Daughter of the Drackan
by Kathrin Hutson
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Keelin is the only human fledgling, weaned by the drackans of the High Hills and given their instincts, ferocious strength, and fierce hatred for humankind. But even the drackans closest to her cannot explain why she has violent blackouts from which she wakens covered in blood.
A desperate, reckless search for the source of this secret brings her face to face with the human world and memories from a locked-away past, long forgotten. Keelin becomes a terrifying legend among human assassins while she hunts for answers, and the human realm’s High King is murdered.
While a sickly steward hides within crumbling walls, commanding her every move with a magic he should not possess, Keelin’s journey to track him down threatens her loyalty to the drackans who raised her. The rogue who crosses her path hides familiar secrets, echoing her own terrifying bloodlust and forcing her to consider that there may be something human about her, after all.
The breeze that blew across the water called for Keelin to come back. It swirled around her dark head, pulling it toward the lake, and her eyes fluttered open from the resting blackness. Crouching on her heels, she lifted her head and gazed at the Great Lake that mirrored the dazzle of the stars. The world remained dark to her, but no longer as the dead, helpless dark from which she awoke. A single tear slipped down her cheek, a tear of anger from the depths of her curse, the secret of her life.
Darkened by night, the lake had always been a silent, secret comfort. The wind died down as though it sensed she were herself again, and the world was calmer, sweeter now that she was no longer a weapon hidden from itself.
Keelin remembered nothing from her stolen hours. Every time, she woke at the Great Lake with the wind calling her back to life, the smell of blood always too real. She barely noticed now when she habitually dipped her hands into the icy water of the bank, rubbing them in mud until they were clean. The moon shone so brightly in its fullness; she gazed up at it with longing. In the light of the moon she could see everything. She was so tired of the dark.
Her hands were clean now, but that metallic smell still lingered. The strange deerskin tunic she’d been given still clung to her body and she clawed at it in frustration. Dark rings and damp streaks of blood splattered across it, every moment soaking further through to her skin.
It is my pleasure to welcome Kathrin Hutson, author of Daughter of the Dracken, to Room With Books
Please tell us about yourself. Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was ten, which was the same year I started writing. That had always been at the top of my list; I took any Creative Writing class I could find in high school, submitted to all the competitions, and went to CU Boulder for a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing—Fiction.
My plan had been to keep going to school, all the way up to a PhD in Creative Writing so I could do nothing but teach it at the university level and keep writing. That plan didn’t pan out exactly as I’d expected, to say the least. I spent a lot of time working in both the restaurant industry and at law firms (a strange combination, I know), but I finally have gotten to where I’ve always wanted to be. I write for a living, and I like to see my career as an editor as a form of teaching, too.
How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?
Like I said, I started writing when I was ten, so that would make it fifteen years. Some days it feels like a lot longer than that…other days it feels like I just started. But through those fifteen years, I’ve not once doubted that all I wanted to do was write.
For a few weeks before my tenth birthday, I’d had reoccurring dreams about my favorite movie at the time, which was ‘Fern Gully’ (and definitely sparked my love affair with Fantasy). I kept dreaming about the ending to that movie, over and over again, and for some reason I really hated the ending. I can’t remember why it bothered me so much, but I spent so much time and energy wishing the movie had ended differently. In my dreams, I kept trying to change it, but that never worked.
On my tenth birthday, I woke up from the same dream, super angry, and wondered why the heck it had to be set in stone. Then I went to go read the first Harry Potter book, which I was halfway through and totally loving (I’m of the generation who can say they grew up with Harry Potter year by year…he and I were always the same age). Then it occurred to me that stories were always written, thought up by someone else, and that someone else had the complete power to make the ending turn out however they wanted—with limitless possibilities.
It all clicked in my head, then, and I spent the rest of the morning laying on the floor in my bedroom and writing in a spiral notebook. Over the next two years, what started out as an attempt to rewrite the ending of ‘Fern Gully’ turned into 210 Word document pages of a completely unrelated (and subsequently dropped) partial novel about fairies. That was how I became a writer.
Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?
I absolutely love the fact that my job revolves around words and writing in all forms and fashions. I’ve thought about how it would feel to only write full-time and do nothing else, but I don’t think I could give up everything else I do right now and still be as happy as I am.
