Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Katy Krump: Author of the Blue Dust Trilogy

I was a teacher before almost losing my sense of humour (and mind) and deciding I needed to devote myself to the thing I loved most-- writing. I became a full-time television scriptwriter for children, entered a nationwide scriptwriting competition and was selected to be on the writing team of a popular South African soap. I also worked as an advertising copywriter, wrote radio ads and jingles, educational textbooks and readers...anything to keep the wolf from the door. Basically, I’m constantly writing, books and TV scripts and if not that then plotting, planning and scheming how to take over the world. In 2000, I embarked on a new journey, crossing the galaxy to settle on a new planet or as some like to call it 'Immigration,' and am now a proud possessor of a maroon Intergalactic Wayfarer Permit and have come to love the aliens I mix with daily.

In 2012, I was lucky enough to be signed to Ghostly Publishing, one of the UK’s largest indie publishers. The first two Blue Dust books, Forbidden and Destiny, were released in 2012 and 2013. Forbidden was nominated for the Costa book awards in 2013. The final book, Insurrection, is due for release in November 2014. A third book, Drippy Face, a fantasy for children, was released in 2013 too, and this year was picked up by Nickelodeon and CBBC who are both interested in adapting it and making it into an animated TV series or film. I’m waiting…

11 Questions for Katy

1. Tell us about the Blue Dust Trilogy.  What inspired you to write it?

Blue Dust follows the life of Qea, a girl who doesn’t belong anywhere. She comes from a distant galaxy where she is considered ‘Forbidden.’ Born third into a world where, due to overpopulation, the law allows only two children, Qea has had an awful and traumatic life. Her world is ruled by warlords and when she betrays one of them, she’s sent to Earth to hide. There she meets Adam, who challenges everything she’s ever been taught about herself. By allowing him into her life, Qea puts them both in danger. The series was really born out of my own struggles as an ‘alien.’ I immigrated to the UK from South Africa 14 years ago and found it all quite traumatic. I started a blog about living on a new planet as that’s what it felt to me, and that morphed into Blue Dust.

I’ve also always loved thrillers and once as a child came home from school to find the house deserted. They hadn’t been abducted by aliens although I kind of wished they had, instead they’d been shopping which was far too boring and mundane for me. I never forgot that feeling though and would spend endless hours making up stories about what could have happened to a family that mysteriously vanished. I took that thought and ran with it. I love science fiction based on strong characters and it’s the relationships that drive my writing. Qea is an unusual character, bereft of any real human emotion, and it takes Adam, an Earth boy, to bring out the humanity in her. Blue Dust: Forbidden introduces Qea and Adam and the strange world she comes from, while Destiny continues the story as she chases her destiny. More of her early life is revealed in Destiny and her past catches up with her once more. I‘m busy with Insurrection, the final book in the trilogy, where I hope all the questions will be answered…but you never know…my characters have a way of doing things I didn’t plan, so who knows how it will all end. Despite the planning and months of working on it, they still do things I wasn’t expecting. The books deal with alienation and self-discovery…and tell you what to do if you’re abducted by aliens. It’s packed with action and strange alien worlds and touches on the issues that all teenagers face.

2. How much of the book is pure fiction and how much is rooted in real events, or even autobiographical?

Most of it is pure fiction, but the bits about how hard it is to fit into a ‘new world’ are all based on my own experiences. Adam is a compilation of every teenage boy I ever knew. Qea is not me…apart from loving to swim.

3. Which of your character(s) do you identify with the most?

Probably Qea in that she’s independent and loyal. I don’t think I’m as brave or detached as she is though. I suppose I identify with Adam too, he’s got aspects I admire and hope I reflect, too.

4. Why did you become a writer?

I had to. It’s one of those things that’s always been with me. I remember being about six and announcing to my family that I was going to write a book. I borrowed my dad’s old green typewriter and wrote a very bad book about an otter. At school I felt most ‘human’ when I was writing something, so it’s obviously something I was born with, or inherited from long distant ancestors. My great-grandfather was a wonderful writer, so it’s in the blood.

