Sunday, September 9, 2018

0 Meg Kassel, author of KEEPER OF THE BEES, on feeling lost and incompetent when writing a story

We're delighted to have Meg Kassel stop by to chat about her latest novel, KEEPER OF THE BEES.

Meg, what was your inspiration for writing KEEPER OF THE BEES?

While writing BLACK BIRD OF THE GALLOWS, I fell in love with the villain. Rafette, the beekeeper who made the protagonists of my debut novel’s lives so difficult had a full, tragic story that didn’t get told. I tried to work it in, but simply put, it wasn’t his book. Loading in the antagonist’s baggage didn’t feel organic to the story. By the time I’d finished Black Bird, I was already putting together this story with new characters and a redemption theme.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

I most loved writing the scene where the hero, Dresden, discovers that his true feelings for the heroine go beyond chivalric, and long-forgotten human feelings surface. He’s sitting in a tree outside her window and when she calls his name, he answers. Bit by bit, he’s reclaiming his humanity and this scene was probably the most exciting for me, as the writer, to write.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or vice versa?

I really can’t say, because everyone’s literary tastes are so different. Everyone reads for different reasons. The only thing I can say is, there are a few YA authors whose new releases are auto-buys for me—Maggie Stiefvater, Holly Black, Marissa Meyer, Brenna Yovanoff, Marie Lu. So, do my favorite authors translate to books that would resonate with readers of my book? Maybe some do.

How long did you work on KEEPER OF THE BEES?

The rough draft came out in about six months, with several more months of revisions after that.

What do you hope readers will take away from KEEPER OF THE BEES?

The same thing I hope readers take from any of my books—entertainment. I write the kind of books I like to read, and read a lot of in my teens. I read to slip from the real world into a different one for a little while, so I’d like my readers to have that. A little escape. A break. A fun adventure with some romance and dead bodies.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was long and unpleasant. I wrote six novels before Black Bird of the Gallows came out, all of them were rejected at various stages.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Haha! I’m still waiting for that. I still feel lost and incompetent whenever I’m writing a story. It isn’t until the draft is done and I’m revising like a fiend that the thing gets into some coherent shape. So, no. But a key would be nice. Or maybe it wouldn’t. I’d never want writing a book to become too easy. Part of the excitement of writing is wondering if you can pull the story off. Part of the satisfaction is finishing and discovering that you can. I wouldn’t want writing books to lose those little mysteries.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I like writing at home, at my horribly messy desk with music on my desktop speakers. I have a carefully curated Pandora station that plays while I write. I’m neither a morning person or a night person, so I prefer to do so in the standard 9-5 workday (old habits).

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

The only advice I can realistically give is to be careful of what advice you take to heart. Not everyone writes every day (I don’t). You’re still a writer if you don’t. Not everyone uses outlines, or beta readers, or writes in dark, jazzy coffee shops. A lot of the process of writing is hunting and pecking around and finding your own way. You can adopt habits and methods that resonate with you, but none of them work for everyone. This is, for them most part, a solitary endeavor. You just have to sit down and do the work.


Keeper of the Bees
by Meg Kassel
Entangled: Teen
Released 9/4/2018

KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries―since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

Purchase Keeper of the Bees at Amazon
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Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s always been creating stories, whether with visuals or words. She worked as a graphic designer before realizing the thing she did for pleasure (writing) was something she should do for real. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. A fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her family, hoarding peanut butter cups, or playing video games. She is the 2016 winner of the RWA Golden Heart® contest in YA and a 2018 RITA® Award finalist.


Have you had a chance to read KEEPER OF THE BEES yet? Do you enjoy the mystery of writing a book? Are you careful of the advice you take to heart? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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