Sunday, February 01, 2009


Bell Bridge Books published our long-awaited first adult dark fantasy title this month-- ONCE BITTEN. We think the book is fabulous, of course. But we also think the author is special, too, and wanted you to have a chance to meet her. Help us welcome, Kalayna Price! (BTW, you might be interested to know this novel began life as a National Novel Writing Month book--NaNoWriMo.)

  Hi everyone, and thank you Debra for inviting me to the blog today.

When you tell people you write, there are a couple questions that are almost inevitable. One of the big ones is “Where do you get your ideas.” This is a tricky question, and there is no good answer for it, but since my first book, ONCE BITTEN, recently hit bookstores, I thought I’d try to explain some of the thoughts that went into birthing the book.

I wrote the first draft of Once Bitten in the winter of 2005, and at that time, the sub-genre of Urban Fantasy was just taking off. I loved the sassy, kick-ass heroines, the scary (but many times alluring) paranormal creatures, and the way the books kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole read. I knew I had to write one—I just wasn’t sure about what.

I have a deep fascination with vampires (founded most likely when I read Dracula at age ten) so I wanted a story including the undead. But, not just vampires—I wanted a world filled with the things that go bump in the night: mages, demons, shapeshifters . . . It was when I was thinking about the disproportional amount of werewolves to werecats in fiction that story ideas really started clicking into place. I’m not sure why wolves are the popular lycanthrope creature. Wolves howl in the night, which admittedly adds a level of creepy, especially if you think you are the prey, but isn’t the silent predator—the lion hiding in the Savannah grass, the jaguar stalking from a tree—much creepier? Plus, cats have not only sharp teeth, but claws too. All and all, a big cat sounds like a pretty impressive creature to transform into.

This line of thought led me into my initial world building for Once Bitten, and to my main character, Kita. But, while I wanted Kita’s line to include these impressive big cats, I decided Kita should be something at odds with her world. Something small. Something less dangerous.

A house cat.

I once saw a video of a cat chasing a bear up a tree. Attitude—the average house cat has it in abundance. When I watch my cats, I know there is a part of them that has never been fully domesticated. There is still a bit of the wild in them, a staunch independence, and more than a drop of defiance. I incorporated these traits into Kita, and then loaded her with things her human side had to deal with, like responsibility and living up to other’s expectations. In the beginning of the book, Kita has run from all of her responsibilities, leaving her kind and her clan behind. But, as so often happens, responsibility catches up with her and brings a friend—trouble, and lots of it in the form of an overly curious vampire, hunters on her trail, and demons after her soul.

Writers spend a lot of time asking “What if?” What if your house cat could shapeshift? What if she was pretending to be a pet only because she was on the run from hunters? What if there were worse things than hunters after her? What if they caught her?

I had a lot of fun coming up with Kita and the world she lives in, and I hope people enjoy reading about her as much as I enjoyed writing about her!


Betina Krahn said...

Deb, I LOVE this idea! I can't wait to pick up Once Bitten!

We humans are so complacent in believing that we know what's real and not. But, in fact, we can perceive only a small fraction of the reality we are a part of. And most of what we "know" is really just a generally accepted set of assumptions. . . which may or may not stand up to the ultimate test.

I guess what I'm saying is. . . there's lots of room for the unusual and extraordinary in our world. We should never dismiss possibilities.

I love the idea (and believe it!)that there are other beings around us all the time as we walk through this life. Some of the great writers and thinkers of all time have dealt with just such things. Carlos Castenada, for example. He'd probably have loved the premise of this book!

Michele Hauf said...

Welcome, Kalayna! Love the story idea and can't wait to find a copy in my local bookstore. Also love that title. ;-)


Cindy Gerard said...

Welcome, Kalayna. What a beautiful name. I'm interested in whether it's a pen name or your actual name and is there a special significance to it?
LOVE the cover of Once Bitten. Here's wishing you mega success with the book.

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Kalayna! Thanks for stopping by over the weekend. Love your story concept, the title and the cover. Hope it flies off the shelf.

I'm going to be dating myself here, but did you ever see the movie Cat People with Natassja Kinski? It would probably be a bit laughable by today's standards, but I saw it when it was first made back in ... had to google it ... 1982 and back then it was pretty cool.

Estella said...

What a different concept for a story!

M. said...

Congratulations on debut release. Everytime I hear one of these stories it gives me hope to scribble on! I personally am not a vampire person but I love the fact that this was born as a NaNovel.

Debra Dixon said...

Guys, Kalayna's internet access is sometimes spotty so please don't think she's rude!

Thanks for giving her a warm welcome.

The book seems to getting a good response. Some good reviews so far. And...

The book has climbed to #16 on the Fictionwise Dark Fantasy Bestseller list and while you may not think that's fabulous, let me give you some perspective. This is the only small press book for miles! Most of the folks are big name, NY publishing books from Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, NYT bestselling authors, et al.

So, we're very pleased. We want our books to hold their own in a tough marketplace.

Keri Ford said...

Love that cover. I'm one of those who believe in anything (what is it in that movie--just because you've never seen a million dollars does that mean it doesn't exist?).

Probably why I get so scared so easy! Congrats on the release and your success!

Kylie said...

Kalayna, welcome to the convertible! What a fabulous cover...and terrific story idea! I'm definitely intrigued!

Playground Monitor said...

Hi gang. I've been on vacation the past week so that's why you haven't seen me here.

Congrats to Kalayna on the book and it's #16 placement.

I'm really interested in the NaNoWriMo part. I participated in it last November and have not touched the book since. Did you have trouble continuing to write after a month of such intense writing?


Cindy Gerard said...

Deb and Kalayna - Mega congrats on the #16 best seller list!!!

Kalayna Price said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for the welcome. Like Deb said, my internet is a little spotty, so I'm going to try to catch up here.

Betina: Thanks, I hope you enjoy it. The speculation part of speculative fiction is always fun.

Michele: Hey, thanks! I wish I could claim all the credit for the title, but it was my wonderful editor's idea.

Cindy: Thanks! Yes, Kalayna is the name on my driver's license. I'm asked a lot about the origin of the name, but I think it comes down to pretty sounds. Thanks, again.

Helen: Thanks, I hope so too! I've never seen the movie, but I'll have to look it up now that you've told me about it. ^_^

Thanks Estella!

Hi M. NaNoWriMo is tons of fun, and you're right, hearing about other writers is great encouragement. Scribble on and best of luck!

lois greiman said...

Kalayna, welcome. What a fabulous cover, title, package. The book really does sound fascinating. Congrats on your success.

Kalayna Price said...

Hi Keri! Great quote. Thanks!

Hey Kylie, my hair isn't overly windswept, is it? Thanks!

Playground Monitor: Thanks! Yes, my momentum always slows down after the end of November, and it usually takes me until the end of January to wrap up the first draft despite the fact I only add another 30k words or so during those two months. One year I'm going to attempt to cram an entire first draft into November, but that year hasn't come yet. ^_^ Good luck finishing this year's nano draft.

Kalayna Price said...

Hi Lois. Thanks! I'm still absolutely amazed at how everything came together. Does the 'pinch me I must be dreaming' stage ever wear off?

amy*skf said...

Kalayna, I just read the excerpt--I love your voice (Kita's voice) and you made me laugh out loud twice. Cannot wait to read it.

amy*skf said...

Oh, and Helen--I saw the original "Cat People" made about 30years before Nastasia's.

Caroline said...

Kalayna, what a GREAT idea. Made me look twice at my kitty this morning. Your bood sounds fantastic and I look forward to reading it....!

Major Congratulations and I wish you MUCH success!

LOVE this blog...

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Kalayna!
What a lovely name. My granddaughter is Kraya. People always want to know where that one came from, too, and it's a funny story, mistaken identity, pretty name.

Aren't cats the most interesting, independent and mysterious critters? I understand why they were thought to be "familiars" back in the old witch trial days. The way they move, the way they look at you, the way they manage their people. My cat talks.

Congratulations on publishing your first book with Belle Books. Very classy!

Debra Dixon said...

Yikes! I forgot to tell Kalayna to tie her hair back before getting in the convertible! (g)

Kathy-- We are big cat lovers here at Bell Bridge books and I had a much beloved calico who lived to be 18 years old. She didn't talk. She used mind-melding technology.

Kalayna Price said...

Thanks Amy. I hope you enjoy it. Writing a bit of humor is fun, but by this stage, I've read the book so many times, I can no longer tell if it's funny. I'm glad you hear you laughed. ^_^

Hi Caroline, you never can tell what the kitty is thinking, can you? Thanks!

Thanks Kathleen. Kraya is a gorgeous name. You'll have to share the story some time.