Elias: Welcome, Della.
Della: I'm honoured you're interviewing me. And your moustache is the greatest.
Elias: As a child you grew up on a farm in Montana. Did you grow cabbages there?
Della: I only remember one time we grew cabbage and my mom tried to make sauerkraut. She had this HUGE stoneware crock that she mixed the most vile smelling stuff imaginable. We put the crock outside around by the side of the house as far from the windows as we could and it still smelled like something died. My brother and I would circle the crock, holding our fingers tightly over our noses and dare each other to take in a deep breath as we hung our heads over the crock. I never won the bet and to this day I don't like sauerkraut. My father must have felt the same way because we never grew cabbages again!
Elias: How has living on a farm, riding on horses, breeding slugs and throwing cabbages helped you in shaping and creating your stories?
Della: I guess the sheer isolation of growing up and living in the boonies, made me a very imaginative person. I spent a lot of time as a child at the creek telling stories to the turtles. They weren't very appreciative of my story-telling skills. When the turtles bored of storytelling, I would make up songs for them. I didn't get to breed slugs on the farm, but we had plenty of prairie dogs. Does that count?
Elias: When you longed to live the big city life you chose to go to Texas. Why didn't you choose to go to New York City or Camberwell or even, Maputo?
Della: I grew up in one of the least populated states in the union. I couldn't even imagine living in huge city like NYC, although now it is one of my fave places to visit. Texas seemed like a logical step up without being a continent away. Also, my grandparents were snowbirds and wintered in South Texas and summered in Minnesota. Anything my grandparents did was super awesome to me. In fact, two of the characters in my book are named after them. When you see the name Archie in my book, that was my grandfather's name, and Irene was my grandmother's.
I had to look up Maputo and Camberwell on google. I only wish I knew of those places when I made my decision to move. I might have lived somewhere else. :)
Elias: In your book Spirit Warriors: The Concealing, the four main characters can move their spirits into the bodies of various animals. None of them move their spirits into the bodies of slugs. Why not? Are you a sluggist? Why did you choose those particular animals?
Della: LOL, This is how racism rumors get started! I am not racist towards slugs. I don't particularly like them, but I don't wish them dead. Well maybe just a little dead. Maybe I better stop, before I get in trouble. :)
Each animal was picked for the power they wield in the Native American world and to match the personality of the character. Ollie is one of the characters. He is fun-loving, mischievous, smart, and crafty. His animal the coyote, Zephyr, is believed by the Native Americans to have these same attributes. By the end of the series, you will see the powers of each animal.
Elias: What can you tell us about Native American magic? Any spells that you can teach me that I can use on my neighbour, Dieter?
Della: No spells, but you could make a fetish. The Native Americans would carve an animal form out of wood or stone. They believed the fetish had a spirit of its own that would protect the owner. I'm thinking a slug fetish might do the job. Let me know how it goes.
Elias: Will there be a sequel to Spirit Warriors: The Concealing? Perhaps Spirit Warriors: The Furry Moustache?
Della: Actually there is a sequel and it is due out late June 2014. The name is Spirit Warriors: The Scarring. There will be a total of 5 books and can I say maybe possibly someday on the furry mustache?
Elias: Would you consider writing a novel about the Wild West featuring Billy the Slug as a notorious outlaw?
Della: Possibly, maybe we could work together on that one. I'll bring the Wild West experience and you bring the slugs!
Elias: When you go biking across places like the Golden Gate Bridge, do you go by push-bike?
Della: Actually I rode the traditional bike, but my friends had one with a motor. I'm not sure it helped because you still had to push the @#*&^ thing up the hill to get to the bridge.
Elias: If you need help with your coffee addiction my slugs can contaminate your coffee granules. After which, you'll never go near it again! Would you like their assistance?
Della: Can I pass on the slugs contaminating my coffee grounds? People don't seem to like me when I go without my coffee!
Elias: Which other books do you plan to write about Elias Zapple?
Della: How about Cabbage Killer: Making sauerkraut with Elias? Or Slugs Unite, a Story of Elias's Revenge. Feel free to use either one. :)
Thank you, Della.
Spirit Warriors: The Concealing
Sixteen-year-old Emme Belrose has it all: four best friends, a horse of her own, a hidden tepee hangout, and a blossoming romance with tall and handsome Charlie. These friends also have a secret. They can move their spirits into animal bodies: an osprey, a mustang, a grizzly, a mountain lion and a coyote. But when Charlie, who has a gift for seeing the future, has a vision of Emme drowning in the icy Yellowstone River, the Spirit Warriors must train their animal bodies to kill an enemy they know is coming… but know nothing about. Suspenseful, romantic, and awash in Native American magic, Spirit Warriors captures the tragic enchantment of the American West—and confirms the power of friendship.
Elias: Welcome, Katherine.
Katherine: You're my hero!
Elias: As you're only around 5ft tall, are you afraid that one of my slugs might trample you?
Katherine: D’you know, that’s a real risk…my little legs don’t walk so fast, so I bet I wouldn’t be able to outrun your slugs!
I don’t mind being short – I’m used to it! Mind you, it can be a bit embarrassing trying to find a tall person to reach something off the top shelf. I reckon all supermarkets should have Ikea stools in their aisles so shorties like me can get their own groceries.
Elias: Tell us about Granny Rainbow. Wouldn't Slug Rainbow be better?
Katherine: Rainbow slugs…you’ve just given me an idea for a new story.
