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And now, I'm pleased to bring you award winning fantasy author Janet Lee Carey for today's FREEBIE FRIDAY. Janet is the author of MOLLY'S FIRE, WENNY HAS WINGS, THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOEY FLYNN, THE BEAST OF NOOR, and STEALING DEATH. She's also a founding founding member of the Readergirlz book community. She lives and writes near Seattle, Washington.
I could tell Janet was a kindred spirit when she talked of spending her school time gazing out the window, imagining worlds and what-ifs instead of concentrating on her schoolwork. She says you can spot a writer as a child by these "warning signs" - 1. Overactive imagination 2. Library fines (which indicate the child does not want to part with their beloved books - not that they have lost them!) 3. A good deal of staring out the window. I can relate.
Janet's newest book, STEALING DEATH was just recently released to rave reviews. You can see the book party photos here. And, for all of us who missed the party, let's celebrate a little more, right here on the blog. Here's a little book blurb:
“I want that soul sack,” he said suddenly.
“What?” the witch asked around the scrap of meat she was chewing.
“I want it so no one I love will ever, ever, ever have to go inside again.”
“It’s not for mortal hands to have.” The witch spat out a bit of bone.
“You know magic. Give me the power to steal the sack.”
When fire steals his family from him, Kipp is left with only his little sister to protect as best he can, and he’s determined that death will not come to her–or to the girl he loves but can never approach.
But who would dare to master death? As Kipp finds out, it’s complicated, and possession of the soul sack is no guarantee of success.
Dragon’s Keep author Janet Lee Carey has crafted a stirring and original fantasy set in a harsh and beautiful desert landscape, in which a young man who has lost everything finds the strength within himself to care for those he loves–and to allow those he cannot keep close to him to take a path he cannot follow.
Here's what School Library Journal had to say about STEALING DEATH:
With this novel, Carey goes beyond common fantasy fare in several dimensions. Unusual for this day and age of series that go on and on, Stealing Death is a complete story in a single volume. “Pales” are immigrants who have fled south from their northern continent’s troubles and who are looked down upon by the native Zolyans. One morning Kipp, 17, leaves his little brother in charge of lighting the stove so that he can attempt to capture a wild horse whose sale might save the family farm during this time of drought, when there is no money to pay the landlord. He fails and returns to find his home engulfed in flames. Kipp manages to save his sister, but not his parents or brother. It is at this moment that his Naqui powers come to him, allowing him to see the Gwali, “the collector of souls.” Kipp cannot stop his family’s souls from entering the Kwaja, the Gwali’s sack, but vows to do whatever it takes to steal it and prevent others he loves from dying. Steal it he does, but that is only the beginning. Carey’s wonderful language weaves family, love, wise teachers, and petty villains together in a vast landscape. It calls to mind Hilari Bell’s “Farsala” trilogy (S & S), but this is truly a unique work. Verdict: This is quite simply fantasy at its best–original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving.
And now for the interview:
What inspired you to write Stealing Death?
There were several sources for Stealing Death. I like reading the old fairytales and the Brothers Grimm stories have a few interesting tales that deal with tricking Death. But a number of years ago I got chills when I discovered the Appalachian folktale about a young man who captures Death in a sack and hangs him in a tree. The day I found that story I knew I’d work the idea into a novel. Of course I planned to put my own spin on it. The idea remained underground for years until it began to emerge in my YA fantasy The Beast of Noor. There you’ll see my first Death Catcher, the Darro. Quote from pg. 19 “All shadow and bone the Darro was, being Death’s own man, and he rode his dark horse through the storm right here to Enness Isle.” After writing that scene, I still craved an entire novel to expand the story. When I journaled my way into Kipp’s unique problems created by the loss of his family, and his love for Zalika, I knew I was ready to write Stealing Death.
Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
Kipp is loosely based on my youngest son. I say loosely because each character has to unique. Half the fun of writing is discovering what a character will do with all the challenges and frustrations of the plot. I want the character to take action, to fight back, to be passionate, to surprise me. If a character’s reactions aren’t interesting or surprising, I know the story is in trouble.
What excites you?
Giving back excites me. When I was researching drought-ridden lands for the Stealing Death setting I saw a lot of suffering from the lack of clean drinking water. I knew I had to respond. Happily I found PlayPumps International a charity organization that builds clean water systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. The pump is designed as a child’s merry-go-round. Children at play. Water pumps. We created the Stealing Death Water for Life Challenge for readers inspired to help with this fantastic project. Anyone is welcome to pop over to the site, learn more about PlayPumps, and make a tax deductable donation large or small if they want to pitch in. Our goal is to raise $14,000.00, enough to build a new pump! I’ll be talking about PlayPumps International at my readings and school visits this year. I’m really excited about it.
Do you have any special writing rituals or totems to connect with your muse?
I gather symbolic things for each book. I have some dragons (not the large kind which would be problematic in suburbia) just small statues. I also have a black sack for the soul sack Kwaja from Stealing Death. But I don’t strap Kwaja to my leg as Kipp does. Yikes!
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
At age four I ice-skated on the Baltic Sea. I still love it and ice-skated in the park to celebrate my birthday last year.
What's your favorite quote?
~Sometimes I go about pitying myself. And all the while I am being carried across the sky by beautiful clouds. ~
-- Ojibway saying
What are you working on now?
I’m drafting a sequel to Stealing Death, raising the stakes for Kipp and Zalika. Revising the medieval fantasy Bound By Three as a companion read to Dragon’s Keep. The story follows four friends who dress as lepers and go on the run to escape the witch hunter. Bound By Three is due out with Dial Books 2011. I’m also revising a sequel to The Beast of Noor due out with Egmont USA 2010. All three are in the pipeline, but I focus fully on one novel at a time. If I didn’t I’d go nuts.
What is an interesting writing quirk of yours?
I have a Tarot deck I don’t use for readings, just for the pictures. Sometimes when I need to challenge my imagination, I flip a Tarot card and force myself to use something from the card in the next scene whether it’s a sword, a black swan, a wolf . . . whatever. The challenge keeps me on my toes. If I were writing a modern novel, I might challenge my imagination to put something in the next scene from the newspaper, magazine, or a found object from the street. The plotline of Bound By Three changed in a thrilling and unforeseen way when I pulled The Hanged Man from the Tarot deck!
Milk Chocolate or Dark?
Milk chocolate with almonds.
You can read more about Janet on her website: http://www.janetleecarey.com
Want to chat with Janet and other writers in the readergirlz circle of stars? Readergirlz is hosting first annual rgz Homecoming Party on readergirlz blog Monday, November 30 at 6:00 Pacific Standard Time/9:00 Eastern Time. Come join us.
If you would like to be entered to win a signed copy of STEALING DEATH, please leave a comment below, telling us what you daydream about when you stare out the window. This drawing will remain open until Wednesday, October 21.