their beauty and fragility.
Staring at my new reflection in the large oval mirror, I notice my face is fairer than I’m used to and it glows magnificently. My eyes are a bright and unusual shade of silver. My dark brown hair is soft, long, thick, and flowing down past my shoulders. I take in my groomed features with awe.
I reach for the glass, to touch the girl in the mirror, and watch every move of my hand as it creeps toward the glass. My reflection follows in perfect synchrony. Together, our hands rise to our faces and move a strand of hair from our heads.
My lashes are longer. My nails, now they’re near my face, appear manicured and long—and I notice it.
A necklace lies across my neck as if made for me, but not just any necklace; the green stone reflects the light of the sun now streaming in through the massive balcony windows. I move to touch the necklace, lifting it gently from my neck.
My heart pounds like a steady drum as the image in the mirror smiles at me with an almost evil glimmer in its eye. I gasp. My image does not gasp with me but smiles even brighter. There are silver streaks of madness in her eyes that freeze me. Her eyes narrow and turn, so they no longer meet mine. They stare over my shoulder to where an antique vase sits, laden with fresh flowers. I watch it rise with every move of my reflection’s finger.
A terrifying scream comes from the mirror and I jam my palms to the sides of my head to muffle the horrible sound. My image isn’t smiling anymore. Her mouth is grotesque, stretched to the sound of her scream. The vase shakes violently until, with a high pitched ring, it shatters in midair, spraying my bedroom with glass.
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