Friday, August 5, 2011

Author Interview: Tessa Gratton (Blood Magic)

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a wizard. Or a paleontologist. Maybe both.

I’m neither now, but magic and monsters are still my favorite things.

Born in Okinawa, Japan while my Dad was on duty with the US Navy, I moved around throughout my childhood and traveled even more. Reading and theater were the two things that got me through it all.

After graduating from the University of Kansas in 2003 with a degree in Gender Studies, I went on to graduate school for a Master’s in the same. Halfway through, I ditched my advisor in favor of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic epic poetry, because the blood, tragedy, and violence were much more civilized than academic in-fighting. I don’t have a graduate degree, but I did translate my own version of Beowulf!

Despite having traveled all over the world, I settled in Kansas (where the flying monkeys live) with my partner, two cats, and a mutant mutt named Grendel.

Because I was raised on fairy tales and dinner-time conversations about emergency room patients (thanks, Mom and Dad!) I tend to mix magic and blood whenever possible.

There are several key characters, each with their own histories, in Blood Magic. Which character came to you first? What inspired their story?

Originally, Blood Magic was about Silla and Reese and their ability to trade bodies with some vague magic – there was also Josephine, who was a witch who’d been body-snatching to stay alive for decades. Nick and his back-story was a later addition when I realized I wanted more kissing.

Why did you decide to tell the story in alternating points-of-view? Which voice did you find easiest to write?

Josephine’s voice was the easiest to write, because she’s wild and melodramatic. I decided to use both points of view when I decided that the story belonged to both Silla and Nick. They both change, and without one or the other of them, the novel doesn’t work. Plus, I like being able to see them from the outside as well as from the inside – so from their own POV but also from the other POVs.

Silla is very into theatre, and I noticed in your bio that you were also a drama kid as a teen. What is it about the stage that appeals to both you and Silla? What role have you always wanted to play?

I love the stage because of the words – taking someone else’s words and making them my own, making another character a part of myself, is immensely appealing. Silla likes it because she’s naturally empathetic and very good an putting herself in other’s shoes. She can use it to escape. I’ve always wanted to play Macbeth!

What inspired Silla’s mask collection, and the way she uses them to control her emotions?

It started out as just a metaphor for the way that everybody puts on different faces and different selves of whatever situation they’re in. For Silla, I took it to the extreme because of her trauma and because collecting real theater masks seemed like a good hobby.

Narkotika, from your critique partner Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series, makes a brief appearance in the novel. Are there any other crossovers readers should look out for?

There are references in both Blood Magic and the companion The Blood Keeper to various things in both Maggie Stiefvater’s novels and my other critique partner, Brenna Yovanoff’s novels.

Silla’s remaining family, Judy and Reese, are both very strong characters and important figures in her life. Were they inspired by people in your own life?

No, I don’t work that way very often. I do have a very strong family, with amazing support from my parents and brothers, but they don’t individually inspire individual characters. It’s more about my own emotional experience and the feelings I wanted to create between Silla and her family that helped me create Judy and Reese in particular.

What one blood spell do you wish you could perform?

I’d like to be able to fly, so possession would be excellent for me!

If given the chance, would you want to live forever?

Depending on the circumstances… yes. Definitely.

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

I was born in Japan!

Will we see more of Nick and Silla in The Blood Keeper?

All signs point to yes, though they aren’t the main characters. The Blood Keeper takes place 5 years after the end of Blood Magic.

Thanks for having me!!!

For more about this author, please visit:

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

It starts off simply.

Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...

Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.

The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

Tessa Gratton's intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.

Thanks so much to Tessa Gratton for taking the time to answer my questions! I can't wait to read more of her Blood Journals series!


Lauren M said...

Just reading Tessa's short bio alone is fascinating! It seems she's lead an incredibly interesting life! I think it's awesome that Tessa and her critique partners drop Easter-eggs in their stories! I'll definitely have to look out for those when I read Blood Magic. Great interview! :)

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

I know! I especially loved the opening lines about magic and monsters =) It totally made my day when I saw Narkotika in Blood Magic haha

Anonymous said...

I bought this last week! The interview only made me MORE excited to start reading it :)

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