Hello readers! I am super excited to brighten your Thursday with an interview starring debut author Justina Ireland, whose book hit shelves this week! Said book, VENGEANCE BOUND has been pitched as The Goddess Test meets Dexter. And yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds, and yes, you should totally buy it, read it, and love it. Just in case you aren’t convinced yet, here’s a full blurb:
Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.
Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.
Intrigued yet? Yeah, I thought so. So without further ado, on to the interview!
The mythology in VENGEANCE BOUND is so cool! I loved reading about the furies, but if you were to write something else mythology-based, what other myths/creatures/etc… would it be about?
I’m kind of glad you asked this, because my next book is actually about a Harpy. Greek mythology has so many untapped legends/stories that I wasn’t quite ready to let it go yet. My character in my next book, Zephyr (snerk) is a Harpy, which in my story are a kind of mercenary clan of female human-bird hybrids (the boys get to live somewhere else).
But Zephyr is a really terrible Harpy, because she isn’t ruthless or violent or really Harpy-like. Her world is also populated by a whole bunch of other creatures from Greek myth, all of which live in this small town in the middle of Virginia, kind of hiding in plain view. The Greek pantheon of gods also make an appearance. The mythology is a lot bigger in this next book, and I loved building this world based around these old stories and making them just slightly different than what we all know.
Your main character Cory is such a badass—kicking butt and taking names, and dealing death and punishment to people. I LOVE that. But how challenging was it to write what is essentially a very violent, almost anti-hero type character? Any tips for other writers who might be trying to do the same?
One of the biggest complaints I get from people (and will probably continue to hear in the future) is that Cory is hard to connect with. Well, yeah. She’s morally reprehensible. She’s selfish and maybe a couple of baby steps away from being a sociopath. She spends her nights hunting down men so she can kill them. She makes mistakes and doesn’t do the things she knows she needs to do. And that’s frustrating and maybe a little off-putting.
But I think the connection people do have to Cory comes in recognizing she’s still human and being able to relate to something in that. Even though all these terrible things are going on in her life she still very much has this wry sense of humor. And she’s terribly awkward in social situations. I think when writing an anti-hero people can’t relate to what the character does, because nine times out of ten it’s pretty reprehensible. So readers have to be attracted to a character’s vulnerabilities. We’ve all felt awkward and uncomfortable in our own skins at times, and this is what makes Cory a little more relatable.
So if you’re writing an antihero, give them a soft underbelly. It’s the softness that readers will gravitate towards.
Cory has two furies quite literally living in her head; when developing this (awesome) element of the story, did you see them all as separate characters? All facets of Cory? That is, how did you approach writing such a unique perspective/POV?
I originally wanted to write Cory as having Dissociative Identity Disorder (which is now the proper name for Multiple Personality Disorder) as a result of a childhood trauma. The problem is that DID is rare. Like, sparkly rainbow unicorn rare. After some research I learned that while TV loves talking about DID, the reality is there is actually some discussion about whether it’s a real thing or not.
So I just copped out and went with the easy answer: paranormal twist!
In the book the Furies, and their appetites, are very much tied to Cory and her past. This went along with my original intent to make Them facets of Cory’s personality, but also gave me an interesting quirk to work with if I ever went back to the well and wrote companion novels.
VENGEANCE BOUND, while being a fast-paced thrill ride, at the same time raises some interesting questions about justice and judgment, among other things. What role does the developing of themes like these play in your writing? Do you deliberately focus on them when writing, or start out thinking of themes you want to explore or anything like that?
Ummm, yes? LOL. I wish I could say that there’s a conscious effort to explore any kind of theme when I’m writing. The truth is that some days it’s hard enough just to write coherent dialogue! Themes? That’s like the bonus round!
I tend to believe an author’s beliefs will bleed through a story, and that’s what happens with me. My editor or agent will point to something and mention that we need to strengthen this theme or subtext and I’ll smile and nod while I’m thinking “Wow! I have subtext? That’s awesome!”
I really think it’s just that an author’s beliefs tend to come through in their writing. Good, bad, or otherwise.
Here’s an easy one (maybe): what is YOUR favorite part of this story—and/or, what was the most fun to write?
There’s a part where a certain character gets his comeuppance. I love that scene. That, and all the kissing scenes. Action and kissing are always my favorite to write.
One last question! As this community is “All for One and OneFour KidLit,” we’d love to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid!
That’s hard! I was an advanced reader, so my children’s books may not have been everyone’s. My three favorite books were:
- My Brother Sam is Dead
- Wait Till Helen Comes
- DIfferent Seasons
I read and reread these in elementary school.
Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. Vengeance Bound is her first novel. Visit her at JustinaIreland.com and follow her on twitter here!
|Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. Her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014.|