Christina Kilbourne is the author of TWEEN and YA Fiction. Her YA Fiction can also be enjoyed by adults. I've asked her here today because I stumbled upon her by accident. In other words, I didn't know she existed, so I wasn't sure if you did either. Her books seemed interesting and intriguing, so I thought that I would shine our spotlight on her this week! Her books include, Where Lives Take Root (revised version of Day of the Dog-tooth Violets), The Roads of Go Home Lake, Dear Jo and They Called Me Red.
I hope you enjoy the interview and excerpt to follow:
ME: Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions like watching a Lifetime Channel movie marathon, spending the day with your significant other, writing, etc.? Do you have a favorite movie that you love to watch or a book you like to read on Valentine’s Day? Is there any movie or book that you’ve saved for this time of year? If so, what’s the title?
TINA: This may be a bit of a disappointment but I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I am not romantically inclined, but I am under the influence of my husband who is anti forced-material-commercial-celebrations. So beyond helping my kids with cards and treats for their classmates, I don’t really observe Valentines.
ME: Many of us feel that Valentine’s Day is just one more day that has been overly commercialized and isn’t something that should only be celebrated once a year, but at least once a day. What was the most romantic gift you’ve ever received, when did you receive it and who was it from?
TINA: The year I turned 26 I met my husband on a five-month overland experience of Africa. On my 26th birthday we were scheduled to trek into the Virunga National Park in Uganda to spend the afternoon with a family of lowland mountain gorillas. I was almost out of money and wasn’t able to go, so my husband, who wasn’t my husband at the time, bought me the experience and it has remained my favourite birthday ever.
ME: Since this is the time of year when many people (teens included) feel the need to find a significant other, what suggestion(s) do you have for our readers as to what trait(s) should be added to their list?
TINA: I think the best life partners have a sense of humour, are empathetic, considerate, flexible, honest and enduring.
ME: There are many relationship superstitions out there such as, “rain on your wedding day is bad luck,” are you superstitious when it comes to love or relationships? Why or why not? If so, what superstitions do you believe have merit?
TINA: I am not superstitious about anything. But I do believe that you need to love yourself before you will be able to love someone else in a mature relationship.
ME: Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe in the power of love? If so, do you think that love can exist beyond this life and carry over into the next or has the power to keep a soul attached to the mortal coil never to cross over? Do you believe that ghosts have the ability to effect humans in a sexual manner?
TINA: I do believe in spirit, that spirit exists beyond the body and is not limited by our earthly bodies so does survive after our bodies die. I also believe love is part of spirit so, yes, I believe it exists beyond our deaths. And yes, I believe spirit can effect humans in many ways, including in sexual ways.
ME: Please tell us, if you have any, 3 funny, strange or silly things that happened to you, or someone you know, on past Valentine’s Days. Any rendezvous fiascos that you now find humorous to tell? Have they ever been inspiration for some hi-jinks in your stories? Which ones? (Sharing may help others not feel so bad if it happened to them, as the saying goes, “misery loves company”)
TINA: Heck, I can’t particularly remember any Valentine’s days. Hopefully someone finds that admission helpful.
Now, let’s get to your writing:
ME: What genre is your work considered to be (besides YA Fiction)? Why this genre? What was the draw for you?
TINA: I don’t know what others consider my writing genre to be but I certainly consider it to be realistic fiction. I suppose the draw for me to write realistic fiction is to help people live for awhile in another set of shoes, even though they are fictional shoes. I think through fictional experiences we are able to better understand, empathize with and shed our judgements when we have truly understood a fellow human being.
ME: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.
TINA: Experiential and expanded awareness. When someone reads one of my books, I want them to experience something they wouldn’t normally in their lives so that their judgements about a type of person or an experience drop away, making room for new awareness.
ME: Do you prefer romantic gifts (flowers, chocolate, jewelry, etc.) or romantic acts (massages, dinners, fun night out, etc.)? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?
TINA: I am not picky, I just like to be spoiled now and then – either with gifts or gestures. I do love chocolate. I think romantic gestures come through in my writing as selflessness, though oddly this happens most often between my fictional siblings.
ME: What school of thought are you when it comes to romance, love at first sight or that love takes time? Does this show through in your writing? If so, how?
