Note: I had the pleasure of reading Kaza’s first book, Erec Rex: The Dragon’s Eye, which was a great deal of fun. Fast-paced, lots of action and fantastic elements, and so much humor woven into the story and into the world. And now, without further ado, my interview with Kaza. If you have any questions or comments for Kaza, just post a comment here:
I’d like to thank you, Chris, for hosting me on your blog! It’s a pleasure to meet you, as well. You had some great questions.
Congratulations on your new babies! Below I included a picture of me as a kid for your post. Readers can watch me grow older throughout the blog tour!
Which came first, the characters or the world they live in?
Before I wrote a word of Book One, I plotted the series for months. Some of the characters were invented right along with their world. The story is loosely based on the Hercules legend – which is set up in Dragon’s Eye and really becomes apparent more in Book Two, Monsters of Otherness. Erec’s name is similar to HERACule, Greek for Hercules.
Who Erec is, who his siblings and his adoptive mother are, and who Bethany is, are crucial to the story. They were very early part in its creation. But with that, at the same time, the world(s) in which they live were just as important, and had to be created alongside, fitting in with the characters.
Do you have a definite plan for Erec’s story?
Very much so. I know exactly where the series is going, how it ends, and what basically happens in each book. I find this necessary, so I can drop hints in early books for things that will happen later.
I will tell you that some of the structure of the series is based on the Hercules legend. Hercules had to do twelve labors – Erec twelve quests. He gets into these in Monsters of Otherness. So part of what will happen in future books is based on these quests.
Of course there are a lot of other things going on as well. Erec (and the reader) learns key things at certain points. I also had fun doing some other structuring. For example: the first contest in Book One is “The MONSTER.” The next book is “Monsters of Otherness.” Contest two was about figuring out the truth. The following book is called “The Search for Truth.” As you can guess, I have ideas about the following book titles…!
Have you had that plan from the beginning?
Mostly. There are actually some things I have changed as I went along. The most important things have stayed the same. But I’ll sometimes get a great idea, then I’ll get into my notebook and rewrite a lot of plot. I think, for me, writing is a process of constant plotting. There are always smaller bits to plot out when the big chunks are done. And I’m always coming up with new ideas to fit in.
How much has changed from concept to publishing?
Lots of unimportant things have changed. My first draft of Dragon’s Eye was over 500 pages long. It was cut down – and is better for it. But the essential, important part is the same.
Which character do you identify most with?
In the very beginning it was Bethany, as she is a girl and was drawn slightly from myself. But then, somewhere along the way, it changed. After spending so much time in Erec’s head I definitely identify more with him, now.
How did you get the idea for “cloudy thoughts”?
Cloudy thoughts, to me, would be horrifying to have to deal with. Having some unknown force swoop in and make you do whatever you are told, even when you don’t know why you are doing it would be awful. Erec is afraid his cloudy thoughts may turn on him and make him do something terrible some day. If they did, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. In the beginning of Monsters of Otherness, Erec attacked his own brother because of a cloudy thought, which was very upsetting to him.
I suppose I wanted to give my main character a “gift” that was truly difficult to deal with, yet something he could learn to turn around and make work for him. As the series unfolds, watch for this to happen!
What is your most valuable tip for promoting a book?
I’m still learning! Most of my promotional events have involved traveling, for signings, school visits, and TV and radio interviews (some of the TV ones are posted on the media page of my website at http://www.erecrex.com.) This blog tour is new for me, and it’s awfully nice to do an event from home – especially when I’m writing as well!
I guess my only real tip is keep believing in yourself and never give up. Getting out there is work – but you can make it fun. It’s really just meeting people – and I love that!
How did you feel about math when you growing up?
I wasn’t quite like Bethany in that regard – lol. I was all right at math, not great. I got moved into the advanced class to do algebra in eighth grade, but I didn’t do so well. So I repeated it in ninth grade and got an A.
But I must have some fascination with math, on some level. When I was in third grade I made up an entirely useless form of math that I liked to teach my friends when we played school. And the first story that I wrote (that I can remember) when I was little involved an octopus that made people do math. I still am fascinated by math geniuses, and loved that movie “Pi.” Go figure . . .
Your references to junk food and healthy food in the book were notable. What is your position on the issue of kids and junk food?
Funny – I don’t tend to think of it as “kids and junk food” as much as “people and junk food.” Our nation’s diet is so horrible (I know, no news here.) I am into the “raw food” thing myself, as much as possible – of course I still eat pizzas, meat and deserts when I feel like it. But I’m aware of how bad most of what we eat is. I think some of that concept sneaks out into my writing.
How much do your stories change between concept or outline stage and complete draft?
The main points don’t change much, and the story line stays pretty intact. But the development between my notes on plot and the actual rough draft is tremendous. That’s where the meat of the story gets formed.
I feel like the outline points, the plot points that I know will happen, are like guideposts for me. I know I am going from point A to B to C, etc. But how will I get there? There is so much left to work out, even page by page, it’s incredible. It feels like writing fiction is one constant decision after the next. How will he get somewhere? What does she say? What time of day is it? Planning the plot / outlining is just a rough start.
I usually don’t end up deviating too much from the basic outline, though, since each book is part of a global series which all fits together as a whole. I have some room to make changes, but it has to be cohesive, too. The books also have a few subtle patterns that I try to stick to as well.