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Authors Are Rockstars Tour: Karsten Knight Interview, Guest Post + Giveaway

Today is the first day of the Authors Are Rockstars Tour and I am so unbelievably excited to be able to welcome Karsten Knight to the blog. He is one of my top five favorite debut authors of 2011 and is one of my favorite authors of all time… and no, it’s not because of his videos.

No, really it’s not.

Wildefire was one of my most anticipated reads of 2011. I was so unbelievably lucky to get the chance to read it early and it was every bit as awesome as I thought it would be. And so much more. Karsten Knight is one seriously talented author. He completely blew me away with his writing. He kinda rocked my world.

And it wasn’t just Wildefire but Embers & Echoes… though I’m not quite ready to talk about that just yet, so I’ll let a brief passage speak for me instead.

Your dress ignites again, not on purpose this time. This is a dry, uncontrollable wildfire fueled by an ocean of dark thoughts. Your flesh turns to molten rock, cracking in places to let the magma fluoresce through. A corona extends from your body outward, outward, until the fire streams up the walls, over the seats beside you, over the dashboard controls….

Yeah. Wow. A poet with his words. A total rockstar.

As an author, Karsten Knight surprised me. His videos, some of which you will have a chance to watch, below, show a disarming, charming and incredibly humorous side of him. But his writing shows depth, intensity and beauty.

And the way he ends a book? Killer. Absolutely killer.

So, aside from all that, why do I think he’s a rockstar?

He isn’t afraid to take chances with his stories, characters and worlds. He has created a seriously kick-a** heroine that not only doesn’t blend in with the crowd but crushes it.  His writing is beauty. His words bewitching. His characters entertaining. His stories riveting. His series amazing.

And while I love his videos, its his writing that makes him a rockstar. His videos… well… they just make him one heck of an awesome personality.

In case you haven’t “met” him yet, here’s just a little bit about him…

About the Author

… as if he really needs any introduction!

Karsten Knight has been writing since the age of six, when he completed his first masterpiece: a picture book series about an adventurous worm.

In the two decades that have followed, Karsten has worked as a proofreader, a bookseller, and a college admissions counselor before he finally decided that his true calling was to be a volcano goddess biographer.

He lives in Boston, and for more information or to watch his video blog, visit KarstenKnight.com.

Find him:  TWITTERFACEBOOKBLOGYOUTUBEGOODREADS

To find out more about Karsten Knight on Simon & Schuster’s website, such as his greatest fear and his biggest pet peeve, CLICK HERE.

Q. We think authors are amazing. You are our rockstars. Do you have an author or authors that you look up to or are inspired or amazed by?

I think my two favorite YA novels in recent memory have been IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma and MARCELO AND THE REAL WORLD by Francisco X. Stork. But lately, I’ve been reading a lot of adult literary fiction. Maggie Shipstead’s SEATING ARRANGEMENTS actually made me laugh like a mad man in public while I was listening to the audiobook–I got a lot of weird stares. And Dennis Lehane’s DARKNESS, TAKE MY HAND made me afraid to go out at night for about a month.

[Fiktshun: Loved IMAGINARY GIRLS! And I will definitely have to check out DARKNESS, TAKE MY HAND if it’s that chilling.]

Q. For those who don’t already know, your series’ main character, Ashline Wilde, is a Polynesian Volcano Goddess – I don’t think I’m spoiling anything as it is in your brief bio. I don’t know if it would be possible to create a character more different from yourself than Ash is from you… unless you are really a Polynesian Volcano Goddess and you haven’t been forthcoming with your fans. Hmmm… What’s been the most difficult part of sharing a brain with this particular character over the course of the series?

I joke a lot about how writing from a female POV is easy, because I grew up with two sisters…but honestly, the biggest challenge in writing Ashline Wilde has been the reincarnation issue. The central premise of the WILDEFIRE trilogy is that all the gods and goddesses from every pantheon around the world–Polynesian, Aztec, Mayan, Shinto, Roman, Norse, etc–are reincarnated on Earth every century with no memories of their previous lives. And yet, lifetime after lifetime, they still find each other, and the sparks fly…romantically and violently.

