Friday, March 23, 2012

Interview with Kelan O'Connell author of Delta Legend

Delta Legend by Kelan O'Connell
When 16-year-old Oakland California teenager, Calvin Pierce, makes a bad decision and winds up getting arrested, his mother is quick to take action. Determined not to lose a second son to the drug and gang violence of the inner city, she sends Calvin to spend the summer working for his great uncle in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
There in the predominately-white region of agriculture and recreational boating, Calvin’s a fish out of water with a chip on his shoulder. But when severed body parts start floating to the surface, his summer of proving himself takes on new meaning.
Something deadly is lurking in the deep murky waterways of the Delta. Now the daunting task of containing the living incarnation of a mythical creature falls to Calvin and his ragtag posse of oddball characters.
About Kelan from her site:
Author Kelan O'Connell
As a young adult, Kelan O’Connell spent her summers aboard a family houseboat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Apparently, she still harbors suspicions about those deep murky waters. Though she’s been writing in one form or another since the age of 20, Delta Legend is her debut Young Adult Crossover novel.

Kelan began writing in college, creating character monologues as a way to stand out in auditions while also cranking out sketch comedy. She holds a degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University and has worked in the Entertainment Industry in Northern California and Los Angeles, among her many other day jobs.

She currently lives in Northern California with her partner, Sound Engineer/Producer Tom Size, and the incredibly spoiled pets of Camp Runamuck.

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Our Interview:

--The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less. Urban teen Calvin Pierce thought being sent to the Delta for the summer was as bad as it could get—then body parts floated to the surface.
--How did you get the idea for the story? Delta Legend was originally a last-ditch-effort screenplay I wrote while trying to break through as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Teen Horror was all the rage and I was chasing the genre. In order to crank one out, I had to ask myself “What really scares me?” The answer came from my own young adulthood—swimming and waterskiing in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I was always more than a little freaked out about what might be lurking in those deep murky waters. The story line, characters, and legend all grew out of that one fear and the Delta. Of course, no production company in their right mind would take on a big-budget screenplay by a “baby” writer—especially one involving lots of shooting in and on water with tons of special effects. Thank god I was incredibly naive or I probably wouldn’t have written the screenplay which ultimately became the blueprint for the book. Delta Legend sat on the shelf for over ten years before I finally sat down and began writing the novel.

--Which character would you most/least like to have dinner with? In the “Most Likely” category, it would be a toss-up between Tak Cheng and Sergeant Ray Cruz. Tak would make for some interesting dinner conversation because he’s such a history buff. And Ray, well, he’s a sexy Latino sheriff. ‘Nuf said. In the “Least Likely” department: Huestus— especially if he drove and I had to catch a ride home with him.
--What are some of your favorite books? Do you still have much time to read? Two of my all-time favorite books are The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Thankfully, now that my own book is out and I haven’t fully launched into the next one, I have a bit more time to read. I’m thrilled to finally be catching up on all the great YA books everyone’s been raving about, like The Hunger Games Trilogy (of course) as well as, Divergent, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Thirteen Reasons Why—for starters. Loving them all! I plan to get in as much reading as possible before my own writing takes over once more.

--Do you have any other works in progress? Any teasers or release dates?
The next Legend is percolating in my brain and I’ve jotted down a few rough scenes. I think I’m going to step away and let Calvin and the gang live their lives for a bit—especially since the creature is out of the bag. I really don’t want to turn Calvin, Mei Li, and Jess into “mythical creature hunters” ala Hollywood. I PROMISE, however, to re-visit them, maybe after I crank out a couple more “Legends”—each with different characters, yet similar in style and formula to Delta Legend. You know, a main character who gets thrown into a completely foreign environment, a mythical creature linked to historical fiction, a sprinkling of romance, action, and carnage. And of course, plenty of laughs with more whacko characters and unlikely heroes of various ages and races.
--If a fairy godmother told you your life could be like a favorite book for 24 hours, which book would you pick and why? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone because everything about Hogwart’s and that world was brand new and so exciting—the possibilities were endless. 
--Do you need anything to write (music, coffee, etc)? Are there any songs on your playlist- songs that inspired you or that were playing while you wrote? Aside from the above mentioned coffee in the morning, I need solitude, a decent view from a window, and quiet space in order to write. Since my partner is a sound engineer and his studio is attached to our house, I have a small office away from home in an office building. I really like it. And yes, there are several songs that inspired me while writing the book. Though I don’t play music while I’m writing, I did listen to my Delta Legend playlist over and over again while out hiking or walking around the marina near my office. According to my iPod, these four are the most over-played:

“No Air” by Jordan Sparks and Chris Brown (can you guess which chapter?)
“Take Me To The River” by The Talking Heads
“Say Hey, I Love You” by Michael Franti & Spearhead
“Where Is The Love?”by The Black Eyed Peas.
--If you could have any superpower what would you choose? To breathe underwater. I’d spend a lot of time at the bottom of the sea exploring shipwrecks in the Caribbean. It would also be good if my head didn’t explode from the pressure, but I guess that would be two superpowers, huh?
--Besides writing, what do you like to do in your free time? I love to hike in beautiful places, cook, travel (though I haven’t done all that much and hope to do way more) go wine tasting with friends, and while I haven’t gotten to do it in a while, I love to make Cartoneria (Mexican paper mache art) mainly Day of the Dead figures.
--Is there anything else you want to add or say to your readers? Just a huge “thank you” to everyone who’s embraced Delta Legend. The people who are blogging, tweeting, talking, and texting about the book are the grassroots movement behind its growing audience and I truly can’t say thank you enough. 

Lightning round: this or that? THAT! (Oh sorry, I got excited.)

Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla
Edward or Jacob? Jacob (I like my men to have at least a little color.)
Hockey or soccer? Hockey. Sharks, baby!
Ebook or paper? Both
Salty or sweet? Salty
Beach or mountains? Beach
Phone call or email? email
Early bird or night owl? Night owl
Dog or cat? Cat(s)
Messy or neat? Messy
Ninjas or pirates? Pirates (see Caribbean shipwreck fantasy above.)

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  1. Kelan mentions The Story of Edgar Sawtelle as one of her favorites. I loved that book and am thinking of rereading it.
    Lmackesy at gmail dot com

  2. I enjoyed the interview. I'm looking forward to reading the same books as the author.

  3. I am going to have to look into this book:-)

  4. Seems like Harry Potter is still a fav when it comes to jumping into a favorite book.

  5. Thank you for taking the time to share with us today. I am glad there appears to be more on the horizon for Calvin and the gang, even if it will be a while. I love to follow characters and as a greedy girl I am always wanting more :)

  6. The interview was good but what really grabbed my attention was the book description. It had me intrigued as soon as I read:

    But when severed body parts start floating to the surface, his summer of proving himself takes on new meaning.

  7. I'm glad that the author decided to make it into a book and not a screen play xD


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