Thursday, July 8, 2010

Interview: Christy Raedeke + A Snippet from Book #2: The Serpent's Coil

Christy Raedeke, 2010 debut YA author of The Daykeeper's Grimoire (Prophecy of Days, #1), was kind enough to take some time to answers some questions for me. Check out my review of the book in the previous post and read on for an exciting snippet from book #2: The Serpent's Coil.

A little about Christy (from Flux)
Christy Raedeke is many things, among them an award-winning writer and avid adventurer.  
Raedeke's love of mysticism and thirst for ancient knowledge has taken her around the world. She has trekked in the Himalayas, floated down the River Ganges, explored the catacombs under Paris and Rome, studied feng shui in Kuala Lumpur, cloistered at an hermitage in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, spent Halloween in a 16th century Scottish castle, and gone looking for shaman among the Mayan ruins of the Yucatan.
Raedeke was the 2008 recipient of the Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature from Oregon Literary Arts and her writing for young adults has earned several awards and accolades. She is a member of the PEN America Center and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
When not globetrotting, Raedeke lives with her family in Oregon. Prophecy of Days is her debut novel.

The Interview:
What inspired you to write a story centered around the Mayan calendar and 2012?
I first heard about the Mayan calendar in 1999, and at that time there wasn’t a whole lot of info about it. So I dug and dug and became more and more fascinated—it’s really quite amazing how much knowledge about math and astronomy the Maya had back then. But I also love symbols, especially the ones that show up in various cultures but have not yet been accurately decoded. And, I’m kind of a closet conspiracy nut. So I came up with this story that weaves together some of my favorite things—and becomes the book I was hungry for as a teen. 

Some of the information surrounding the prophecies (like the Tzolk’in and Galactic Centers and so many other things) was completely over my head, but you were able to bring it down to an easy to understand level. How much research did you put into the book and was it difficult to ‘dumb it down’?
I’m so glad you found most of it digestible! I did so much research and read so many thick books and the hardest part was trying to make it both interesting and comprehensible. I think that even if some of it goes over your head you can grasp other parts that maybe aren’t that complex.

Mr. Papers is absolutely awesome in the book. Was there a reason you chose a monkey and then origami as a means of communication?
I was kind of fascinated by the fact that there are organizations that train capuchin monkeys to be helpers for paraplegics. They can open cans, microwave food, answer the door—lots of things other animal pets could not do. I wondered what a small genetic leap would do to this kind of monkey. Would they be able to communicate on the same levels as humans? Monkeys lack the physical mechanism for speech so drawing, sculpting, or origami all seemed like viable communication methods. Origami won out because it just seemed quirkier.

Were you able to travel to some of the amazing places that happen to be settings in the book? Is there anywhere you would love to travel to, but haven’t just yet?
I love to travel and was lucky enough to get to go to some of those places. I set the book in Scotland because I think it’s amazingly beautiful and it has an ancient and captivating history. My island was inspired by the Isle of Skye and the castle inspired by the boxy but gorgeous Dunvegan Castle. I also went to a lot of Mayan sites like the ruins of Coba, Chichen Itza, Bonompak, and Palenque to do research. They were all mindblowing!

Two places I’m itching to go but haven’t been able to yet are Turkey and Jordan. I’d also like to travel deep into China, and I might go next year with my friend and Feng Shui Master, Dr. Shan-Tung Hsu (who was the real-life inspiration for Dr. Li in the book!).

Do you have any favorites that you can’t live without? (Fave book, movie, food, music, etc.)
Coffee. Lots of good coffee! I crave it all day and night…

How would you describe your writing process? Do you write a lot at once, or do it bit by bit?
My writing process is sort of all-or-nothing. I’m not someone who can sit down and dabble for 15 minutes and then stop. I prefer to write in longer chunks. For me, it takes a while to get into the flow, so knowing I have a few hours ahead of me is really nice. I like to set the timer for 40 minutes and do nothing but write for that time. For the next 20 minutes I let myself check email, browse the web, and do any research that comes up. Then I start with another 40 minutes and go at it.  

Do you have any new ideas simmering for when you finish Prophecy of Days?

I have another manuscript that is finished. It’s very, very different from the Prophecy books. I really love it and hope someday it can find a home. Then I have two other manuscripts started. One is going to take a lot of plotting, and the other is going to take a lot of research, so I’m weighing the pros and cons of what to work on. Every day I get a new idea for a book. Some stick, some get absorbed into other stories, and some just float back into the sea of ideas unused. 

