Interview with Julie Kagawa, Author of The Iron King
Book Divas interviewed Julie Kagawa, author of the critcially acclaimed novel, The Iron King. She offers us a glimpse into her inspirations, what makes The Irong King different from other fantasy stories, and some truly sound advice on becoming a published author.
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1. The Iron King is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and Labyrinth. What are the stories or films that have inspired you most throughout your life?
Oh, goodness, there's so many of them. I'll name just a few. I adore The Lord of the Rings, both the books and the movies. Terry Brook's Sword of Shannara series made me love fantasy with its epic, sweeping plots and wonderful, complex characters. And, believe it or not, anime and video games have some of the most inspiring stories and awesome characters I've come across. From the Final Fantasy series (FF8 and FFX were my favorites), to Fushigi Yugi, Naruto, and Gundam Wing. (I wear my geekdom proudly.)
2. There are quite a lot of stories about faeries out there right now. In your own words, can you tell us how The Iron King differs (and is better :) ?
Well, the Iron Fey are the most obvious difference. :) I also notice that a lot of modern fairy tales have the fey living in our world, and how we interact with them. With the Iron King series, I wanted to explore the faery world and how Meghan interacted with it. I also wanted to portray the traditional faeries exactly how they are in myth: amoral, aloof, and dangerous, so when I introduced the Iron Fey, that contrast between the old, traditional fey and the new, modern fey would be clear.
3. In The Iron King, you have Grimalkin, a sarcastically funny cat. You also have experience working with animals and have cats of your own. Was Grimalkin based on your own feline companion?
Lol, Grimalkin is based on every cat I've ever known. My own cats have hints of Grimalkin in their personalities, and I'm sure any cat person will say the same. I just took that “cat-ittude” and imagined what a feline would say to me if he chose to talk.
4. In between The Iron King and The Iron Daughter, you released Winter's Passage, a free novella. Can you tell us: Was the novella a planned part of your overall story? Did you write it before or after The Iron Daughter, which is due out in August?
My editor was actually the one who suggested I write a short story set in the Iron Fey world. Because The Iron Daughter was already finished, I decided to write a short bridge between books 1 and 2, showing Ash and Meghan's journey to the Winter Court.
5. Can you give us a hint at what we can expect in the next two installments of your series: The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen?
In the Iron Daughter, Meghan has a few tough choices to make, most prominently the choice of who she loves more: Ash or Puck. And in The Iron Queen, the war with the Iron Fey finally comes to a head, and all of Faery, not to mention Meghan herself, will never be the same.
6. Can you describe your feelings when you found out that your first book sold?
Oh, there was a lot of jumping around and squee-ing, I can tell you that. :) Afterwards, it was completely surreal, knowing the thing you worked so hard for has finally happened, and that feeling still hasn't gone away. Even now, I can tell myself “I got a book published,” and start giggling like a loon.
7. What advice can you share to members of Book Divas who are aspiring writers about getting published?
Persist. Don't ever stop writing. Don't ever stop trying to get better. Learn everything you can about the business. Read books on craft and the publishing industry. Start a critique group. Go to workshops and conferences if you can. Know that if you're serious about getting published, you're going to be rejected, and rejected often. It's all part of the writer's journey. Above all, keep trying. Remember that all published authors started exactly where you are now; we were all dreamers at one point. The only difference between a published author and a non-published author is that the published one never gave up.
About Julie Kagawa
Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine, she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish and the odd eel.
When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.
To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time.
Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks is at an all-time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian shepherd who is too smart for his own good and the latest addition, a hyperactive papillon puppy.