In Ash’s case, by the time you finish the trilogy, you’ll get to see her in four lifetimes: as a modern-day American teenager; as a bank robber in 1920s New Orleans; as a protector of the Hawaiian islands in the 1830s; …and a time period I can’t divulge right now. So each lifetime, Ash might have the same face and the same fiery, volcanic powers, but the novels explore how different cultures, time periods, and environments can shape us. Essentially, I had to write four variations of the same character–you know, since Prohibition-era outlaws are probably just a *teensy* bit different from a 21st Century teenager raised by attorneys in Upstate New York.

[Fiktshun: I really can’t see how writing a Prohibition-era outlaw would be any different from writing a teen raised in Upstate New York…. But seriously, I think it’s amazing that you have been able to take your characters on such journeys, not only geographically but through time and lifetimes. So far – as I haven’t yet had a peek at AFTERGLOW – you have done such an amazingly brilliant job.]

Q. Your books offer the YA market something a little bit different than the norm. Your characters are diverse and your female main character is stronger, fiercer, and more independent than most. How did you “pitch” the story to publishers? And how would you best describe your books to someone who hasn’t yet read them?

I wrote most of this series while I was getting a Master’s degree in Writing for Children at Simmons College, which is where I began to study a lot of trends and conventions that are overused in YA…particularly paranormal and dystopian fiction. My main goal while writing this trilogy was to try not to lean on any of those crutches, at all costs.

You’ll notice just from the table of contents in each book that even the story structure is kind of weird–each section is a single day, instead of a short chapter. As I mentioned before, the stories also jump from century to century without much warning. Some people are going to love Ashline’s story, while some people will inevitably hate it; but I’ll call it a success as long as you turn the last page of AFTERGLOW when it comes out next year and say, “Well…that was different.”

[Fiktshun: I have no doubt in my mind that I will turn to that last page and think it was different. I also have no doubt that it will have been an entirely exciting adventure. Ash may not be the most lovable – and probably not much of a hug-able – character, but she is incredibly unique and, to me, has such an appealing personality. I also have no doubt that I will turn to that last page of that last book and wish there were more.]

Q. Without revealing too much, which of the three books in your series was your favorite to write? Which was the most challenging? What was your favorite scene to write? And if you have finished writing the series, how tough has it been to say goodbye to your characters? Is killing them off easier than saying goodbye or are both just as tough?

That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child…though I’m sure my mother would, without hesitation, answer, “Karsten.” All three books are so different that sometimes they almost don’t seem like they belong in the same series. EMBERS & ECHOES (which comes out August 28th) is the darkest of the three books, so it was really challenging to balance the grimness and violence with Ashline’s sense of humor. AFTERGLOW was probably my favorite to write, because I finally got to bring the story to my hometown: Boston!

The epilogue of AFTERGLOW was easily my favorite scene to write…ever. There’s no non-spoilery way to describe it, but I will say a) it brings the story “full circle,” b) it will mess with your head, and c) if it leaves you feeling chilled but chuckling darkly to yourself, then you probably read it correctly.

As for killing off characters, the good news: when you write a book about reincarnation, they never stay dead for long…

[Fiktshun: I’d forgotten how modest you were. Though, if I recall, your mother helped you choose a winner in an ARC contest of yours last year and she seemed incredibly proud of you, so maybe she would in fact pick you. And yes, EMBERS & ECHOES was dark. Deliciously dark. Wonderfully dark. Perfectly… okay, I’ll stop. I hadn’t realized just what a tease you could be. Now I’m even more desperate to find out what happens in AFTERGLOW and especially in that epilogue. These next thirteen or so months will be incredibly long….]

About Wildefire

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her.

But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own.

With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Find it: AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, GOODREADS, FACEBOOK

To browse inside Wildefire courtesy of Simon & Schuster, CLICK HERE.

About Embers & Echoes

Fan the flames: A teen goddess fires up her search for love and family in this sequel to Wildefire.