5. What’s your writing routine like?  Do you have a special place where you write, a favorite pen, listen to a particular type of music, etc.?

I work in my ‘office,’ which is a corner of the lounge. I like noise-- either the TV or music. Late at night, I put the radio on – Golden Oldies – and that always inspires me. I keep a notebook next to my bed because inspiration often strikes late at night, so I have to get up and write it down before it disappears into sleep. I also have a habit of writing notes on the backs of envelopes and scraps of paper…I then spend hours trying to find the right one.

6. Do you stick to just one genre, or do you write in multiple genres?  Why?

My first book, When Killers Cry, is a political thriller set during the days of Apartheid in SA, where I grew up. I need to work out the things that I witnessed, I suppose, like a lot of white South Africans. Writing children’s TV is fantasy and I loved being able to put words into a donkey’s mouth, so fantasy has always been something I enjoy-- writing like that made my soul sing, and gives my imagination a chance to soar, there are no limits or boundaries, what more could a girl want? I’ve stuck to fantasy/sci fi for a while but still write adult fiction. I’m working on a historical novel set in both 1820 and 2000 at present, as well as TV and film scripts for children.

7. What’s your favorite medium—novels, short stories, flash fic, etc.?  Why?

I love writing novels and rhyming books for younger children. I’m working on a rhyming book about snot. There’s something very special about writing TV scripts, though. I read all the dialogue out loud and have been accused of being ‘nuts’ by family members. I also pace them out as a TV script is very specific about time, so I ‘do’ all the actions as well.

8. What are your favorite books/authors?

I have a very eclectic taste in my reading. The book I love most at the moment is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I love thrillers– Jo Nesbo, Christina Lackberg, Karen Slaughter, John Grisham, Dick Francis, Deon Meyer, but I also love Jane Austen, Dickens, Emily Bronte and writers like Kate Atkinson, Zadie Smith, Alexander McCall Smith. I think I’ve taken inspiration from everyone I’ve read to date. It’s interesting how, while reading, I’ll suddenly find a word I love and I’ll then make sure to use it in my own work. It’s a fine balance between writing my own stuff and reading the works of other great writers. John Creasey, a very prolific writer who has now sadly gone out of fashion, was my first introduction to crime fiction and really inspired me to start writing. Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton were my very early inspirations, instilling a love of reading and writing that’s never gone away.

9. What books are you reading right now?

I’m reading Trackers by a South African writer, Deon Meyer, as well as D-Day by Anthony Beevor and Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

10. Are there any emerging authors that you’re excited about?

I’m always excited to find a new author. Some of the Ghostly Publishing authors like Ben Gavan and Leyland Perree and Neil Trigger are great.

11. Do you have a work-in-progress you’d like to tell us about?

Insurrection, the final Blue Dust book, is in the works. I’m really enjoying writing it, but I want it to wrap up the saga perfectly and not leave any loose ends, so I spend a lot of time referring back to the first two books. I recently read the Divergent trilogy and was so enraged at the ending in the final book (like most reviewers I read) that I decided not to kill my main characters…or should I? Sometimes a character has to die, well, it’s a war so people are bound to, but who, that’s the question!

About the Blue Dust Trilogy
Qea (Pronounced Kee-ah) is a girl with an unusual history. She comes from a distant galaxy where warlords rule the law and corruption is rife, so she must become hard to survive, but here on earth a young man will change her heart and risk her life, changing it forever.

All teenage girls keep secrets and Kerry Johnston is no exception. More than anyone else she knows how to lie, for ‘Kerry’ is an alias and her life is a nightmare of secrecy, violence and fear. In reality this overweight, limping teenage girl is Qea, a Forbidden child from the Qarntaz Octad, sent to Earth to hide from the warlord she has betrayed. Born third into her family in an overpopulated world where surplus offspring are Forbidden and killed or delivered as fodder for the malevolent Inquisitors, Qea has spent her life in hiding. As she and Adam are taken captive, they’re whisked back to the place of her nightmares, the Octad, where they must fight to survive and Qea must discover whether or not her love for Adam will make her human, or if she’ll sacrifice him for her own sake.

