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Interview: Kailin Gow, Author of Bitter Frost

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It is my pleasure to share an interview that I recently had the honor of doing with a delightful person and an incredibly talented author, Kailin Gow.  Ms. Gow is the author of Bitter Frost, which was recently released on June 1, 2010.  As well as several additional books to her name, including The Shy Girls Social Club Handbook for Dealing with Bullies and Other Meanies, The Gifted Girls Series which have been recommended by the Parents Teachers Association, PBS Kids, Homeschooling organizations, and Best Teens Books lists!

Kailin Gow holds a Masters Degree in Communications Management from USC, and Bachelors Degrees in Drama and Social Ecology from UC Irvine.  In addition, Ms. Gow is a mother, a mentor for young women, and the founder of the social group for girls age 13 to 19 called Shy Girls Social Club at shygirlssocialclub.com.

First of all, could you tell us a bit about Bitter Frost? What is the story about, who are the characters, etc.

Bitter Frost is about a girl who has always had dreams of being in Feyland, a land of enchantment and magical creatures. She has dreams of a handsome young Prince name Kian, who is the fairy prince of the Winter Kingdom. What she doesn’t know and eventually finds out is that she was once a child from Feyland, but she doesn’t remember. Now she’s living in Oregon with her single mother, and trying to survive high school with her best friend and only friend Logan.

The day she turns 16, however, everything changes, and she finds herself in the middle of a war. Kian is her intended and the love of her life, but he is also her sworn enemy.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from Bitter Frost? Could you share that with us, please?

I felt his arms around me. That was the first thing; I felt it before I could see anything, see him. I felt his arms encircle my shoulders, feel him brushing my shoulder blades lightly with his fingertips. I shivered. His hands took mine. I could see him. It was Kian, but he was older, now, and so was I – both a young man and a young woman – staring at each other. Age had only made us more beautiful; his hair was longer now, and his eyes sharper, with greater depth. I could see my reflection in his eyes; my hair was longer too: a deep, warm brown with flecks of gold studded throughout. And I could see my expression – full of fear, full of joy – as he bent down closer to me, as his lips came ever closer to mine.

“Oh, Breena,” he said to me. “My Breena.”

His blue eyes took on a look of sharp determination; he stared at me with such intensity that I felt that his eyes had penetrated into the truest part of my true soul, a part hidden even to the rest of this strange and wonderful land.

“I will kill you, Breena. It is what I have to do. It is decreed.” He cupped my face with his hands, and I could feel his cool breath whispering upon my cheek. “We are mortal enemies.”

Always, every night, that same dream – that same fear, that same joy. When I woke up each morning, I felt a profound sense of loss, a yearning that stretched so deeply it crossed the bounds of reality itself. The alarm clock would ring, and everything would change. I was a nearly-sixteen-year-old girl, with suede boots, with T-shirts bearing sayings I believe in.” I had an iPod, a cell phone, my laptop (with pages full of html code for my brainchild, teensforgreatergood.com). I spoke in rushed slang about the latest films and television shows, played video games with Logan, teased him when he won, teased him when he lost. I wore little to no makeup and complained about homework during G-Format. The idea of dating – of fumbling high school boys trying to score in between stolen keg stands, of Facebook relationship statuses and hastily-texted endearments – repulsed me.

But for a few hours each night, I was somebody else. I was a princess in a castle, with a dress made of lavender and besides me there is a prince with arctic-blue eyes, and arms wrapped closely around me, and lips coming nightly ever closer to mine…

I was home.

What do you want readers to take away from reading Bitter Frost?

How you always have the choice to choose between right and wrong. How you can be empowered to make a difference in your world no matter how old you are or what your background is. Also, how love is complicated, but you have to give it a chance.

What was the most fun about writing Bitter Frost?

I love the characters and feel what they’re going through – the excitement of their first moments, the anguish and pain, and the sadness. The characters do come alive for me, and I enjoy being swept away along with them through their journey.

