Monday, May 7, 2012

Interview Week: Cole Gibsen, author of KATANA

Welcome to Interview Week!
All this week, I'm interviewing awesome authors--and giving away a copy of their book! Come back each day this week for another author and another chance to win an awesome book.

Quick Stats on Today's Author:
  • Cole Gibsen is the debut author of KATANA
  • Her blog has the awesome name "Hair Dye and Samurai"
  • Cole is also the author of BREATHLESS
  • Cole claims to not be a ninja, but I'm not sure I believe that.

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
Last year, after Dragoncon, I was sitting in an Applebees in the Atlanta airport when I saw Nicholas Brendan walk by. Much to my brother and husband’s embarrassment, I screamed, “I LOVE YOU, NICHOLAS BRENDAN!” at the top of my lungs. He smiled and waved. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, I grabbed my brother’s girlfriend and—like stealthy ninja—the two of us stalked Nicholas all the way to his gate.  (Okay, maybe not like ninja. He totally saw us and I think was on the verge of calling security.)

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
My favorite book was, without a doubt, Bunnicula by James Howe. Twenty years later, I’m still go fangirl over vegetable-draining vampire bunnies. Seriously. Who doesn’t?

In your book, KATANA, the main character Rileigh finds herself thrown into a world of martial arts and ninjas. Does this draw from any passions in your own life? Are you secretly a ninja?!
Two things to know about me:
1. I absolutely adore martial arts.
2. I suck at martial arts.

Seriously. I’ve taken several different styles (karate, taekwondo, kick boxing, tai chi, etc.) and I’m terrible at them all.

It wasn’t until I received my second black eye and split lip that I decided it would be more fun (not to mention better for my heath) to write about martial arts instead of actually doing martial arts.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired KATANA? 
The above black eye and split lip. After having my ass handed to me in yet another sparring match, I remember looking at a poster of Bruce Lee on the wall and wishing his spirit would possess me so I could kick a little butt for once.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. But it did get me thinking about the possibility of a spirit granting sudden martial arts expertise. That was when the idea for KATANA was born.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing KATANA?
Oh boy. I definitely wasn’t one of those overnight success stories you sometimes read about. It took me two books, two years, and over two hundred rejection letters before I landed my agent. After that it took me another year of revisions and submissions before I had my first offer. It would then take another two years before KATANA would sit on a bookstore shelf.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from KATANA, what would you want it to be?
Fun. When was seventeen, I was kicked out of my house and lived out of my car for a short time. During that period, my only source of entertainment came from the books I checked out from the library. It was those books that got me through that difficult time by allowing me to forget about my problems for a short while. If my book can do the same by giving a teenager a couple of laughs or allowing them to temporarily forget about their problems, then I accomplished what I set out to do.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
Patience. I’ve never been a patient person and I hate going into situations that I can’t control. This does not bode well for a career in publishing.

My agent told me that the slogan for publishing should be, “Hurry up and wait!” and truer words have never been spoken. At first, the whole thing made me a little crazy. Luckily, I’ve since found my inner Zen about the waiting game. And when I do find myself starting to crack, I’ve found that wine helps. A lot.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
Read books in the genre you plan to write. And then read some more. And after that, read some more. 

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
Wow. That’s a really tough question to answer about yourself. I don’t know if it’s my strongest point per say, but one of my favorite things to write is snarky dialogue. I also enjoy writing out a good fight scene.

As far a weak points, when I read books by other authors, some of them have such talent for creating vivid imagery with setting. I’d love to improve in that area.

 And now for a giveaway! Leave a comment with your email address below to be entered to win a copy of KATANA! One winner will be picked next Monday; sorry, but this needs to be North America only. 
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