You can find my review of Stork here, and I'll be posting my review of its sequel, Frost, on Saturday. (It's just as good, in case you wondering!)
I note in my review that Katla has incredible voice. Stork isn’t told from the perspective of an ambiguous narrator; I could tell that it was Katla on every page. Where did you draw Katla’s qualities from? How were you able to make her such a strong character?
WD: First of all, great questions! And thank you for the compliment contained in this first one. When writing a first-person character, I try to pass all action and dialogue through the prism of the life experiences and inherent personality traits I’ve ascribed to that individual. In Katla’s case, she’s forthright, confident, loyal, and, well, a little sarcastic.
Is there a real Stork Society (or a myth about a Stork society)? How did you decide to make it into a story?
WD: As far as I know, the Stork Society is a product of my imagination. When casting about for a fresh paranormal concept, the pre-birth condition came to mind. Angel stories seemed to focus on the post-death phenomenon so it felt like a new perspective. Once I had the visual of hovering souls, the symbol of childbirth—the white bird carrying a bundle—came to mind. From there, I invented white or benevolent witches charged with the responsibility of matching the undecided of hovering souls with the right mother.
There are so many delicate pieces of the story woven throughout Stork. Did you plan them all that way from the beginning or did they pop up unexpectedly? What’s your plotting process?
WD: I have used the word serendipity when describing the way a book comes together in its final stages. My process begins with a rough sketch, outlining a handful of major plot points. From there, I begin fleshing out the characters and the chapter-by-chapter events. I also admit to a kitchen-sink approach for the first few exploratory chapters. I allow myself to throw a few random objects (or characters sometimes) into the plot to see if it sparks. The Yule Cat in Frost is a good example of this. I found an Icelandic legend of a black cat that attacks all who are without a new piece of clothing at Christmastime. Well, my protagonist Katla does love clothing. I threw it into an early chapter and was pleasantly surprised when it became a plot device later on.
How was writing Frost different from writing Stork? Were there any special challenges that came with writing a sequel?
WD: One comforting aspect of writing a sequel was that the character’s voice was established. I had already settled in to her language and style of speech. The challenge to a sequel was, of course, keeping the story compelling and the character interactions fresh. Kat and Jack were together as a couple at the end of book one. In order to recreate tension, they (and their relationship) had to face a new problem. Frost was different in that I chose to retell a classic fairytale, The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (whereas Stork was my own invention). The reworking of a classic tale had a storyline that had to be respected.
Katla’s adventures in Iceland are fascinating, and I enjoyed all the little interesting bits of information you included about the culture. How did you research for that part of Katla’s story?
WD: I am not Icelandic, and I have never been to Iceland. I used a variety of online resources to research Icelandic customs. I used google earth and google images to get a visual on Icelandic architecture and landscapes. Much of the festival is invented, but there is an annual gathering in Canada and a fair in Iceland that I used as a template for my fictional Dance of the Selkies festival.
I’m really, really excited about Stork and Frost and can’t wait to find out more about Katla, Leira and the Stork Society. Is there anything you can share with us about what’s in store for the series?
WD: Whereas Niflheim, the Ice Realm, was the focus of Frost, Vatnheim, the Water Realm, will be the important feature in the third book, Tide. Kat has (albeit inadvertently) entered into a pact with Queen Safira. When a messenger/collector arrives, Kat will risk everything to save those she loves.
When was the moment that you realized “This is it. I did it. I’m an author!” What was it like?
WD: When I obtained an agent and a few months later when we got “the deal.” Those were incredible moments. I had worked very hard and had my share of rejections. Stork was the fifth novel I wrote. But I do love the process and would still be writing today even without the promise of publication.
And just for fun:
A person from the future comes to you and offers you a trip to any time and place of your choosing. You’re allowed to bring one thing with you. Where/when do you go and what do you take?
WD: I think I go to London in September of 1666 (Pudding Lane) on the eve of the great fire—and with a fire extinguisher. Not only would I get to walk the street of 17th century England, but I’d get to save lives and some architectural gems. Then again, maybe I should go to Ford’s Theatre in 1865 with blanks for John Wilkes Booth’s gun.
What are your three favorite books of all time?
WD: Ask me another time and the second and third responses might change (P & P will always be my top answer), but today I’m going with:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Wendy, thanks again for stopping by!
So, readers, do you have any thoughts? Did you like Stork? Are you intrigued? Writers, do you write with serendipity?