Back up and at 'em after a bit of a summer breather. I've decided to do some reading that's a bit more "light-hearted" than my normal fair. So today, I'm sharing an interview with author Kate Lutter, whose new novel "Wild Point Island" is currently touring over at Bewitching Books. I'll be doing a review tomorrow, so if you're intrigued by the below, definitely check back soon! Here's the official summary, so you're in the loop on my conversation with Kate:
Banished from Wild Point Island as a child, Ella Pattenson, a half human-half revenant, has managed to hide her true identity as a descendent of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Thought to have perished, the settlers survived but were transformed into revenants--immortal beings who live forever as long as they remain on the island.
Now, Ella must return to the place of her birth to rescue her father from imprisonment and a soon to be unspeakable death. Her only hope is to trust a seductive revenant who seems to have ties to the corrupt High Council. Simon Viccars is sexy and like no man she’s ever met. But he’s been trapped on the island for 400 years and is willing to do almost anything for his freedom.
Karen: Congratulations on the publication of “Wild Point Island,” which came out on June 15! I read on your Twitter that this has been in the works for almost ten years… What was that writing process like?
Kate: Thanks so much, Karen, but yikes. In actuality, I’ve been writing for ten years--not “Wild Point Island”—but four other novels, which I hope to sell one day. In actuality, the story of how I wrote “Wild Point Island” is quite interesting. I’d spent six months writing the first 100 pages of this paranormal romance, doing the world building. This was the first time I’d written a book where I created a different life form, a different society, in essence, an entirely different kind of world.
I then did a very foolish thing—I broke a cardinal rule and attended a conference and pitched the book (as if it were written) to a big editor at a major publishing house. I wanted to know if my story idea was marketable. When she requested the full manuscript, I had my answer, but with only 100 pages written, I couldn’t very well send it to her so I was in a real quandary. But I decided to go for broke. I joined NANO, short for National Novel Writing Month and proceeded to write the next 200 pages in twenty days. I then spent the last 10 days editing and finally sent the manuscript out. It’s no surprise that she rejected my novel because truthfully it needed more work. I later did more editing and sold “Wild Point Island” to a different publishing house.
Karen: I enjoyed the speculation about the Lost Colony of Roanoke that is central to your novel. Has this always been something that interested you? What types of research did you do to make your version of Roanoke so sharp?
Kate: I knew about the Lost Colony of Roanoke. I’d actually visited Roanoke Island years before and had even attended the play, a re-enactment of the terrible tragedy, that is performed down there every summer. But a writer friend of mine suggested using that piece of history for my backstory. I needed a way to explain how the revenants got on Wild Point Island, and I loved the idea of linking it to something real in history.
In terms of research, I relied on original source material, which I was able to locate through the National Park Service. I have a link to that material on my website (www.katelutter.com) so readers who are fascinated with that piece of history can learn more. I was able to locate the original manifest of the boat that sailed from England to Roanoke Island, listing the passengers onboard. It made sense to name my characters using the names from the passenger list. So my hero, Simon Viccars, who is 420 years old, by the way, is the actual name of one of the colonists who sailed from England to Roanoke Island in the 1590’s.
I also went on safari in Africa, in Kenya, and heard this fascinating story from our guide James about how the black rhinoceros eat a local plant for survival that is poisonous. Over the years they’ve developed this immunity to the plant. I was so taken with this story that I came home and did some research on the plant—the Euphorbia Candelabra—and decided to use it in “Wild Point Island.” As you know, if you read my novel, the colonists—in order to survive—eat a local plant and almost die, but don’t and are instead “changed” physiologically into revenants, another life form and granted immortality, but at a price—they must remain on the island forever. But don’t worry, even though Simon is a revenant he’s still a real hunk.
The greatest irony, of course, was that when I began to write “Wild Point Island,” most historians believed that the colonists perished and did not survive. Only a few historians believed that the colonists relocated somewhere else, which is the basis of my novel. Recently, however, the Huffington Post and NY Times reported that clues have been discovered on a map, which has been in the British Museum for over 100 years, indicating that the colonists did, indeed, relocate somewhere else. So my theory was correct after all. Yeah!!
Karen: I’d love to know more about your writing background, and how you first came to work on “Wild Point Island.”
Kate: I feel like I’ve been writing all my life. Definitely since the eighth grade when I wrote my first novel. I was a middle school, then high school English teacher. I also taught writing on the college level part time, but it wasn’t until I heard an author speak about publishing her first novel that I became inspired to begin writing seriously, which means more than as a hobby. I started writing, joining writing groups, working with critique partners, attending conferences, submitting manuscripts, receiving rejection letters, winning contests, etc. I still remember, though, coming home from that talk and writing the first 50 pages of what would become the first novel I’d write. Four novels later I started writing “Wild Point Island.”
Don’t laugh but the truth is that for “Wild Point Island” I was inspired by the hot HBO drama on TV—“True Blood.” My husband caught the first three episodes on reruns and convinced me to watch it. I was immediately hooked by the love story between Bill, the vampire, and Sookie, the small town waitress. There was a definite chemistry there, but you knew from the start that their relationship was doomed. I decided that I wanted to write a love story like that—that the hero and heroine really wanted to be together but there would be something keeping them apart. So, to a large extent, part of “Wild Point Island” is modeled on “True Blood.” The revenants in my story are similar to vampires. They need the Euphorbia Candelabra like vampires need blood to survive. They are stuck on the island and their rejoining the human world will have consequences similar to the vamps mingling with humans.
Karen: What was your publication experience like? What did you learn along the way about this process that would be valuable for new writers to hear?
Kate: It is very difficult to be calm, cool, and collected during the process. Your release date looms ahead of you and you look at it as if it is D Day. Before that day, your time is filled with editing your manuscript. After that day, your time is filled with promoting your book. You worry about everything—your cover, your sales. It is a challenge to settle down and begin to write again, but that is what you must do.
I was lucky in that I had a very good friend who got published years before me. She was a good person who served as an excellent role model. She did one thing I’ll never forget. When she was published, she remembered to thank the writers who she worked with—her critique partners, to be exact. She put them in the Acknowledgment section of her book. I was one of those writers, and I’ll never forget that. She knew then that even though as a writer, you write in isolation, you are part of a larger “community of writers.” You depend on other writers. I followed her example. I acknowledged all the writers who I’d worked with over the years. I believed that they helped me becomes successful. That’s one thing I can share—never forget where you came from—never forget to say thank you.