Please welcome debut author Kait Ballenger to the virtual offices today. She’s here to chat about her debut release Shadow Hunter, which is part of the After Dark anthology. Please take a second to say “Hi” after the interview!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Kait Ballenger] Wife. Author. Mother to 3 furry 4-leg babies. MFA student. Future professor. Bellydancer. World Traveler. Caregiver to elderly w/ dementia. Biggest love: my family
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Shadow Hunter?
[Kait Ballenger] Of course! I love to talk about the E.U boys and their series.
Shadow Hunter is a short prequel novel to my Execution Underground paranormal romance series. The Execution Underground is a covert international organization of supernatural hunters and the series focuses on the six hunters who make up the Rochester, New York division of the organization. Each major city has their own division and each hunter specializes in a type of supernatural creature. Though the story takes place before the full division is formed, Shadow Hunter focuses on the future leader of the Rochester division, Damon Brock, who specializes in hunting and slaying vampires. Damon arrives in Rochester gunning to destroy the vampire responsible for the death of his friend and hunting partner. But there is another vampire hunter in town, one who is not sanctioned by the Execution Underground: Tiffany Solow. When their paths initially cross, they butt heads initially, both unwilling to give in to the other. But it turns out that Damon and Tiffany have a lot more in common than they think, beyond just hunting vampires and their problems extend way beyond whose territory is whose.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Kait Ballenger] Shadow Hunter is Damon’s origin story (he and Tiffany have their own full length book later on in the series), so it’s kind of hard to explain since he walked into my head pretty much fully formed with a life background to match. Characters come to me fully fleshed out. So I guess I’ll defer to the series concept…
When I came up with the initial idea for the series, I took inspiration from other authors I admire and combined it with ideas I thought were fresh and hadn’t been done before to try and create something unique. I really enjoy the format of J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and how each book focuses on a specific brother with alternating third person points of view between the hero and heroine. As a result, when I decided to write a paranormal romance, I knew I wanted the series to be set up in a similar fashion since I enjoy that style and I wanted to focus on the male characters. Other authors I took inspiration from were Laurel K Hamilton and Charlainne Harris. I wanted to have strong, kickass heroines like Anita in Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and with the super hot sex to match. I also wanted to have a narrative voice as strong and unique as Charlainne Harris in her Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series. With those aspects in mind, I had to come up with my own twist. The idea came really naturally. The unique thing about my series in the world of paranormal romance is that most of the characters are completely human. Though one or two of the Execution Underground members has a bit of supernatural DNA in them, in the majority they’re just humans who’ve been exceptionally trained to fight the supernatural. So rather than a paranormal romance where the hero is a vampire or some other type of supernatural hunk, my heroes are normal guys, who also just happen to be crazy weapon-wielding badasses.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Tiffany?
[Kait Ballenger] Headstrong. Intelligent. Fearless.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Damon had a theme song, what would it be?
[Kait Ballenger] The first song that comes to mind is Passive by A Perfect Circle. That song always gets me in the mood to write and it’s what I imagine playing any time I write a scene set in a dark, shady night club (like inside Club Fantasy in the opening of Shadow Hunter). Aside from that, it also is just a pretty much perfect song for Damon.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Tiffany is never without.
[Kait Ballenger] Her stake. Tiffany is always prepped for fighting vamps. After both her parents and then later her brother are killed by vampires, Tiffany is always ready to battle the undead.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Damon’s bedroom?
[Kait Ballenger] The first thing you’d never find in Damon’s bedroom is Tiffany’s underwear—they’re in the living room, of course because they’d have been stripped off before they even reached the bed. The other two things you’d never find in Damon’s bedroom would be Viagra and lube. He’d never need them, especially when Tiff is around.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Tiffany’s greatest regret?
[Kait Ballenger] This won’t make sense for those who haven’t read the book yet, but Tiffany’s greatest regret is not having forgiven B sooner.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Kait Ballenger] Music really gets my creativity flowing, but I can only listen to it before I write, not while I’m writing. Reading a really good book or watching a really well-written T.V show or movie get me in the mood to write as well. I start thinking about how amazing the writing I just read/saw/heard is and I just want to create some of my own.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Kait Ballenger] Silence. A comfortable place to sit or lie down. And more silence haha. I’m not particular as long as I’m comfy and it’s quiet.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Kait Ballenger] I don’t get as much time to read as I like, but the last book I read that really knocked my socks off is Kate SeRine’s The Better to See You, the second novel in her Transplanted Tales series. I can’t get enough of those books. I’m dying to read Along Came a Spider soon.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Kait Ballenger] Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling hands down is what turned me on to reading. There’s no exaggeration there or second guessing there. Up until I was in fourth grade I was considered a “non-reader” in school. I really struggled with reading and was way below the normal level for my age, so as a result, I really hated it. I hadn’t found anything gripping enough that would hold my attention, because I was struggling to read through the words. Then I got my hands on the Harry Potter books and everything changed. I grew up in the greater Detroit metropolitan area, so in winter occasionally it would be so cold and icy we couldn’t go out for recess. My teacher at the time, Ms. McCartney, decided to start reading the first Harry Potter novel to the class when we had to stay inside. I was so intrigued by it I asked if I could borrow her copy to take home over Christmas break so I could keep reading. My mother, knowing how I struggled with reading, saw this and immediately bought me the first three books in the series for Christmas (those were the only ones out at the time) and I devoured them. I re-read them over and over until the next book came out, and then I did the same with the next book. Eventually, my mom and my aunt (both who have always been big readers) started passing me similar books—fantasy novels by other authors—and I started reading those too. That love of fantasy later branched out into a love of the paranormal genre. I honestly can’t express how grateful I am to Rowling for writing those books. Not only did her novels change my entire life by making me a better reader, and thus a more educated person in general (I actually started enjoying school not long after that), but she made me want to be a writer. I think if I met her I’d cry hysterically lol. Her writing changed my life, even though she has no clue who I am. That’s powerful and I hope I can do the same thing for someone one day.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Kait Ballenger] When I’m not writing I like to spend time with my husband and my family. We all love to play board games together. My husband and I also love to watch movies and TV together, specifically Supernatural and Law and Order SVU. I have two cats named Elliot and Olivia after the characters. I also love to read, of course, and I also love to dance. I’m an Egyptian cabaret bellydancer (I used to dance professionally at regular gigs, but not on a regular basis anymore).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Kait Ballenger] Readers can connect with me via my author Facebook page and Twitter, if they want to chat. If anyone just wants to send me fan mail though, they can send it to my email, which can be found on my webpage www.kaitballenger.com I’d seriously love to get some fan mail at some point. I can’t promise I’ll respond, but I’d love to try.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
Shadow Hunter, which is part of the After Dark anthology, from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:
About the book: