Q. What Are The Scents Of Your Characters?
Kelsey-Peaches and Cream, Vanilla Bean, Almond
Ren-Sandalwood, Waterfalls, Sunshine
Kishan-Sandalwood, Rain Forest, and Sweet Grass Warmed By The Sun
Anamika/Durga-Night Blooming Jasmine, Lotus, Rose
Yesubai-Wild Flower, White Linen, Indian Summer
Mr. Kadam-Spiced Tea, Frankincense, Teakwood
Kelsey’s Wedding Bouquet– Roses, Gardenia, Jasmine, Tiger Lily
Lily-Water Lilies, Vanilla Musk, Cherry Blossom
Amon-Amber, A Hint Of Cashmere, Myrrh, Sunshine
Ahmose-Oak Trees, Moss, Fall Spices
Asten-Cedar, Amber, Spice, Cocoa
Horus-Myrrh, Honey, Warm Vanilla
Anubis-Black Currant, Leather, Egyptian Musk
Q. How Do You Get Rid of Writer’s Block?
I’m not sure about other authors but I usually don’t get writer’s block. I get writer’s laziness. If I manage to open the document I’m usually fine. My characters are so real to me that I feel like they are the ones telling me their story and I’m just along for the ride. Once in a while if I need inspiration, I look at pictures on Pinterest or search on Google and it helps especially with settings. Each author is different but I think if you have an end goal in mind, you’ll figure out how to get there.
Q. What books do you use for research?
I use quite a variety. Most of the books I use can be found on my Goodreads page.
Q. When are your characters’ birthdays?
Kadam-June 10, 1635
Ren-Jan 15, 1657
Kishan-Nov 7, 1658
Nilima-I never gave her one
Q. Can I audition for the film?
Authors typically play no part in the casting of movies and since I’ve never been an actress myself, I have no idea how one would go about it. I do know there are both open and closed casting calls. Closed essentially means, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” My guess is that most movies are cast that way. If my producers ever open cast for Kelsey or a walk on role for a fan, I will surely let you all know. Otherwise, there is nothing I can do to influence casting. Of course you are welcome to try the normal Hollywood routes and I wish you luck.
Q. Where did you get the idea for the tiger series?
I chose a Beauty and the Beast theme and then focused on my beast first. I immediately rejected the idea of a vampire or a werewolf and made a list of real animals. After I crossed off bear, lion, a eagle, I settled on tiger then switched to a white tiger because there is something already magical about them. Next was my setting. I thought white tigers came from Russia so I began researching Russia but later I discovered that the white tiger is Bengal and ended up switching my story to India which worked out perfectly.
Q. What do the Hindi words mean in the tiger books?
Disclaimer: This list is so that my readers will know what I meant as I wrote. I’m sure there are errors but rest assured this was done to the best of my ability while also engaging the help of an Indian editor.
Nahi mahodaya-no sir
Vasīyata karanā -Leave or back off
Badamāśa -villian, traitor
Aap ke liye-for you
Mein aagaya -I’ve come
Vallabh-beloved or precious one
Bhumi-ke-niche-underground, beneath the earth
Mohar-seal or badge
Mein aapka raksha karunga-I will protect you (watch over)
Mein yaha hoon-I’m here
Dayita-love or lovely
Niyuj Kapi—Choose the Monkey
Kamana-wish or desire
Anurakta-becoming fond of or attached to
Kaamaart-love-sick, love-lorn, love-stricken
Chittaharini-one who captivates the mind
Mera sakha sundara-My boyfriend is handsome
Mujhe tumse pyarhai-I love you
Anmol Moti-priceless pearl
Ankhoni roshni-light of my eyes
Meri aadoo or aru-my peach
Strimani-best of women, jewel of a woman
Hridaya Patni-wife of my heart
Mohini Stri-siren or fascinating woman
Subhaga jadugarni-lovely witch
Ama Sunahara-golden fruit
Dupatta pavitra-Divine Scarf
Sukhada motha-delightful weed
Měnghǔ-fierce tiger (Chinese)
wǒ jiào-my name is (Chinese)
Zěnme-what? Or impossible! (Chinese)
Yāo guài yóu yú-devil squid (Chinese)
Deti dama-little girl (Russian)
Q. Who designed the tiger series book covers?
His name is Cliff Neilson. He’s also designed the covers for Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series as well as many others. To read his bio and see his portfolio go to: www.shannonassociates.com.
Q. Who made your book trailers for the tiger series?
Crush Creative is the team who worked on my book trailers. They are a company based out of the UK. They are also the team who designed my new website.
Q. How did you get traditionally published?
I self published my first two books, Tiger’s Curse and Tiger’s Quest in October 2009 through Kindle. In January of 2010, about three months after they went on the market, there was an incredible spike in sales. I went from selling three hundred e-books a month to three hundred in a day. Soon I’d been contacted by publishers in China, Korea, and Thailand and by a movie producer. An agent, and my Tiger series publisher, Sterling, soon followed. The wonderful and extremely fortunate thing about Sterling was that they shared my vision with getting the books out to fans as quickly as possible. They not only agreed to launch my three completed books in the same year (2011) but they bumped up the launch of their new imprint, Splinter, almost a year ahead of time. We all worked hard to get Tiger’s Curse on the market as soon as possible.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I believe writing can never be a bad thing. If you have a desire to write you should. My grandfather wrote cowboy books. He never got published and he died before I was born so those books are the only way most of his grandchildren ever got to know what he was like. Always seek out traditional publishing first, but if you’ve exhausted your options, then there is nothing wrong with self-publishing. When I was self-published, I was perfectly content and happy just sharing my material with others. Whether I have ten fans or ten thousand, writing makes me happy. If writing is something that makes you happy too, then by all means, write!
Q. What’s your writing routine like?
As far as the writing process goes, I like to establish a routine. Writing at the same time every day, surrounding yourself with things that make you comfortable, having a huge bottle of water or your favorite drink nearby, and keeping reference material near is helpful. I got a mini-fridge which I fill with snacks and drinks in case I’m on a roll and don’t want to head downstairs. For me, I light a candle to remind me to incorporate the sense of smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound in my writing. If your character doesn’t feel it, neither does the reader. Keeping a notebook or a file to store ideas when they come to you is always a good idea. I also use pictures when I write. If I’m trying to come up with a setting or a character, I search images on Google and select a picture or series of pictures and keep it open on my computer as I’m describing it.
Q. Do you follow an outline when you write?
For me, writing is like a road trip. I travel from point A to point B, say Los Angeles to New York City. There are dozens of ways to get there and I give myself leeway to travel down different paths that peak my interest. I may stop off in Denver for a few days or take a day trip to Memphis but I always turn around after my wandering and fix my gaze on New York. I’m a bit of an organizational freak. I like to catalog ideas into neat little spaces, but every once in a while I come up with the name for a chapter, like, Pirates, for example, and have no idea why I chose that name. Then I brainstorm and come up with the perfect thing to put there.
Q. What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
I think the hardest part for me is just opening the document. Once the file is up and my hands are poised over the keys, I do just fine. It’s often easy to get distracted by everything else going on. My husband works at home too and we interrupt each other often. Also, if I get up and see the laundry basket is full, I may end up doing laundry instead of writing. I’m something of a clean freak. So I’d say setting aside the time to just focus on the book is my biggest obstacle.
Q. What is your new Egyptian book about?
I can’t share a lot about it yet but it will definitely have all the same action, romance, adventure, and mythology of the Tiger Series plus the added coolness of mummies.
Q. Can I send you a book to sign?
Unfortunately no, but I can send you a signed bookplate that you can place in your book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to get one.
