Monday, August 10, 2009

Savvy Scribblers: Amber Kizer, author of MERIDIAN

Hey there awesome I Heart Monster readers! Today we have a spiffy treat, Savvy Scribblers style with Amber Kizer. Amber is the author of the Gert Garibaldi books and Meridian which relases tomorrow. Read more to find out more about Meridian and Amber and some super cool top-8 lists that Amber has made especially for us! Please join me in welcoming her!


IHM: How did you come up with the name Meridian for the main character?

AK: Character names are very important to me and usually that's one of the first things I know about a story-who is in it and what are they called? I knew Meridian's name from the very beginning, but it wasn't until we got to know each other (sounds strange to non-writers I know!) that I realized her name has all sorts of levels to it. Meridian can mean a midpoint like midday. It can also be the center of an object. It's used when talking about the longitude of Earth. In Chinese medicine Meridians are the energy pathways used in acupuncture. So it can have many connotations-what the reader should take from that is that our Meridian is caught-she lives-in the middle of life and death.

Actually all the characters in this book have names that "mean" something to me as the writer and might resonate with readers who like to dissect deeper levels in a story.
Tens, the male lead, is a Protector and as such knows things about Meridian that he doesn't really know how he knows. His full name is Tenskawtawa and comes from a Shawnee religious and political leader from the 18th century. He was Tecumseh's brother and he was also known as "The Prophet". With our Tens's backstory, and gifts, I knew it was the perfect choice and it felt right.

Also to find Fenestra and Aternocti, I played with all sorts of different languages and took inspiration from Latin primarily. I wanted names that could be pronounced even without knowing the meaning but here's my definition of both:

Fenestra is a human with Angel DNA that is triggered if they are born at midnight on December 21st. Fenestras are "Windows to the Afterlife"-they literally become windows for dying souls to get to the good place (call it Heaven or Enlightenment or Nirvana).

Aternocti are "Dark Nights," also human with Angel DNA of a different nature. As they are corrupted they lose their humanness, but Aternocti thrive on disaster, fear, destruction, and cruelty. They shepherd souls to a bad place (call it Hell or ignorance or the Underworld).

IHM: Is there real life inspiration for the character of Tens? Readers, if you haven't yet read Meridian, you will totally swoon when you read about Tens, I mean, for realz.

AK: No, I just wanted a leading man who felt real! Sorry, there isn't is real Tens!

IHM: You masterfully manipulated the Bible to fit into Reverend Perimo's agenda. Did you find it an easy task to twist the words and did you have anything that you were able to use as an example for the bendiness of the morals and meanings of those 27 passages?

AK: The words themselves are direct quotes-I didn't twist the Bible, I merely took verses out of context-which you'll find is often a tactic used be zealots of any religion, with any text. You find justification for anything if you're willing to overlook historical context, the larger texts and the writer.

I did quite a bit of research on fanatics and cults, but Perimo and the Revelation Congregation aren't based on a "real" cult, though they have characteristics of many.

Note: ALL of the passages that Amber uses are annotated and there is a corresponding page in the back of the book where you can look up the passages in the Bible yourself. I didn't ask a clear question, and didn't mean that she changed anything at all, she used direct quotes.

IHM: Are we getting a sequel? Details, please.

AK: I am happy to say that a sequel is in the works-I think perhaps with a release date of 2011. Maybe...we're still figuring that out!

About Amber:

IHM: Do you have any animals in your life that are as loyal as Custos was to Tens and Meridian?

AK: I do have wonderfully loyal animals in my life. I have a cat named Sugar that is pretty much my shadow. She attaches herself to my neck whenever possible and follows me around all day and everyday.

I also had a dog named Boo who is really the inspiration behind Custos (though Boo didn't have any Supernatural connections that I know of!) and her place in the book.

IHM: You mention in the back of the book that you like to quilt. How many quilts have you made?