Besides writing, I’m an Independent Editor through my own business, KLH CreateWorks. I offer copy and content editing services for manuscripts of all sizes and authors of all genres, and I also do a little consulting on the details of publication for Indie Authors. I love that job, and I love my clients—I make it a point to connect with them on a more personal level, which totally helps alleviate a lot of the fears around ‘the mighty editor and her fearsome red pen’ (I never use a red pen). As an author myself, I know how scary it is to give your work away to an editor, and so far I think I’m pretty un-scary.
I also work with Collaborative Writing Challenge (CWC) as Chief Editor. We currently have over 175 international writers who come together to create full-length fiction novels, a chapter a week, and bring them to publication in eight months. This job is wonderfully fun—being part of an organization that really stretches writers’ minds to write the next chapter in a book about which they know very little. It’s a challenge, for sure, but the finished product is so incredible. It blows my mind away every time how a novel with 15-30 different authors can read so much like it was written by only one.
Last but not least, I’m the Editing Director for Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing, Inc., a fairly new traditional publishing company with a fantastic community and creatively nurturing culture. I’ve just started an editing training program with them as well (I get ‘apprentices’), as the company is growing almost faster than we can find new editors to join the team.
I guess I have four jobs, technically, but they all revolve around books, words, reading, and writing. I really couldn’t be happier, I have to say, and it’s amazing how the encouragement and inspiration from working as an editor (not to mention how ridiculously busy I am) pushes me harder than ever in my own writing career.
How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?
Born of humans, raised by beasts who despise the legacy of man, only Keelin can redeem—or destroy—both races. (It counts if it’s 20 words, right?)
Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I first considered myself a ‘writer’ when I realized I couldn’t stop. That was when I reached the twenty-page mark when I’d typed up what I’d written of that very first story about fairies. I kept going, and felt so immediately thrilled and complete that I rarely wanted to do anything else.
All through school, I somehow managed to get away with scribbling diligently in my notebooks (I think my teachers thought I was super into taking notes), and any spare time I had was spent hunched over either said notebooks or my own laptop, typing everything into a document (I have since honed my typing skills and speed up to 110 words per minute, no joke).
How long did it take to get your first book published?
There are two answers to this question. If we’re talking about how long it took me to publish ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ after I made the decision to self-publish it and start off my Indie Career, four months. It took me four months to say, “I’m going to self-publish,” edit the thing, give it out to beta readers, review their feedback, edit it again, format it, hire a cover artist, grab a cover designer, do all the pre-release promotional work, and publish it. Whew.
If we’re talking about how long it took me to publish ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ after I wrote ‘The End’ on the first draft…eight years. Yeah, that’s a big difference.
I finished the first draft on New Year’s Eve of 2007 during my senior year of high school. Then the whole college thing got in the way, and while I wrote so much fiction in college for my classes, I let the book sit for a while. After college, I suddenly seemed to become an adult (on the outside), and had to work to support myself. I’d submitted it to a few agents and publishers, but didn’t make a huge effort at that time. I kept writing.
For two years before I made the decision to self-publish, I got back into ‘Daughter of the Drackan’s’ world and Keelin’s story, and that’s when I really queried with a vengeance. I have dozens of rejection letters, which never really discouraged me and only served to refuel my determination. Two years I spent sending query after query, revising both the manuscript, query letter, and short synopsis a billion times (even cut 11K words out of the manuscript), rinsing, and repeating. People had asked me for years if I’d considered self-publishing, and my response was, “I want to make sure I exhaust all my other options before I do that.” I wanted to see if a publisher would pick it up.
Self-publishing was a last resort, but I actually think it’s the best decision I ever made. And I never had to put this book on the back burner, waiting for the right hand to pluck it from my desk. I worked hard to make it as perfect as I could, and I’m so proud of it and the overwhelmingly positive responses it’s already received in the last few months. Plus, now I have the sequel waiting to come out in the next few months, another novel in the works, and I’ve played the ‘trial and error’ game enough to know how to do it the best way in the future.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?