Q. What’s going on with the Tiger’s Curse movie?
Right now the movie is in the screenwriting stage. Julie Plec is adapting the first book for the big screen and I couldn’t be more excited because I love her work. I’m a big fan of The Vampire Diaries, Kyle XY, Dawson’s Creek, and The Originals and she wrote all of those! For news and updates from the producer you can follow Ineffable Pictures on either Facebook or twitter.
Q. What is the recipe for Ren’s favorite cookies?
This was from a Martha Stewart show in 2001. Love these things.
Smooth peanut butter is sealed inside chocolate-chocolate-chip dough.
Ingredients (Makes about 2 ½ dozen)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats). Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda, and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully combined between additions. Add vanilla; beat to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix on low speed until fully combined. Add chocolate chips; mix on low just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 1 hour.
3. In a small bowl using a rubber spatula, stir together peanut butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.
4. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie. Fill thumbprint with 2 teaspoons peanut butter mixture. Top with a second tablespoon of flattened dough. Carefully mold dough to cover the surprise.
5. Bake until firm, about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets, and let cool completely on wire racks.
Q. How do you pronounce the names in Tiger’s Curse?
- Dhiren is like Dhi as in dishes or dip and then add ren.
- Kishan is Kee-shawn.
- Kelsey is Kell-sea.
- Kadam is Ka as in cut and dom as in domino.
- Nilima is Ni as in knit, lee, ma with the emphasis on the “lee”.
- Anamika is anna and then meeka.
Q. Did Lokesh get the real amulet at the end of Tiger’s Quest?
No. He got a replica. He discovers that fact in the prologue of Tiger’s Voyage and doesn’t take the news well.
Q. Why can Ren and Kishan speak English so well?
For the answer to this question, I went to Sudha Seshadri, my advisor/editor from India, who says, “Royals were well versed and some sent their sons to England and Europe to study. Many had English Governesses and Artists from Europe staying with them. Due to colonists like the English, French, Portuguese and so on Indians, both royal and merchants, picked up many languages.”
Q. What element of writing do you enjoy the most?
I’m a sucker for romance and those are my favorite parts to read over and over. Visually, I love the action scenes. I’m a special effects geek so I can picture them in my head. To see them come to life on the big screen would be over-the-top awesome. The parts that are the most fun to write, however, are the fights. I wanted to put romantic tension types of arguments into my books, not only because I think it keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, but because it’s really, really fun. I enjoy the fast back and forth dialogue. Smart and witty verbal jousting is exciting to invent.
Q. Do real people inspire your characters?
Sometimes. Kelsey’s grandmother is very similar to one of mine. My grandmother had a flower garden, made me biscuits and gravy, and gave me a special blanket. My husband has a few of Ren’s traits. He gives great massages and asked permission to kiss me the first time. I’ve also named most of the secondary characters after my nieces and nephews. I’m a big fan of Moonlighting, the television show with characters David and Maddie portrayed by Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard back in the eighties. I loved how they fought all the time but desperately wanted to be together. It always made me giggle. So I incorporated giggle-inducing lover’s spats into my books. Interesting fact: Kelsey’s real mother is named Madison Hayes in honor of my niece and Madelyn Hayes, the character in Moonlighting.
Q. How accurate is the mythology in your books?
Indian mythology is very complex because the same god or goddess can have many incarnations with different names, appearances, and personality traits. My Indian mythology is “westernized” meaning I took the basic premise and either romanticized it to fit my theme or put my own spin on it so it made sense in my own mind. Bottom line-don’t try to pass a test on Indian mythology based on my version, however, I hoped to make it seem real enough that if you happened to visit Hampi you’d look for the statue and the entrance to Kishkindha.
