I had a chance to sit down and talk with Kai Leakes about her multi faceted brand of dark urban fiction. We discussed the characters that populate her fictional world and what keeps her in the writing chair.
For those who are unfamiliar with Sin Eaters, tell us about the premise of your stories.
Sin Eaters introduces you to a unique hidden society and world filled with various classes of people meant to protect humanity from failing itself and from succumbing to darkness, named The Light. The Darkness is also a sect of people called The Curse, whose mission it is, to bring about the work of everything pure evil through the pollution of souls, creating chaos, and birthing demons.
Due to this, a war is going on between the two races behind the scenes. One of the members of the Light is a Nephilim guardian angel named Khamun Cross, who is very unique in that he is not the typical angel. It is his duty to protect everyday people like you and me from the Darkness, from falling into our own chaos. While doing so, Khamun is assigned to protect Sanna Steele, which changes not only his life and the life of his teammates, but also changes the Light Society and our world.
The Sin Eaters series follows Sanna while she steps into this hidden world she knew nothing about. It also follows Khamun as he discovers his own hidden past, Sanna’s destiny and the truth behind the creation of the Light Society while protecting us all from the Cursed. Namely, the mysterious Dark Lady and her pet the Medusa, who do the work of the Dark King.
Do you find it a challenge to write about so many characters with their own backstories?
Actually I don’t. I believe in always having supporting characters to my leads. I don’t typically write loners in the traditional sense because I believe that at least once in that character’s life, they will run across a person or persons who will anchor them in whatever they need help with or character growth with. The challenge only comes in the editing process, because I may be questioned about the characters with their own backstories. I love supporting characters and I always will feel that they need to be there. There is a method to the madness and hopefully it will be understood.
Many authors say that they would like to put out the kinds of novels that they don’t see in the current market. Is this true for you, and if yes, how so?
Yes and no. I say that because considering what I write, there are many paranormal romances out there, we’ve seen them all become famous movies, and television shows, so I’m not unique in what I am choosing to write. However, the context in how I write, the multifaceted diversity that I put in my stories, makes it unique and something that you do not see in the market. For that reason alone, I feel that I stand with those authors who would like to put out novels that they don’t see on the current market, because you do NOT see a paranormal romance, or ‘urban’ fiction novel with people of color as leads or as secondary supporting characters. If we are seen, we fall into characters with no real background and meant to just pop in as a prop. We can count on one hand how many has been in the popular market via and that’s Blade. Which is a comic and was a movie/television series.
Others who write like me, you have to hunt for. I had to hunt for L.A. Banks who is my s/hero, mentor, may she rest in peace. She was the counter part of Anne Rice for me. She created a beautifully crafted paranormal world that had love, sex, wisdom, action, and more, all centered on a diverse cast. Her books influenced greatly the phenomena we have today and many of her ‘terms’ have been used in other series but they won’t admit it. So yes, I do agree and yes, this is why I write paranormal/fantasy.
Without giving a way too many spoilers, what is something that your characters have done that surprises you?
Now this is a hard one. I know. The end of Sin Eaters 2. I know that it might be confusing on what exactly happened (due to formatting), but what lead up to that ending, was surprising to me. I wasn’t expecting it, because I had a different ending all together that I was going to do, however that changed and the big shocker happened.
Another one is Sanna cursing. LOL She’s not a big curser, so the moment she spit out one, I had to chuckle to myself. That amused me.
When it comes to finding ideas for a story, what fired your creative spark?
I am big on movies, music, television and reading. These things are what generate my spark. I also speak to my best friend and sometimes muse author Nikki-Michelle about ideas that I am thinking about. Usually, once I start discussion them to her, the story just starts flowing and it forms together. Other times I may dream my story idea, such as I did with Sin Eaters book One. So it is an eclectic approach to how my creative spark comes.
Often times, the writing and editing process makes it difficult for writers to get in as much reading as they’d like. When you get the chance to read for pleasure, what do you like?
Oh my gosh this is me! Those who know me, and have known me a long time, remember when I was a book junkie. I used to get lost in B&N, just walk through the doors with friends or family then just disappear until they find me later in the Sci/fi and fantasy section. My wall used to be stacked with books, but once I started writing, I no longer was the fan, I now was the writer, the author, so that changed everything for me and I hate it.
However, when I am able to break away from my computer and tell myself to read for pleasure and not for research, I enjoy fantasy novels based around vampires, or time travel, or now I am into steampunk. I also love romance novels. They usually have to be fantasy based as well or historical fantasy. I do enjoy some contemporary romance novels, but I am big on reading as escapism. I’d rather read about magical realms, or time travel, and place myself into those characters shoes then reading a fiction novel that is in current time. Those are my main genres I read in, however I do not limit myself. I enjoy some chick lit, mysteries, thrillers, etc.
Speaking of editing – do you like or dislike the process?
I hate it, hate it, hate it! I am a storyteller. I am not an English major. The older I’ve become the worse it has been for me to catch my own grammatical issues and it’s bad. I get a glossy eye and miss a lot. LOL So I hate it, especially when I have to look over the edits with my publishing company. I become an evil, evil, witch through it all. So I hate it.
When I find issues in the books later, it’s embarrassing to me as well because I’m not sure why I missed it when I have several people checking after me. So again, I hate it to a ‘T’. LOL
I want to say I am sorry to all my readers now, because I hate it. I think I said hate it, six times now.
What are some of the things you do to stay focused on your stories?
I am a horrible procrastinator. There is no stay focus for me. Either I force myself or writing doesn’t happen. However, music sometimes helps.
If you could take a really badly executed story or movie script and remake it, which one would you chose?
I’d redo Catwoman, or X-men. Do you see a theme between the two? LOL Casting would change. In regards to X-men, characters who were meant to be in the original comic would be there. I’d do a lot. Don’t make me go deeper, I could talk for hours on end about it.
What’s the most unexpected reaction you have received about one of your books?
I have one, it was a review on Sin Eaters. This person loved the first book, but once reading the second, him or her, felt a disconnect and felt that it was disjointed. That really hurt my spirit and put me in a dark place in terms to writing any more SE novels.
As a writer, I know that not everyone will want to read my work (which I constantly come up against), or will like my work, but my overall goal is to entertain. As long as I know that I entertained you, then the small issues with my works don’t get to me. I usually take note and move on. However, with the few reviews I do receive, this one I took to heart and it shocked me.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on two stories. One I did put on pause, which is a contemporary romance novel that is kicking my butt.
The second is a fantasy novel grounded in the Steampunk world, called, “Pulse.” The title may change later.
Is there anything your readers don’t know about you that you’d like them to know?
When I was blessed with the chance to meet author L.A. Banks before she passed, I turned into the biggest fangirl. I was so shy that I was scared to meet her at first, but that all changed later and it was the best moment in my life.
©2014 Lori Titus