A few weeks ago K.N. Lee released her debut novel The Chronicles Of Koa: Netherworld, which is already gathering great reviews. I first met K.N. Lee on Twitter and thought this book looked like just my sort of thing. I was busy trying to order a copy when lo and behold! Up she popped on Facebook as well looking for people to read and review the book. I jumped at the chance and we’ve been chatting ever since. I was very flattered as a new blogger and writer when she agreed to be interviewed on my blog. Here’s what we talked about:
Where were you born, and brought up? Where do you live now?
I was born in Chicago, Illinois. My mother and I moved to Atlanta when I was four and later to Charlotte, N.C. when I was 13. I really dreaded moving to North Carolina, but it quickly grew on me.
When did you start writing, and what led you to do it?
I started writing when I was in the second grade. I was obsessed with books and felt like I could create my own. So, I started cutting up cardboard boxes, wrapping wallpaper around it and voila, I had hardcover books. I drew my own pictures and started creating my own fairy tales.
I used to create my own books that way too! You say you are an avid world traveller. Why do you enjoy travel so much?
I enjoy exploring new lands, cultures, and languages. I’m an adventurer, and I have an insatiable desire to absorb as much new experiences as I can. My trip to South Korea was a huge changing point in my life. There was a moment of total culture shock, but the people were so friendly that I fell in love. I think that trip made me a little less shy.
Who and/or what influences you as a writer?
Terry Goodkind, Stephen King, and Anne Rice are big influences of mine. I was introduced to fantasy by Mr. Goodkind, when I picked up his novel, The Stone of Tears. Later, Tolkien also inspired me to create my own creatures instead of recycling the same ones we’ve seen for centuries. Also, my dreams are huge influences on my writing. I’ve been keeping a dream journal since high school. Most of my stories come directly from the elaborate nightmares that I have.
How do you balance writing, travelling and other life commitments?
No matter how busy I am, I always find time to write. I always keep a notebook and pen in my purse for those times when I get an idea or see something interesting. From 14 hour writing days, to half an hour after work days, I never sacrifice writing.
You have just published “The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld”. Introduce us to Koa and her world…
Welcome to a world where vampires must register, humans sell their services as pets, and angels patrol the Earth. This is Koa’s world. As a half-blood (half human and half vampire) Koa and the other agents of the Netherworld division keep order in the mortal world. Prepare to be introduced to a new species of vampire, and original creatures created from my darkest nightmares. Prepare to embark on a journey to the Netherworld.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
The idea actually came from two dreams that I had. One of the dreams was of a girl who was home alone with her cat. Someone knocked on her door and when she answered it, he tried to hurt her. The twist was that this intruder had made a mistake. This was the wrong girl to mess with. The girl in my dream in turn killed the intruder, turned to her cat and nonchalantly said, “Now look at this mess that I have to clean up.” Then, the cat talked back to her. Amazing dream! The first chapter was pretty much laid out for me right there! I love the idea that people aren’t always what they seem. Koa is that kind of girl. You do not want to mess with her. The second dream was pretty much the chapter with Raven and Al!
Are any of your characters based on you or someone you know?
Koa is the girl that I wish I was. Decisive, feisty, independent, and fearless. Halston is my dream guy. Raven is based off of my black cocker spaniel…named Raven. Everyone else has a measure of personality traits that come from nightmares, friends, and family.
Koa’s world is filled with amazing and scary creatures. How did you come up with the fantastical inhabitants of the Netherworld?
I absolutely loved creating the creatures of the Netherworld! I feel like vampires, werewolves, and the like are so overused nowadays, that the world is craving something new. Syths, Scayors, Jems, War-Breeders, and my version of ‘vamps’ are original creatures that came from nightmares I’ve had.
You mention getting ideas from dreams and nightmares a lot. Are your nightmares scary at the time? How do you cope with them?
Yes, my nightmares frighten me most of the time. I sometimes wake up crying and afraid to go back to sleep, but I’ve learned to embrace them. How can I not appreciate my mind handing me cool stories while I sleep? I tell myself that they are not real, and hurry to write them down before they fade from memory. Once I write them down, it further reminds me that the nightmare was nothing more than my imagination giving me literary gold!
The book ends on a cliffhanger. Can you tell us anything about the second book (without giving too much away, of course!) Do you know how many books there will be in The Chronicles of Koa?
