Wednesday, 1 June 2011

An Interview With Colleen Houck!!!

As you guys knows, I was reading Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck and, let's say I got a bit addicted with this book. So much so, I send a quick (maybe gushy) email to the UK publishers, Hodder, asking if I could have a interview with Colleen Hough. And they did! They sent the questions to her and she answered them!

Why did you choose India as a backdrop for Tiger's Curse and the rest of the Tiger's Saga? Was that an organic idea or did you just know that this story would be set there?
It was the tiger that led me to India. I chose a Beauty and the Beast theme and picked a white tiger for my beast. I thought I’d set my book in Russia until I began researching white tigers and found they are all descended from one white tiger cub captured in India. So since he was a Bengal and all white tigers today have at least some Bengal from their great grandsire, I moved the setting to India.

I was wondering if you have ever been to India, because there were times I was reading Tiger's Curse and I felt like I was there.
I haven’t been to India though I have a strong desire to visit. There is something magical and special and mysterious about it even today. Early in my writing I found an editor from India, named Sudha Seshadri. She helped me make sure I was being as accurate as possible and though the story is told through the eyes of an American teen, Sudha gave me valuable insight in understanding and depicting her lovely country properly.

Kelsey lives with foster family at the start of Tiger's Curse, and this is quite rare in YA to have a lead character who is fostered or adopted. Why did you decide on this? And do we discover more on Kelsey's parents?
The death of Kelsey’s parents is something I will be revisiting later on in the series. I wanted my heroine to have some inner demons to battle as well as physical demons. The feelings of isolation and aloneness that Kelsey experiences in the book lend a sort of sad tone to Kelsey’s journey and it’s something that she and Ren have in common. A desperate connection builds between them and I think it speaks a bit to the emotional need we all have—the drive to belong and to hold on to those we love.

You mentioned in an interview that you wanted to write a love story where you have no idea who will win the heroine's heart? Does this mean that there will be Team Ren And Team Kishan in the near future?
I’ve already seen the beginnings of a Team Ren and Team Kishan movement. I think it’s fun to speculate about what will happen in a series. But in all honesty, I love both of my tigers and want them both to find the love they seek. Kishan has often been called a bad boy. He literally is the black tiger and comes off as a little dangerous but he can also be very sweet and charming. I think it will be hard for everyone to choose which one they’re rooting for. I think it’s okay to root for both.

In a video interview I saw online (one of the many reasons why I love you and knew I had to read Tiger's Curse), you spoke openly about ending Tiger's Curse on a dramatic cliffhanger. Why did you decide on this?
Part of it is strategy and part of it is to remind the reader that there is more to come, much more. I actually try to end every chapter with little mini cliffhangers. It’s just as difficult for me as a writer to stop there as it is for a reader. When I hit the end of a chapter or the end of a book, I feel the pressing need to keep going so we can all turn the next page. Also I’m a big fan of huge reveals. I like to give people something to talk about around the watercooler.

The Tiger Saga is a series of five books. Was that planned from the very start or did this develop into a series of five books as you thought out the story arc?
I wasn’t sure if I would write four or five books but as I neared the end of writing book three, Tiger’s Voyage, I knew it would have to be five. I still have the original story sketches for the four books with the same titles even, and I’ve pretty much kept to my outline. There were just too many loose ends left for me to finish the story with four books though so I had to add one more. I knew exactly where the story was headed from the first day. One of my pet peeves is getting into a series and having it aimlessly wander through dozens of books. I liked that J.K. Rowling always knew that Harry Potter would be seven books and then she stuck to it. Feeling that the series is headed in a definite direction is something I wanted to give to my readers.

I want to ask some questions about writing. When did you get the writing bug?
I started writing in the spring of 2008, the same week I finished reading Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. Breaking Dawn was coming out seven months later and I despaired of ever finding another book series that spoke to me in the same way. That week after reading that she was an average stay-at-home mom and also knowing that J.K. Rowling too had never considered writing as a career gave me the courage to try. I will be forever grateful and admiring of the tenacity and resolve it took for them to break out of their comfort zones and give it a go. They both proved that writing can change the world.

You originally self-published Tiger's Curse as an ebook. Why did you decide to do this?
I was impatient and hated getting rejection letters so I sat down with my wonderful husband and together we made the decision to self-publish. The e-book version was a last minute addition to the self-publishing package and it was the best decision I ever made. At the time I thought, the more lines you cast in the water the better your odds of catching a fish. It’s a great tool for aspiring writers to “test the waters” and find out if they have an audience.

