Several years ago now – wow does time fly – I had the pleasure of meeting Kara Swanson at a writers’ conference at Mount Hermon. So when she asked me to help her launch her newest work, a novella called The Girl Who Could See, I couldn’t have been more excited. And after finishing my ARC, it was fun to sit down with her and ask a few questions for your (and my) curiosity. I also have the honor of kicking off the blog tour… which doubles as a scavenger hunt, so look for your first clue below!
The Girl Who Could See is apart of a newer genre called Urban Fantasy (correct me if I’m wrong) What excites you about stories that get to blur the lines of real and fantastical?
You’re absolutely right! Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres to write because you’re able to root your characters into a well-known world or place (in the case of TGWCS, Los Angeles), but then expand the bounds of reality by adding in fantasy elements. To take a usual scene most people know well, and push the bounds of possibility, highlighting it in a new and fresh way. I think in some ways its a genre that is a passageway to high fantasy, because it’s rooted in reality, and tend to deal with themes that are more relatable because these characters are “normal” and their responses are founded from the same modern worldview as the reader. One of the things I especially love about it is that Urban Fantasy is able to expand the reader’s perspective and imagination–changing the way the reader views commonplace things, by adding a whimsical spin to them. And to develop well-known themes in a new and fresh way. I love getting to impact a reader’s heart and mind long after they close the last page!
So as you wrote TGWCS, was there a particular aspect of our reality as we know it that you enjoyed shaping? That you hope your readers will see in a new way?
Well, the idea that there is actually another world coinciding with ours, something that we may not see, or only catch glimpses of. I wanted to start having people second guessing themselves a bit, I suppose. To think a little differently when they see that shadow out of the corner of their eye? To wonder if perhaps there’s more to that blonde reflection they catch in the window as they walk by than just a trick of the eyes. And that sensation you sometimes get? Like someone is watching you? Well maybe they are 🙂
What inspired you to write TGWCS?
Most of my stories are sparked by an image or an indistinct idea. With TGWCS, it was sparked by two sentences: They say every child had an imaginary friend. Mine never left. Then, searching out the story there brought Fern and Tristan’s journey to life.
Such an interesting concept to play with. Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid? That maybe inspired Fern and Tristan’s characters?
Haha oh yeah. I had many imaginary friends that eventually morphed into different characters as I wrote. I tend to talk to my characters, or picture their responses to different situations I’ve been in. So the idea of that imaginative figure actually being there was so intriguing to me. But then to have my main character be someone who DIDN’T want him there–well, that only made it that much more interesting!
Is there a particular character who you related to, and enjoyed writing the most in TGWCS?
That’s easy–Tristan. I’ve always loved writing his POV (even when he was originally named Desh). He’s just so…complex. So is Fern, but because of the tension, I felt like she has this depth that of course I related to and enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t that same element of fun as my main male character. He’s so snarky and tends to see things from a different angle. Plus, he’s kind of a epic-warrior-stud and so all of his action scenes are quick and snarky. Kind of like my favorite marvel movies, to be real 😉 But, as I mentioned, he’s also complicated. Without being too spoiler-y, Tristan has spent years as the lone survivor in a wasteland, avoiding a monster trying to kill him. Not the most fun way to spend your teen years, right? So there’s this undercurrent of desperation and brokenness. Yet, he refuses to just give up. He hides behind his humor as a protective shield, even when the one person that he can see–Fern–refuses to believe he exists. Ignores him, when he’s desperately trying to survive and stay sane.
But…that’s all I can say without getting into spoilers 🙂
I love that Tristan has a bit of a Marvel heritage. That’s amazing. What about Fern?
I wanted Fern to be a strong female character, but have more depth than just being a kick-butt feminist. To break her apart, to explore the idea, “what happens when your dreams die?” When you struggle just to survive? And what would it take to have a blind faith to believe in the impossible? The characters that find strength through those situations are the ones that truly speak to me. I suppose there’s some Marvel correlation there too. Black Widow certainly has her own issues, but has learned to rise above it, and try to be better. I wanted a character layered like that.
What are you most excited about in TGWCS?
Oooh that’s a hard one! To be honest, I love the ending. The last few chapters were the most intense to write, but it all culminates in a way that just felt…so good. And a little sad–okay, full of feels–but definitely memorable. So I get excited to hear people’s thoughts after they’ve kind of experienced everything with Fern. And to see how her journey has impacted them. That‘s what I’m most excited about! Seeing how it impacts people.
Any final thoughts for those just getting ready to read it?
Just…I hope that you enjoy the adventure, and that Fern and Tristan impact your heart and expand their world as much as they have mine 🙂
If you enjoyed this Q&A with Kara, follow her online at karaswanson.com