Normally, it takes me anywhere from eight months to a year. And that’s if life is all perfectly smooth and brilliant and nothing ever happens. Which is boring. Life does things that push back our personal deadlines, but I’m perfectly okay with it. It took me a year to write ‘Daughter of the Drackan’, a year to write ‘Mother of the Drackan’, and it’s taken nine months to write two thirds of ‘Sleepwater Beat’ (including moving twice in that time and taking a giant vacation over the holidays). I think it’s funny that I can usually pump out a pretty decent first draft of a short story in a day or two.
What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Well, ‘Mother of the Drackan’, the sequel, I plan to have out either February or March. It’s already written and just needs those finishing touches. I’ve toyed with writing a prequel to the series, which would be from Igetheyr’s point of view and centuries before ‘Daughter of the Drackan’. That’s just bubbling and brewing, though. Can’t serve it up quite yet.
My adult Dystopian Sci-Fi ‘Sleepwater Beat’ is in the works now. It’s a monster—heavy, dark, gritty, with lots of conspiracy, human experimentation, superpowers, sex, drugs, and violence. I’m loving this book so much, and hopefully I can get that finished and out there in March or April. If it doesn’t kill me first.
I do have about ten chapters each of two other Fantasy novels I’ve started a while ago. I plan to return to those after ‘Sleepwater Beat’ and see what I can lasso them into doing. I do just really love Fantasy, and the characters of those novels have been inviting me back over for a while, now.
Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?
Keelin, the protagonist, is definitely my favorite. I mean, from a reader’s perspective, she’s easy to like, and probably even easier to dislike. But from her creator’s perspective, I just think she’s badass. Yes, she’s annoying sometimes, stubbornly set in her loyalties and in making her own way, dangerous to a fault, and daring. Oh, man, she’s daring—physically, in her interactions with others, in her drive to toss all the rules aside and do what nobody’s ever done before. Plus, I get to vent a little bit of my darker side through her (no, I would never kill anybody, but I have, more times than I can count, wanted to talk to people like she does. You know, be a complete jerk). I think she represents the truly wild, heathenistic, stripped-down-to-bare-bones parts that we humans cover up with society and rules and tradition and manners. She takes absolutely everything with a grain of salt, including what’s in her blood.
What is your routine for writing?
I give myself a 1,000 word daily quota for writing fiction. I write so much more than that on a daily basis, if we consider emails, articles, blog posts, journal entries, and other random pieces of communication and scribbles. But 1,000 words a day is my minimum. It keeps me going.
I love the days when there’s absolutely nothing else that needs to get done (which are rare, so I set aside one day a week for that where I pretty much ignore the rest of my life). My desk is clean, I’ve got a full water bottle and a bowl of snacks, put my music on shuffle, and get to it! And that’s really as far as routine goes… I can sit at my computer for hours on end and keep writing, but I make sure I get up every two hours at the most to stretch and move about a bit. Let the dogs out. Grab some fresh air and soak up some sunshine for more creation juice.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Mostly, I write the book first. Ideas pop into my head without titles, and most of the time I save them under the protagonist’s name until I find the title. When it hits me, I know what to call it. Titles, of course, are super important for a book, but they’re not necessary in order to actually write the book.
I have, however, written a few short stories based off of hearing something and thinking it a great title. Then I shape the story around the title. I love to share this story—I’d watched an episode of The Colbert Report when I was in college, and Stephen Colbert had some wacky thing on about colonoscopies. The words ‘rectal dyslexia’ came out of his mouth in the middle of a sentence, and I fell in love.
Consequently, the title ‘Rectal Dyslexia’ soon had a short story following it (about a boy who just broke up with his girlfriend and goes to a college party to take his mind off of it. A girl hits on him all night…things happen…and he finds out that girl is dating his ex). I wouldn’t particularly recommend that story for the faint of heart.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?
Hidden messages? Not yet, but the idea intrigues me and I may just slip one in someday.
Morals? Absolutely! They’re everywhere! I’ll leave that treasure hunt up to the reader.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
Paperback will always, always, always be my favorite. I love the smell of a book opened for the first time (and the hundredth), I love the way the paper feels between my fingers, I love the weight of it and the satisfaction that comes with seeing how many pages I’ve read in a day. I’ve been collecting paperback novels for a long time, and it currently constitutes about a fourth of our possessions between my husband and I.
