Today I have Kendall Grey on the blog to talk about her new book, Inhale, and her love of whales and writing. I read the book, and I loved it. So far it is one of my favorite reads of 2012. It goes on sale for purchase on May 1st. That’s only a few days away! So if the blurb that follows interests you, why don’t you purchase the book and show an indie author some love? I assure you, this book is fantastic. And all the proceeds from this novel go to whale education programs. Every single penny.
Blurb: Strangers in reality, inseparable in dreams…
After years of suffocating under her boss’s scrutiny, whale biologist Zoe Morgan finally lands a job as director of a tagging project in Hervey Bay, Australia. Success Down Under all but guarantees her the promotion of a lifetime, and Zoe won’t let anything—or anyone—stand in her way. Not the whale voices she suddenly hears in her head, not the ex who won’t take no for an answer, and especially not the gorgeous figment of her imagination who keeps saving her from the fiery hell of her dreams.
Gavin Cassidy hasn’t been called to help a human Wyldling in over a year, which is fine by him. Still blaming himself for the death of his partner, he keeps the guilt at bay by indulging in every excess his rock star persona affords. That is, until he’s summoned to protect Zoe from hungry Fyre Elementals and learns his new charge is the key to restoring order in the dying Dreaming. He never expects to fall for the feisty Dr. Morgan…nor does he realize he may have to sacrifice the woman he loves to save an entire country.
*This book contains graphic language, sex, and some violence. Not suitable for readers under the age of 18.
**The author will donate all profits from the sale of the JUST BREATHE trilogy to whale education.
Kara: This is one of the most unique and original novels I have ever read. I’ve never read anything quite like it. What I am wondering is how did you come up with the idea for Inhale?
Kendall: The original book (13 rewrites ago) featured Zoe, Gavin, and some shared dreams. That’s where the similarities to the final version of INHALE end. Though I was proud of that first baby, dreams just weren’t enough to keep the story moving. I’d been fascinated by Wicca and loved the idea of elemental balance. If you think about it, Earth’s forces are in constant flux, sometimes influencing each other, sometimes playing nice, sometimes totally destructive. I started to write a completely different story centered on that theme, but I couldn’t let Gavin and Zoe go. Then I thought maybe I could add the Elemental stuff to the Dreaming and make it work. I outlined and developed the world as I rewrote the story. My box of notecards with world-building notes, characters, and ideas continues to grow. 🙂
Kara: Are the characters in the novel based on anyone you know? Is there a Zoe and Gavin out there somewhere?
Kendall: The heroine, Zoe, is the person I wish I could be. She’s an amalgamation of a bunch of whale lovers I know — dedicated, smart, fiercely protective, a little fragile at times. Gavin…he’s just…Gavin. He’s Australian (because that accent alone is enough to melt a girl’s heart), a rock star (I’ve always had a thing for a guy wearing a guitar), and has super dream powers. I actually dreamed of a guy like him once. He even had the tattoos and lip ring. Picturing his tall, gorgeous, dreamy self turns me into a trembling mass of chunky rice pudding every time. *SLURP*
Kara: Music plays a very important part in Inhale. What kind of music inspired you while you were writing Inhale? Do you listen to music while writing? Is there a playlist for Inhale? Which songs?
Kendall: Music is hugely important to me, but I can’t write with any kind of noise. When not writing, I listen to the kind of music Gavin’s band, Just Breathe, plays – anything with swearing, screaming, loud guitars, and unusual melodies. There’s a playlist up on my JUST BREATHE web site. You can check out the characters’ “mood music” at http://www.justbreathenovel.com/Just_Breathe/Characters.html. Not all of the songs will make sense right now, but I know where these dudes and dudettes are heading in the other two books, so some of the tunes fit with stuff that’s yet to come. 🙂
Kara: I can clearly see your passion for whales in your writing and story. Where did this passion come from? If you go back and think, when is the first time you really felt that passion and what happened?
Kendall: After I quit teaching, a friend asked me to be a subject in her doctoral research on situated cognition – immersion within active learning contexts to maximize understanding of a topic. For the class, we went up to Gloucester, Massachusetts to learn about whales and then apply our new knowledge by teaching passengers on a whale watch boat. The first time I laid eyes on a humpback, I freaked the hell out. There’s actually a documentary someone made about the Whale Class, and you can hear me screaming through the entire thing. Ha! I was so taken, so completely overwhelmed by the immensity and beauty of the whales, I just lost my sh!t. We’re talking about a spiritual experience here. Rocked my foundations.
