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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Author Interview + Contest: Janet Lee Carey

I am thrilled to welcome Janet Lee Carey to my blog today where she talks about her writing and recently released novel, Stealing Death.

Janet Lee Carey is well known for her rich and engaging fantasy novels, including Dragon’s Keep, which received a starred review from School Library Journal that stated, “Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger in their memories.”

What was the inspiration behind Stealing Death?
The idea was seeded by some fairytales and folktales I read in Grimm and in the American Jack tales. I knew I’d write a novel someday concerning a boy who challenged death, yet I waited twelve years to write it. I needed the right character to emerge and the right location for the tale. I found them when I met Kipp and entered Zolya with him. It was then the tale began to unfold.

How is Stealing Death different from your other novels?
What a great question. First I’d have to say the difference has to do with setting. I grew up in northern California in the redwoods and usually set my fantasies in green places or along the seashore. The arid landscape of Zolya was very foreign at first, but the dry windblown country full of wild animals had a distinct culture I found fascinating. People also had a way of speaking I could “hear”. This is a little hard to explain other than to say I “hear” my novels like a kind of music -- the story voice begins and I listen and write it down. I’m now working on the sequel to Stealing Death and I’m still discovering new things about Zolya and the Zolyan culture. I know now that I couldn’t have set Stealing Death.

How do you go about researching your novels?
I always have teetering stacks of books by my desk as I write a novel. I also go in for “experiential research” and try out things my characters are doing when possible. Kipp’s on horseback a lot in this novel, so I signed up for a trail ride and rode a feisty horse named Missy. After a few illuminating hours in the saddle, I scrambled back to the book to add more details while I was still walking as wide kneed as a cowboy and dusty from the ride.

My writing friends and I have some pretty wild stories about our experiential research. Author Justina Chen Headley’s travels in China made her characters’ journey in North of Beautiful vivid and authentic. Peggy King Anderson picks up slugs to “get a closer look.” Katherine Grace Bond climbed onto her roof with a five-pound bag of flour trying to experience what it would be like to climb down a fire escape with a baby in your arms. The trouble was there is no fire escape at her place. Compared to my daring friends, horseback riding is small potatoes. I should get my hands on a bow and do some archery next given the fact that my character Zalika is such a pro.

What has been your greatest influence to write?
Whenever I read a challenging and beautifully written book with dynamic characters and well-imagined world, I want to run straight to my desk and start tapping the keys.

Tell us something that we might be surprised to learn about you.
  • If there were a surgery to add gills so I could breathe underwater, I’d line up for it. (Blame E. Nesbit’s novel Wet Magic I read at age nine).
  • I ice-skated on the Baltic Sea when I was four years old.
  • I usually do some kind of outreach with each book launch. This time I’m raising money for a PlayPump to provide clean drinking water to a village in sub-Saharan Africa. There’s lots of info about this terrific organization at PlayPumps International. Please do come visit my pump on the Stealing Death: Water For Life challenge page.
What’s next for you/Are you working on any other projects?
At my writing desk I’m continuing the world building – returning to Zolya for a second book with Kipp, returning to Wilde Island for the second medieval fantasy following Dragon’s Keep entitled Bound By Three, Dial Books 2010. And I’m revising Wind Taken sequel to The Beast of Noor, which will be out with Egmont USA in 2010.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Without you a book is a box with an artistic cover and pages covered with little black squiggles. Reader + book = story. You are the reason I write.

Thanks Janet!

For more information about Janet Lee Carey and her books, please visit her website here.

**Contest Closed**

I have a copy of Stealing Death (ARC) for a giveaway.

Rules: 1 Winner

Comment on Interview +1
Link to blog: +1
Follow me on Twitter +1
Follower : +2
Total = 5 entries

Contest ends @ midnight (CST) November 3, 2009. U.S. and Canada Residents Only (Sorry!)


  1. Carey's method of 'hearing' the story sounds a lot like Robin McKinley's process. Interesting how some wonderful writers are similar in some ways, and produce wildly different works. I'd love to be entered to win the newest book!

    +1 commenting on blog
    +1 linked on blog sidebar
    +1 follower on twitter (@celialarsen)
    +2 follower on Blogger



  2. This is a great idea for a book. What an unusual want, to be able to have gills. Great interview.
    Comment on Interview +1
    Link to blog: +1
    Follow me on Twitter +1
    Follower : +2

  3. Thank you for the entries.

    Great interview!

    +1 I blogged contest:

    +1 I follow you on Twitter: @fredalicious

    +2 I follow blog via Google Connect.


  4. Nice Interview and and I am a follower via google reader.

  5. I love Janet Carey's books, and I'm so pleased to hear about all the sequels she's finishing up - so excited!
    Comment on Interview +1
    Link to blog: +1
    Follower : +2

  6. Enjoyed the interview, I'd like to be included!

  7. +2 linked to sidebar at
    +1 follower


  8. this book sounds so different and interesting... I would love to have my own copy :)

    Comment on Interview +1
    Follow you on Twitter +1 (@_ilonga_)
    Follower : +2

  9. That was an intersting interview - especially the part about ice skating on the Baltic Sea at the age of 4!!

    I'm a follower..

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  10. Not an entry, just a Janet fan! I've read STEALING DEATH, and it's amazing. I just tweeted the interview!

  11. Count me in please

    +1 follow on twitter @throuthehaze

    +2 follower

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  12. Great interview. I love Janet Carey's book so hope I could win a copy of this one.

    +1 Comment
    +2 Follower


  13. What a nice thought about readers!

    Comment on Interview +1
    Follow on Twitter +1 @ddurance
    Follower +2

    deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

  14. +1 posted at

    +2 follower
    +1 follow on twitter

    haleymathiot at

  15. +1 - I enjoyed reading the interview & found it interesting that some kind of outreach is done with each book launch.

    +2 - I follow

    Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

  16. Link to blog: +1

    Follower : +2

    two_of_hearts_101 at yahoo dot com

  17. i'm a follower!
    i'm also going to follow on twitter!


    stampitchick at yahoo dot ca

  18. This sounds like an absolutely awesome book! Please enter me.

    +1 Posted about this contest with a link on my sidebar at

    +1 Became a twitter follower (yesterday). (Twitter Display Name: Shadowofwonder)

    +2 Old blogger follower!


  19. need a good winter read,,thx for contest..

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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