Interview with Julie Kagawa – Author of The Iron King

Julie Kagawa, the author of The Iron King, dropped by the virtual studios for a chat.  I had a great time talking with her, and it turns out that we have a lot in common! 

Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

Lover of books, anime, bishounen, and video games. Favorite food: sushi. Favorite bishies: Squall from FF8 and Tamahome. Also, I’m a ninja. :P

Can you tell us a little about your debut novel, The Iron King?

The Iron King is about a girl named Meghan Chase who, on her sixteenth birthday, discovers her kid brother has been kidnapped by Faeries and a changeling is left in his place. When she goes into Faeryland to get him back, she finds that her brother wasn’t taken by the Unseelie Court, as she first thought, but by a whole new species of faery led by Machina, The Iron King. These are the faeries of progress and technology, the iron fey, and Meghan must face The Iron King if she wants to rescue her brother

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

The Iron Fey emerged from the thought: “What are faeries afraid of?”  In myth the answer is iron, so what if there were a type of faery that was immune to iron, that had evolved with progress and technology, and how would they affect the more traditional fey?

For the most part, I had already the character concepts in mind before I wrote the novel, though they evolved as the story progressed.  For example, with Puck, I drew from well known mythology about him being a prankster and mischief-maker, and built on that.  Grimalkin, on the other hand, just strolled into the story like he belonged; I hadn’t even intended to give him a big part, but he ended up being one of the most important characters. 

Have you learned anything about yourself through your characters?

I think there is a tiny piece of myself in all my characters.  I was a loner in high school like Meghan, so I know what its like to be teased and isolated.  I enjoy playing pranks like Puck, and I can be snarky like Grimalkin.  And I think everyone has a certain darkness in them like Ash.   

What has been the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

Tuning out distractions long enough to write the darn thing.  I’m very easily distracted, and the internet has become the bane of my writing life, with all the social outlets like Twitter, Facebook, ect.  Lately, I’ve resorted to unplugging the internet when I write, just to keep Tweetdeck from chirping at me every two minutes.

Can you share your experiences finding a publisher? What was the process like?

I met my fabulous agent, Laurie McLean of Larson-Pomada Literary Agents, at a writer’s workshop in Louisville, KY.  She liked my current story, an oriental fantasy involving a kitsune, enough to offer me representation.  Sadly, that story never sold, and after a year of rejections, she advised me to write something else.  I did.  I wrote The Iron King in under two months, thanks to a wonderful program called NaNo Wrimo, where your goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  About the time I finished, Harlequin was just starting their newest imprint, Harlequin Teen, and were actively looking for new YA books.  Laurie pitched them The Iron King, and they bought it in a matter of weeks. 

What’s the most gratifying aspect of having your book published?

Just getting it published is gratifying in itself.  You spend years on a book, pouring your heart and soul into it, trying to get it perfect, getting rejected time and time again.  When you finally make it, when it’s finally published, that’s the most satisfying thing in the world.  Any writer will tell you how hard it is, how much work it takes to get there.  When you can finally say “I’m an author,” it makes it all worthwhile.   

Who was your biggest supporter while you were working on The Iron King?

Definitely my husband.  He would always come up with solutions whenever I got stuck, and he is my first editor before my book goes anywhere else.  Couldn’t have done it without him.

How did you feel when you saw the cover for The Iron King for the first time? Did you have any input for the final design decision?

I was ecstatic when I saw the final cover.  It was gorgeous, though I can’t take any credit for it.  The talented folks at Harlequin Teen were the ones who did such a fabulous job.

Can you share a few details about your next project?

Sadly, no.  At the moment, it’s all very hush hush.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share soon.  But I will say that I intend to keep writing for as long as my fingers work, so there will be no shortage of new projects if I have anything to say about it.

What’s your favorite manga series?

Aaaah, that’s like asking me what my favorite book is; I have too many to choose just one!  Okay, the series I remember most fondly is Fushigi Yugi.  It was my first, the one that got me hooked on manga and anime, and it also has one of my favorite bishies, Tamahome.  Though the “Miaka!” “Tamahome!” “Miaka!” “Tamahome!” got a little annoying at times, lol! 

Thanks, Julie!!  We are looking forward to your next book!

Is this not cool?  Julie is a fellow anime and manga fan!  You can learn more about Julie by visiting her website, and The Iron King, which has gotten some great reviews, is available now!

Book Information:

Harlequin; Original edition (February 1, 2010)

Paperback

ISBN:  978-0373210084

From Amazon:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.