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Monday, October 5, 2009

Interview with Janet Lee Carey & Contest!

I am thrilled to welcome Janet Lee Carey to my blog today. Janet stopped by to talk about her recently released novel, Stealing Death.

Janet Lee Carey is well known for her rich and engaging fantasy novels, including Dragon’s Keep, which received a starred review from School Library Journal that stated, “Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger in their memories.”

In Stealing Death, you have constructed the parched wilderness of Zoyla, a melting pot of different ethnic groups whose complex cultures resemble our own with their varied social and economic class distinctions, languages, and spiritual beliefs. What type of research did you undertake in order to construct the intricate workings of Zoyla? For instance, did you travel to any drought-ridden locales to get a feel for the landscape?

I love to travel and would like to do more. Every trip offers so much delicious detail if your eyes and ears are open. It’s been years since I passed through the kind of arid landscape found in Zolya, but some of the red earth and rock formations I saw driving through deserts and camping under the stars stayed with me. Since drought and scarcity sets up the tale, I also read fiction and nonfiction about Africa, knowing I wanted to set Kipp’s adventure in a similar landscape. In my imagination, the land, and people really came alive.

One striking feature about Stealing Death is that it explores other interesting issues beyond the question of whether or not Kipp can stop death. For example, many immigrants who come to Zoyla are labeled as “Pales” and are met with extreme prejudice. Another issue would be gender equality-a father thinks it's acceptable to marry off his daughter as payment for his gambling debts. What are your hopes for Stealing Death and the type of reflection it will stimulate with teens?

Thank you for asking this. Another word for fantasy is speculative fiction. One of the reasons I love the genre is because it allows me to thoroughly explore cultural values. Creating new societies allows me to look at things in a new light (such as the prejudice against pale skinned people in Zolya). Prejudice is a learned belief and behavior. We all know that, but turning things around in a story can stir up some new & interesting conversation. The same is true for the treatment of women in Zolyan society. Zolya isn’t much different from many places in the world today. Woman still have a long way to go. Zalika is strong enough to challenge women’s roles in her culture (something she’ll continue to do in book two). Her predicament in Stealing Death should engender some interesting discussion.

The names of the characters in Stealing Death are all very unique-- Zalika, Sor Joay or the Death Catcher “The Gwali” being just a few examples of them. Did you carefully select each character name to convey a certain meaning representative of their distinct personalities? Also – is there one character in particular that you are especially fond of?

I go for sound and meaning. Zalika is Swahili for well-born. The name intrigued me. The Z and K are strong and defining, the As and Ls softening. They are contradictory, just as she is. I knew Kipp was Kipp and Jilly was Jilly from the very beginning. The right name brings the character alive in my mind. It took a long time to find the Gwali. The Catcher was called the Gower for a long time but my editor, Ruth Katcher, pointed out that it didn’t sound Zolyan and I agreed. As soon as I came on “Gwali” I knew it was right.

Is there one character I’m especially fond of?

Kipp, Zalika, Jilly, and Sor Joay are all my family. I’ve lived with them in my head for more than a year, so I can’t pick. I can say I’m not fond of Sag Eye or Zalika’s father (though villains are a blast to write!).

Do you have a favorite line, scene or passage within Stealing Death to share with us today?

I like the one on the back of the book:

He looked skyward, letting his mind reel out and out, beyond the mountains, the far off sea, his childhood home of Gare in the damp and freezing north, beyond the earth where he’d known little happiness in his seventeen years of life.

In his mind he was flying through silent space where dragons soared, a place beyond the tether of time.

“There you go,” said Sa Minn, as if she were seeing right into his dream.

She left him there with the bloodstone in his hand and the witch’s jar in his pocket. A rock, a small glass jar of sticky magic potion, all he had against the power of death.

The bag that the Death Catcher uses to steal the souls of the dead is called “Kwaja”. Kwaja is a mysterious, fascinating aspect of your novel. Can you discuss the soul sack in more depth- how it works, the inspiration behind its depiction in the novel, etc?

The original idea for writing a “death tale” was from the Appalachian story, Soldier Jack, where young Jack captures death in a sack. The idea fascinated me. My first exploration of the idea was the Death Catcher in The Beast of Noor. In that book he’s called the Darro. I wanted to give a whole book to the idea, thus Stealing Death. I discovered after writing Stealing Death there is a Hindu God of death, Yama who captures souls in noose. These images have been around a very long time. My novel takes a different slant, but Kwaja is mysterious, and remains so even to me.

Do you often hear from readers about your novels? What sort of feedback do you receive from readers and can you share with us one of the most positive comments you’ve had?

I get a lot of email and snail mail from readers young and old. I love to hear from them. My snail mail replies are snail slow, but I try to get back to everyone. Many moving letters came after Wenny Has Wings came out from kids and adults who had lost a friend or a sibling. All of them found the story helpful, and said Will’s letters expressed what they were feeling, what they had needed to say but couldn’t say. More mail has come since my fantasies hit the shelves. Readers love the action/horror in The Beast of Noor, and Rosie’s terrible secret in Dragon’s Keep! I look forward to the mail for Stealing Death.

As part of your book launch for Stealing Death, you are joining with schools and readers to raise money for a PlayPump that will provide clean drinking water to a village in sub-Saharan Africa. Can you tell us more about this project and also any other special plans you have to celebrate the launch of your novel?

When I researched drought-ridden sub-Saharan Africa to create a realistic landscape for Stealing Death, I was profoundly moved by the suffering I saw and knew I had to do something. Play Pumps International builds clean water pumping systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The pump is designed as a child’s merry-go-round. Children at play pump the communities clean water! It’s an elegant solution. We hope to raise 14,000.00 (enough to build a new pump!) for the Stealing Death Water for Life Challenge. I’ll be talking about Play Pumps International on my school visits this year, raising awareness and funds, school to school. I’m pretty psyched about it.

We had a terrific book launch party at Parkplace Books 9/12/ 09 with a live marimba band, dancing, drums, and book sales and PlayPumps fundraiser.

On your website it says there will be a sequel to Stealing Death. Can you discuss this with us and also any other writing projects you are working on?

I’m working on three books just now. Bound By Three a medieval fantasy following Dragon’s Keep Dial Books 2010. The sequel to The Beast of Noor Egmont USA 2010, and, yes, the sequel to Stealing Death. More adventure awaits!

To learn more about Janet, visit her at her Official Website & Blog

"I want that soul sack,” he said suddenly.

“What?” the witch asked around the scrap of meat she was chewing.

“I want it so no one I love will ever, ever, ever have to go inside again.”

“It’s not for mortal hands to have.” The witch spat out a bit of bone.

“You know magic. Give me the power to steal the sack.”

When fire steals his family from him, Kipp is left with only his little sister to protect as best he can, and he’s determined that death will not come to her–or to the girl he loves but can never approach.

But who would dare to master death? As Kipp finds out, it’s complicated, and possession of the soul sack is no guarantee of success. Dragon’s Keep author Janet Lee Carey has crafted a stirring and original fantasy set in a harsh and beautiful desert landscape, in which a young man who has lost everything finds the strength within himself to care for those he loves–and to allow those he cannot keep close to him to take a path he cannot follow.


To celebrate the release of her book, Janet is giving away one SIGNED copy of Stealing Death!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment with your email address.
BONUS ENTRY: Promote this contest on any social network of your choice!

Contest Ends October 20th
This contest is open Internationally!


Bethie said...

Please enter me. Thanks for the chance.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

oO Mariana Oo said...

Please count me in!!

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/Libelula89/status/4646682387


Jessica Kennedy said...

I'm loving the cover to Stealing Death! I would love to read this!


Falling Off The Shelf said...

Wonderful interview! I'm so jealous. I can never think of interesting things to ask an author, lol. You inspire me!

I have Dragon's Keep on my TBR list, and will have to read it since there is a sequel coming out in 2010. My sister was reading it, but she's 10, and easily distracted by things like computers and TV, lol. It's going to the top of my TBR pile now. I can read it for the upcoming Fairy Tale Week! Exciting! I have you to thank for reminding me that I have it :)

Stealing Death looks really intersting and I would love to win a copy. Thanks for such a great interview and giveaway!


kalea_kane said...

This looks great! Fabulous interview and what an inspiring author! Please enter me.


kalea_kane said...

I tweet tweeted!



Winning Readings said...

Would love to read this!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

throuthehaze said...

This sounds like an interesting read! Count me in please
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Raspberry said...

I absolutely love Janet Lee Carey's books, and hope hope hope I win!
Also it's on my sidebar at twoandahalfbooklovers.blogspot.com

brizmus said...

Enter me!

And I've tweeted about it!

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the great interview with @janetleecarey & thanks to Janet for sharing!
FanYAY! for three more novels coming soon.
All the best,

Haleyknitz said...

enter me please!

i posted on my contests page: (haleymathiot.blogspot.com/contests.html)

i tweeted (twitter.com/haleymathiot)

haleymathiot at yahoo dot com

cait045 said...

Enter me in!!!

I tweeted @cait045


jpetroroy said...

Please enter me.
jpetroroy (at) gmail (dot) com

+1 I tweeted at https://twitter.com/jpetroroy/status/4655797771

niki nicole said...

Please enter me! This book sounds great.

branquignole said...

Hey! I would love to be entered too. :)

Facebooked and tweeted.

branquign0le at yahoo dot de (the "o" in "branquignole" is a zero).

Linna said...

Please enter me for this giveaway contest. :D

linna.hsu at gmail dot com

xxsquigglesxx said...

