Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: Release Day Blitz The Holy Dark by Kyoko M






What inspired you to become an author?

A lot of different sources deserve credit. First and foremost goes to my mother, who used to read me books every night before bed. Secondly, I have to thank the brilliant minds behind Batman: The Animated Series, which captured my imagination as a young girl and made me want to tell stories as grand and exciting as the ones they did. I began with rudimentary fanfiction and eventually graduated to writing my own original fiction. As time went on, I realized I had more fun writing than I did in my first major in college—veterinary science—and so I switched my major. I never thought I could become a professional author until I met Jackson Pearce, an urban fantasy YA author who did a lecture on creative writing and publishing at the University of Georgia. She inspired me to decide take a chance on myself and my work, so I did. Thus, if I die a penniless nobody, I’m totally blaming her.

All kidding aside, I became an author because I love the act of storytelling. I love the freedom. I love the scope. I’ve watched all kinds of television shows, anime, cartoons, and movies, and read hundreds of books that made me realize that writing is one of the most fulfilling feelings one can experience.



How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

The Holy Dark is named after a beautiful lyric from Leonard Cole’s “Hallelujah”: “There was a time you’d let me know what’s real and going on below, but now you never show it to me, do you? And remember when I moved in you; the holy dark was moving too, and every breath we drew was hallelujah…” Unfortunately, using the stanza in the novel is prohibited because of the deeply annoying copyrights of song lyrics, but it’s totally legal to use it for the book’s title. Has a great ring to it, and it really fits the struggle of the characters inside it, trying to find light in the darkness.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

I always write a working title before I start the novel. I don’t know why, but the book doesn’t feel real until it has a title at the top of my Word document. The working title for She Who Fights Monsters, for example, was “aeria gloriam” which loosely translates to “heavenly glory.” It was an idea I had from the Yoko Kanno song “Inner Universe” from the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack, whose lyrics fit the tone of that novel well, but it was way too hard to pronounce, so I changed it to the title inspired by the famous Friedrich Nietzsche quote.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Have faith in yourself and in the ones you love, and you can accomplish wonders.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

As far as The Holy Dark, here and there you’ll find little bits of things I’ve actually done in real life, but for the most part, no, the plot is 100% fictional. The characters are mostly original, but I have stolen small traits from my family. Myra Bennett, a new character whom readers will meet in The Holy Dark, reminds me of my Aunt Z.B., my mother’s sister-in-law, who is hilarious and has no brain-mouth-filter. She says anything that comes to mind, and is one of the smartest, toughest, funniest people I’ve ever known. Another example is the forehead kiss that Gabriel always gives Jordan in greeting or when he leaves. It’s based on something my favorite cousin Mikey did once years ago: I was sitting on his couch watching television and he came up behind me and kissed me on the forehead. He didn’t say anything or explain himself. He just kept on walking afterward, and for some reason, I remember feeling so safe and loved that it nearly overwhelmed me, so I added that as one of Gabriel’s brotherly actions towards Jordan, who is basically like his little sister.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files, is basically my hero. I waited in a room for nearly six hours just to get his autograph, and so that I could called him a sadist for writing the ending to Changes and Chapter 14 of his recent novel Skin Game (to which he cackled, waggled his eyebrows, and said, “Oh, I’m SORRY!” in a hilariously facetious way). I’m a relatively new author and I have a long, hard journey ahead of me, but I want to become the kind of writer that he is. He never pulls his punches. He writes so beautifully, and yet he’s not afraid to make you laugh your ass off or shake the book in frustration when our lovable Chicago wizard does something stupid. I want to learn how to become an author who can genuinely make you feel things about the characters, and the kind of author who can write diverse, three-dimensional characters no matter what the scenario. Butcher’s Dresden Files inspires me constantly and it’s honestly my favorite series of all time.