However, I have to give credit to the eBook and the eBook reader (I have a Kindle Paperwhite. None of that fancy stuff for me, just reading eBooks). It took me a long time to get one, and a while after that to start using it as much as I do now. With all the work I do with other authors, reading clients’ books and supporting those I talk to and work with on a regular basis, buying the eBooks makes so much more sense for me. I see a new release that I want to read (and sometimes whose author I know), and I buy it. Then I have it on my Kindle, and sometimes I’ll read three or four books in a week. It definitely beats the shipping time for paperbacks. The closest book retailer to us is an hour drive, and the bookstores in town are all used bookstores and usually don’t have what I’m looking for from Indie Authors.
What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?
Yes, I’m being greedy. I don’t just have one favorite book—I have one favorite series, made of seven books! Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’. Anyone surprised?
I have yet to read a series of books that affects my life anywhere near as much as ‘The Dark Tower’ did (those of you who are fans will completely understand). It’s the most epic journey and encompasses everything I could possibly imagine—it even has the most brilliant ending, which was both mortifying, terribly frustrating, and impossible to argue all at the same time. I’ve read this series five times so far (and I plan on reading it at least that many times again in my life), and I still pop a tear somewhere around the end of the seventh book.
Do you read all the reviews of your books?
Yes! I can’t imagine not reading them. I want to hear what people think. I want to hear what they loved and what they hated, how it made them feel, where they went when the story took them with it. My goal with writing fiction has always been to illicit a response in my readers. It doesn’t matter if that response is positive or negative; if you absolutely hated the main character because she’s a jerk and unnecessarily violent, awesome! She’s supposed to be hard to love. If the graphic content made you cringe, fantastic! If you felt your heart racing through all the fight scenes and couldn’t put the book down, even better! Plus, any negative comments given by reviewers (of which I’ve had very few) help me figure out how to do things better in the future.
I’m expecting to get some “are you freakin’ kidding me?” responses from the readers with ‘Daughter of the Drackan’s’ sequel. I’m well aware of the fact that the ending of that book won’t be what people expect, and sometimes surprises upset people. And I’m okay with that, because it’s on purpose. Perhaps I’m just a tad sadistic…
That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?
What is your favorite food? Sushi all the way, baby! I’m talkin’ slab of raw fish on a tiny ball of rice. Or scratch the rice altogether. If it wasn’t so dang expensive, I’d eat nothing else.
Who is your favorite singer or group? Since 2006, it’s been Kings of Leon. Mumford & Sons and Elephant Revival come close.
What is your favorite color? Orange! Light, faded, neon, dark, burnt…any orange. I’ve painted rooms orange, have orange jackets and clothes, want to theme everything as orangely as I can.
What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? Time traveling back to the 19th century Highlands of Scotland. I’m working on that on.
What final words would you offer to our readers?
I just want to say thank you so much, both to you, Room With Books, and to all your readers who have come here to join us today. I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude that I have the opportunity to do this, that I even have a book to share (and many more on the way), and that I’ve gotten so many amazing responses so far. The support and enjoyment from readers is something I can definitely feel on a daily basis, and it fuels me to keep going. I hope you guys experience the same sense of excitement and wonder when you read my work, and I’d love to hear from every one of you!
Thank you for spending your time at Room With Books. I appreciate your honesty and openness, and especially your time. I wish you all the best with Daughter of the Dracken, and the series. I hope you will visit again!
Kathrin Hutson has been writing fiction for fifteen years, editing for five, and plunging in and out of reality since she first became aware of the concept. Kathrin specializes in Dark Fantasy and Sci-fi, and the second novel in this series, Mother of the Drackan, will be released this February.
Kathrin runs her own independent editing company, KLH CreateWorks, for Indie Authors of all genres. She also serves as Story Coordinator and Chief Editor for Collaborative Writing Challenge, and Editing Director for Rambunctious Rambling Publications, Inc. Needless to say, she doesn’t have time to do anything she doesn’t enjoy.
You can grab your copy of Daughter of the Drackan, in print or as an ebook, on Amazon here: mybook.to/daughterdrackan
Kathrin Hutson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.
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