Here is the second half of my interview with co-authors Carrie Jones and Steve Wedel. Thanks for all the comments so far - and yes, it is a great cover! Be sure to read to the end of the post to find out how you could win an ARC of AFTER OBSESSION.
Gayleen: Carrie, the female protagonist, Aimee is a kayaker. Are you a kayaker too? Have you ever seen scary things down on the river? Do you often incorporate you hobbies into your writing? Are there other similarities between you and Aimee?
Carrie: I kayak. I used to live on the river that the river in the book is based on and yes, I did see some scary things on the river. There's a scene in the book where someone dies that is based very much on real events. I was involved in trying to locate the body. Aimee and I both paint. She is much better at it. Um..... Hm...... There may be other similarities but they are secrets really, things I don't talk about. Mostly because I prefer not to be institutionalized.
I think some of my hobbies occasionally filter into the characters' lives. It's not always the main characters though. The thing is that I have a pretty short boredom stick so I'll try pretty much anything. This makes for a lot of weird random experiences and hobbies. So, sometimes it's hard to find things for my characters to do or be interested in that I haven't once done or been interested in.
Yes, that includes football. I was once an assistant football coach for a youth team. Scariest experience in my life. The head coach liked to make me be the one the kids tackled. He was evil like that.
Gayleen: Steve, what about Alan and the football? Did you ever play football or is that one of your unfulfilled fantasy hobbies?
Steve: I do love me some football! I never played, though. Well, I played in the street and yards, but never on a real team. When I was younger I was a total non-participant in everything. That's something I regret now. Of course, when I was in high school I was pretty scrawny and our team won the state 5A championship that year, so I wouldn't have made the squad, anyway. One of the players, our running back, even went pro for a while.
Gayleen: Alan is Navajo, but he hasn't grown up within the tribe. I found this very interesting since I and many other Oklahomans have some Native ancestry, but no formal tribal affiliation. Was there anything special that prompted you to construct a character with this unique background?
Steve: We wanted an exorcism ritual that wasn't so familiar to our audience. I read a lot of books on possession, mythology, and various religions. I knew the Navajo had an "exorcism" for what they called Ghost Sickness. So, I was thinking of that, and trying to decide what Alan would look like, talk like, etc., and then I thought of one of my former students, an American Indian who played football and who really impressed me by going from a sort of average, don't really care about English sophomore to one of my better senior Advanced Placement students. So, physically, that student provided quite a bit of the look, attitude and voice for Alan.
I don't have any American Indian ancestry, myself, and I was a little nervous writing this character because of that. Also, there's the fact that Oklahoma doesn't have many Navajo, so I had to think of a reason for Alan's mom to have met Alan's father, and that went a long way toward developing her character, which also played a big role in who Alan is. Since his mom didn't know much about his father, it prevented him from being on the rolls, so he had to research his heritage the same way I did, which was a convenient cover.
Carrie: I was really nervous about this actually. Steve handled it well though and I think it lends to that bigger issue of trying to find your identity through race or gender roles or class or a million different things. That is a really big issue for so many of us, myself included, but it's not really talked about. What does it mean for someone in the U.S. who finds out they have an ancestry that's not white and Christian? What does it mean when you grow up missing half of your family story? How do you find it? Do you need to? It's a lot of big questions.
Gayleen: One of the subplots that I really enjoyed was the eBay Cheeto auction. I am guessing that one or both of you may be addicted to Cheetos. Fess up, which one of you has the orange fingers and do you prefer crunchy or puffed, organic or original?
Steve: That was totally Carrie, and totally brilliant. That's one of those quirky little things I wish I could come up with, but probably never will be able to pull off on my own. And I like the puffs.
Carrie: I am addicted to Nutella, not Cheetos, and my brain is a weird, quirky thing. It's almost embarrassing how quirky it is.
Gayleen: The supernatural aspect of this book deals with fighting demons. Either of you ever had any supernatural encounters you would care to comment on?
Steve: Yes. Honestly, I don't care to go into much detail about them. I've had a couple of instances where ... odd things have happened. There really are things out there people shouldn't mess around with.
Carrie: Me too.
Gayleen: Any plans for another book together, or a sequel?
Carrie: We are working on a potential project. We have the first draft finished and it's in our agent's hands right this second! I hope Steve will work with me again but I may have terrified him with my quirk. (Carrie and Steve are both represented by Edward Necarsulmer IV with the McIntosh and Otis agency.)
Gayleen: Anything else you would like to add?
Steve: Have I said Carrie is awesome? Really, other than maybe my long-time critique partner and former college newspaper editor, I don't think I could have found a better co-author to work with. Also, so far as I know, Carrie and I will only be doing one physical appearance together to promote After Obsession, and it happens to be about a week after the book is released. We'll be at FenCon in Dallas. This is a great science fiction/fantasy/horror convention run by some really nice folks. I hope people will come out and see us and all the other authors, artists, singers and dancers.
Carrie: Have I said Steve is awesome? Or that his long-time critique partner and current cool Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults graduate is? They are.
So, can't wait until Sept. 13 to get your copy of AFTER OBSESSION? If you sign up to follow my blog, you'll be entered in the contest. If you mention the contest on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other online forum, you'll get a second entry in the drawing (you'll have to email me the links for this part: gayleen [at] rabakukk.com) Commenting on the posts will also enter you into the drawing. Entries will close on August 31 and I will draw the winning entry on September 1 and contact the winner to get their mailing address. Good luck everyone!