I also have to give credit where credit is due to the late great Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series. Those books fed me years and years of entertainment and beautiful language. It’s so fantastic because he wrote for children and young adults, but he didn’t talk down to them. There is death, violence, war, poverty, betrayal, and all kinds of seedy things within the pages of that series, but it’s so wonderfully told and in a way that is accessible to all ages, honestly. Sure, the characters are all animals, but trust me when I say you do not underestimate them at any point.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I am lucky enough to actually have a real one! His name is Andy Rattinger. He’s a gruff but lovable screenwriter/indie filmmaker who found me on Twitter and took me under his wing. He basically kicks me into writing or researching when I’m off-track, and every so often I’m lucky enough to chat with him on Skype about problems I’m having with my narrative or plot threads that just aren’t tying together. He’d deny it if you asked him, but he singlehandedly saved The Holy Dark. I came to him last year with all kinds of problems with the story and he helped me straighten it out and make the best version of it that I could. Plus, he’s mean and funny as hell, aka just like me, and so our relationship is one of the most fun I’ve had in years.

What book are you reading now?

I’m neck-deep in getting The Holy Dark ready for publication, so I haven’t been reading lately, but I’m re-reading and reviewing Grave Peril by Jim Butcher as part of my New Year’s resolution to review the entire Dresden Files series. Once the book is out, I’m going to start Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett, because I’ve heard nothing but great things about it for years, and it’s in a genre I enjoy reading.

What books are in your to read pile?

Good Omens, as mentioned above, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Magic Bites by Kate Daniels, Push and Pull by Emily Cyr, Raging Heat by Richard Castle, Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet, Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler, and Peace Talks by Jim Butcher (God-willing that it comes out this year and not in 2016.)

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I’ve got a massive YA epic fantasy in the works that I will pick back up on once The Holy Dark is all settled on the virtual landscape. Still no name yet (though it does have a working title just because I can’t write an untitled story) but think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets the X-Men, with just a dash of Firefly. Sounds awesome, right? I don’t know if it will turn into a full blown series yet, but it looks to be probably two books, perhaps three. I want to have it finished by the end of the summer for a fall/winter release, but we’ll see how it goes before I shoot myself in the foot.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Absolutely! Here’s a little piece of Chapter 6 for your enjoyment.

