Less than two weeks ago, K.N. Lee released her debut novel – The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld. In that time she’s already received a number of raving reviews, including my own which was a 4.5 out of 5. Today, I managed to track her down by using my acceptable hunting skills and…Okay, okay I messaged her on Twitter. I thought it would be fun to talk to K.N. Lee about her process, her book and her future! *Minor spoilers ahead*
Tom - Where did you come up with the idea of Koa and her story?
K.N. Lee - Koa all began with a dream. There was a girl sitting in her living room and eating popcorn. Someone knocked on her door… She answered and the person tried to hurt her. In this dream, the intruder turned out to be the victim, because this girl was not an ordinary girl. She turned the tables and killed the intruder. Then, she turned to her cat and the cat spoke back to her. There you go! Koa and her cat Raven were born! I like the idea of people not being what they seem. The quiet girl that no one pays attention to can turn out to be the most powerful one in the room. I like to create strong female protagonists, and Koa is definitely that!
Tom - Absolutely, I think you did a great job with her development. Speaking of development, I really enjoyed some of the creatures you created. What was your process for creating them?
K.N. Lee - I grew up reading Anne Rice, and I think (aside from Dracula) that she has the best vampire lore. Therefore, I wanted my version of vampires to be different. My vampires come from a completely different background that I haven’t seen in other books. They have special abilities and aren’t as easy to kill.
As for my other creations, Syths, Scayors, War-Breeders, and Jems, they are purely from nightmares and dreams that I’ve had. I imagined Syths to be these monk-like creatures with tattoos of an ancient dialect etched into their faces. They are big and strong, but not too bright.
Scayors are part humanoid, and part technology. One beta reader said that they reminded her of Transformers! They are tall, metallic, creatures that patrol the Netherworld’s cities…like police.
Then we have Jems. At one point, I actually started a story about these creatures but decided to add them to Koa’s world. They’re beautiful, colorful female creatures that patrol the Netherworld’s path to the Gate. They make sure that no one leaves, and no one enters. I think they came from my memory of Medusa. I saw her as a child and I came up with creatures that resembled her.
War-Breeders came from a need to have a character that was solely around for his strength and expertise in battle. Tristan is a top-ranked War-Breeder. Tall, muscular, and covered in scars. As a MMORPG gamer, I love the idea of a balanced party. You need your mages, your tanks, and your fighters. Tristan is definitely a tank…he is the one you send out to take all of the damage.
Tom – I love how you compare your crew in Chronicles of Koa to an MMORPG party. I totally get that and I can’t wait to learn more about them in the next book.
Who was your favorite character to write about besides Koa?
K.N. Lee - Halston!!! I am in love with him. He is such an interesting character that I might need to write a story just about his life before he met Koa. Tall, blonde, intelligent, and British. What else do you need? He has such an interesting backstory that he gives that perfect blend of mystery and intrigue to the book. I especially like his relationship to Koa. You’ll see more of that play out in the next book in the series. I also like Al. You’ll see a lot of that Metal-Mind in the next book as well!
Tom - You’ve written quite a few plot twists in the book. Were they mapped out before you wrote them or did they evolve as you were writing?
K.N. Lee - When I wrote the first chapter I knew that the cat would talk, and I wanted to save that for the end…but the twist that I didn’t see coming was that the cat was Koa’s mother. That had me stunned when I wrote that sentence. I love it when the story has a mind of its own! As for the other twists, I had them mapped out. I had a clear vision of where I wanted the story to go, and I somehow managed to stick to it.
Tom – Speaking of where the story went, you left us with a cliffhanger at the end, though it felt appropriate I think. Was your intention always to end at that point, or did it just feel natural when you reached it?
K.N. Lee - Well, initially book one and book two were one large novel, and I sat back and thought…this book has two major climaxes. So, I decided to split them into two books. I feel that the cliffhanger at the end came after such a powerful revelation for Koa, that continuing to the next stage would have been anti-climactic.
Tom – Great point! As I’ve said in my review, I’m really looking forward to the next book. I know the first one just came out, but I’d like to know how book 2′s progressing along.
