Today I am interviewing K.D. Keenan, author of the new fantasy novel, Fire in the Ocean, second book in the Gods of the New World series.
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DJ: Hi K.D.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
K.D. Keenan: Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my books!
For more than 30 years I worked in Silicon Valley public relations and marketing, which was fun because I always had a little window into the future and could see new technologies under development. Silicon Valley became the setting for my first book, The Obsidian Mirror.
My mother was an archeologist, and she sparked my interest in mythologies and ancient cultures.
I live in a beach town on the Central Coast of California with my husband, my daughter, my son-in-law, two granddaughters, two elderly dogs and a cat. Between taking are of the grandkids and writing, I don’t have much time for hobbies, but I do design and make sterling silver jewelry.
DJ: What is the Gods of the New World series about?
K.D.: It’s about the entirely preventable damage we are wreaking on the environment. The Obsidian Mirror points out that the people who are defiling the earth also have to live here. It’s not like they breathe different air and drink different water than the rest of us, so what can they be thinking?
Fire in the Ocean highlights the damage we are doing to the oceans with plastic waste and development.
The third novel in the trilogy, Lords of the Night, emphasizes the need to protect animals from our environmental destruction and casual cruelty.
That said, the books are intended to be fun adventures with a large dash of humor, not boring lectures. More honey, less vinegar.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Gods of the New World series?
K.D.: My mother, for sure. I grew up surrounded by ancient artifacts. She told me of her adventures excavating Mayan cities in Yucatan and Guatemala, and cliff dwellings in Arizona and New Mexico. She and my father encouraged my writing, though I didn’t really get started with fiction writing until later in life.
I read a lot of fantasy. I started writing The Obsidian Mirror because I had just finished one of the Wheel of Time novels by Robert Jordan, and I started wondering why so few fantasies are based in the New World, with its thousands of different mythologies, legends and traditions. So many fantasies seem to be set in proto-European, pre-industrial settings that draw on European tropes like elves, werewolves, fairies, vampires, etc.
I thought a fantasy based exclusively on New World mythologies would be interesting, and started writing one as an experiment. Then my characters took over (yes, I thought this was nonsense, too, until it happened to me) and made me finish the book. They didn’t even let me write it the way I wanted to.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
K.D.: Sierra Carter, my protagonist, is a reluctant hero who is addicted to coffee. In the first book she’s rather annoyed to be called upon to save the world because she’s busy looking for a new job. She loves nature, camping, hiking and is as physically fit as I wish I was. Sierra wants a husband, children, and a house with a white picket fence, but it doesn’t look as though she’s going to get any of these.
Chaco is Coyote the Trickster from Native American legends. He is a mischievous demigod whose exploits often turned out well for people, but not so great for Coyote. Chaco is a shapeshifter. He can appear either as a deliciously handsome young man or as an equally handsome coyote. He’s a great cook and a loyal friend, but a bit of a rogue.
Fred is a mannegishi, a creature from Cree legend. He is green, about the size of a watermelon, with pipestem arms and legs, six digits on each paw, and bright-orange eyes like traffic reflectors. He has many hidden talents, but he is also mischievous, impulsive, always hungry, and a genuine nuisance.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the the Gods of the New World series like?
K.D.: It’s an urban fantasy, which means it takes place in the contemporary, real world. This poses its own challenges, such as having magic in play, but somehow the neighbors never notice.
In The Obsidian Mirror, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t create a magic system. This is because when I started writing it, I didn’t actually expect to finish it or get it published. In The Obsidian Mirror, Sierra is puzzled by the magic, which she thinks is illogical. Her every attempt to understand it fails. In Fire in the Ocean, I realized I was going to have to come up with a coherent system, which is: the outcome of magic depends on the person who is doing the magic. I show how Sierra mentally manipulates it and becomes powerful in her own right.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first book of the Gods of the New World series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
K.D.: The Obsidian Mirror got many 4- and 5-star reviews, which was gratifying. Readers have told me that they’re fun to read, great adventures. I couldn’t ask for more, but they also say they enjoy learning about the ancient cultures. In The Obsidian Mirror, I drew randomly from many different Native American cultures and from Voudun, which is a New World religion. Fire in the Ocean draws strictly from ancient Hawaiian culture, and Lords of the Night is entirely based on the ancient Maya. I do a ton of research for these books, including visiting the areas I am writing about and talking to indigenous people about the old stories.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Fire in the Ocean?
K.D.: The research. I went to the Big Island and to Molokai. I met the most amazing people. They opened up and gave me such valuable material. Plus, my work was blessed by Pele. No, I am not kidding. I wore a maile leaf lei to Volcano National Park, on the Big Island. Kilauea was erupting and they wouldn’t let anyone near the crater. My husband and I walked along the edge of the caldera for a while and we came to a little tree, already hung with leis as offerings. (It’s common for people to make offerings to Pele at Kilauea, which is Pele’s favorite residence.)