I finished rinsing out my hair and groped for the towel with my eyes closed to avoid getting any residual shampoo in them. Weirdly, my fingers hit nothing but the moist air near the rack. Frowning, I reached out farther. It wasn’t there. Had it fallen onto the floor?
“Lose something?”
I froze. A deep, mocking, dry-as-sandpaper voice. No. Please, God, let it just be my imagination.
I pried my eyes open and ducked my head around the shower curtain. There, in front of the sink, stood a tall, pale-skinned man with shoulder-length hair as black as soot and a smile as sinister as the devil himself. His eyes were the lightest hue of blue that existed and the pupils were thin and diamond-like rather than round. His features were vaguely European—small forehead, narrow nose, thin but sensual lips, arched eyebrows—but I knew he didn’t have an accent.
He clutched my towel in his long-fingered hand, the other tucked in the pocket of his easily seven-hundred-dollar black suit pants. I recognized his favorite dark color scheme—a charcoal grey button up shirt, black silk tie, and Gucci dress shoes.
“Looking good, my pet.”
The archdemon Belial was standing in my bathroom.
Shit.
I snatched the curtain up across my upper body to hide it. “What the hell are you doing here, you son of a bitch?”
He let his gaze drag across what he could see of me. “We need to talk. With all the charms and incantations you have knowledge of, this was the only place I could think of where you’d be vulnerable.”
“Vulnerable? How did you get in my hotel room in the first place?”
“Your roommate was loathe to cooperate, but even the Honey Badger cannot defeat an archdemon with orders.”
I glared at him, but it was only to hide a pinprick of fear blossoming through my chest. “Where is she?”
“Relax. I have no intention of harming such an interesting specimen. She’ll come around shortly, after we’ve conducted our business. Speaking of which, I think it’s time you got out of there.”
“I’m not going anywhere near you naked,” I snarled, trying to analyze the situation. As always, he had the upper hand—strength, speed, and ruthlessness to boot. My Glock was in the bedroom. No way I could get to it before he got his hands on me. I had a backup weapon in here, but it would take a miracle to get to it with him in the way.
Belial chuckled. “Forgive me. I must have made that sound like a suggestion. Get out of the shower or I will happily help you out of it.”
The threat carried in his emphasis on “help” made me realize I’d used up the last bit of his patience. Time for Plan B.
I slapped my hand down on the faucet. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti benedicam aquae.”
I grabbed the handheld spout and sprayed the now purified water straight at his smirking face. He dodged, but the tiny bathroom prevented him from getting far. He slammed against the far wall. The water skimmed over his right hand. The skin flushed an angry red and steam billowed forth, making him hiss in pain.
He examined the fresh burn and then tossed an impressed look my way. “Using your own shower to defend yourself. Clever girl. However, you and I both know that you are stalling. You’re not going to defeat an archdemon with some holy bath water. I’ll offer you a truce. Put it down and we’ll talk.”
I kept a firm grip on the sprayer, not pointing it at him but considering it. “We’ll talk when you give me my damn towel.”
He clucked his tongue. “Still stubborn and irritatingly modest. Very well. Here you are.”
The demon held it out with his uninjured hand. I glared harder. “Toss it to me.”
He rolled his eyes and obeyed. I caught it with my left hand and shifted behind the curtain, wrapping it around myself. It was stupid, really. He’d seen me naked before in my ex-boyfriend’s memories after he killed him and inhabited his body. I didn’t like thinking about it. Terrell had been dead over two years now and it was my fault. I’d visited his grave a few months back and put fresh flowers on it. He liked lilies. Always had.
“There. Happy now?” he asked.
I didn’t answer. The holy water really was just a stall. I couldn’t kill him with it. I’d have to get out of the tub, which is what the bastard wanted. Dammit.
I let go of the sprayer and set one foot on the bathmat. He didn’t move—just kept staring at me with that infuriating smug look. So far, so good.
The sole of my right foot hit the bathmat and then I realized too late that his long, narrow shoe was only inches away from it. He used his heel to jerk the mat towards him. I stumbled and fell forward, landing right in his waiting arms.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I’m a character writer, personally, so sometimes I struggling with plotting out a story from stem to stern. Plus, I grew up writing fanfiction, and readers would string you up if you directly describe your character, so I have to constantly remind myself to introduce characters with brief drive-by descriptions as the habit was beaten out of me at a young age. I’m also pretty awful at giving descriptions of rooms and environments, for the same reason as characters’ appearances. Bad habits die hard.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

God, I sound like such a fangirl already, but Jim Butcher is my bread and butter. The reason I’m in love with Harry Dresden is that he’s so atypical from your average male protagonist in an urban fantasy setting. Most of them are hyper-macho alpha male characters who are all dead sexy and have a cool car and a sweet job and a super hot girlfriend. Harry is a freakishly tall (no, seriously, he is six-foot-nine, yikes) socially awkward dork with a ton of personal issues thanks to his screwed up childhood, a job that pretty much no one believes is real (he’s a wizard), and only a handful of friends. What’s more is that Harry has real flaws. He can get irrational when he’s angry, he has this chivalric streak that makes him feel the need to always save the girl even though it gets him into tons of trouble, and there are plenty of things that go bump in the night that scare him. Butcher found the exact right spot between likable and realistic with Harry. I read nearly all the novels in the series in just one summer because I had so much fun spending time with our lovable Chicago wizard. Plus, Butcher has this incredibly ability to crack jokes that make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts and then can turn on a dime and make you cry like a toddler.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

Nope. That’s one of the perks of writing fantasy. You can do most of the research sitting in bed with the Internet and your cell phone.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

The incomparable Gunjan Kumar designed the cover, and Deviant Artist Christopher Cold painted that gorgeous landscape background inside the silhouette of Jordan Amador. I could not be happier with it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. You will have infinite chances to throw in the towel. The easiest thing in the world to do is not write. Ignore that cruel voice in your head that tells you no one cares and keep punching them keys, my dears. You’ll get through it if you do.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

Naturally, since The Holy Dark is named after a lyric from Leonard Cole’s “Hallelujah,” the actual song is a fantastic accompaniment to my novel. (I personally recommend the covers done by Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley.) It talks about the struggles of love, life, and remaining intact when it feels like your soul is being torn apart by another person. The Holy Dark revolves around the shifting relationship between Jordan and Michael, but it also expands outward to their friendship with Gabriel, and their never-ending battle against the archdemon Belial, who has designs on Jordan. The book is also about having faith in the face of unimaginable horrors and understanding what it means to love someone—signing up for difficult times.

