Today, I am thrilled and honored to interview JK Allen, author of Angelborn, a YA Urban Fantasy novel whose recent review I wrote earlier in the week. Here’s the quoted summary, or blurb, found on the back of Angelborn:
High school is all about boy meets girl, girl gets demon mark, and girl finds out she’s half-angel. At least that’s how it is for Ginny Gracehurst.
Sixteen year olds have a lot going on in their lives, and Ginny is no exception. Grades, homework, pimples, oh and now the sudden appearance of a demon mark. And discovering her father, who she thought was dead, is actually the great angel Grace. Who is very much alive.
With unforeseen powers growing, she has to figure out who she really is. While also staying out of the reach of a powerful half demon who is hell-bent on bending her to his will. The Alliance, an organization that is supposed to help people like her, is threatened by her potential gifts. They are more invested in their own hierarchy than in upholding their divine mandate. It’s up to her and a new friend, Aiden, to protect not just herself, but the ones she loves.
Angelborn releases September 27th. You can get your copy at Amazon.
Me: What’s the story behind Angelborn? How did the concept of your series come to you? Do you feel—if you’ll forgive me my cheesiness for asking—divinely inspired?
Allen: I was reading a certain depiction of an angel as cold and very hostile to a human and it just made me think about how angels would be compassionate and what would happen if an angel fell in love with humanity instead. Then I got the idea of Ginny and the story grew from there. I was definitely inspired to write Angelborn. It just flowed from me once I sat down to tell the story.
Me: Why write about angels and demons? How did you come to be so passionate about the themes of good vs evil?
Allen: A big theme in this series is doing what’s right. I don’t view it as simply good versus evil. But rather the strength found in ordinary people. That’s an important concept for me in my writing and comes up again and again.
Me: Tell me a little about yourself. I met you through some FB writing groups and know how awesome you are, but I’m curious to know the woman behind the book. What called you to be a writer and how old were you then?
Allen: I wrote my first story the day after I learned to write. I learned to write and thought to myself, “what now?” So I wrote a fairy tale. I have never stopped writing since. Stories, poems, song lyrics, anything and everything. I loved writing and reading so much. It was a very essential part of me. But I never considered wanting to be a writer until I got to college and discovered I could major in Creative Writing. Then and there I decided that I was going to become an author.
Me: You are also a poet whose work appears in OWS Primal Elements. You even studied poetry in college. What was that like? I feel like your poetry affects your writing, giving your language vivid imagery. Do you have any other hobbies that you feel influence your work? (Like TV shows or music genres.)
Allen: I love poetry, it holds a very special place in my heart. And I really do recommend that writers of fiction and nonfiction practice writing poetry. It teaches you writing great and evocative descriptions and also a conciseness of language that prose often doesn’t. You have only so many words to make an impact on your reader and that is valuable in any form of writing. As far as hobbies that influence me, I do watch shows and movies and read books in other genres to see how to incorporate the strengths of those genres in my writing. The pacing of action or thrillers, the world building of fantasy and sci-fi, the character development of the classics. All of these different genres can teach you different aspects of craft.
Me: How are you like the main character Ginny Gracehurst and in what ways are you different?
Allen: Ginny gets aspects of her personality from me. That tendency to be more of an introvert and to feel awkward socially. She also has my hobbies. I dabble in art and find great enjoyment with it, but I don’t pursue it professionally, and she feels much the same about it as I do. Pat and her mom are the true artists, she just tags along and has fun. We are different though. A lot of that comes with time and experience, however. She’s young and still figuring out who she is and what she’s capable of. I try to remember what that’s like as I write.
Me: Is the character Aiden, Ginny’s love interest, a guy a teenage you might date? What blend of fictional (and/or real) people might have inspired the creation of Aiden?
Allen: I adore Aiden. He does what he believes is right and not what’s easy. And he’s compassionate. I don’t know that he’s based on anyone, but he does embody some traits and values I really look up to in people.
Me: What kind of books do you like to get snuggly with? Is there any subject matter or theme that puts you off or just isn’t for you?
Allen: I love so many different genres from Jane Austen to JK Rowling. Fantasy and the classics are always a favorite, depending on what kind of escape I’m looking for. One genre I really don’t read is westerns. It’s just not my style and the tropes don’t appeal to me. I also hate James Bond. But that’s for how women are portrayed and how they are treated in the books.
Me: Where do you see yourself going in the future as an author? Will you turn to other genres? Write more short stories?
Allen: I like to dabble in other genres. I find horror particularly fun to write. But I always seem to go back to YA and fantasy. Magic plays a big part in a lot of my stories. But I do like writing short stories. I’d love to publish some in a collection or as a novella or novelette.
Me: For my aspiring author friends, I have to ask, did you struggle in particular through any aspect of writing this novel? Obviously writing a book is hard business but was any of it harder than the rest? What was the easiest part, if any?
Allen: I would say the thing that surprised me about this novel is that I rewrote it entirely. The first version of the story I wrote was completely different than what it turned out to be as far as a lot of the plot and characters. But this was the first novel I really changed my writing process for. I plotted before I wrote the final version and really figured out my story before sitting down to write. It made all the difference as I finally finished a book. The hardest part of the process for me is editing. I love editing other people’s stories, but I have a much harder time with my own.
Me: Any favorite scenes or excerpts you’d like to tease us with today?
Allen: Here are some excerpts.
JK Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She wrote her first story when she first learned how to write and hasn’t looked back since. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity, everyday magic, and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Several of her short stories and four poems are featured in anthologies, and Angelborn is her debut novel. She is currently working on the trilogy as well as several shorts, while researching for a new series in the works. Her reading tastes are as varied as the genres she enjoys writing, from Jane Austen to J.K. Rowling. When she’s not writing, you can find her painting, drawing, or lost in another world between the pages of a book. Or on Facebook.
You can Follow JK Allen on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog, and her Amazon author’s page.