I'd love to win!


okbolover said...

I would love to win! pls enter me!

sensitivemuse at gmail dot com

Sheere said...

please enter me!

+1 tweeted


BlackWolf said...

please count me in..

The Tome Traveller said...

How can I resist when the author's last name is the same as my first! Plus they all sound so good!

Please enter me!

thetometraveller *at* yahoo (dot)com

Ann Diana Dinh, said...

Ah! please enter me!


Kate said...

Can you please enter me?

katiepinn at googlemail dot com

celi.a said...

Oh, please enter me! I loved Dragon's Keep!


Jenny N. said...

I havent read this book yet so I would like to enter.


Priya said...

Great interview! I was at Janet's release party for this book so I got to hear firsthand about her inspiration for the book and so on, but it was interesting to hear about Stealing Death in more depth.

No need to enter me in the contest :D

Bridget said...

Hi! Just posted on Win A Book for you. No need to enter me.

mariska said...

Hi, i just found this from Win a book.
You are a new for me Author. I'd like to have the chance to win it.
uniquas at ymail dot com

Llehn said...

I'd love to play please!


Sue said...

I'd love a shot at this. Thanks for sharing it.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Brodie said...

Great interview! I would love to read this book, please enter me :)

Thank you!

tetewa said...

I'd like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com

LG said...

can't resist that cover art
please include me!

andrea said...

thanks for the contest!

tweeted about it here: http://twitter.com/andreadbc/status/4702834488

adbcoz (atGMAILdotCOM)

Kayla said...

Great interview!


babygirlG said...

Please enter me!


Froggy said...

Please enter me, I also linked the contest on my sidebar. :)

A Blog with Bite!

sarah said...

i loved dragon's keep and would love the opportunity to read more of this author. please sign me up!

kalynnick said...

Enter me in please. Thanks

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

avalonne83 said...

Sounds great!
Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

Giuly said...

Please enter me! I want to read that book!
thanks for the contest!



Bunny B said...

I would love to read this! Thanks!

bunnybx at gmail . com

Bunny B said...

Blogged: http://bunnymoney9.blogspot.com/2009/10/weekend-fun.html

bunnybx at gmail . com

Ruth said...

"Stealing death"! I love it. Please enter me for a chance to win this :)

Email: kiwibooklover at gmail dot com

Thanks so much!

Ladytink_534 said...

I remember this legend from the Fables series! Always love to see a different take on something like this. Please enter me :)


Chelsea S said...

Please enter me. I want to read this so much. Thanks.


-- Chelsea

edmontonjb said...

I know someone who would love a signed copy of this book. Please enter me.,

tanya904 said...

Thanks so much This seems like an amazing book and i would love to win a signed copy

Strangelove said...

I want in, please!

carlos_durao AT hotmail DOT com

Lynz Pickles said...

This sounds really good. Please enter me!


Virginia C said...

Please enter my name in the drawing.

I am a new follower and subscriber.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Sarah (Limerick) said...

The title of this book grabbed me most. And after reading your author interview just enhanced Stealing Death's coolness. A lot of great questions were asked. Thanks for that :)

+1 I've also linked this contest to my sidebar.

Thanks, Kim!

two_of_hearts_101 at yahoo dot com

Shadowofwonder47 said...

This sounds like an awesome book! Please enter me.

+1 Posted about this contest on my sidebar at


Milka said...

Please count me in!


Edu Chico said...

educhico AT gmail DOT com - put this one on this giveaway

Jafantunes said...

Oh, good offer!

jafantunes AT sapo DOT pt

Mrs. F-B's Books Blog said...

Dragon's Keep is an Oregon Battle of the Books title this year. I'd love to have another of her books in my middle school library! Thanks

Cavalier said...

I would love this one!

o_rei_de_havana AT hotmail DOT com

Maria D said...

Hello there!
Thank you for this giveaway.
The book seems to be a great read!


Caty said...

Wow, great giveaway!
Count me in, please, please, please!

catarina DOT magoito AT gmail DOT com

CherylS22 said...

I'd love to read this book - please enter me!

Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

Susy said...

I'm up for this!

Mil said...

Please count me in.
It's a great prize!

J Dias said...

One more for the road!
joanapatriciadias AT gmail DOT com

Tanita said...

My great friend J Dias just sent me an email telling me to sign up for this!
Thank you to her and to you for the giveaway!

tanitalves AT sapo DOT pt

niki nicole said...

Enter me please!

Paradox said...

Enter me please!

+1 Tweeted: http://twitter.com/ParadoxRevealed/status/5010718307

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

Rebecca N. said...

This sounds like a really good read! I would love to be entered to win! Thanks for the great giveaway!

imsosweepy { at } gmail { dot } com

Rebecca N. said...

I Tweeted!

imsosweepy { at } gmail { dot } com