I’m so excited to welcome Kimberly Derting here to DarkFaerieTales.com to talk about her debut young adult novel, The Body Finder, which is available NOW in stores. You don’t want to miss out on this one. It’s such an enjoyable read. You can read my review of the book here.
Read an excerpt of The Body Finder here.
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about the book?
Violet Ambrose can find dead bodies. Or at least, those that have been murdered. And as if that weren’t enough to deal with during her junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.
Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet’s small town…and she realizes that she might be the only person who can stop him.
DFT: What motivated you to write The Body Finder?
The idea for The Body Finder actually came from my husband. He’s always throwing around random ideas, and one day he just looked at me while we were driving and said: “What if there was this person who could find dead bodies.” Of course, in his head it was a middle grade boy, but my brain went into overdrive, and by the time we got home I was practically racing through the front door to start making notes. That was how my main character Violet (and her uber-creepy ability) was born.
DFT: If you could describe your main characters with only 3 words, what would they be?
Violet: Brave, tough, compassionate.
Jay: Sweet, funny, protective.
DFT: Tell us something about your research process and the choices you make when creating the story.
When I first “created” Violet’s ability, I wrote out the ground rules for them. There were things that Violet knew about her ability, like that she could only sense those who had been murdered, each “echo” would be unique and it would “imprint” itself on the one responsible for the death, and that once a body was laid to rest properly its echo would fade (although the imprint on the killer would not).
As the book evolved, the rules changed a little, but not much. I added rules that Violet doesn’t entirely understand yet. I keep those “in the vault,” to reveal in snippets as she discovers more about what she can do with her gift.
The most in-depth research, however, had to do with the discovery of the dead bodies, and finding out which emergency responders would be first on the scene, who would have jurisdiction, and how they would respond. I interviewed police and fire officials to get a good sense of the way local authorities would interact. It was actually very interesting.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) did you draw from while writing The Body Finder?
I’m not sure I drew any specific inspiration for The Body Finder, but there are so many writers who have influenced the way I write in general. Personally, I bow down to Stephen King. Mostly because when I was a teen, I was a voracious reader, but we didn’t have the YA variety of today, especially for horror and suspense, so I was forced into the adult market. Authors like King and John Saul and Dean Koontz became staples for me. I devoured them. Of course, that was in the ‘80s, so there was the obligatory Jackie Collins as well. I was a pretty well-rounded reader.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
Of course, I love my main characters, Violet and Jay, but one of my favorite secondary characters is Violet’s friend, Chelsea. Chelsea is the kind of girl who says whatever’s on her mind, and it’s usually something crude or shocking. We don’t see as much of her in the first book, but in the sequel, Desires of the Dead, we get to see a more sensitive side of her. Well, as sensitive as Chelsea is capable of being.
DFT: Do you have a long-term plan or goal for this story universe? What happens next?
At this point, book two (Desires of the Dead) is scheduled for release in 2011. I’m just finishing edits on it now. Ultimately, I would like to do more books with Violet and Jay, and I have an idea of what will happen next, but nothing I can talk about just yet.
DFT: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell us about?
I’m really superstitious about talking about my new projects, but I will say that, yes, I am working on a new YA book…one that I am very, very excited about!
DFT: If you could choose only one, which would you choose: for The Body Finder to be award-winning, or for The Body Finder to be bestselling? Why?
I hate to be a sell-out, but I have to go with bestselling. I would really rather know that a lot of people have read it (and hopefully enjoyed it!) than to know that it’s won a lot of awards, but hasn’t reached a lot of readers. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a little of both!
DFT: What was the path to publication like for The Body Finder? Was it difficult to find an agent and a publisher?
I actually my agent at the BEA Writer’s Conference during their three-minute pitch sessions. It was nerve-wracking, but fortunately my agent saw past the moment when I mixed up the words “urban” and “rural” and she decided to sign me anyway. After that, everything went very quickly. She pitched the manuscript to editors and sent it out right away, and it wasn’t long before we had our first offer. It was like a whirlwind!
DFT: Why do you think there is the misconception that young adult books are not as deep or as complex as books for adults? What is your response to this misconception?
I say the people making those claims haven’t read the right YA books (or probably haven’t read any at all!). YA is a strong genre, chock-full of amazing writers. I love being part of this community. And teens are too smart and too savvy to allow us to get away with “writing down” to them. Are all YA books deep and complex? Of course not. But the same thing can be said of the adult market.
DFT: What is your favorite fairy tale? Why?
I’ve always loved Little Red Riding Hood…even when I was a little girl. Probably because, even then, I liked dark tales of intrigue and murder.
DFT: What books/genres do you read when you have the chance? Any must read authors or series?
I read pretty much everything. This past year, as part of the Debs and the Tenners, I’ve been so fortunate to read an abundance of fabulous books, but I have to say that some of my all-time faves are still books like To Kill A Mockingbird (which everyone says, but it’s true!), The Shining (which is the complete opposite of TKAM, but I’m a rabid Stephen King fan), The Kite Runner (because I cried), Night by Elie Weisel (because I was appalled) and The Golden Compass (because Philip Pulman created an amazing world). See? I read it all!
DFT: What is your definition of a “bad writing day”? How do you deal with bad writing days?
I don’t know that I necessarily have “bad writing days,” but I definitely have “no writing days.” There’s really no rhyme or reason to how much I write on any given day. On a good day, it could be 3,000 words, on a bad day zilch. Fortunately, the good days far outweigh the bad!
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or any writing rituals?
I’m not much of an outliner, so mostly I just open whatever document I’m working on and go for it. Despite the fact that I don’t have a hard outline, I do have a very distinct idea of where I’m headed with the story. I may have even written it down (in not-too-many words) I just don’t always know exactly how I’m going to get there. That’s what revisions are for, to clean up my first draft mess.
During edits, I don’t write at all because I become consumed with editing. (Oh, and did I mention that I LOVE edits???)
DFT: What creature are you afraid of most?
Please don’t laugh…I’m actually a little afraid of vampires. For real. When I was younger, my grandfather scared me by telling me they were real (and he believed it!) and that I was never to invite them into my home. You would think that after all these years, and a sparkly vampire later, I would have gotten over that fear, but there’s still a small part of me that kind of believes. How sad is that?
DFT: If you could be any paranormal creature. Which one would you be and why?
Maybe I’d be a vampire, just so I could prove to myself that they’re really not so scary. Then again, I might be terrified…
DFT: Thanks Kimberly for taking the time to stop by.
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