Good Afternoon Ms. Austen, my name is Lori (Lototy here at CTR), and we welcome you to our little corner of the cyber world. For everyone out there, we have the pleasure of speaking with Kaylie Austen, author of Secrets of the French Quarter, part two in the Weres in the City trilogy. Thank you for spending some time with us today Ms Austen.
Your characters in this story have gone from New York City to the big easy of New Orleans. We would really like to get to know you as well as your characters. Where do you hail from, and have you visited the places your characters are roaming?
Thank you so much for having me, I’m very excited. I hail from Austin, TX. I’ve been to NYC a few times in my life, from Harlem to Manhattan but the latter is what I loved. The area that is referred to in my story is an imaginary place in my head: a dark, somewhat lonely corner of Manhattan where the characters can stand out of the crowd. I’ve never been to New Orleans, though I would love to go one day soon. A lot of research went into it. Coincidentally, I soon found out that the same time I was researching and writing about Bourbon St., a doctor whom I work with was actually having dinner there during a medical conference. I thought that was pretty neat!
We would also love to have a little peek into a day in the life of Kaylie Austen. Will you give us a glimpse of what a regular day is like for you, any hobbies, day jobs, or other interests?
I work in the medical field, so my day starts at 5:30 and ends when it ends. I work in endoscopy, and as weird as this may sound, I often times come up with insane action scenes when I’m staring at a screen of someone’s insides! I’m an artist and, like writing, it comes when it wants to come. My favorite drawing is of Gambit from X-Men, and yes, I am that sci-fi chick who waits all year for ComicCon. I have so many interests that play into daily life and writing, from learning languages (seven to date) to studying astro-biology.
The paranormal genre must be so much fun to write. There are virtually no limits to where your imagination can take you. What prompted your foray into this enticing realm?
To be honest, I’ve written so many projects that never went anywhere so I caved and wrote what’s considered to be a popular genre. Before writing this story, I had never read paranormal. I truly ventured outside of my comfort zone and what do you know? At first, this was a difficult genre to conjure up, but once I finished the first in the trilogy, Cajun Spice, the story wouldn’t end. The more that I wrote, the more I realized that there are no rules in this genre, you’re absolutely correct, there are virtually no limits. Now this has become one of my favorite projects and the story keeps going, the twists and turns are unexpected, and nothing can be ruled out.
There are many shape-shifter stories and they come with a multitude of beings. How did you decide on weres as opposed to some other creature?
I knew that I wanted a creature that was robust, aggressive, and insanely ripped but I wanted them to be somewhat conflicted with their pseudo human casing. I also wanted to debunk the werewolf legends, which occurs later in the series.
In the years to come what types of stories do you see yourself writing? Will you stick with the paranormal or branch out into something completely different?
I’ve turned this trilogy of novellas into a novel that adds mystery, affliction, and other paranormal creatures into the mix. I know there is enough in this storyline to carry on a second, third, perhaps fourth book. At this point, I think that may be all the paranormal that is left in me! I would like to return to my sci-fi roots. My husband has been urging me to branch out into mystery, which I think is extremely difficult, but I wouldn’t rule that out.
Secrets of the French Quarter picks up where your first story Cajun Spice lets off, where Kila and Ethan are separated after Ethan leaves for New Orleans. Is the second story a stand alone, or should each one be read sequentially, and why do feel this way?
The Weres in the City Digests weren’t meant to be trilogy digests. Cajun Spice was never intended to be a part of a series; it is a complete story. The other two stories were also written to be stand alones with a brief summarization of what happened in the story prior. So, actually, it can go either way.
This separation becomes very frightening for Kila, both physically and mentally as her dreams manifest into a reality of sorts. Is this intended as solely a premonition, or also a side affect of the separation?
As any love-struck girl can tell you, a sudden separation from the guy of your dreams without closure can be emotionally and physically disturbing, which was part of the case for Kila. As she finds out later in the story, this is also due to her being in mid-flux of the mating habits of a shape-shifter. Something primal was started, and until it’s completed the forces of the paranormal will thrust them together to finish it. As far as the dreams go, she has a unique window into the clandestine world of her lover that something inside of her has pried open. What this is, exactly, is discovered in the next story.
Ethan’s clan in New Orleans seems much more aggressive than the New York City clan, and he must battle with his desires and his duty to the Law. Is there a reason you can give us for this difference in attitude?
The Manhattan clan, which the reader becomes familiar with in Cajun Spice, is a suppressed clan. The Law dictates that there cannot be shifting or feeding within city limits, and this particular clan became so engrossed in their human lives as firefighters, that they pushed aside their true nature. Ethan often times questions their alpha of even being a shifter. Ethan is the most aggressive and notorious of the shifter alphas, which trickles down into the behavior of his Vieux Carre clan. They feed on humans in the nearby bayous regularly, hardly ever touching human food. The more a shifter gives into their primordial counterpart, the more of the animal he retains and the more of a paradox his two identities become. Also, the Manhattan clan has known and befriended Kila for years so they have already forged an illicit relationship with her. They’ve become, if you will, desensitized to humans.
Kila and Ethan are so intense in their feelings for each other. Do you always strive to make your characters so powerful and passionate in their beliefs, and is this a process that you will work on for hours until you get it just right?
Like most of this series, it just sort of happened! Nothing was ever intended except for the genre, and often times I would accidently write something in or I wouldn’t know an aspect would be so relevant or strong until I read it on screen. I think that my fingers typed faster than I could think and it came as a pleasant surprise to realize, oh, that’s where this story is going. The trilogy and the novel wrote itself! It doesn’t usually happen that way and I work on writing strong characters that believe in one thing or another, whether it’s ethics, loyalty, love, or what have you, but not this time.
The third installment in this series is called The District. Would you like to share a sneak preview of what Kila and Ethan have in store for them? And are you working on something else that we should keep an eye out for?
Ethan and Kila will become fugitives for their torrid and forbidden affair, and once again temporarily separated. This time, Kila will be dragged back to Washington, D.C., otherwise known as the District, by the voices in her head. Her dreams and her connection to the paranormal wasn’t a coincidence, something is working inside of her. In her hometown, she discovers what she truly is and this empowers her. I’m not into helpless heroines and Kila ends up being one kick-butt woman! But I admit, the process of realization is startling if not somewhat terrifying. It will add a depth of emotion and further conflict to the characters.
This trilogy has been written into a novel, Immortal Bloodlines, which will be released in 2011. It adds much more to the story that hasn’t been seen in the trilogy and a new creature to my paranormal world. I am working on the sequel to the novel as we speak, Immortality Lost.
Thank you again for taking the time to be with us today. I hope to see your website up and running soon! It will be a great way to track your upcoming work, and get an inside look into such an interesting author. We wish you the best of luck!
Thank you so much!