I held up my lei and asked for Pele’s blessing on my work, then hung the lei in the tree. We turned and walked away about four steps, then I asked my husband to take a photo of the lei hanging in the tree. We turned around. The lei was gone. ALL the other leis were still there. Not a breath of wind. We looked all around on the ground–no lei. Everyone in Hawaii that I told this story to said, “Pele accepted your offering.” My husband says, “We couldn’t find the lei.”
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
K.D.: I hope they talk about what fun it was to read. I hope they talk about the adventure and how much they liked the characters. And I hope they DO join the fight to save the planet.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Fire in the Ocean that you can share with us?
K.D.: This is a passage where Sierra is asking Chaco why magic is inconsistent and unpredictable:
Chaco planted himself on his furry haunches and regarded her, his eyes bright with moonlight. “You and me both. Listen. Do you understand how the universe began?”
“Sure. The Big Bang. Then all that energy and matter spread out and began forming stars and planets and things.”
“Okay. So where did that enormous amount of matter and
energy come from?”
“And what was there before the Big Bang?”
“Have you heard of dark matter? Dark energy?”
“What are they?”
“Okay. So you don’t understand the basic laws and history of your scientific universe. Is that a fair statement?”
Sierra sipped the last of her coffee. As she drained the mug, it disappeared. Oh, good. No littering. “I guess so.”
Chaco stood up and shook himself all over as though he were shaking rainwater off his fur. He had a good stretch fore and aft, sneezed vigorously, then set off again, Sierra following. “As I understand it, even astrophysicists and cosmologists don’t understand all of it,” he said. “There are contradictions in the theories, right?”
“Yeah. So I’ve heard.”
“So why do you expect the supernatural to be explainable and consistent?”
Sierra supposed maybe this was a bit unreasonable after all. “How do you know all that about the Big Bang and dark matter?”
Chaco snorted and scratched behind his ear with a hind paw.
“I can read.”
DJ: Now that Fire in the Ocean is released, what is next for you?
K.D.: I am working on the final third of Lords of the Night, which concludes the trilogy. Once I finish that, I want to start on a story set in Iceland. I will return to the mythologies and traditions of the Americas someday, but I have some other avenues to explore first.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KYAAM2M?ref_=pe_584750_33951330
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Fire in the Ocean and the Gods of the New World series that we haven’t talked about yet?
K.D.: I think we’ve covered it.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
K.D. Thank YOU for giving me this opportunity!
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*** Fire in the Ocean is published by Diversion Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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After saving the world once, Sierra’s earned a vacation. She’s thinking Hawaii. Sun, surf, sand, and a little bit of work (hey, it’s still Sierra we’re talking about) are all she wants. So when an emergency calls her boyfriend away, she’s not devastated. Instead, she can live with taking Chaco, Coyotl the Trickster, who can be a great companion when he’s not scheming. But when Chaco starts to look a little more than nauseous on the plane, their trip takes an ominous turn.
Chaco’s not just sick, he’s mortal.
With a moody Chaco and the loveable but chaotic Fred, a mannegishi that can disappear at will, stowing away for the journey, Sierra’s trying to make the best of a messy situation. The sun, surf, and sand are still there, and Hawaii is more breathtaking than she ever imagined.
On a whale watching excursion, Sierra, Chaco, and Fred are swept overboard by an undersea force more powerful than they ever imagined. There are dark forces at work. With Chaco no longer connected to his land, Sierra will have to think fast for them to possibly survive.
About the Author:
K.D. Keenan is a writer living in Northern California. She has worked in the high technology industries since 1978 as a writer, content creator and public relations expert. She founded her own PR agency in 1986; Oak Ridge Public Relations, Inc. was named one of Silicon Valley’s Top 25 PR agencies for 10 years running by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Keenan has always been a voracious reader. Having worked through her grandparents’ extensive library of Victorian children’s literature, she began reading fantasy and science fiction at the age of nine—a move that curbed her tendency to write with a mid-Nineteenth Century flair that was greatly under-appreciated by her English teachers.
Keenan began writing “The Obsidian Mirror” because she had just finished reading another sword-and-sorcery fantasy set in an archetypal European pre-Industrial Age society where the heroes wore cloaks and the world was populated by elves, trolls and assorted other Euro-trash. Having hit a downturn in her freelance work at the time, she decided to write a fantasy based on New World prototypes. Her interest in Native American folklore began with her mother, an archeologist specializing in Southwestern Indian civilizations. To her surprise, Keenan actually finished the novel.
“Fire in the Ocean,” the sequel to “The Obsidian Mirror,” is due from Diversion Books on February 27, 2018. Using the same cast of characters, this time the story is set in the Hawaiian Islands and draws on the rich traditions of the ancient Hawaiians. Fast-paced and funny, “Fire in the Ocean” is nonetheless a respectful tribute to the beauty and complexity of Hawaii’s original culture.
Keenan is now writing the third and final book in the trilogy, “Lords of the Night.” This final story is set in the Classical Maya era and introduces us to the gods and spirits of the ancient Maya people.