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Interview with Katie Jennings, author of When Empires Fall

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Tell us about When Empires Fall.
When Empires Fall is the story of the prominent Vasser Hotel family and the dark secrets that are buried within their empire. It begins with a heinous murder that happened in the 1950’s, and follows three of the modern day heirs who run the family hotel in New York City as the truth behind the murder is uncovered and their whole world begins to crumble around them. They find themselves burdened by reality and assaulted by the press, all the while they each cope with the situation and with each other in different ways. Mixed in with the scandal and murder is a generous dose of romance and intense family drama.

What genre is it?
Family saga and romantic suspense, with a dose of mystery thrown in for good measure.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Anyone who enjoys thorough character development…I spent a great portion of my time with this novel working on the characters and focusing on their realness, on their individual emotions and ambitions. Each of the three heirs will appeal to different readers as they are all very different people…there’s the eldest, Grant Vasser, who is a workaholic and a steadfast rule-follower; Linc, the charismatic playboy driven by ambition; and Madison, the cunning and clever sister with more than one skeleton in her closet.

Complete this sentence for us: If you like ___________, you’ll love When Empires Fall.
If you like The Villa by Nora Roberts, you’ll love When Empires Fall.

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When are we going to see more of the Vassers?
I am currently working on the sequel to When Empires Fall, entitled Rise of the Notorious. It is slated for release in spring of 2013, and will continue the story of the three Vasser heirs as they attempt to rebuild their fallen hotel empire amidst even more shocking truths…the opposition and threats they will face will come from all sides, both within the family and outside of it. It will be quite an intense book!

Family saga novels are great fun for readers, but it must be tricky developing the characters and showing the passage of time.
I enjoyed the challenge of writing this book, but even my other books (The Dryad Quartet) had many characters. I suppose I get a kick out of creating lots of interesting and compelling characters, even the secondary ones, that then dig in and find their place within my books. Not one of them is considered unnecessary, and each is explored just enough to give the reader a vivid perception as to their motivation and personality. In my opinion, that is what makes a novel intriguing and filled with depth and reality.

As far as the passing of time, with When Empires Fall the past is only shown once, in the prologue. After that, the entire novel takes place in modern day. However…in the sequel, there will be a few scenes that delve into the past, both in the distant (1940’s) and the not so distant (2000’s) past. I love the slow unveiling of truths as I write (hence showing the past), and I always try and insert little bits of information that will then play into an important theme or discovery later on. In my opinion, every piece of dialogue, every scene and action of my characters should have some sort of significance. Nothing is done without purpose, and everything is critical to the overall storyline.

Tell us about your Dryad Quartet of novels.
The Dryad Quartet is a young adult fantasy series that is based loosely on Greek mythology and takes place in modern day.

There are four books total, each focusing on one of the four Dryads, who are beings that control the elements (air, fire, earth and water). The Dryads are my own creation, while many of the other characters that fill the book (the Muses, the Fates, Mother Earth, Father Sky…) I pulled from legend. It is a series that encompasses many things, such as romance, mystery, suspense, and even horror (if you like demons, anyway!), and I am immensely proud of it. Breath of Air, book one of the Quartet, is my debut novel.

Was it easy switching genres between these books and When Empires Fall?
Yes, mostly because the genres are not so different. Yes, the Dryad Quartet is fantasy and the Vasser Legacy series is contemporary fiction, but the inner genres of each series are the same. You have great doses of romance, mystery, family drama, etc that each series encompasses. Therefore, the switch was really not so much a switch at all, but rather a continuation of growth in my writing style and author brand. The main difference between the two series is the reading level…where the Quartet is milder with language and sex, more suited for a younger audience, the Vasser Legacy steps it up a notch and explores much more adult concepts such as drug use and suicide. In the end though, I feel that readers who enjoyed the Quartet will still enjoy the Vasser Legacy.

Writing a book is never easy, but other than that, what has been the toughest part – editing or marketing?
Marketing! I went into this having NO idea how to market myself (which is true for most indie authors). I guess most of what I did know was all instinctual, but since I began I have researched and put into play so many different tactics. It’s hard to get over this idea that as an author you have to talk about yourself to other people, you have to be able to explain your work and essentially be a salesman. Coming from a background in sales, I suppose in some ways I had that part down pretty well. I knew what I had to do to at least make my book look professional (an eye-catching book cover, a nice website, professional author photo, etc) and so I started with those things and built my brand from there.

Which indie author should we interview next – and why?
That’s a tough one! I know so many fantastic indie authors out there that I have met and interacted with since I entered the community back in April. If I had to choose one who has become a great friend to me and who I relate to more than any other indie author, I would choose Sara Daniell. She writes contemporary young adult fantasy as well, but her books, like mine, tend to take on a darker edge. I admire her for her boundless creativity in writing and her positive and courageous spirit. Without a doubt, we will be seeing so many great things from her in the future!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
All of my life I’ve been a book nerd. My best friend used to tease me for shoving my nose in a Harry Potter book while I’d be over at her house, and my dad could never understand why I insisted on going to the bookstore at midnight to be there for a new release. I have always used books as a way to escape my own life and enter into someone else’s, and as I got older I realized that there was no reason why I shouldn’t take that a step further and write my own books. I have an obsession with creating characters…it’s my favorite part of the process. I spend hours when formulating new ideas for a novel simply perusing my astrology books dreaming up all the different characters I want to create. In the end, if I were to describe myself as a writer (and person, really) in two words, it would be “character-obsessed.”

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and cat, and run the office for my family’s business. I love tae-bo, watch sappy eighties movies, and spend way too much time on Facebook (but who doesn’t?).

Have you got a site where readers can keep up with your work?
Yes, it’s www.katieajennings.com

Where can we buy When Empires Fall?
When Empires Fall is available on Amazon in eBook and print format, and on Barnes and Noble and other sites in print format only.

What’s next?
After I finish writing Rise of the Notorious, I have plans to take on a paranormal romance. It won’t be your typical paranormal “vampire” romance though, as it will instead focus on a fun mix of characters:  a ghost hunter, a skeptical doctor, a tech-nerd sidekick, and a gypsy medium, with romance and horror mixed in. The plot ideas have been marinating in my mind for awhile now, so I’m eager to write this one! Plus for research I will be watching hours and hours of Ghost Adventures, which is one of my favorite shows, so I am very much looking forward to it.

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for interviewing me!! :)

  2. dkaye59

    What an amazing interview! I have read all of Katie Jennings books and I am waiting anxiously for Rise of the Nortorious! What an awesome up and coming author! She definetely has the talent to go all the way!!

  3. And here I thought I knew everything about you! Great interview, Katie!

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