Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Interview With Kira Saito, Author of BOUND

Firstly, can we give the readers some back ground information about you. For example, Full Name, Age, Where did you grow up? Where do you live? Are you married? Do you have kids? Pets?
 Hey guys, I’m Kira Saito. I’m 29 (old!!).  I was born and raised in Canada, but currently live in Brazil with my husband (he’s Brazilian, and yes, he can dance!). We have one beautiful baby, he’s a mini-Maltese named Costanza (yes, named after George Costanza).  
1) Who would you say have been your influences, both in life and in writing?
Everything influences me in one way or another. My family, my friends, faces I see on the street, the rain, my puppy, movies, music, chocolate, vanilla vodka :>. Every single author I’ve ever read and loved has influenced me somehow. If I love something it stays with me even if I forget about it, eventually it comes out in a phrase or a character.

2) Did you always know you wanted to write?
Yes, I never had a doubt.
2a) If you couldn't be an author, what would you want to be?

 Well, I’m dramatic, so I’d love to be a Broadway star, but I can’t sing or dance. I would love acting in plays as well!

3) How long have you been writing? From what age?
I’ve been writing since I could read. When I was in elementary school, I used to write short stories and drop them in the classroom aisles. I secretly hoped that my teachers would pick up the stories and read them. They would instantly recognize my genius and I would become a New York Times Best Selling Author at the age of 6. It didn’t work.
4) Is Bound the first thing you have written? (if not, please tell us about the first thing you wrote)
No, my day job is a freelance writer. I’m always writing. In terms of fiction, the first thing I wrote was a short story about a guy who got murdered in New York, I was 7, I think. Over the years I’ve written several novels, but they were all terrible. I finally had the guts to put Bound out there. I believe in the book because I think it’s unique.
5) How long did Bound take to write?
The idea formed slowly over the course of a year. When I finally got down to business writing it took only a couple of month (well the first draft, don’t get me started on revisions!).
6) Where did you come up with the theme for this book?
I’ve always been obsessed with New Orleans and voodoo. One of my favorite authors is Anne Rice. I can’t think of any YA books that have a voodoo queen as the main character. There are plenty of witches, but not voodoo queens. I love vamps, witches and werewolves, but where are the queens??? I wanted to create a world that was full of color and superstition, something different! I wanted the main character to be strong, smart, but vulnerable.

7) Do you have personal belief in spirits and voodoo?
I do. I believe in various forms of magic, but there is something about voodoo/hoodoo that is so unique, beautiful and haunting. Yeah, I used to carry around a voodoo doll in high school. My husband is convinced that we are together because he’s under a voodoo spell (so mean, right??!!).
7a) Do you own your own Gris-gris?
I do!

8) Where did you research the information about the spirits, for example Bris and Erzulie? Is it something you have been taught growing up by a family member?
 It came from lots of books, I read on voodoo. There is Haitian voodoo and New Orleans hoodoo/voodoo, my character is from New Orleans so her beliefs are more flexible. It’s really fascinating; I haven’t even scratched the surface though. New Orleans spirits are very colorful and yes they like rum and stuff, so we will see more of them in future books.

9) Where would you say the inspiration for the characters came from? In particular, Arelia, Sabrina, Lucus, Ivan, Mr Dumpty. And where did their names come from?
Arelia is part me, part every girl, and a big helping of Tiana from Disney’s Princess and the frog. I wanted her name to be something Southern and different. Sabrina is more like my real life bff Christine and kinda like Charlotte from the Princess and the Frog. Her name comes from the movie Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn. Lucus is molded after the vampire Louis de Pointe du Luc and Prince Naveen. He’s got a tortured side (more on that in future books) but he can be pretty flirty too! Ivan is molded after the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, his actions are questionable, you don’t know what his exact deal is and of course he prides himself on his good looks.  Mr. Dumpty is part Mr. Dursley and part every creepy, old dude you’ve met.
10) Do you know a real life Mr Dumpty?
Yes! We all do! He’s that dude that checks girls everywhere he goes, unaware of how hideous he is.
11) Why did you choose to call Bea "Grand-mere"? Is this something you call your own grandmother?
 Grand-mere is French for grandmother. I decided to call her that as a reflection of how diverse New Orleans is in terms of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. So Arelia’s background is French, Spanish, African-American, etc. She’s very mixed.  

12) In my review I said "You take a base layer of Paula Morris, add a pinch of Amber Kizer and a helping of Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, add them all together and you have the perfect recipe to make Bound by Kira Saito" - Do you see these authors as influential in the writing of Bound, or is it just happy coincidence?
Honestly, I’ve never read anything by those authors, but I did look up Beautiful Creatures and am going to start reading it soon.
13) Do you find that writing this kind of book comes easily to you? Is this in your comfort zone, or did you really need to research hard and push yourself out of your comfort zone?
The story came easily, but my brain got in the way. I was like, but I have to research voodoo more. I have to get the ingredients right. The spirits have to be described in a certain way. OMG if I don’t, I’m going to be cursed!! Yes, that’s what took long.
14) How many drafts were there before your "This Is It" moment?
 I’m still in that phase where I want to change details. I have to detain myself; otherwise, I’ll never stop.

15) Was there ever a time when you wanted to scrap the project and start over?
 Yes, last night. I was like, “I should have written about vampires!!!! No one wants to read about voodoo!!! No one!!! You screwed up, argh!!!”

16) Did you have a playlist whilst writing Bound? If so, do you mind telling us what it was?
Nick Cave-Murder Ballads, The Princess and frog soundtrack, Bruno Mars, Uninvited by Alanis Morisette over and over, Louis Armstrong, the Oh Bother Where art thou soundtrack and Halleluiah sung by Rufus Wainwright.
17) Out of all the characters you have created, with whom do you think you most relate? Are you a 'label snob' like Sabrina? Or do you think of yourself as a "Voodoo Queen" like Arelia?
Mr. Dumpty!!!! No, just kidding. I love shopping and stuff, but I’m Arelia, I’m scared at times but I know I have to fight for what I want.
18) How many books do you see being in the Arelia LaRue series?
Hmmmm, so far, I see 6. Let’s see where this goes.
19) When do you think we will see the sequel published?
Before Christmas for sure!
20) Is there anything you are willing to share with us about where you see the series going?
 Yes, it’s going get a bit darker, you’re gonna be surprised. There’s no good vs evil thing going on. Each of the characters sees the world in a different way based on the experiences they’ve had. You’re going to learn more about Lucus, Ivan, Louis Beau, Mad Marie.  
and finally

21) What are you currently working on? I have heard it is an anthology with 5 other authors, with a chocolate theme. Is this correct? Or is it hush-hush?
Haa no it’s not hush. Some lovely authors and I are working on an anthology called Death by Chocolate. All of the short stories are based on romance, the paranormal and chocolate! I’m super excited for it. I’m lucky to have met some great authors with the same passion to write awesome YA paranormal books. As well, I’m working on the second book in the series.
Thank you Keren!!!!
Thank you Kira for taking the time to answer my questions, I found them so interesting to read, and I am sure your other readers will too!
I eagerly await book 2 of Arelia LaRue and also, Death By Chocolate.

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