Aside from that, here’s a list of other songs that fit well with readings of the novel:

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy
Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event
Red Hands by The Dear Hunter
Who Did That to You by John Legend
Baby by Warpaint
The Gambler by Fun.
God’s Whisper by Raury
Danke Schoen by Wayne Newton
She Lives in My Lap by Outkast
Cosmic Love by Florence + the Machine
Wires by Athlete

Spunky by Eels

The Holy Dark
The Black Parade Series
Book 3
Kyoko M

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: April 24, 2015

ISBN 10: 1511543736
ISBN 13: 978-1511543736
ASIN: B00VULGGBK

Number of pages: 346 (eBook)
460 (paperback)

Word Count: 147,000

Cover Artist: Gunjan Kumar
and Christopher Cold

Book Description:

Sarcastic demon-slayer extraordinaire Jordan Amador has been locked in a year-long struggle to hunt down the thirty silver coins paid to Judas Iscariot. The mere touch of these coins is enough to kill any angel.

Jordan's demonic opposition grows more desperate with each coin found, so they call on the ultimate reinforcement: Moloch, the Archdemon of War. Moloch puts out a contract on Jordan as well as her estranged husband, the Archangel Michael. Now Jordan and Michael will have to find a way to work together to survive against impossible odds and stop Moloch's plan, or else he’ll wage a war that will wipe out the human race.


Available at Amazon
Excerpt:

Chattanooga had been a nice place to live for the past ten months, a fact proven by my utter disapproval of the hotel we checked in the following night we left. The safe house was in Montpelier, Vermont and by car it was an eighteen-hour drive. However, the two of us were exhausted from the recent fights we’d had and needed some sleep so we stopped in Newburgh, Connecticut. We’d camp out here for the night and then leave first thing in the morning.
Myra worked at an office supplies store back in Tennessee, which paid alright, but neither of us were exactly swimming in cash. The hotel we chose was not of the highest caliber. The only benefits it boasted were cable television and air conditioning. I missed my thin pillows and slightly lumpy mattress back home.  
We were behind schedule, but only slightly. Myra went to buy some dinner while I opted for a long, hot shower. It wasn’t a nice place to stay, but it had one admittedly awesome amenity—a handheld sprayer with plenty of settings. I stayed in until my fingertips were pruny, mulling over recent events and hoping that a clear solution would arise. No such luck. We were still on defense. I didn’t like it, not one bit. The weight hanging off my soul was starting to make my knees buckle. I had to fix this. I had to save the angels. I owed them. They had shed blood for me more than once. I wasn’t going to disappoint them, not again. Never again.
I finished rinsing out my hair and groped for the towel with my eyes closed to avoid getting any residual shampoo in them. Weirdly, my fingers hit nothing but the moist air near the rack. Frowning, I reached out farther. It wasn’t there. Had it fallen onto the floor?
“Lose something?”
I froze. A deep, mocking, dry-as-sandpaper voice. No. Please, God, let it just be my imagination.
I pried my eyes open and ducked my head around the shower curtain. There, in front of the sink, stood a tall, pale-skinned man with shoulder-length hair as black as soot and a smile as sinister as the devil himself. His eyes were the lightest hue of blue that existed and the pupils were thin and diamond-like rather than round. His features were vaguely European—small forehead, narrow nose, thin but sensual lips, arched eyebrows—but I knew he didn’t have an accent.
He clutched my towel in his long-fingered hand, the other tucked in the pocket of his easily seven-hundred-dollar black suit pants. I recognized his favorite dark color scheme—a charcoal grey button up shirt, black silk tie, and Gucci dress shoes.
“Looking good, my pet.”
The archdemon Belial was standing in my bathroom.
Shit.



About the Author:

Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. Her debut novel, The Black Parade, has been on Amazon's Bestseller List at #5 in the Occult Horror category. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.







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