Today, I’m so thrilled to have Kat Zhang (the author) visit the blog today, and sit down with us for a talk. (Well, not really sit down, but you know what I mean). She’s a very very charming and kind person, so I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I had fun with it. (it’s kind of a long one though, brace yourself!) But first, a bit of info of the 1st book in the series as a background :)
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles #1
Author: Kat Zhang
Published on: September 18, 2012
I should not exist. But I do.
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
Hi Kat! Welcome to Coffee, books and me!
“What’s Left of Me” is your first novel, right? Is it a trilogy?
Yes, it's my first published novel. It's my second completed novel, but the other one is sitting trunked. And yes, it's the first book in a trilogy. Book 2 will be coming out sometimes in fall of 2013 :)
I’m kind of confused, what genre does it belong to? It feels kind of dystopian-ish. Am I right?
Haha, yes, a lot of people get confused by the genre for WHAT'S LEFT OF ME. It does have a dystopian feel, though I don't like to call it dystopian because to me, dystopians are always set in our future, and WLoM is set in an alternate version of our time. I call it "light-sci-fi," but my favorite genre for it is the even more broad: "speculative fiction." You could also call it "character-driven sci-fi.”
How did you come up with the idea of your plot? (hybrids-two souls in one body?)
I don't really have a super interesting story to tell about how I came up with the idea for WHAT'S LEFT OF ME :P I wish I did! Really, though, I just started wondering one day--everyone has a bit of an internal monologue going at times; what if that little voice in the back of your head was a real person? What would it be like to live trapped in your own body? That was how the idea for Eva began, and the rest of the story grew around her.
Did you have an in-born talent in writing :) or you studied for it?
I think one of the best ways to "study" writing is by reading--but reading critically. "Critical reading" is commonly associated with reading classics or "high literature" or something, but I think you can read anything in a critical manner, as long as you can ask yourself "How is the writer doing this? How is she making me sympathize with this character and keeping my attention during this part?" or even "Why am I not liking this story? What's not working for me?"
So if you count all the reading I've done, then I definitely started "studying" writing very early ;) There was also a year or so during high school when I read every writing-theory/how-to book I could get my hands on, and I'm currently a creative writing major at university.
I think most everyone can benefit from studying writing, whatever your "in-born" talent, but there are many ways of doing that studying!
The title is kind of awesome and garners a lot of attention, was it your first choice of title or not? How did you come up with it?
It wasn't, actually! My editor, agent, and I did a TON of brainstorming to come up with possible titles for the book. To be honest, I can't even remember who suggested WHAT'S LEFT OF ME, but I think it's a great match for the book :)
How was your experience in writing and publishing the book?
I started writing What's Left of Me the winter of my senior year of high school. The first draft took me a little more than a year. Then I revised for a few months and, after querying about 2 months, signed with my agent, Emmanuelle Morgen. I revised with her for a few more months, and then we went on submission to publishers and announced the deal with HarperCollins about a month after that! :)
Were you involved (somehow) in the cover design?
Not really! They did ask me for some cover ideas, but to be honest, I couldn't have even imagined the cover the designer came up with. But I love it!
While you were writing the story, did you already know the ending from the start? Or you built up the plot as you write?
The first draft of WHAT'S LEFT OF ME was very much me discovering the plot as I went along. I don't do that so much anymore, having developed as a writer since then and discovered I like to have more of an idea for the direction of the story while writing.
Playlists related with a book is becoming a fad now, do you have one in What’s Left of Me?
To be honest, I'm not one of those writers who comes up with playlists for their books. I wish I were! I can't write with music, since I'm so very easily distracted, and I don't tend to hear songs and think "Oh! That matches my book perfectly!" My favorite place to write is somewhere very dark and silent; I don't like being reminded that any world exists but the world in whatever manuscript I'm working on.
If you’re book were made into a movie, who would you like to play Eva or Addie?
Can we expect a love story blooming from this poignant novel?
The romance in WHAT'S LEFT OF ME isn't the main focus of the book (or the sequels) by any means, but yes, there is/will be a romance :)
Is there a message you want to share to your readers with your book? (lesson,etc)
I never really like to talk about messages in my own work :P I love analyzing them in other people's work, and I definitely think about them in writing, but I've always thought that the message (or lack of message) a reader takes away from a work ought to be up to the reader. Sometimes two different readers will see two very different messages, and that's the brilliance and fun part of it.
Upcoming projects? related or other than the Hybrid Chronicles?
Right now, I'm revising Book 2 of the Hybrid Chronicles. I've also got a dark/gritty fantasy in the works, as well as a much more "traditional" high fantasy, and a contemporary. All YA :)
Thank you so much for dropping by the blog and answering my looong questions. :) I personally can’t wait for the next one! All the best to you and your career!
Thanks for having me!