TINA: I think love can come in many forms. For me it was love at first sight, even before first sight, but I don’t discount that love can grow over time between two people. I haven’t really delved into ‘romantic love’ in my writing but I think that most readers would agree that I demonstrate a strong love towards my characters. In fact, because I get so attached to the characters in my books, I find it heart-wrenching to have to write scenes where they get hurt in anyway.
ME: When reading stories, many of us find secondary characters to be as interesting as or more interesting than the main characters. Are there any secondary characters that you plan on giving their own story? Or any that readers have requested have their own story? Are any of them your favorites? Why?
TINA: When my first novel came out (Day of the Dog-tooth Violets) a reviewer in Quill & Quire commented that one of my secondary characters was the most interesting character in the entire novel so I ended up writing a sequel based on that character (The Roads of Go Home Lake). Sometimes I find a secondary character takes on a life of their own and demands a bigger role in the story. I like it when that happens. That’s the fun part of writing – there are always surprises.
ME: Of all of your heroes, who would you say is the most romantic and why?
TINA: Do you mean the heroes in my books or anywhere in the world? I am going to choose to answer the later and pick President Obama. I love the way he looks at the First Lady. It’s such a refreshing change to see a person in power who is still real and in love, and not with himself/herself.
ME: Of all of your heroes, who would you say is the least romantic and why?
TINA: Most other politicians who are in it for their own recognition and not the good of the people they are meant to be serving. They can never truly be romantic, can they?
Let's get to some of the writing:
They didn't have the perfect life, but it was their life: Devon's and his dad's. Then Lily came along, enchanting his father with her shy glances, spicy cooking, and exotic teas. Devon has a bad feeling about this new woman who seems endearing one minute, ice cold the next. It isn't until Devon finds himself in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar country that he starts to realize just what type of person Lily is and what she is capable of. Clinging to thoughts of his father and of home, he fights to find hope while living a nightmare.
Life was pretty good until Lily came along. We didn’t have much spending money, I had to do a lot of stuff around the apartment because Dad worked so much, but we were basically happy. Lily ruined that. She took over a little at a time until nothing could be the same ever again.
I grew up with just my dad. It had always been him and me since I could remember. My mom ran off when I was still in diapers. Dad said she was a drug addict – the worst kind who traded anything for a hit – so it was best she’d left. That’s what he told me when I asked about her at least. He said he had worried about me when he was at work during the days, worried she would trade me for a bag of crack. So when he came home one day and found me crying in my crib in an empty apartment, he picked me up and promised me a better life. He left a note and left the scene. I guess technically we ran away, but he said even when he tried to track her down in the following months, it was as if she had melted into a puddle on the street, and he figured she was dead.
Dad worked at a slaughter house on the edge of the city. It was his height and bulk that got him the job quartering the carcasses after they had been skinned. It wasn’t glamorous, but, like he said, it “paid the rent, put food on the table and clothes on our backs.” It even bought me a new skateboard once. People might think that a man his size who inhaled death all day would be mean and rough, but he wasn’t. I don’t remember him yelling at me once when I was little, not even when I had one of my temper tantrums. Instead, whenever he was upset, he paused, took a deep breath, then lowered his voice so I had to stop crying or screaming, or doing whatever it was that was causing the problem.
All of my friends loved him, and when I got a little older he was happy when they came over to hang out at our place. He was the kind of guy who put food out for stray dogs and let the neighbour’s cat come into our apartment, even though it had nicks in it’s ears from fighting and half it’s tail was missing. Once, when I was eight, I had to make a paper maché fish for a school project. I had chosen a porcupine fish and was having trouble keeping the toothpicks in place while I laid the first strips of wet newspaper over the balloon. I’d started to cry and was ready to give up when Dad came to help. It took us two hours and by then the entire kitchen was covered in flour paste. But we finished and the teacher was so impressed, she displayed my creation in the trophy case by the principal’s office. I was so proud I stopped to look at it every day on my way home. Making that fish should have been an impossible feat for fingers as thick and damaged as Dad’s, but his kind heart made it possible.
It was that same kind heart that allowed Lily to put a spell on him and destroy our lives.
For more information about Christina or her books, check out her website: www.christinakilbourne.com