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Q+A with Kate Corcino
EJ: Tell us about Spark Rising.
Kate: Spark Rising is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in the southwestern United States of the future. It’s the story of Magdalena Gracey, a young woman with the power to create and manipulate the only form of electricity left in the world, and Agent Alejandro Reyes, a man trained from childhood to be an elite soldier for the ruling government. He’s sent to investigate a report of an illegal Spark living in the desert. But Alex has his own agenda. And if the two of them can learn to work together instead of killing each other, they might have a chance at sparking a revolution…and love.
EJ: What inspired Spark Rising?
Kate: In the days before the story came, I’d seen two sets of photos online. The first was an abandoned town in the desert that was being buried by sand. The second was a series of various city skylines from around the world showing what the night sky would look like if there were no lights, no electricity. I was blown away. Because yes, they’re both gorgeous. But the devastation of that loss of civilization…wow. Even in devastation, there would be beauty so long as we are the kind of people who have the capacity to see it. That’s the big "what if?” What kind of people are able to see the beauty?
EJ: What made you decide to end Spark Rising the way you did?
Kate: *laugh* It originally had a very different ending. By the time I'd made other changes that really were very necessary, the ending I wrote originally didn’t work. The ending it has now is actually the third ending written, I think. Those last two chapters changed A LOT.
EJ: What inspired the character of Lena?
Kate: Lena came to me fully formed, just a damaged, tough, ballsy, tiny little redhead. I think she’s rooted in my desire to explore life’s complications from that New Adult period of transition and upheaval. Who we love. Why we love. How we choose to express and live with that, even through the dark times. How do we carve out something that is entirely our own, or even believe we’re worthy of it, through all of the demands of society and family? And what is family, anyway?
I also really love exploring issues of perspective—what is the right choice for one person isn’t the same for another, and that’s okay—in womanhood, in relationships, in faith. I like the big, complicated, meaty issues that often cause darkness and angst. They’re the root of so many misunderstandings, but I like mistakes. I believe in second chances. Lena’s damaged heart provides a wonderful way of exploring those themes.
EJ: Do you have any thoughts on Alex's behavior throughout Spark Rising?
Kate: Ohh, Alex. *laugh* He’s a badass, broken man. He’s just as damaged as Lena, but he’s dedicated himself to one idea, to one cause, and is willing to do absolutely anything to further it. His love for Lena takes him by surprise. It’ll be really interesting to see how the battle between his sense of responsibility to the revolution that he founded and his feelings for Lena will play out. I think the battle will be as fascinating as his motives.
EJ: Did you always want to write books when you were a child?
Kate: Yes. I've always been telling stories. Family legend has it that I was kicked out of a denominational preschool because of a story that was particularly upsetting. So, not only was I telling stories, but they were always controversial! I've been writing the stories down since I was able to write.
EJ: What inspires you to write genre fiction?
Kate: The people who read it! Science fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance—there may be differences among their readers, but the one thing they have in common is a willingness to lose themselves in a story, a joy in the fact that they have a story to lose themselves in, that I just don’t see in other areas. We’re wholly, unselfconsciously committed to our genres, and I find that beautiful.
When I was in my master’s program for Creative Writing, I had a conversation with another student that really sealed the deal for me. He was sneering at my desire to write genre fiction and telling me that I was limiting myself. “You know you’ll never write the Great American Novel writing that stuff.” And perhaps he's right. But the thing is, I’m not interested in literary elitism. If I can write a book that takes a reader—one reader—out of all of the everyday stress and noise of life and give them another world to lose themselves in, a world rich enough that they want to get lost in it? Well, as far as I'm concerned, I have written a pretty damn great novel, even if critics hate it.
EJ: What were the challenges in bringing Spark Rising to life?
Kate: There was definitely a research challenge—I love science and I’ve always read science fiction. But I knew nothing about the inner workings of electricity and electrical components, and I certainly had no working knowledge of new theories in nanite technology. Even though I was creating something fantastic, I needed to have a bed of knowledge from which to stretch.
The other huge challenge is the scope of themes, especially with women’s roles and faith. Lena, and other characters, make assumptions about other groups of people, as we all do, that are wrong. Those assumptions are slowly sifted through and revealed through the greater series arc. I’m afraid people will—ha ha!—make assumptions about what I mean in the meantime, that I’m criticizing deeply held beliefs. It’s not so, and that’s rough for me to think about.
EJ: What do you think is the draw of the “strong female character”?
Kate: Well, I think we all like to root for someone who can handle herself, who isn’t afraid to face the bad guys, and who reminds us of the internal strength we have or we’d like to have. Personally, I really prefer the flawed female character. *laugh* Don’t get me wrong—Lena can kick some ass. She has to be able to, in her world. But I love that she is flawed. She leaps before looking, she’s mouthy, she makes shitty decisions and then has to live with the consequences. She obsesses…oh, how she obsesses! She’s not always likeable. She’s a twenty-four year old young woman figuring out where she belongs, who she loves, and what she wants, special powers or not. It’s important to me that she isn’t a caricature of strength on that journey.
EJ: What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Kate: They are clearly post-apocalyptic/dystopian. I prefer to call them futuristic fantasy. Yes, they’re rooted in scifi, but there is an element of the fantastic that works into them. As far as categories, Ignition Point, the collection of related short stories, straddles the line between YA and NA. I consider Spark Rising to be NA. The series itself will sit on the border of NA and Adult fiction. Lena has a lot to work her way through, but the series will see her grow through her struggles with her identity, fear of failure, and first love.
EJ: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
Kate: Anything with a fantastic element. Scifi, futuristic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, classic—I love it all!
Thank you Kate for joining us here at From the Shadows!
To learn more about Kate Corcino and her books, please visit her website.
Spark Rising by Kate Corcino.
All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.
Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.
Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.
Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.
The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.
Release Date: December 15, 2014
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
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