What was the hardest part about writing Bitter Frost?

Knowing the fates of the characters and being able to balance that knowledge with presenting their story in the best possible way without giving it away early.

What kind of research did you do for Bitter Frost?

I did a lot of research on fairies and folklore. For the side story, however, I also did research on high school life and bullying.

Could you please tell us about your writing process?

My writing process starts with the concept. It’s like a pitch. It’s a one-line story concept. Then I begin staging the story with characters and fleshing them out, each with detailed information about their lives and point-of-view. Next, I plot out the novel. It is a very regimented approach that I have for myself, and it works to keep novels organized and flowing.

Do you ever put yourself within your characters?

Most certainly! Every character has a little bit of me in them.

Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.

Yes, I listen to music, I drink coffee, and I write wherever I can. I once drafted two entire books while working on a laptop sitting in a car, while my husband drove from California to Las Vegas. I write in restaurants, I write on airplanes, and I write a lot in hotel rooms.

Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?

From my travels, from my own life experiences, from dreams, from reading classics, from my passions, and from films.

How did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Was there any authors or books that made you think "Wow, that's what I want to do – craft stories of my own for others to read"?

My biggest women writer inspirations as a child were Madeleine L’'Engle and Judy Blume. I’ve always loved C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens, as well.

What make you take that leap from "wanting" to be a writer, as opposed to "becoming" a writer? Many talk of being a writer and dip their toes in, but it seems there is often a sort of "push" to bring one over that wall.

I’ve always known that I would be a writer ever since I picked up my first “big” novel Watership Down. When I was nine, I wrote a book about a world of squirrels residing in a city encased in a large tree. Strangely, that idea of a large tree as a symbol of life and shelter hasn’t gone away, as The Alchemists Academy, my new series for younger teens, involves a gigantic tree as its main setting.

I decided to pursue professional writing after experiencing a personal revelation, focusing on the real passion in my life. It took 9-11 to get me in gear and to realize that I wanted to write at least one book in life. Surprisingly, it went well beyond one book.

How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!

So true! I actually look up names on the Baby Name finder and try to find a name that fits the character. It is like naming children all the time!

Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

Yes! My favorite books were the Anne of Green Gables series, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Wind in the Willow, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Wrinkle in Time, Diary of Anne Frank, and Robin Hood.

If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?

“A Series of Significant Coincidences”

What are you working on right now? Could you give us a taste/teaser (aka excerpt) from your current WIP?

Book 2 of Bitter Frost. It is called Forever Frost, and it is even better than Book 1. There is more danger and intrigue, and the love between Breena and Kian becomes more complex with the appearance of someone from Breena’s life from before she entered Feyland.

I’m also working on a web series with a book series tie-in called The Stoker Sisters about vampire sisters who once lived in Jane Austen’s England, but now exists in the 21st century America.

What are you reading right now?

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Plato, Donald Trump, JRR Tolkien, The Brothers Grimm, Nicholas Sparks, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Dr. Seuss.

If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

It would have to be C.S. Lewis. His writing has inspired me to pursue writing for the tween through young adult markets. I love the symbolisms he puts into his books. In almost all of my books, especially for the tweens series, like the Gifted Girls Series, which I write under Victoria London, there are many symbolisms. C.S. Lewis’ work is wildly imaginative and fantastic. I look to him for inspiration.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

I hope to bring a lot more series like Bitter Frost to my readers and to do my best to help promote reading at all ages.

Is there anything that you would like to add? That you would like readers to know about you or your writing?

I write from the heart. I write stories for all age groups, which I hope will entertain, inspire, and enlighten my readers to a new or different perspective. Even the edgy books I write are inspiring, empowering, and thought-provoking. It’s all about choices and circumstances.

Where can readers get in touch with you? Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc?

They can join my Facebook Author Page. They can also follow me on Twitter, and look me up on my publisher site, sparklesoup.com. I appreciate my readers and look forward to hearing from them.

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