Q. Have you actually visited any of the places you write about?
Only in Oregon. I have never been to India though I would really like to visit. I had to research everything from what kinds of cars are popular there to what the Mumbai airport looked like to where the forests are found. I spent a lot of time on Google maps zooming into the cities and forests and trying to figure out the distances between places. I studied the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve for a whole day and didn’t even end up putting it in the book. The Oregon places I can write easily but India took a lot of work and many, many days of study. When I was writing the Hampi section, I went back and forth studying and learning about the different buildings in the ruins as I wrote. Sometimes I study one thing and it leads to several other interesting thigns. For example, I was studying the kraken and of how the Vikings first wrote about it, and then I learned about the Vikings using a sunstone to figure the position of the sun even when surrounded by thick fog. It was so interesting I added that into Voyage as well. A lot of Mr. Kadam’s facts come from this.
Q. How does a book get edited?
For the Tiger series, I felt it was very important to involve a person from the literary world experienced with Indian culture. Through internet research and emails, I found Sudha Seshadri, a fantastic collaborator and confidante who has given me much needed advice and has become an enthusiastic supporter of the series. I have an early reading group made up of close family and friends who read my book chapter by chapter and offer insights and feedback. When I’m finished, I reread a hard copy of the entire book and do my own revisions. Then the manuscript moves on to an editor. She goes through the whole document and we go back and forth several times until we’re satisfied with the content. After that it goes to a copy editor who makes sure everything is just right.
Q. Where do your ideas come from?
Most of my ideas come from books. Two of my favorites are reference books-one is about dream interpretation and the other is about signs and symbols. I have dozens of books about the mythologies of the world and keep detailed notes of any cool ideas I find. The tests of the four houses actually came from a myth found in Mayan culture. I also get a lot of ideas from dreams. My husband says he doesn’t dream at all or at least doesn’t remember them when he wakes up, but I remember mine. I write them down and hope to turn them all into books someday.
Q. What does your writing schedule look like?
I check email and work on my correspondence in the morning then write in the afternoons. When I finish a chapter, I get my husband who also works from home and we go over it together. He reads the entire thing out loud, we argue about punctuation, and then when we’re done, I send it out with pictures to my early reading group who give me their thoughts and feedback. When I’m in full on deadline mode I try to write 1-2 chapters per week which averages out to about 2000 words per day four to five days a week.
Q. Were you always a writer?
No. Not as a career. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs. I know how to make a Big Mac and a Big Bacon Classic. I know how to decorate cakes, work a salad bar, and put sprinkles on donuts. I’ve managed a Chinese kitchen and learned how to make fried rice, stir fry, and homemade egg rolls, but for most of my adult life I’ve worked as an American Sign Language interpreter. I’ve interpreted from Elementary School through Graduate School and most recently I worked as a video relay interpreter, which uses modern video technology to help facilitate phone calls between Deaf and hearing people.
Q. What do you like to read?
Anything and everything though I mostly stick to YA at present. To see what I’m reading now, follow my author page on Goodreads. I have a list of my favorite books there.
Q. How did you get started with writing?
The personal stories of Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling really touched me. Both women just decided to give writing a try and the course of their lives changed. One day I woke up and decided I was going to give it a shot, too. I always loved creative writing in middle school and high school and I’ve been an avid reader all my life, but I never considered it as a career. Seeing Rowling and Meyer-two self-trained writers-have the courage to give writing a try inspired me to channel my creative energy into imagining and writing the Tiger’s Curse series.
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
J.K Rowling, Chris Paolini, Stephenie Meyer, John Steinbeck, Walter Farley, Jules Verne, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Orson Scott Card, and many more!
Q. How do I arrange for you to come to a book signing?
Have your local bookstore or school contact my agent, Robert Gottlieb , at Trident Media. Keep in mind that I usually don’t travel out of state unless I have a new book to promote but I am always open to doing events in Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Arizona when I visit family. I love meeting fans and doing book signings and enjoy doing school presentations in particular.
He can be reached by email, email@example.com.
Q. How many books will there be in the Tiger’s Curse world?
At least five-Tiger’s Curse, Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Voyage, Tiger’s Destiny, and Tiger’s Dream
Q. When will Tiger’s Dream, book five in the tiger series be released?
Tiger’s Dream is on the back burner right now while I work on a still untitled Egyptian book for my new publisher in the United States, Delacorte.