AK: I'm posting pics of quilts I've made on by the 11th and the release of this book. I don't honestly know how many quilts I've made, but I love to work with the colors and the fabrics, it's part of my writing process. The quilts I'm proudest of are the ones I make and send to the Freedom Quilt Project which is a non-profit that matches families of fallen military up with a quilt. I hope in a little way they provide comfort and gratitude to our Gold Star Families. I'm grateful to our service members who make my job possible everyday!

IHM: What is your favorite thing to bake?

AK: Cakes probably. Chocolate desserts and cheesecakes too. I like complicated, multi-step recipes-those are my favorite!
Note: Visit the Bio section on Amber's website to see a collection of the awesome cakes she has baked!!

IHM: Who is your all-time favorite pop band?

AK: From my childhood which is where the favorite pop band roots go: Roxette, New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Genesis, Bon Jovi...hmm...

I listen to just about everything though-I try not to limit my musical genres because there is beautiful music everywhere. It's fun to find a new song that has an emotional pull to it!

The top eight groups/musicians I listened to while writing the Gert Garibaldi books:
  1. Saving Jane
  2. Fountains of Wayne
  3. KT Tunstall
  4. OAR
  5. PINK
  6. Jesse McCartney
  7. Teddy Geiger
  8. Joanna Pacitti
The top eight groups I listened to while writing MERIDIAN:
  1. Great Big Sea
  2. Sting-Songs from the Labyrinth
  3. The Corrs
  4. Enya
  5. Lisa Kelly
  6. Celtic Women
  7. Irish Tenors
  8. The High Kings
At the moment Kanye West, The Ting Tings, Brendan James, SafetySuit, Beyonce, Nickleback, and Matt Nathanson are getting heavy rotation!!! And I'm starting a book with a heavy list of metal, which I know very little about but feels right for this story-so you metal fans-email me! Who do you like?

IHM: Who is your favorite paranormal/supernatural fictional character besides your own?

I didn't set out to write a paranormal. I haven't always had a fascination with powers. But I guess I have to say Laurell K. Hamilton's books are a favorite. Mary Doria Russell's THE SPARROW and CHILDREN OF GOD are amazing too. Donna Boyd's vampire books rock.

I've always loved the reality tweaking done by writers of central and south America-Gabriel Garcia Marquez is writer I'd faint if I was in the same room with! Total fan of his work. Any of the writers who deal with "magical reaslism" or who are rule benders with what we accept as "normal" or "expected" in our world and reality-not werewolves but maybe it's possible to drown in light (STRANGE PILGRIMS) or imbue food with emotion (LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE).

Thank you, Amber, for answering all of our questions in such a great, fun, and detailed way! We are super grateful to you for sharing some insight about MERIDIAN with us as well as some fun stuff about your own life. I learned a lot, and I'm sure our readers did too! Now, as a super special treat, Amber has given us three (3!) Top Eight Lists about her.

Amber's Top Eight Favorite Trashy Reality TV shows:
  1. Top Chef
  2. Cake Boss
  3. Survivor
  4. Amazing Race
  5. Big Brother
  6. The Bachelor/Bachelorette
  7. Real World
Amber's Top Eight Favorite Flowers:
  1. Sweet Peas
  2. Scented Asiatic Lillies
  3. Old Roses-David Austin varieties especially
  4. Peonies
  5. Hydrangeas
  6. Candy Tuft
  7. Roosevelt Rhododendron
  8. Lupine
Amber's Top Eight Favorite Breeds of Chicken:
  1. Cochin
  2. Polish
  3. Speckled Sussex
  4. Buff Orpington
  5. Silkies
  6. Silver Dorking
  7. Egyptian Fayoumis
  8. Cuckoo Maran
Got Metal Suggestions for Amber? Be sure to email her, or leave a note in the comments section with a band/song in the metal genre that you like (if you want, you can even upload the youtube video!) Also, I'd love to know what your favorite trashy reality tv show, flower, or breed of chicken is! (If I watched reality tv, I'd share mine, but I heart white daisies the bestest, and Araucanas are my favorite breed of chicken)

Make sure to come back tomorrow for a super special, super awesome contest where you can have a chance to win your very own signed copy of MERIDIAN courtesy of Amber Kizer herself!

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