I have to ask because I’m so looking forward to the next book…Is there a chance you could give us a sneak peak/snippet/maybe just a teeny bit of info about The Serpent’s Coil: (Prophecy of Days, #2)?
Well, you get to see more of Mr. Papers, including some previously hidden ninja skills! The stakes are higher, Justine is with Caity the whole time, and some very interesting places are involved. Here’s a little snippet from page 173:
          Silently, we walk back down the way we came up and then over a small bridge from El Palacio to a group of three temples that face each other. I was drawn to the smaller one today, the Temple of the Foliated Cross, because it was tiny and wonky and a little overgrown with weeds. But it’s the more spectacular one across from it that we climb.
          In the back corner of one of the tiny chambers at the top there’s a small chink in the rock. I cannot bring myself to sick my finger in it, so I use the end of one of the long candles I bought in the gift shop. When Justine sees it crumble, she pushes me away. “I’ll do it,” she says, sticking two fingers down in the dark hole. After feeling around for longer than I ever would, she manages to move something. One of the thick stone panels that I thought was a wall, rotates just enough to reveal a very skinny, very dark  staircase.
          “Mr. Papers?” I say, handing him a flashlight. “Would you?”
          He looks at me and rolls his eyes. Instead of taking the cheap tourist flashlight I was offering, he reaches for my big metal flashlight and shines it down. No snakes, no critters—so far so good. 
          Since Justine bravely stuck her fingers in the hole, and Papers is going first, I suck it up and follow. I have to turn a little sideways to even fit, and once I get a few feet down I can no longer see my feet because the staircase is so narrow and steep. I just feel for each step. Justine has her hand on my shoulder and is feeling her way behind me. After about twenty stairs, we reach the ground. We are under the Templo del Sol, the Temple of the Sun.
          The space widens just a bit, enough for Justine and me to walk side by side. I had memorized the map and know we have to follow this tunnel almost the whole distance of the base of the pyramid to reach the room.
          Neither of us is talking, we’re both just breathing heavily and walking as quickly as we can. The farther we get, the more panicked I’m feeling about getting stuck down here. Just as I fear I might start hyperventilating, the tunnel turns. Right after the turn is a stone door. Mr. Papers gives it a push and it rotates open, this time to reveal another door covered in silver and decorated with glyphs.
          I pull on the handle, shocked to find the room behind it already glowing with light.

I want to thank Christy for taking the time to answer these questions. I loved the answers and the snippet from The Serpent's Coil has me dying for the next book.


Christy Raedeke said...

Thanks so much for the interview, Nikki!

Carol M said...

I enjoyed the interview! Christy has done so many interesting and fun things! I can't wait to read this book!

Jules@OneBookShy said...

I'm jealous of all the traveling you've been able to do! Amazing to see such fascinating places.

I like the tip you had about your writing process with the timer. I tend to be the same way with the "all or nothing". I think setting it and taking prescribed breaks is a great idea.

Lovely interview and I can't wait to read both books.

Bethie said...

Great interview. She has been so many places. I would love to spent Halloween in a castle.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Karen said...

I loved reading about the research and travel that Christy Raedeke has done. I can't wait to read The Daykeeper's Grimore and I learned a lot more about the Mayan mythology behind it in this interview. Thanks!

throuthehaze said...

I have been interested in the Mayans since I took a gifted class and we studied them (I can write Mayan #s up to 20 woohoo!) This book sounds so interesting! Great interview!

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

Great interview! I love the idea of having a monkey use origami! Very original. And I'm with her - I need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee :)

k_sunshine1977 said...

what a wonderful interview! i wish you could have smuggled me in the suitcase - i would've loved to seen all those places....

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

Ruth (Book Focus) said...

Wow, this book sounds fascinating. I would LOVE to lead Ms Raedeke's life to some extent - all that globetrotting would be fantastic!

To be honest, the origami-making monkey initially had me thinking maybe this book would just be weird and have things thrown in higgledy-piggledy for the sake of it. But I like that the author actually put the research in and chose an actually more viable (if still somewhat unlikely) method of communication rather than, y'know, speech.

Still a little worried that some of it might be a bit over my head, but really wanting to read this book now. :)

Llehn said...

I should love to see Scotland now!

Pink said...

Wow! How can you find so much time for traveling? I am green with envy now. :) Lovely interview!

buddyt said...

Yes like most other commenters, I would love to be able to travel as you have.

There is so much world out there with interesting things to see and do.

Good luck with the book and keep us posted on your new travels.

Carol T

EmilyJoy said...

Great interview! It's always nice to get to know the author behind the story! Thanks!

Alessandra @Out of the Blue said...

Wow, great interview :D

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

It was a pleasure doing this interview with Christy and I truly hope everyone is able to check out the book. It may sound complicated (it did to me), but Christy does and exceptional job making some of the more complex things not only interesting, but understandable.

And I have to agree with many of you when you say you wish you had the opportunity to travel to the many amazing places that Christy has. Easter Island has always been a place I'm eager to see and I hope I do one day.

Linda Henderson said...

What a fascinating interview. She is a very well traveled person and it sounds like her book is a very interesting read.

seriousreader at live dot com

Abhishek Duggal said...

I love Raedeke's spirit of adventure!

pinkangel1026 said...

Great interview!!!!!!!!!!!!

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