Friday, April 20, 2012

Interview with Kendall Grey

Please help me welcome Kendall Grey, author of the new Urban Fantasy Series Just Breathe. My review of Inhale is here, and I have to say I loved the uniqueness of it.

Strangers in reality, inseparable in dreams… After years of suffocating under her boss’s scrutiny, whale biologist Zoe Morgan finally lands a job as director of a tagging project in Hervey Bay, Australia. Success Down Under all but guarantees her the promotion of a lifetime, and Zoe won’t let anything—or anyone—stand in her way. Not the whale voices she suddenly hears in her head, not the ex who won’t take no for an answer, and especially not the gorgeous figment of her imagination who keeps saving her from the fiery hell of her dreams. Gavin Cassidy hasn’t been called to help a human Wyldling in over a year, which is fine by him. Still blaming himself for the death of his partner, he keeps the guilt at bay by indulging in every excess his rock star persona affords. That is, until he’s summoned to protect Zoe from hungry Fyre Elementals and learns his new charge is the key to restoring order in the dying Dreaming. He never expects to fall for the feisty Dr. Morgan…nor does he realize he may have to sacrifice the woman he loves to save an entire country. 

   How did the concept of Inhale happen?
While I was on a whale watching trip in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2008, I read "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer and decided, "I could write a book." Wonder how many times you've heard that one. :-) I'd been thinking a lot about dreams and how cool it would be to write a story with a dream world as a backdrop. The whale biologist heroine was a given, thanks to my obsession with humpbacks, and what hotter hero could you have than a tattooed and multi-pierced Australian rock star?

I churned out a 215,000 word manuscript (that's the equivalent of almost 3 adult-length novels) in three months. It was NOTHING like the published version -- no Elementals or Sentinels, just Gavin, Zoe, whales, and the Dreaming. It was god-awful. But everyone has to start somewhere, and I'm really proud of how far the book and I have come. :-)
What made you decide to give the proceeds of Inhale to whale education?
I fell in love with whales the first time I saw one in Gloucester in 2006. After that, I became obsessed and traveled the world to see them. Being a former teacher, I started an organization to teach kids about whales and the challenges they face. I still go into schools and do whale talks, demonstrations -- whatever the teachers want. When I finished writing INHALE and planned to publish it, I realized the whales needed money way more than I did, so I chose to donate all my profits to educating people about whales. I have a particular group I'd love to work with, but I'm still negotiating on that. As soon as I get it settled, I'll announce where the money is going. :-)
Do you have a favorite quote from Zoe and Gavin?
I do! It's actually the last line of the entire trilogy. I think it's best not to spoil it. :-) But...there's a scene in INHALE where Gavin and Zoe are in the Dreaming. She transforms from a tree back into her normal self, but forgets her clothing. She says, "Where are my clothes?" Then Gavin replies, "Freudian dream slip? It's nothing I haven't seen before. You want me naked too?" That scene makes me smile. :-)
If you could describe Inhale in one word, what would it be?
What is the craziest thing you did while writing Inhale?
Decide to self-publish. Ha! I rewrote the book 13 times. Between each iteration, I queried agents and editors, but I got nowhere. My husband had been saying I should self-publish all along. I resisted. The allure of having New York's seal of approval on my book was too strong, and everyone knew that self-published writers sucked. ;-) But when my dream agent rejected the "revise and resubmit" she requested of the full manuscript, I was done with being told no. 

I had gotten close with the dream agent, and INHALE had finaled in a bunch of contests. I didn't think the book was hideously bad. So I hired Heather Howland to freelance edit for me, enlisted Claudia McKinney from Phat Puppy Creations to create an awesome cover, and took on everything else myself. I'm so glad I took this crazy risk because the book is exactly the way I want it. If I had signed my soul away to New York (assuming they'd ever offer me a deal, which is doubtful), I'd have lost creative control and the freedom to experiment. Self-publishing was the right choice for me.

If you could date a character in Inhale, who would it be?
Of course, I'd say Gavin because he's the hero and he's just plain HAWT, in my opinion. But I don't think Zoe would like that. I respect her too much to steal her man. So, I'd go with my second choice, Sinnder. He's unattached, morally ambiguous, and can crank a girl's motor up from zero to sixty in .23 seconds. ;-)
What makes Scarlet and Sinnder such fun villains?
Scarlet has absolutely no morals, no remorse, no care for anyone but herself. That makes writing her super fun. While drafting, I often asked myself, "How far should I take her?" and then I'd push it further. There's one scene in EXHALE, the second book in the trilogy, where Scarlet really pushed the limit. My editor made me cut a bunch of it -- and rightly so. Though it was completely true to Scarlet's psycho character, my readers wouldn't have liked it.Sinnder is fun because you don't quite know what to make of him. Is he bad? Good? Or somewhere in between? Because there are no scenes in INHALE from Sinnder's POV, you really don't know. Readers will get more insight into what makes him tick in EXHALE, and later in the last book, JUST BREATHE. Sinnder is one of my favorite characters in the trilogy. I can't wait for readers to find out more about him.

*Colette's Note: Sinnder was my favorite character in the book just for the reasons mentioned above. I just know he's good!!*

Thanks for having me on your blog, Colette. I had a blast answering these questions! Thank you Kendall for coming! 

Where to find Kendall: