(*This interview was conducted via a blog tour coordinator*)
While in the midst of reading Blood Master by Kirsten Campbell, a few themes and issues piqued my interest. I decided to ask the author directly about them. Here is the interview:
Kirsten Campbell-Author of Blood Master – Book 1 of The G.O.D.s Series
- When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
I was nine years old when I wrote my first story/poem and my teacher put it up in the hall for all to see. Ms. Laport started me on my quest to become a writer.
- What drew you to the dystopian genre?
I love thinking about the future and all the possibilities therein, especially after some type of great disaster has enveloped our world and almost destroyed mankind. I love to believe that mankind will carry on and go forward with new abilities and go further with a positive agenda.
- Can you describe your writing process?
Yes, I believe I can.
I write for hours, write until I am finished and then I go back and look at the whole story. I make sure that the ending matches the beginning in some way and that there is growth with each of the characters. I then go through the manuscript and add color, smells, shapes, tastes, and all types of sensory stimuli that I can think of. After that, I give it a once over for grammar and then give it to my beta readers. I have 3 men and 3 women. Every one of them give me feedback and then I answer any and all questions that they ask and deal with suggestions. I then go through it with a fine tooth comb and give to my editor, who then kills me. LOL…
No, she doesn’t kill me. She deals with things in my manuscript and cleans things up for me.
- Do you do a lot of research in preparation for writing?
My god, I do a lot of research. I research and when I think I’ve got things just right, I do even more research. I write first, and then research everything medical, physical, mental, and even research certain scientific theories and thermal dynamics because even though I write Urban Paranormal fantasy there must be plausibility in the mix. Only then can things remain sustainable in a fantastic world. Also, I travel for my research. I went to Atlanta, GA and measured out certain areas of Underground Atlanta and measured the areas around the GA. Freight Depot. I reimagined how the area would look if earthquakes hit and even checked out the underground for large pillars that would hold things together if an earthquake hit. I drove around and around Highway 285 to find the perfect area for the fortress and I went into the city, off Peachtree Street, and found the Guild Main Office. I had to actually see where I was putting my characters and how they would move through certain situations in buildings and the underground.
- Where do you get your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from just about anything. Sometimes it’s a song that makes me think of something Griffin might do or say. Sometimes it’s a smell that affects me and I figure it would affect Griffin or Tassta a certain way. I also draw on things that I have gone through and/ or things that are going on in the news or even real life situations.
- Blood Master explores the topic of selecting people with certain genetic characteristics (in this case, albinism) for scientific experimentation, yet seems to offer no stance on the ethics surrounding this. What are your thoughts, and were you inspired by any specific historical event in which involuntary experimentation occurred?
Well, I was very particular when I chose albinos. I considered all races, all ethnic people and I looked for a common genetic trait that popped up sporadically, yet one that was also what I considered interesting and unusual. After that, I thought about the past, and remembered all the times in school that I was shown different labs that would in fact use albino mice for experimentation. I also thought long and hard about the mystique surrounding albinos and how some people, even now, look at them with significant relevance and consider them either too outside the norm or very exotic. I myself believe that albinos are beautiful and unusual and I do know that in fact, in some cultures they have been revered and even sought out as magical beings. In Africa, the albino population is hunted and many have been mutilated as people seek to acquire an arm or leg for magical remedies with hope for a cure from AIDS or a host of other maladies. Of course, Blood Master takes this premise a step further, but it is fantasy, and there are things going on behind the scenes that cannot be explained until the next few books in the series.
- It seems that in the far future, especially in times of a crisis, gender would be irrelevant if a person was qualified to do a specific job. Although Penn’s intentions are good, he doesn’t want Tassta as a Guardian just because she’s a female, even at one point saying her task was to have babies. Some readers may read this as gender discrimination. Do you have anything to say in Penn’s defense on this matter?
There isn’t gender discrimination, at least not to me. It’s more like-there’s a lack of people, especially viable, healthy females. Remember, the first line in the blurb on the back of the book is, “The Great War, the Clover Virus and the Death Plague have killed off two-thirds of the human population.” Hey, that’s a lot of people. It affects people to go through that much death. It affects people in ways most will never understand and even though things have gotten a bit better with time, there are still preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be. And yes, there are chauvinists in the future. LOL.
Also, let’s not forget the fact that Tassta is pretty young in the first book. She is seventeen and yes, she turns eighteen, but she has been coddled and spoiled most of her life and has had it easy at the fortress. Also, since there are much less people, that means much less women of childbearing age. Turns out most need the females for lots of different jobs that are available at the fortress and they are also needed for conception. (BTW, it is mentioned by Waylene in the Underground that the Brotherhood is dying out, Penn and Tassta are the youngest.)
And yes, Penn is a caveman, but he’s a lovable caveman. Tassta is Penn’s twin sister and she is the youngest. He knows she has a lot of duties at the fortress and he doesn’t want to see her overextend herself. She’s already a library assistant, a Medical Assistant and she helps with the children in the fortress and also practices Martial Arts and her Blade Maneuvers. Now she wants to become a Guardian and he just wants his sister to have an easy life, or at least what he considers an easy life. LOL. He comes across as harsh, but he does have her best interest at heart. He just doesn’t know how to verbalize what he feels and it comes across as being behind the times.
- Your protagonist, Griffin, is the sole survivor of a particularly nasty epidemic. In our lifetime, we’ve seen Ebola, AIDS, deadly strains of influenza, and other lethal viruses that seems to have spread unchecked and had a mortality rate of nearly 100%. What, in your opinion, should the world do to prepare for the possibility of a new, as-of-now undiscovered pandemic?
I believe we need to take the possibility of a deadly pandemic more seriously and be more resourceful with what we have already discovered. There is proof of all kinds of medicinal herbs and spices that can actually cure certain types of cancer and push our lifespans way past the 70 – 80’s mark, which are now considered the norm. People in general could be a whole lot healthier if the preconceived thread of life wasn’t to drink and drug away our teen years and our twenties, with hope that once we hit thirty, we could somehow turn the clock back, suck all the poison out of the millions of cells that have been so rudely taken advantage of.
Now, as far as the possibility of a pandemic hitting with global ramifications that could possibly kill millions? You must remember that there is a preconceived notion that there is
a 1 to 5 percent chance that there will be someone who is immune to the pandemic, or at least a belief that said disease won’t kill that 1 to 5 percent. The government needs to step in and take the blood from those people in particular, the survivors, and create an antivirus from their blood. It can be done, quite effectively, if we get the resources and step in quickly.
Also, here’s my rant on aging:
People as a whole should be more aware of all the changes that their bodies go through with every decade they live. Certain chemical changes occur in a person’s body with each decade of life that they live, and these things need to be taught to teens and then to adults, and to society as a whole, so people are not caught off guard when things start changing inside and outside of their bodies. Aging is not a mistake, it’s a natural biological occurrence. Our bodies suck in pollution and dirt, exhaust fumes and toxic gases, chemicals additives and colorants and yet we think our bodies are not going to change? That’s ridiculous, and this silly preoccupation with looking young even though your insides are falling apart is preposterous and it’s making people desperately go under the knife. Why not eat properly from the beginning and deal with aging from the inside out, and grow old gracefully. Each generation could eventually grow stronger and when a new deadly pandemic emerges, our bodies will be able to deal with it, hopefully.
9. love for the city of Atlanta is evident in Blood Master. What is your connection to Atlanta?
I moved to Atlanta when I turned 16 and lived there for twenty-one years. I met my husband there and had my children there. I love Atlanta and hope to retire there. I now have lots of family that live there. I go to family reunions every year in Atlanta, GA.
- Your character development in Blood Master is superb. What advice do you have for other writers on how to properly develop characters?
Thank you so much! I worked on and with my characters for many years. I believe that when writing a character, you must first see your characters and then hear their voices. I also make a chart that tells me their height, weight, hair color, eye color, birthdate and zodiac sign, favorite color, food and different abilities. I then write what’s interesting about the character, pet peeves, goals and I write down all their positive and negative attributes. Yes, even innocent people with goodness in their hearts have bad thoughts once in a while and they have melt downs and failings. We are all human and yes, we must make our characters as human as possible.