Occasionally you find a novel that feels like pure magic. This book makes your heart ache for its characters, widens your eyes with fantastical ideas, and plucks you from your couch depositing you into another world completely. This is what Alma Katsu’s debut novel, The Taker, did for me. A gothic tale of immortal love, magic and obsession, this book stunned me. After closing the book, I immediately wondered if this stunning new author could write another novel this powerful. She could. And she did. The second book in the The Taker Trilogy, The Reckoning, took all the elements from book one that I loved and twisted them on their axis. What came out was a passionate, dark, and deeply touching story that gave me the exact same reaction I had from the first book.
I’m so pleased that Alma Katsu has agreed to talk to us! Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!
Indigo Fiction Blog: Hi Alma, thank you so much for speaking with us today! As you know, I am a huge fan of The Taker and have been eagerly waiting for the second installment of the series. How are you feeling about the release of The Reckoning?
Alma Katsu: It still feels unreal to me, probably because it’s been such a whirlwind since The Taker came out. It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a year! In that time, several foreign language editions have been released as well as the trade paperback in the US, and the mass market in the UK. I had about 20 months to write The Reckoning, which seems like no time at all when you consider The Taker took 10 years. Like all new authors, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to write that quickly and that the book would be terrible but (knock on wood) so far the reviews have all been great. I find this amazing, but it’s a testament to how fear can motivate you.
IFB: In The Taker, you brought the reader to an understanding that immortality was not as seductive as the villainous Adair made it seem. In The Reckoning, we are taken on a nostalgic exploration of the demons of Lanny’s past. How did it feel dissecting some of her most haunting memories?
AK: I knew what I wanted for Lanny because in many ways—but not all!—her story is similar to mine. I grew up in a small town with limited prospects, and I saw what the future held for me and I wanted something else. Lanny, too, isn’t happy with the future that waits for her, which is to be the wife of a farmer or someone who works for the St. Andrew’s logging business and to have this man’s children, and for that to be the sum of her existence. Lanny wanted something else: she wanted to win over the unattainable guy and to see the world beyond St. Andrew. And in true, making-a-deal-with-Mephistopheles style, she gets what she wants, only it’s not at all as she expected.
Lanny goes to exotic locations and meets amazing people—some famous, like Lord Byron—but all her experiences are bittersweet because that’s the way life is. Like many of us, she may have dreamed of living in Paris and Rome but instead she got Morocco and the Silk Road and you know what? Her life was better for it.
The most emotional scene to write is the one where Jonathan leaves her in a heartless and rather cowardly way, and she realizes that she is alone and has no one to depend on but herself. This is a lesson we all learn at some point in our lives, though hopefully not in such a brutal fashion. And luckily for her, she quickly makes the acquaintance of someone who will be a good friend and ally for many years.
IFB: A new character emerges in The Reckoning. Savva is one of Adair’s former companions who was granted leave from Adair’s rule, though not cured of his immortality. I was completely taken with him. He displayed such an intricate understanding of his fate. How was it introducing someone new into the catalogue of Adair’s victims?
AK: For me, the characters just appear in my head, nearly completely formed, and I have to figure out why. Maybe some writers figure out what kind of character would work best in a scene and then go about putting one together, but my writing doesn’t work that way. I’m working on the last book now, The Descent, and just figuring out why all the people Adair gathers to him—all of whom have done terrible and unforgivable things—have a vulnerable side. He could’ve gathered stone-cold killers but he didn’t. This is a perfect example of the mean tricks a writer’s subconscious can play on you.
Savva is one of these gentle souls and what’s more, he has emotional problems. Today, he might be diagnosed as manic-depressive or even bipolar, but in his day his condition would’ve been seen as a sign of moral weakness or god’s displeasure. It would be a painful stigma he could never escape. I have people in my life with similar problems—I’m sure we all do—and understand what a constant struggle it is, not only for the individual himself but also for the people around him. I got to wonder what it would be like to live with this condition for eternity.
Check back for Part Two of this interview tomorrow! If you haven't read The Taker, check out this trailer and that will surely change!