This is a spot where several writers will appear on my blog, and talk about their past, stories behind their work, etc.
The first writer to appear on here is one of my favorite people, Ksenia Anske. She is a YA urban fantasy writer currently finishing up her debut novel Siren Suicides. She is actually a huge inspiration to me, not only because of the story behind her novel, but because of who she is as a person. She's been a big supporter of me and my writing.
*How did you come up with the idea behind your story?
Since I've written deeper answers before, digging into my history, I'll answer you based on the current version of the story, Draft 5, as if it was where I started. The key scene for every book idea always comes to me in the form of an image, a single scene, and the entire story unfolds from there. I know you're wondering right now, how the hell do you know that, you haven't even finished your first book yet? I know because I have 8 more book ideas at this point, and they all came to me this way, as a single very powerful image. Siren Suicides, apart from beinginspired by my personal history, came to me while gazing at Lake Washington one day. Every time I'd cross the floating 520 bridge in Seattle, I'd look at the lake and at the early morning or late afternoon kayakers, and an image of a predator formed in my mind. The first instance of it, from 2010, sounded like this:
"The first time I killed, I remembered. I drifted on my back in silent water, milky way a giant reflection of my shattered white body. Shuttered by constant hunger. Its void rang in my chest, slid down my throat, tossed around my intestines, twisting them like wet rags with the hands of a washing woman. Its fingers pulled at my gut, snapped my knees to my head, until water lost its caress. Then I heard a soul. Chaotic cacophony of a toddler’s whining, tortured dog yelps, and glass scratched by a sharp nail. It closed in at the speed of a rowboat. The disjointed sounds were too much to bear, slow agony of an empty life of a middle-aged man. Mouthwatering. I hugged my hunger and floated like driftwood. Every movement caused pain. The cacophony of sounds burst right above my head, and wiped out years of trying not to be. I’m a siren, made to kill ugly souls, humanity’s janitor – and so I struck."
This image used to be the opening of the book, then in later Drafts it shifted to Chapter 4 and now it's in Chapter 7. The wording has changed completely, but the scene is the same. It's at the core of the story and it has never left me. Everything else evolved around it, but not the core idea of a siren being hungry for a broken human soul stayed.
*Do you remember the exact moment in your life you wanted to write this story in particular?
The exact moment for me was when I got done reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I remember I asked my 14 year old daughter to give me something light to read. She gave me the book in the evening, and I think I couldn't stop reading it until it was early morning. The second I closed it, I thought, I can do this. I want to do this. I always wanted to do this. If she can do it, I can do it. I was also puzzled as to how on earth a YA book kept me glued to it and what did I miss in my life that made me read the whole thing in one go. I'm still puzzled and will one day re-read it to analyze it. But back then I immediately turned to thinking about Alice in Wonderland, my favorite story of all time, and realized that if I were to write a story, my style will be different, much darker, more sinister and sarcastic. That was Christmas 2008. It took me 4 years since then to work up the courage to actually start writing my story for real.
*When people read your novel, what is the message you are hoping they receive?
That no matter how shitty your life seems, it's worth living. That suicide is not the answer. And that all women are beautiful and want to love and be loved, and not to be controlled or abused. I want to send a message that love can't be demanded and taken, but can only be given freely. And, my life will be complete if I can help at least one teen to change her or his mind and NOT commit suicide. That's my crazy hope.
Are you interested in Ksenia? Do you want to hear more from her? Check out her blog.