Ashline Wilde may have needed school to learn that she is actually a reincarnated goddess, but she’s ready to move beyond books. She leaves her California boarding school behind and makes for Miami, where she meets a new group of deities and desperately seeks her sister Rose, the goddess of war. But she’s also looking for love–because even though her romance with Cole had to be snuffed, Ash is a volcano goddess–and she doesn’t get burned.

This sequel to the edgy and action-packed Wildefire “continues a fiery drama on an immortal scale.

Find it: AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, GOODREADS

 And, if an interview weren’t enough, this spectacular, rockstar author shared his…

“Why You Shouldn’t Divorce a Polynesian Volcano Goddess”

This is the video I filmed at Simon & Schuster’s author studio in NYC. One of the reasons I love my publisher is that they’ve been completely supportive of my weirdness. Evidence: typically authors take these interviews very seriously, discussing the inspiration for their work, why it’s important to them, etc. I asked my publisher, “how about we just film three minutes of me saying random nonsense?” They obliged.

[Fiktshun: Gotta say it – Best. Publisher produced video. Ever.]

“Why You Shouldn’t Write Your Novel on an Etch-a-Sketch”

A retrospective look at some of my earliest written fiction. I was a very prolific six-years-old. Also, my cat Maverick makes a cameo.

[Fiktshun: Prolific indeed. You can easily see what a talent this author will become from his earlier works.]

“The Top 10 Things That May Surprise You About WILDEFIRE”

Probably the first and last time I will ever use the phrases “fire-breathing dolphin” and “I’m a sassy unicorn.”

[Fiktshun: I’d love to put a wager down on whether those two phrases will be repeated. I was glad to learn the characters don’t wear “brightly-colored spandex.” I am surprised not surprised to learn the author does…. I am curious as to whether that priceless My Little Pony collection ended up on eBay. And, for the record, I have not once misspelled the title for the author’s book. I have, however, misspelled “wildfire” on numerous occasions ever since. ]

“Karsten Summarizes Seven Years in Two Minutes”

This is one of the only vlogs I’ve taken semi-seriously. I was having a nostalgic, reflective week a few summers ago while working on EMBERS & ECHOES, so I made a video scrapbook of the last 7 years of my life, leading up to WILDEFIRE’s publication.

[Fiktshun: I did not know the author was a talented singer, too. Loved the personal photo slideshow and the author’s wistful stare into the distance just before the end shots. Made me just a bit reflective, too.]

“The Karsten Knight Holiday Spectacular”

I think I spent most of this vlog discussing why I should be the next Bachelor on ABC. I stand by this assertion.

[Fiktshun: While I think the author might make an excellent candidate for ABC’s The Bachelor, I’d be a little afraid of just what it would do to his writing….]

Wow! I am just so unbelievably thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview you here on the blog and to have you share five of your favorite vlogs. While I might have added “Sunday Runs a Risky Business” to list, I have to agree that they are some of your best vlog moments.

So, thank you so much for participating in the Authors Are Rockstars Tour. Thank you for being such an amazing writer. Thanks for creating stories that I will never forget, characters I will love and hate for all time and endings that continue to shock and surprise me.

You have been such a rockstar to me long before this event and you will continue to be one long after.

What’s up for grabs:

A signed copy of Wildefire by Karsten Knight (original hardcover) – to TWO WINNERS and

A pre-order of Embers & Echoes (ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository) – to FOUR WINNERS

The deets:

1. One entry per household.

2. There will be SIX winners.

3. You must be 13 or older.

4. Giveaway is International.

5. Contest ends on Wednesday, August 15th at 9:01 p.m. Pacific.

6. Winners will be chosen by Random.org through Rafflecopter and announced on August 15th in this post.

7. Prizes will be awarded based on the order Random chooses. The first two winners will be for the signed books, the next four will be for the pre-orders.

8. Winners will have 48 hours after notification to respond with their details.

There is no requirement to like or follow. But there is an extra entry opportunity for following the author on Twitter!

And if you’d like to spread the word that would be awesome!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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