I love rainbows and rainbow colours, so the story of Granny Rainbow began when I had the idea of someone who wanted to steal colour; Granny, a lady with a house full of coloured powders, was the one who’d get the colour back.
The original story was written for a charity anthology ‘Reading is Magic’ in aid of the NSPCC. When he read the finished story, my son said I ought to write a story for every colour of the rainbow, so I did. The Granny Rainbow book has seven short stories in it, each one just long enough for a bedtime read regardless of whether a child’s reading it for themselves or having it read to them.
That’s something I wanted very much for Granny – that she could be listened to as well as read - because so many children enjoy stories but aren’t necessarily good enough readers to manage reading them alone. And sharing stories is brilliant fun! I’d even read them to your slugs!
Elias: Does this particular granny like to throw cabbages?
Katherine: I’ve not asked her! I think she’d be up for it though, as she’s got a twinkle in her eye in most of the stories.
Elias: Why is Granny Rainbow not available on Amazon? Afraid of the competition from the great Elias Zapple?
Katherine: Hehe! Nothing to do with competition, Elias! Granny is the only publication I’m involved with that isn’t on Amazon – my other work is all listed there. The reason it’s not listed just yet is that Amazon needs an ISBN number, and we’re waiting at the moment for that registration to go through. Hopefully, it will be listed in the future, but you still won’t be able to buy it from Amazon direct; it’ll probably point you to my website or the bookshops (assuming they want to carry on stocking it).
The other reason why it’s not been automatically listed is because *whispers* I didn’t use CreateSpace! It was important to me, personally, to be able to support local businesses in creating this book, so every aspect of this book has been done locally – illustration, cover design, publishing, printing and the launch all involved local people and local businesses. Yay for the little man, rather than the mega-business!
Elias: Tell us about the process you went through in getting your books into local bookshops. Do you have you own PR slugs?
Katherine: An army of PR slugs! Oh, I wish! It would mean I didn’t have to do all the legwork – or slimework in their case!
The first thing to stress is that I knew I had to make Granny Rainbow the best I could – quality look, quality writing, and be professional in my approach to the business owners. I made enquiries in advance of publication to drum up interest and plugged the ‘local author’ bit pretty hard. I kept an eye on certain shop facebook pages to maintain contact, and finally went to see them with a copy of Granny Rainbow in my hand. I’m lucky that my publisher has contacts with the local branch of Waterstones, but Granny’s not stocked there…yet. Fingers crossed.
Elias: You're also a short story author. What's the appeal of writing short stories? Lack of willpower to write longer ones?
Katherine: I have to say I love writing both novels and short stories. To date I have written two complete novels for children, have a third half-written, and outlines for four more to continue a series if one of the two completed novels ever sees the light of day. I enjoy creating longer stories, getting to know my characters and watching them do unexpected things to add to the storyline.
Short stories appeal because of the variety and challenge. Variety-wise, I’ve written horror, comedy, romance, sci-fi and fan-fic, to name but a few genres I’ve played with. I love how a simple thing can spark a train of thought and develop into something original. Like the time I saw a clear plastic guitar in the music shop and thought ‘The Crystal Guitar’…or a picture of a beautiful peacock-like fantasy bird and came up with ‘The Feather of Flemantoll’. Both these stories are still locked inside my head, but they will get written. The challenge for me is to make the story complete; I get really cross with stories that leave me hanging, so I tend to write a definite ending rather than leaving my reader guessing. To date, all my published work has been short stories…
Elias: I read about you hitting innocent concrete blocks with a spade and now having tendonitis. Why hit concrete blocks? Perhaps you should try throwing cabbages instead?
Katherine: Throwing cabbages might have done less damage! The problem with this particular concrete block is that it was hiding near the bramble I was trying to dig out…
Fortunately the rest, painkiller and splint route seems to be working, and I’m still able to type – hooray!
Elias: How does living in the East Midlands inspire your writing? I've found the beautiful East Midlands Airport particularly inspiring over the years.
Katherine: I, too, have spent much time at EMA over the years. When I’m a superceleb author, no doubt I will use it even more when I fly out to film premieres in my private jet.
I love where I live. I’m a five minute walk from a busy market town centre if I want to people-watch. I’m ten minutes away from a lovely brookpath walk that will take me into the woods or a twenty-minute drive from some of the most wonderful countryside and a deerpark, if I want to get in touch with nature. And only about twenty minutes on the train from three major cities with fabulous shopping centres. What more could I ask for? If I can’t find a story or two in that mix, I’m done for!
Elias: Your first novel is called StarMark. Is it similar to Star Wars?
Katherine: My son (big Star Wars fan) read this over my shoulder and said ‘Not at all!’
The StarMark is like a birthmark on the skin; Lord Terenz, the overlord of Koltarn, has one but it’s black, not gold like it should be for a man in his position. (Yep – gold stars on your skin, how cool is that?!) The story is about Irvana, an orphan girl who goes to work in his palace…and what she finds out. But I can’t tell you any more or I’ll spoil the story!
I’m hoping this one will be published next – I’m working on polishing it up (again) at the moment.
Elias: Finish this sentence: Mr Snazzy is the greatest moustache because...
Katherine: Mr Snazzy is the greatest moustache because he always looks like a great big smile.
Thank you, Katherine.
Katherine's website & blog.
My moustache is great, my slugs are great, my cabbages are great and Elias Zapple is meh.