I came home and started a corporation to teach kids about whales — I still go into schools and do whale presentations today. I’ve been all over the world watching whales. I did a research internship in Hervey Bay, Australia in which we photo identified humpbacks by taking pics of their flukes. A lot of the stuff about Hervey Bay in the JUST BREATHE trilogy is based on my experiences there with real whales. In the books, I tried to stay true to the setting and the science surrounding the whales as much as possible.
Kara: The question I ask everyone I interview. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Has it always been your dream, or is this a recent development?
Kendall: I was an English teacher for many years. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I could never write a story from start to finish. I was good at little scenes but not at putting them together to create a meaningful, complete picture. Whilst on a whale watching trip in Gloucester again in 2008, I picked up Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” and fell in love. Say what you want about those books, but they walked into my life at just the right moment and hit me just the right way. I’d been feeling down, unmotivated, and didn’t have much direction after quitting my job. Something about the combination of reading the books and being with my beloved whales prompted me to think, “I could write a book!” So I did. 🙂
Kara: So, why Australia? Of all the settings you could have used, why did you pick Australia and Hervey Bay?
Kendall: Hervey Bay, Queensland is known as “The Whale Watching Capital of the World.” Since I’ve been there and seen those sweet Aussie whales myself, it was a no-brainer. Plus, it’s Australia, dude! HA! While I was there on the internship, we had a research permit that allowed us get very close to the animals. I could tell you AMAZING close encounter stories…Some of Zoe’s experiences with whales in the books were actually mine. I’m working on a short story about Zoe as a young girl visiting Australia. It features a real-life whale serenade from my time in Hervey Bay. (See picture of the whale bloke in question below 🙂
Kara: After this trilogy is over, will you continue to write? Will it be about whales as well? Or will it be something else?
Kendall: Right now, I’m finishing up the first draft of JUST BREATHE, the final book of the trilogy. It will leave one of the supporting characters in a very…precarious position. I’m planning to write that character’s LURVE story when Gavin and Zoe’s tale is done. This character is one whose motivations are quite sketchy throughout the trilogy, which makes for GREAT conflict, distrust, and tension. I also introduce several other characters in the second and third books, all of whom have weaseled into my heart in different ways. There are plenty more stories I could write about my wild and crazy Elementals if readers are interested. I’ll probably leave the whales alone for a while, but I can always come back to them later. Or try my hand at some non-fiction. 🙂
Kara: The world-building in Inhale is really unique. Where did you come up with the ideas for the Dreaming and Elementals?
Kendall: I read a lot of Aboriginal Australian myths and fell in love with their idea of the Dreaming (also called Dreamtime). Aboriginals pass down stories about human and animal “spirits” that carved out the shapes of the Earth and explain natural occurrences and land features. I twisted the stories my own way, but my “Dreaming” has deep roots in theirs. I also integrated bits from Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious — brilliant stuff.
As for the Elementals, I researched pagan traditions and the characteristics of the four elements. I created rules that govern the Elementals and Sentinels. Like the Dreaming, the Elemental world in my head is constantly evolving. I watch people, study their behavior, and try to classify them by which Elements are “controlling” them at the moment. My odd social observations often drive my writing and set off the light bulbs that trigger world-building breakthroughs.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Kara. I’m truly honored and humbled to be here. These questions were SUPER fun!
|This is a calf I “met” in Hervey Bay. He was so playful and cute. I got a bunch of great shots of him breaching like this.|
|Here’s the nose of the Hervey Bay humpback whale who serenaded me with the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. It was amazing! I’m totally talking to him in this pic. 🙂 For more whale-related info, you can visit the fictional Cetacean Research Network website from the JUST BREATHE trilogy at http://www.cetaceanresearchnetwork.com.
Now for the giveaway. Up for grabs is an e-copy of Inhale. Anyone anywhere in the world can enter this contest as long as you can read an ebook. Just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. For this one I am going to require you be 18 to enter. There are some HOT sexual situations in this book. Giveaway ends 5/03/12.