Monday, December 31, 2012

Author Interview #146: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

What Kills MeOur interview today is with award-winning journalist and young adult novelist Wynne Channing. She is the author of the top-rated bestseller (#5 in occult, September) What Kills Me. What Kills Me won the reader’s choice award at the inaugural Blogger Book Fair 2011. A brief book description before we get to the interview: An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive. How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?

Interview with Wynne Channing

1. What specific themes did you want to emphasize throughout the novel?
What Kills Me is a supernatural adventure about bravery and survival. Sometimes you have no control over bad things that happen. But you can be strong and endure.
2. Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
I believe all authors mine their own lives and personalities for inspiration. Definitely, my heroine, Zee is like me. While I’ve never been hunted to the death by every vampire in the world, we’ve had similar upbringings. We both share a self-deprecating sense of humor, and an openness with strangers. Our fathers address themselves in the third person and our best friends rescued us from bullies. We both talk when we’re nervous, and take time falling in love. But we are also very different. I’m a lot more sarcastic and pessimistic. (The coins in my swear jar could buy a car.) And I’m definitely not as brave.
3. How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
Zee’s journey in the novel is epic. She goes from being a naive 17-year-old exchange student to becoming a “monster.” Not only is Zee hurting from the loss of her family and her old life, but she must struggle to define herself in this dangerous new world. “Was I a vampire wearing an Axelia mask?” She asks herself at one point. But it is her humanity that gives her the strength to fight back.
4. In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of your world view?
As a national newspaper reporter, I’ve had the fortune of meeting a lot of amazing people who’ve done and endured incredible things. That informs my writing. Readers have told me that there is a realism to What Kills Me, which is gratifying because so many parts of it are borrowed from real life. For example, the words that are spoken when my heroine Zee is captured by the vampire empire, are the ones police used after bringing down a notorious serial killer. And the heroism portrayed in my story was inspired by the courage of normal people doing extraordinary things.

5. What is your method for writing a book? A certain amount of hours every day? A certain routine? Are you character/story builder or an outliner or some other method?
Oh, I’m a planner. I plot the entire novel out. Some people wonder if it’s restrictive but once the framework is established, I feel so free to play. I have a lot of admiration for writers who go where the story takes them; but I personally like to see the journey ahead. It helps me plan a super twisty road. I write news stories daily. My novel was a wonderful escape. I wrote it in less than six months, mostly in the middle of the night and on weekends.
6. Favorite book from childhood?
The Witches by Roald Dahl.
All of a sudden, Paolo shrieked. I turned and screamed.
He was burning in the sun. Smoke lifted upward from his writhing body. His face, his hands and chest, were dark red and wet like a skinned animal. Yellow blisters bubbled up all over him and then burst as the skin tore into open wounds. The pus, viscous like tomato pulp, hardened into a brown layer. The sun singed off his thick hair and scabs spread across his scalp.
Still in the shade, I pulled at my chains with all of my strength. Come on! The bolts loosened. I saw them spring up with every jerk. Paolo was now unrecognizable, covered in a smoldering, crackling charcoal crust. He had stopped moving. He was no longer screaming. Through the haze I could see that the door was already bathed in sunlight. I’m going to burn.
I let out a piercing cry and wrenched the chain from the wall. The metal plate shot off and hit Paolo in the head, causing parts of his blackened face to crumble off. His body was starting to disintegrate, like a collapsing sand sculpture.
It’s too late. I looked up and into the sunlight.

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