Saturday, January 9, 2010

Interview: Michelle Zink


Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters, was more than kind enough to answer some questions for Wicked Awesome Books. Keep reading to find out more about Prophecy of the Sisters, Michelle's favorite music, books, and her writing process.

A brief bio (from Michelle's site)
Michelle Zink lives in New York and has always been fascinated with ancient myths and legends. Never satisfied with simply reading them, she usually ends up asking, “What if?” Sometimes asking only leads to more questions, but every now and then, when everything falls into place just right, a story is born. Prophecy of the Sisters is one of those stories.

The Interview:
Can you describe Prophecy of the sisters in 7 words or less?
Complex, brooding, Gothic, and dark.

What was your inspiration for Prophecy of the Sisters? Did you have a run-in with a good twin and a bad twin that made you want to write the story?
Lol! Actually, the initial seed of the story came from the biblical legend of the Watchers, a legion of angels who were said to have been sent to Earth to watch over mankind. In the legend, the angels fell in love with mortal women and were banished from Heaven, after which they were referred to as the Lost Souls. As for the twins, I've always been fascinated with the sibling connection. I have three half-brothers, but no full siblings. It's such a mysterious connection - to come from the exact same place as someone else - and none more so than twins. I thought it would be a challenge to drop this enormous conflict with apocalyptic consequences for mankind in between these two people who should, by all rights, be closer than any two human beings. It was also a challenge to develop their characters along such totally different arcs when they have in common everything from DNA to their shared history.

Do you have a favorite character in Prophecy of the Sisters? Do you prefer either of the twins over the other?
It's impossible for me to choose! Like asking me to choose a favorite child! Or a favorite blogger!
;)

Seriously, though. I love all my characters for different reasons. I love Lia for her determination to be good even in the face of great sacrifice, Sonia for her quiet fortitude, Luisa for her spark and spirit, James for his loyalty, Henry for his earnestness. I even love Alice for her tremendous complexity, something that you'll see more of in future books.

I love the language and the dialogue in the book. Was it easy for you to write in such rich, Victorian language?
At first it was difficult! I have three teenagers, so my language tends to be rather, er, LOOSE! I say things like "totally" and "awesome" every hour! But after awhile, I settled into the rhythm of the language. What WAS challenging was making the language suitable for the time period while keeping it loose enough to appeal to a modern teenager. It was a calculated effort on the part of my editor and I to walk the line between formality and approachability. Some Victorian purists don't like the fact that it's not entirely "true" to the period in its language, but for me, Prophecy was never historical fiction, but a fantasy that happens to be set in the Victorian era. It's always been MOST important to me to make the book enjoyable and approachable for the modern teenager.

Music seems to be a big part of your life, so do you use music when you're writing?
Do you have any favorite bands or musicians?

Music is a HUGE part of my life. I listen to film scores while I write, because if I listen to someone else's words (i.e. lyrics) while I'm writing, they interfere with the voice of my characters. Film scores are largely instrumental, so I choose a score or two with the "feel" I'm trying to create in my book and write to that the entire time. With book one of the Prophecy series, it was the score from the movie The Village. Book Two was the scores from The Lord of the Rings series, and book three was a combination of both. That gives you an idea what each book will "feel" like right there!
:D

My favorite band is Brand New. I call them a "writer's band", because in my opinion, their lyrics are the best of any band out there. They're seriously unbelievable! I've listened to all of their CDs more than a hundred times, easy, and I'm still discovering things. I also love U2, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Mat Kearney, Coldplay, Sick Puppies, and so many more I can't possibly name them here!

How would you describe your writing process? Do you write a lot at once or spread it out over time?
I write my first drafts in a crazy two-and-a-half month, obsessive frenzy, averaging about 3,000 words a day. I aim to write books that are extremely atmospheric, and I just can't get the darkness that I want if I have to start-and-stop, picking away at it 1,000 words at a time. Honestly, if I didn't have to eat, sleep, or take care of my four children, I'd probably be one of those crazy authors shuffling around in their bathrobe and shoveling food into their mouths over the kitchen sink, because when I'm drafting, all I want to do is to be immersed in that world.

Once I'm done with the draft, I spend as long as it takes editing and revising. That can take weeks or months, depending in part on how long it takes my editor to get back to me. I usually start a new book, though, within a week or two of ending one. I just don't feel like myself when I'm not writing.

Do you have any favorite books or authors?
So many! My favorites are White Oleander and Paint It Black by Janet Fitch, Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, anything by Sarah Waters (but her newest, The Little Stranger, is my favorite of all), and anything by Stephen King, who was my inspiration to write all through my teenager years. Can you say, "darkness"?

Do you have any ideas in the works once you finish the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy?
I always have something in the works! My next series is a contemporary fantasy also based on ancient biblical lore. It's very, very dark, and I think of it as The Dark Knight meets Twilight - minus the vampires! I'm super excited about it and have been working on it on and off since 2007. I also have another Gothic/Steampunk series, set in London this time, that I'm playing with... Stay tuned!

Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Just a thank you! To you and the other bloggers and readers who have been so tremendously supportive and enthusiastic about Prophecy. Your love of the book and willingness to spread the word makes every difference. I ♥ you guys!

I want to give a HUGE thank you to Michelle for being so kind and not only answering my questions, but being so incredibly detailed with them as well. I learned a lot from this interview.

On a side note, I think it's awesome that Michelle's favorite band is Brand New because they are my favorite band. I've seen them live a few times and they are incredible. If you've never listened to them, you absolutely NEED to. 

10 comments:

Michelle Zink said...

Thanks for the fantastic interview, Nikki! I've seen Brand New live, too, and I swear, I just feel like I'm in a trance the whole time. Their music is just transcendental for me!

Elie said...

Great interview. I did not know Michelle had 3 teenagers. I wonder if they are big readers and how they and their friends responded to the book.

Can you imagine having a parent who wrote such a popular book. How cool.

Elie
Ellz Readz

Kirthi said...

I haven't yet read Prophecy of the Sisters, but I know I will soon! Great interview!

Orchid said...

Great interview. I loved Prophecy of the Sisters. It was one of the best books I read last year. :)

Jessy said...

I loved Prophecy of the Sisters. I always recommend it to anyone who's looking for a great read.

Melissa said...

What a great interview, Nikki! It's so much fun to pick an author's brain, eh? :)

donnas said...

Great interview. Thanks for doing it. I really need to read Prophecy of the Sisters now.

Rebekah E. said...

Thanks for the Great interview. Prophecy of the Sisters sounds great.

~THE OPTIMISTIC PESSIMIST ~ said...

Awesome interview! Michelle is such a wonderful person. Wow that is a wholelotta words in one day!
We heart you!

Inked Books said...

I love Michelle! She's an awesome, interesting person. :)

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