K.N. Lee - I’m kind of lucky since I already have much of the next book done! I have the beginning and the end…I just need to fill in the middle with a few scenes I have in mind. There will be a lot more character development, especially for the secondary characters. You’ll see Ian come out of the background (**hint**) there is a huge reveal about that guy! I didn’t even see it coming! Also, Tristan will get his moment in the spotlight. We haven’t seen what that War-Breeder can do yet, and I think everyone will be pleased. Then…we have good ole Bund. A villain we all hate. He will do lots of damage in this next book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Tom – Can you tell us anything about the title or plot from book 2 yet?
K.N. Lee - I am playing around with a few title options, but I think I like The Chronicles of Koa: Lyrinian Blade. Koa’s legendary sword is one of the coolest weapons in the book…next to Halston’s infinity gun. The sword will get to see a lot of action in this next book, and we’ll get to learn more about Koa’s father and the sword’s origins. In this next book, we’ll get to see how Koa’s relationship with Jax and Halston gets complicated, and they will all have to deal with Bund. We cannot forget who started this war, and who sent Bund to hunt Koa down. Greggan. I will introduce the vampire King to the world. You thought Bund was bad…wait until you meet this guy.
Tom – I have to say I regret not adding the sword into my review. It was awesome! You speak of how some readers told you they were reminded of Transformers, etc. but when Koa’s dagger extended into the sword I immediately thought of Thundercats, one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. The leader of the group had a sword that acted very similarly.
As for Greggan I think we’re all anxious to meet him and see what he’s capable of!
Who are your favorite authors and did any of them inspire you towards writing?
K.N. Lee - My favorite authors are Stephen King, Anne Rice, Terry Goodkind, and I recently fell in love with Brandon Sanderson. Those are my favorite fantasy/horror authors, but I have a deep passion for the classics as well. I love Charles Dickens, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, and Alexander Dumas. The fantasy authors inspired my imaginative side, but the classic authors fostered my romantic side. I like to have a blend of both. I must say that Stephen King’s book, On Writing, inspires me each time I sit before my computer screen and doubt myself. I will never give up. I hope I make him proud someday.
Tom - What’s your routine, or process while you are writing?
K.N. Lee - I carry a notebook with me everywhere. I never let an idea slip away without writing it down. I also document my dreams. Some of my best dark poems and horror stories have come from my twisted dreams. Why are they so twisted? I have no idea… When I am working on a story or novel, I listen to movie soundtracks such as Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, The Dark Knight, Battlestar Gallactica…Blade Runner, and Celtic music. Music definitely puts me in an ultra-creative mood. I sometimes light scented candles or incense when I want to transport my imagination to a foreign land.
Sometimes I’ll start with an outline, but that is rare. I prefer to just have a character in mind and start from the beginning. I enjoy the surprises and ways the characters seem to take over the story and direct it where they want it to go. I do try to write at least 1000 words a day, but I am a writing machine, I write much more than that on most days! Nothing brings me greater joy, so it isn’t a difficult process for me. One thing that slows me down, however, is that I continuously edit every sentence as I go. That can sometimes stall my progress, but I can’t help it!
Tom - Do you have any additional story ideas that you’ll be writing besides Koa? If so can you tell us anything about them?
K.N. Lee - Funny thing you’ve asked. The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld is my first published novel, however, it is the fourth book that I’ve written. I have an epic fantasy trilogy that took me years to write. Rise of the Flame, Night of the Storm, and Dawn of the Forgotten. It is a high fantasy trilogy set in a world that I created. I wrote Koa’s series because I was impatient and wanted something out there with my name on it while I hunt for publishers for my trilogy. Finding an agent or publisher is a daunting process, but I am one determined little lady! Now that I am done with Koa, and almost done with her second book, I have the time to devote to securing that agent or publisher for my trilogy. Lilae, the main character in my trilogy has been in my head since I was eleven years old and typing on my mother’s typewriter. I look forward to introducing her to the world. You thought Koa was feisty…wait until you meet this fire-manipulating, teleporting, dagger wielding, red-head!
Tom – I certainly hope we see that trilogy sometime soon! The titles are fantastic and I look forward to meeting Lilae!
Thank you so much K.N. Lee for taking the time to talk to us!