Q&A: Author of ‘The Body Finder’ on echoes and serial killers July 20, 2010Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
Tags: echoes, Kimberly Derting, The Body Finder, Violet
Sixteen-year-old Violet Ambrose hears dead people. She’s inherited the ability to sense the “echoes” the dead leave behind — the dead who have been murdered — from her grandmother. When a serial killer comes to town and starts murdering teen-age girls, Violet steps in to track the killer, who retains the imprints of these echoes. That’ the premise behind THE BODY FINDER, the debut novel by Kimberly Derting. I wondered why she decided to tell this story and what is up next in the series:
Q. You’re a new author, so what inspired you to write a YA paranormal vs another genre (or even an adult paranormal because Violet’s story could’ve been told through the eyes on an adult)?
A. My first attempt at writing a novel (using that word loosely) was a full-on adult horror novel called ONE OF THEM, because I wanted to write like Stephen King (HA!). Fortunately, it was never published but it did make for really good practice. Only when I finally gave up on that manuscript did I discover (and fall in love with) YA!
Q. You mentioned at a book signing that your husband gave you the idea for THE BODY FINDER. Tell us a bit more about this.
A. Here we go … his favorite question! Yes, the original idea actually came from my husband, who said (one day while we were driving): “What if there was a kid who could find dead bodies?” Of course, in his head it was a middle-school-boy adventure book. But I loved the basic idea … as long as it was a girl in high school and she had a love interest. It took some time to hammer out the rules of her creepy ability (how she would find the dead bodies), but once I did, I was obsessed with getting her story on paper. To this day though, my husband will still refer to himself as my co-author!
Q. The concept of an echo is intriguing. Do all of the dead have an echo or just those who meet a violent end? (In the book, even animals have echoes!)
A. Violet doesn’t understand all of the parameters of her “gift” yet, and that’s something that she considers/explores a bit more in DESIRES OF THE DEAD, but there are definitely some bodies that she senses more strongly than others. Also, one doesn’t have to necessarily die violently to have an echo.
Q. We know Vi gets her gift from her grandmother. Does the “gift” skip a generation because neither of her parents have the ability? Will we learn more about how Vi’s grandmother handled her gift? (Did Vi ever meet her? Curious about this part of the story!)
A. This is another thing that Violet delves into a little more in book two, so I won’t say too much. I will say that it’s a gift that only the women in her family tend to inherit (her maternal grandmother was the last one to have it), and while it doesn’t necessarily skip generations as a rule, her mother most definitely doesn’t have it!
Q. In one part of the book, Vi visits a cemetery and the dead call out to her. It’s intriguing because you mention very specifically about the echoes she hears. How did you write that scene? Did you visit a cemetery?
A. Yes, there’s a specific cemetery (not too far from my house) that I envisioned when I wrote the scene. I really loved writing that scene because I wanted to give the readers a sense of how beautiful the call of the dead can be for Violet.
Q. Do all “killers” leave an imprint that Vi can sense?
A. Violet believes so, although some deaths have much stronger echoes than others. And “killers” is a fairly loose term, since it includes hunters, those who’ve killed in the line of duty … and her cat. Violet will learn more as the books progress, but some of the laws of her ability (like with psychics) will be elusive and hard to put a finite rule on.
Q. Was it hard to balance Vi’s romantic yearnings as a teen with the serial killer story?
A. It’s funny actually, because initially, there weren’t as many scenes from the killer’s point of view. I thought they were maybe too dark for a YA novel. So when my editor came back and asked for more of them, I was thrilled! I know, I know, this makes me sound sick and twisted!
Q. Is there more to Jay than meets the eye? He seems so protective of Vi — almost like an Alpha Teen Dude!
A. I think Jay just worries about her the way anyone would worry about someone if…you know … they were hunting for a serial killer! But despite all of that, Jay still loves Violet unconditionally. By the way, we should totally go into business together selling Alpha Teen Dude shirts. Love that phrase!
Q. Those nasty high school upper classmen! Are those characters based on your own high school memories? If not — where?
A. No, I actually had a good high school experience, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the chance to witness plenty of bitchy girls along the way. And for some reason, girls seem to be so much nastier than the guys. If the guys don’t like each other, they just stay out of each other’s way for the most part … girls will go out of their way to be hateful.
Q. You almost end THE BODY FINDER with a cliffhanger but then you give us an epilogue. Why did you choose this format vs just a straight out narration?
A. I wanted the shock value, it’s as simple as that. I’m afraid if I explain more, it’ll be too spoilery!
Q. Tell us how you went from idea to writing to getting published.
A. As I mentioned before, I had written another novel before that never got published (and I spent years trying!). So with THE BODY FINDER, I was surprised when everything happened very quickly. I finished the manuscript in about six months, attended a writer’s conference where I met my agent, and within a month of submission we were already fielding offers from publishers. It was pretty amazing!
Q. I know you have kids, but are any of them old enough to read your stories? (If so — do you ever talk to them as you write to get ideas or feedback?)
A. My oldest daughter was my first beta-reader (besides my husband—the “co-author”—of course). She was the perfect age for it (unlike my husband) and I only asked if she would read the first 50 pages to let me know what she thought. That was at around lunchtime. By the time I was going to bed, she’d printed out the entire manuscript and was just finishing up! That was pretty high praise, considering she wasn’t much of a reader then.
Q. Do you have a title for your series and do you know how many books you’ll write?
A. It’s the Body Finder series, and at this point I’m hoping there will be at least two (maybe even three) more beyond Desires of the Dead (since I already have them plotted out). Now it’s just a matter of the stars aligning to see if it works out that way!!!
Q. I know DESIRES OF THE DEAD is next in the series. What can you tell us about it? Any sneak previews coming?
A. I can give you a peek at the jacket copy from the ARC:
When Violet Ambrose’s morbid ability to sense the echoes of those who’ve been murdered leads her to the body of a young boy, she draws the attention of the FBI. She is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret…but her relationship and possibly her life as well.
Q. What are you reading now?
A. Right now I’m reading an ARC of Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (and LOVING it!).
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. Thanks so much for having me today …this was so much fun!!!
Miss these? A few other author interviews on the blog.
Chris Farnsworth – ‘Blood Oath’ author on his vampire, movie and what part of the novel is true!
Lucy Monroe — On her medieval Scottish werewolves
Alexandra Ivy – On her vampires and werewolves
Enid Wilson — What ‘Really Angelic’ author says when people don’t like her books
Gena Showalter — On her fave characters, books and Kresley Cole
Keri Arthur – On her Riley Jenson series and why it must end!
Christine Feehan — Drake Sisters and Dark Slayer
Alyson Noel — Her Immortals Series
Charlaine Harris — Her latest Sookie book and HBO’s TRUE BLOOD
Jennifer Lyon: BLOOD MAGIC
Shana Abe: THE TREASURE KEEPER
Susan Squires: TIME FOR ETERNITY
Linda O Johnston: ALPHA WOLF