What was it like to self-publish Tiger's Curse to receive over 350 4-5 star reviews on Amazon and then to have publishers all over the world wanting to publish your book series?
It was amazing and scary. When I was first approached by foreign publishers, I was still self-published and I had no idea what I was doing. Then my guardian angel of an agent, Alex Glass, found me. He knocked on my door, gave me a glass slipper, and escorted me to my carriage. Not literally of course, but he has been looking out for me ever since. Having my books published around the world is very humbling. To think that someone in New Zealand or South Africa or India can read what I’ve written is miraculous. There are many cultures and mythologies woven into my series and to feel their support has been extraordinary.

How long did it take you to write Tiger's Curse from the original idea?
I finished writing Tiger’s Curse almost to the day of Breaking Dawn’s release. It was seven months from start to finish and this was while I was still working full time.

What is your typical day of writing?
I typically write in the afternoons and handle all my correspondence and appointments in the mornings. When I was working, my shift was early in the morning and I’d then come home around 2 pm and write. I guess I’ve pretty much kept to the same schedule.

Random question: Did you write Tiger's Curse long-hand or straight onto the computer?
Before writing became my life, I was an American Sign Language interpreter, my husband knows both American and British Sign Language by the way, and because of that job I’ve always been paranoid about carpel tunnel so all my writing is done on the computer. I can’t imagine writing long-hand or without internet access so I can look up that elusive word on the tip of my tongue.

While you were writing Tiger's Curse, you must have written scenes that you, sadly, edited or completely cut it? How did you decide what stayed in and what "little darlings" you cut out?
Actually, I don’t delete anything as I write. When it goes to editing there are some little parts that are moved or shifted and there are some little things that my editor has cut out but even so we are keeping all the material to post on a deleted scenes section of my website.

Was there a scene you loved writing but you had to edit out?
The only big chunk of material that was taken out was a piece from the opening chapter of Tiger’s Curse that described Kelsey’s background. It was important for me to get a feel of who she was and what her character was like but it was information overload to have all that in the beginning of the book. We shifted some things to other places in the book and dropped others but we will post all of that at some point. To me it’s still a part of my character; it defines Kelsey, and is still a part of the story as I write on in the series.

What do you feel when you see people reading Tiger's Curse & Tiger's Quest and their reactions on blogs/facebook/twitter? Does it feel surreal?
It’s really wonderful to see such a reaction and that my fans love the characters as much as I do. I respond to all my fan mail and one person wrote back and said she screamed when she got my reply and that I’m the first celebrity who had ever written her. I don’t really feel like a celebrity. I’m just a book-lover the same as all the other people in my neighbourhood. I’m extremely grateful to my fans and I enjoy meeting them and giving them the best author experience that I can. I consider them all friends who are just keeping me company as I travel through this strange world of curses and tiger princes.

Now, I read on Tiger's Curse press release that the film rights to the whole Tiger Saga has been optioned. Are you excited over this?
I am extremely excited about this. The producer who optioned the books for film, Raffi Kryszek, has a very similar vision to mine and we have a lot in common. He also has a very personal connection to and love of tigers and I think he’s the perfect choice to make my movie. For more information about the progress of the film you can follow him on

One last question: what little titbits can you reveal of book two and three of the Tiger Saga: Tiger's Quest and Tiger's Voyage?
In Tiger’s Quest you will get to know Kishan much better. I plan to make a lot of converts to Team Kishan with this book. In each book I give a nod to one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. Tiger’s Curse is loosely themed after Romeo and Juliet and Tiger’s Quest has elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Tiger’s Voyage is my favourite of the series. In it our heroes must face the dragons of the five oceans and seek the sunken City of the Seven Pagodas. This one is full of danger, scary creatures, and ocean treasures. I’m very excited to see what everyone thinks of this book.


A quick Thank You to Colleen for answering these questions and for Lucy at Hodder for setting up the interview. YOU GUYS ROCK! (Also, if you can, go on the Ineffable Pictures website. They have an AWESOME picture of a scene taken out of Tiger's Curse!

And now, the trailers for Tiger's Curse and Tiger's Quest. ENJOY!

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