If you follow Disregard the Prologue, then you’re already aware of the clever and cool Kate Sparkes and her fantasy trilogy named after the first book, Bound. She’s here today to talk about Torn, book 2 of the series. Ready? Let’s rock and roll!
El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Kate: Hmm. . . . Okay. One: We bought our first house this summer, and I finally have my own office space. It’s just as amazing as I imagined it would be, but I will be forever grateful for the fact that I had to write my first books in a stinky basement.
Two: I’m not a dog person, and I’m really not a small dog person, but I have a chihuahua snuggled on my lap right now, and it is most excellent.
Bruno, Kate’s dog
Three: I just took up running, and can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. It’s amazing what not being able to do something for years will do for your motivation.
Four: I’m a little obsessed with paper products, specifically planners. I use one for home and one for work, plus a lined journal for tracking productivity.
El Space: So, Torn is out in the world, along with his sister, Bound. And your editor has Sworn, book three. Now that your trilogy is coming to an end, how are you feeling? Sad? Elated?
Kate: Nervouscited? Bitterswelated? I’m not sure any real word captures how I feel. I think Sworn is the best and strongest book of the series, and I’m excited to finish writing a story that I still adore almost five years after I started it. At the same time, I’m sad to be finishing it. And happy to be able to move on to new things. And terrified, as I always am before I release anything. And tearing my hair out over deadlines. And . . . you get the idea.
El Space: I do! Without giving a spoiler, was there a character whose development surprised you the most as you wrote this series? Perhaps you started off thinking, I’ll only include this person in a scene, but the character wound up getting more book time.
Kate: I guess Nox would be the obvious answer. I didn’t know she existed until well after I’d finished the first draft of Bound, and she ended up being a major character in books two and three. Her development and involvement in the story has really surprised me, too, ending up fairly far off from what I’d anticipated.
There are others, too. There were a few characters in Bound I never expected to see again, but who have come back to play a larger part in the story. One of them really shocked me, and another made me squeak with excitement when her wee face popped up again. Wow. This is really hard to do without spoilers!
El Space: How long did it take you to write each book? How much research did you do as you created the world?
Kate: Bound took me 3.5 years from first draft to publication. Torn was a little less than 2.5 years, and when Sworn comes out it should be about sixteen months. I’m a fairly quick first drafter, but I take my time over revisions.
I don’t do a lot of research for my world building. Most of the research I do is on things like, “If someone got stabbed in X, how long would she live?” or “Oops—how far away did I say Y was from Z?” My internal record-keeping systems could use a good overhauling.
El Space: Are you a plotter or a pantser? When you started writing Bound, how much of the end of the trilogy did you know? If you already knew the ending, did you find the outcome different or relatively the same as you envisioned?
Kate: I’m very much a plotter at this point. I’ve tried diving into a story with nothing more than an amazing character and a cool concept, and ended up writing myself straight into a brick wall. I do leave plenty of room for wonderful surprises along the way, but I like to have most of the major twists and turns—and the ending—planned out before I start. I think plotting and pantsing are quite similar, actually. It’s just that I do my exploring and experimenting in my head and in quick notes, whereas a pantser works it out in the first draft.
I didn’t have this whole trilogy plotted out before I started, though. I had a vague idea of the ending, but when I started Bound, it didn’t seem like I’d actually finish one book, never mind three of them.
Most of Sworn was a mass of fog and vague ideas until after I’d finished the first draft of Torn. I had the ending quite solidly in mind, but the road that led there was quite an interesting experience as I explored it while outlining and drafting.
El Space: Were you always thinking you’d write a trilogy set in this world and maybe some shorter pieces? How did you decide whose stories should be told through a sequel, a prequel, a short story, or a novella?
Kate: I didn’t initially plan to write more than the main novels, but I think I always knew I wouldn’t want to limit what I could do in this world. I have a set of characters I adore who constantly surprise me, a deep and rich world that still has so much to explore, and a story with a long history and more events that could play out in the future. I do have other worlds and stories to work on, but I don’t think this well will ever run dry.
Deciding which stories to tell is quite easy. Though I do listen to reader suggestions, the deciding factor is always whether there’s a full story there—a solid plot rather than just a series of events that a few people might find interesting—and whether the idea lights a fire in my imagination. Out of ten ideas, one might really make me want to sit down and start writing. Some stories just beg to be told.
El Space: Many readers wanted J. K. Rowling to continue writing books set in the world of Harry Potter. But she wanted to tackle other genres. What would you say to readers who want you to continue writing this series to the exclusion of all others?
Kate: I’d say I completely understand. There’s a part of me that’s scared to leave behind what works and what readers already love, but I can’t let myself get burned out on one story or one genre. I want to keep my love of this world alive, and that means that sometimes I need to work on something else. I drafted an urban fantasy novella after Bound, and it refreshed me for Torn. I played with a different, more steampunk-esque version of fantasy between Torn and Sworn, and it helped me get the distance I needed to fall in love with my world and characters again.
I will work in other genres. I will write for other age groups, with more adult content or maybe even something for younger folk some day. And I’ll be a better writer for it when I come back to this world and these characters.
El Space: What are you working on now?
Kate: Right now, I’m at an awkward stage. Sworn is with my editor. I’ve drafted and revised a prequel novella over the past few months that I’m excessively excited about, and that’s gone to a new editor. Now I have a week to wait before Sworn comes back, which means I have time for business. . . . But really, I know I won’t be able to help picking at my next project. It’s an idea that came to me during a night of insomnia—totally worth it—a semi-dystopian YA fantasy involving vengeful gods, human sacrifice, rebirth, and some characters I can’t wait to explore.
Sounds exciting! Thanks, Kate, for being my guest.
And one commenter will get a free copy of Torn. Remember, this is book 2. You should read Bound first! Winner to be announced on October 6.
Author photo and covers courtesy of the author. Character sign from sophia.org. Pants/plots image from rinellegrey.com. Fantasy world image from wallpaperpassion.com. Stories sign from transformleaders.tv. J. K. Rowling from inquisitr.com.