The second book, Lyrinian Blade, will be released Christmas 2013! I honestly cannot wait. I would love to release it today, but alas, I must send it to the editor and revise it again. In this book there we will finally meet Greggan, the king of the Central Dominance in the Netherworld. Bund will cause major havoc, and Koa will be tested in new ways. I’m sure everyone is curious about what happens to Halston, and I don’t think anyone will see what I have in store coming! I also look forward to developing the secondary characters a little more…especially Ian. There is a huge surprise about Ian!
I’m looking forward to finding out more about what happens to Ian! Did you plan the book meticulously? Did your characters or the story ever go off in an unexpected direction?
The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld started as a web series. I would write and release a chapter a week. Then, I figured that it would be much better as a book, so I started filling in Koa’s background and events leading to her journey to the Netherworld. I did use an outline, but more of the time the characters steered the plot away from my outline!
Who is your favourite character – besides Koa of course?!
Halston! By far, Koa’s boss is my favourite character. He has such an interesting backstory that I cannot wait to explore in the upcoming books! I think I’ve created my dream guy. He’s blonde, British, and creates cool weapons. I’m sure other girls will agree 😉
Being British myself, I would have to agree! What other writing do you do? Any other novels in the pipeline?
I also write short stories (mostly horror) and poems. My high-fantasy trilogy, Rise of the Flame is complete. Welcome to a world divided. There are seven races, four realms, and one human girl meant to bring them all together in peace…or war. Meet Lilae, a fire manipulating warrior that has been hunted since the day she was born. I cannot wait to introduce my life’s work to the world!
I can’t wait either! What is your writing routine? Do you have any writing rituals?
I try to write 1000 words every day. Most of the time, I can write more. I usually turn on Celtic music, or movie soundtracks, such as Braveheart and Inception. I’ll even burn incense or candles whenever I’m writing about a foreign land. It actually helps!
I often feel I need to step away from writing as I’m going cross-eyed! How do you relax when you’re not writing?
I know what you mean! I admit, I am a big gamer…so I’ll play Sims 3 or Lineage (my favourite MMORPG.) I also love taking long walks with my dog, going to yoga classes, or riding my bike. Sometimes I’ll even paint or sketch.
I love your website writelikeawizard.com, where you set other authors writing challenges. What led you to do that?
I’m glad that you love it. It has become pretty popular. The concept started with my daily writing prompts on http://www.facebook.com/knycolelee. I would put up a prompt every morning and my friends would write creative stories with them. I would then post those stories to my website. Soon, actual authors would participate and I got the idea that it would be an excellent promotion strategy to help other authors out!
Do you have any advice for other writers or would-be writers?
Easy! Keep writing. I hear that so much from fellow authors that I interview, but it is so true. Writers must write. Never give up what makes you happy. Also, if you’re writing a novel, it’s never too early to start working on your author platform.
Who are your favourite authors? (I’ve made this plural because I can never name just one favourite of anything!)
For fantasy, my favourite authors are Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Terry Goodkind. However, I am also a huge classic British literature fan! I love Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, (She’s also Koa’s favourite author) and Charles Dickens.
How did you go about getting your book published? Do you have an agent?
I am in the process of finding an agent! I want to go the traditional route for Rise of the Flame. Lilae’s story has been in my head since I was a child, and I feel that she deserves the best! Nonetheless, I am quite impatient, and securing a publisher takes a great deal of time, therefore I decided to use Amazon KDP to publish The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld. Still, I wanted my novel to be as polished as possible, so I have an excellent editor, Ann Wicker of East Oak Media, an awesome graphic designer, Brandon Jackson, and a few great girls in my critic group. The amazing author of the Roswell series and former writer for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, Melinda Metz is one of my beta readers. To have her call my characters and weapons cool, blew my mind!
You are having a release party for The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld on 15th June. What does that involve? Can I come? 😉
Yes! I am so excited. Of course you can come. All are welcome. There are details on the website, http://www.thechroniclesofkoa.com. I will have local media, a photographer, and catering. More importantly, I will be signing paperback copies of The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld. Yippee!
Unfortunately as I’m in Scotland I won’t be able to make it to the party in person, but I’ll be there in spirit! Thank you so much to K.N. Lee for this very enjoyable interview.
Buy The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld from Amazon here
For more on K.N. Lee go to: