Dark Faerie Tales is excited to bring you today’s interview with Kat Zhang. Her debut novel, What’s Left of Me, is about two souls that inhabit one body and the risks they go through to share that one body. What’s Left of Me releases today! Read an excerpt here.
Kat Zhang is an avid traveler, and after a childhood spent living in one book after another, she now builds stories for other people to visit. An English major at Vanderbilt University, she spends her free time performing Spoken Word poetry, raiding local bookstores, and plotting where to travel next. What’s Left of Me–about a girl with two souls–is her first novel and will be released by HarperCollins on 9/18/2012. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen of Stonesong.
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about What’s Left of Me?
Kat: Sure! WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is a young adult novel about a fifteen-year-old girl, Eva, who lives in an alternate version of our world–one where each baby is born with two souls but one usually disappears by age five or six. Eva is the soul who should have faded away, but she never did. Instead, she lost all control of her own body, existing as only a voice in Addie’s–her twin soul–head.
Both girls must keep Eva’s existence secret; society fears and hates hybrids like them. If they were discovered, they’d be locked away. But when another secret hybrid reveals that Eva might be able to learn how to control her body again, Eva can’t help but risk everything for the chance to move and speak aloud.
DFT: Could you tell us about your main characters in What’s Left of Me?
Kat: Eva is our POV character. By the beginning of the book, she’s been trapped in her own body for three years and is desperate for a chance to actually live. Addie, her twin soul, is just trying to fit into a normal life while keeping this enormous secret from the world. There’s a lot of friction between the girls sometimes, but also a lot of love.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line in What’s Left of Me?
Kat: Most of my favorite scenes are rather spoiler-y One of my favorite lines, though, is: “I would always wonder what might have happened if we’d listened.” I like the line they use on the back of the book, too, though! “By the time our younger brothers reached settling age, Addie and I had been through two therapists and four types of medication, all trying to do what nature should have already done: get rid of the recessive soul. Get rid of me.”
DFT: What inspired you to write about a girl with two souls?
Kat: There wasn’t one big thing that inspired WHAT’S LEFT OF ME. I just started thinking about that little voice everyone has in the back of their head, and how sometimes in movies and such, it’s portrayed as this whole other voice, and what if that voice was really another person, and what if they were stuck inside your body…? That’s how the idea for Eva came about, and the rest of the story was based around her
DFT: How much research went into creating this book?
Kat: Well, I’ve always been interested in psychology, and since I took a lot of pre-med courses at school, I had a vague background in science just by virtue of that. I did take a neurobiology class, as well. Other than that, I did some research on neurology and asked my parents (both in the medical field!) some questions. However, WHAT’S LEFT OF ME was never meant to be “hard” sci-fi, so the concept of two souls and how that might work is handled more on a emotional and societal level than on a scientific one.
DFT: What is your favorite part about writing this book?
Kat: WHAT’S LEFT OF ME was only the second book I ever finished writing, so it was not only a learning process in terms of navigating the publishing world, but in terms of just plain writing and storytelling technique, as well. I really loved learning so much while putting this novel together, and I hope to use all that knowledge to make book 2 even better.
If we’re including all of publishing as part of “writing,” though, my favorite part has definitely been getting to know all the wonderful writers and bloggers and industry people I’ve met
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?
Kat: My favorite place to write is somewhere very dark and silent as a tomb. I don’t like being reminded that any world exists but the world in whatever manuscript I’m working on. So while the stereotypical place for writers to write seems to be a cafe or some picturesque cabin somewhere, it would all be quite lost on me! I’d rather be buried deep in the stacks of some library
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) do you draw from while writing?
Kat: When I first started writing as a kid, I was very much inspired by Philip Pullman, who taught me about creating fantastical worlds so vivid they felt real and crafting characters so vibrant you wished they were your best friends. I was also inspired by Orson Scott Card’s ENDER’S GAME, which showed me the power of brilliant dialogue and (again), deft characterization. Finally, I was inspired by Alice Hoffman, whose GREEN ANGEL was one of my first lessons in how a sentence can be beautiful.
Today, I’m definitely inspired whenever I read a beautifully crafted book, but I also draw inspiration from all kinds of art, whether it be dance or film or music or visual art. In fact, I think it’s often easier to get inspired by non-literary art
DFT: Which genre do you prefer to read? Do you have any favorite authors or series?
Kat: I do love my YA I’ve also gotten into reading adult literary after reading a lot in that genre for my creative writing workshops. I tend to not have favorite authors so much as favorite books, but I’m definitely a big fan of my fellow Pub(listing) Crawl ladies!
DFT: What can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?
Kat: Well, at the moment I’m revising Book 2 of the Hybrid Chronicles. I’ve also got two other fantasy projects and a contemporary on the back burner (or the back, back burner in one case!)
DFT: If you could be a paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Kat: Hmmm…I think I’ve be a fairie! Why not? They tend to be super powerful and have magic powers and, as far as I know, not a ton of limitations. Though the aversion to iron thing might become a huge hassle…;)
DFT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Kat: Thanks for inviting me to interview with you!
Available September 18, 2012 from Harper Collins
About this Book:
I should not exist. But I do.
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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