A dark force is coming. Following on from the epic first novel, Blue Dust: Forbidden, Destiny continues the saga of Qea, a fugitive renegade whose mission it is to free the oppressed children of the Qarntaz Octad. This book explores even more of Qea's back story and has some startling revelations about her personal life as well as exploring even more of the fantastical Blue Dust Universe.

As Adam and Qea get separated, Qea is forced into befriending some of the fearsome otherworldly tribes that inhabit The Octad. Together with a mysterious hooded boy, they face a new, rising evil, finding themselves imprisoned in the imposing "Citadel," a place made almost entirely of glass, which brainwashes the captive children to carry out the will of the sinister Primax.


Book 1: Forbidden

‘Adam! Adam!’ she shouted, but her voice was trapped in the glass orb and all her shouting did was echo alarmingly, bouncing off the glass shell and hitting her in blows that were almost physical.

Qea sat down, put her hands over her ears and waited for the din to stop, then, very carefully, so as not to make any sound, she stood and looked out into the void. She stifled the panic and tried to slow her breathing. Surely it couldn’t end like this, trapped in nowhere, suspended for eternity? She wondered if she would be fed or if she’d just be left to starve slowly until she was gone forever.

Then it started; a wheezing, whining, sucking sound that slobbered through the still air and bumped against her globe, which swung slightly. The sound soaked into every fibre, filling her with the kind of fear she’d only ever felt once before. It slurped and gurgled and dreading what she’d see, Qea lifted her head and turned towards the origin of the noise.

About three metres away was another glass globe and inside she could see a small figure. Outside, attached to the glass with rapacious lips and a drooling ravenous mouth, was the glimmering brown-black shape of an Inquisitor. It was suctioned on to the glass, its sinewy limbs wrapped around the globe, encompassing it totally. Even inside her own globe, Qea could smell decaying flesh. A high pitched scream pierced the silence as the Inquisitor hoovered up the life-force of the figure inside the globe, which began to fade, it’s colours lessening until it was nothing but a puddle of grey liquid slumped on the bottom of its orb.

The Inquisitor swelled, its body thickening, filling out, nourished by its victim. It flew upwards, strength renewed and swooped down to peer into the other globes. Its eyes swept across Qea too, and for a moment it hesitated and its shape shifted slightly, the cavernous eyes boring into her and she waited for it to start sucking the life out of her too, but instead it inclined its head, as if in acknowledgment of a greater foe, and flew off, leaving her cold and bewildered.

Book 2: Destiny

It was a fortress or castle of some kind, constructed from dense blue-black glass, and colossal, towering up into the heavens and stretching back further than the eye could see. In the upper reaches Qea could make out rectangular slashes and for an instant imagined she saw a face watching them. She studied the structure and at first thought it was floating, but as they got closer she saw that it was balancing on thick shards of glass, huge twisted claws that cupped the Citadel like giant hands holding it up to the heavens for approval. Only it was dark, evil and surely no benign being would look down on it with favour. Silent, subdued figures scurried in and out of the jaw-like doorway, passing by the group of prisoners without so much as a blink.

Through the gaping maw they went, into an enormous rectangular courtyard. Everything here was angular, every shape straight and rigid and cold. There were no pretty ornaments or carvings, no flora or vegetation of any sort, simply ice-cold walls of glass rising up on every side. Inserted into the walls twenty metres up, was a glass platform, a kind of rampart on which Qea could see guards patrolling. In an alternating pattern, facing inwards and outwards, the guards gazed out over the city and surrounding countryside or scoured the inner courtyards for signs of danger.

A movement caught Qea’s eye in the far corner, a boxy shape sliding upwards. A lift. Inside were shadowy shapes but the lift was too far away for her to see any details. Their guards herded them into the centre of the courtyard, physically arranging them into a line, as if they were children.

Book 3: Insurrection Will Qea defeat Primax or will her insurrection be over before it’s even begun?

Connect with Katy Krump
Author Website:
Twitter: @katykrum

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