Books And Bites: Congratulations on the publication of “Wings of Shadow (The Underground Trilogy)”! Tell me a little about it—what’s your pitch?
Anna Kyss: Wings of Shadow is the tale of two twins, who were separated at a very young age. While there is adventure, humor, and a love story, I also tried to weave in mythology and social Darwinism. The underlying theme goes further than the typical “good” versus “evil.” It really questions what lengths a society should take in order to survive.
BAB: No two authors seem to take the same route to publication, but almost every author has an interesting story about their journey. Care to share yours?
Anna Kyss: I love how you phrased this because my writing journey began while on an actual journey. My other love in life is travel. I am rather talented at procuring great travel deals and I stumbled upon ridiculously cheap airfare to London from the United States. We are talking $200 roundtrip, so I impulsively booked a ticket in the middle of the night. There was no planning or consulting with anyone, just a quick click to the purchase button. It turned out to be the best impulsive click I have ever made!
BAB: How did you get the idea for your novel?
Anna Kyss: While traveling through England, the story just told itself. I spent time in the Cotswolds and within London; as the trip progressed, the novel became clearer and clearer in my mind. I found that I am very inspired by locations. I try to only write about places I have been to. I want the full sensory experience that my characters feel, so I can really bring the novel to life.
BAB: Do you have another book in the works?
Anna Kyss: Yes, my dystopian novella will be released in late November. Cerulean has a unique premise, in comparison to much of the YA dystopians on the market. I cannot wait to share it.
I am also about 20% finished with the sequel to Wings of Shadow. The second book in the Underground Trilogy takes place in a completely different location and is told from a different character’s perspective.
BAB: Your current novel, “Wings of Shadow (The Underground Trilogy)”, is marketed as a young adult novel. Did you originally set out to write a YA novel?
Anna Kyss: I am a huge fan of YA lit. This was my favorite genre to read, so it seemed only natural to want to write it. YA literature often has strong themes. I love how the characters are finding themselves, expanding their boundaries, and coming into their own powers (both literally and emotionally).
BAB: How did you get the inspiration for Meghan/Kiernan/Wish/Avery/etc?
Anna Kyss: There’s this magical faerie festival held in Eugene every year. People from all over the country come dressed like Fae and other magical folk. Years of faerie-watching helped to inspire many of my characters. Meghan emerged from the values I sought in a main character. I wanted a character who learns to be strong and discover herself throughout her journey. Too many stories have the rote formula of: girl meets boy, girl falls in love, girl gives up everything for boy. Meghan takes a more balanced approach. While there is some great romance, she is just as focused on developing her own confidence, determining career choices, and honing her judgment. My hope is she will be a realistic role model for other teens.
BAB: Who is your favorite character? Why?
Anna Kyss: I feel like a parent being asked to choose her favorite child! How can I possibly choose between Avery’s honesty and genuineness, Selena’s wisdom, and Wish’s whimsicalness?
Secret confession: the sequel will be told from Kiernan’s perspective. You can interpret that anyway you would like. It doesn’t have to mean I favor tortured, irresistible, bad boys, does it?
BAB: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
Anna Kyss: After I wrote this novel! I always loved reading. I was that kid/teen/adult surrounded by an enormous pile of books. Writing my first novel was more of a challenge to myself. I really just wanted to see if I could do it. At some point along the way, this passion for writing emerged. Now, I cannot imagine not being able to tell my stories.
BAB: In writing, “Wings of Shadow (The Underground Trilogy)”, what was your most surprising discovery?
Anna Kyss: At times, the characters completely took over the story. They steered the novel in unplanned directions. Since this was my first novel, I wasn’t expecting how much they would guide the direction of the story.
BAB: What’s your writing routine? Do you write in the mornings, nights, daily, or when the mood strikes you?
Anna Kyss: Much of my writing was done late at night. When I could power through my exhaustion, there seemed to be a few hours of magical creativity where some of WOS’s best scenes would unfold.
BAB: My favorite scenes in the novel are; when Meghan attempts to escape by going up the chimney and “movie night” near the end with Kiernan. What are your favorite scenes?
Anna Kyss: My favorite character interaction scenes: I love the Sky Tree picnic and had tons of fun writing the Truth-or-Dare scene. But I also really enjoyed some of the scenes which wove in mythology and ritual, as well as Lord Killian’s conversations about Darwinism.
BAB: What experience did you have with your publisher? Good? Bad?
Anna Kyss: I went the indie route (publishing my novel myself). For the most part, it has been a great experience. I love the degree of control: being able to choose my own cover artist, having the final say editing-wise, and staying true to the story I envisioned. I would say the one negative is the amount of time spent on marketing. In some ways, that has kept me from completing the sequel to Wings of Shadow as quickly I would have liked.
BAB: If you had to pick one author as your favorite, who would it be?
Anna Kyss: This might sound cliché, but I really enjoyed J.K. Rowling’s work. As an author, I am a little in awe at how she could slip in subtle clues that would (books later) be revealed as major plot points. As an author of a series, I find that level of planning rather amazing.
BAB: Finally, thank you for taking part in this interview. Before you go, what message would you like to send to your fans?
Anna Kyss: I would love to give a huge thank you for making this dream of writing into my new reality. Each positive review and kind word means so much.