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Interview with Ksenia Anske, author of Siren Suicides

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Siren Suicides is a fantasy trilogy about a teenage girl, Ailen Bright, who attempts to drown herself on her 16th birthday, only to turn into a siren and discover that her father is a siren hunter. He proceeds to hunt her across the span of 3 books, a la Alice in Wonderland gone wrong, with all things water and songs.

Water and songs? You’d best tell us about Ailen and what it means to be a siren.
Ailen epitomizes adolescent angst, both in an ugly and a beautiful way. Ugly because there is so much doubt, self-hate, misery, and uncertainty in her, that at times she has trouble being herself, hence, she wants to quit her life. Beautiful because that’s what teenagehood is about, discovering yourself, discovering love, and growing through the pain of emerging into an adult. Except that in Ailen’s case, she turns into a siren, which gives her superpowers, namely, she is nearly indestructible and she can sing out souls from living people, to feel alive again, before digesting them, forever hungry. She can breathe underwater through gills, and water is her reprieve from the constant noise of life, where every human soul has it’s own sound. In this light, the world of a siren can be described as a million orchestras playing at the same time, so not exactly a very rosy existence. For company she has only 5 other sirens that I borrowed in concept from Homer’s Odyssey.

We were just about to ask you about Odyssey. Is there anything else that is similar?
If you like the idea of Coraline by Neil Gaiman mixed with Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk and stuffed into the narrative of Alice in Wonderland, with an overtone of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,  you’ll love Siren Suicides.

What genre is it?
Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal even, in some way. With a hint of magical realism.

What demographic of readers is this series aimed at?
You know, strange enough, my 9 years old son read it, and my 65 year old friend read it, and over 300 beta readers in between. It’s a YA trilogy, but it seems like all kinds of people have been interested in reading it.

You made all three books in the trilogy available on the same day. Which is great for us as impatient readers, but was probably hellishly hard work for you. Tell us about each one.
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Siren Suicides, I Chose to Die (Book 1): On a rainy September morning that just so happens to be her sixteenth birthday, Ailen Bright, a chicken-legged, straw-haired teenager, decides to commit suicide via drowning in the family bathtub. The ornate marble tub, adhering to her abusive father’s love for anything expensive and Italian, is decorated by five sirens – who seemingly help her escape the house when her father breaks down the bathroom door. After an almost-successful suicide attempt number two, which lands her at the bottom of a lake, she learns that sirens are, in fact, real, and they want to turn her into one of them. An amazing, yet dark look into the mind and heart of a suicidal teenager, this urban fantasy follows Ailen’s struggle to figure out the meaning of life, the unraveling of her confusing feelings for her theatrically goofy best friend Hunter, and her desperate battle for her father’s love.

Siren Suicides, My Sisters in Death (Book 2): In the second installment of the Siren Suicides trilogy, Ailen Bright finds herself in a sticky situation. Her new supernatural abilities haven’t solved anything – in fact, they’ve royally messed up her life. She can’t be with the one person she loves (though her self-control is wavering by the second), her old, well-dressed dog of a father hasn’t learned any new tricks, and her supposed siren sister doesn’t seem to have her best interests at heart. A pawn in the game between her father and the Siren of Canosa, Ailen is constantly searching for her next move. Through all the hardships, however, Ailen’s self-doubt begins to dissipate as she comes to accept her new identity.
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Siren Suicides, The Afterlife (Book 3): Ailen Bright is more lost than ever. Her father has betrayed her yet again, but keeps her longing for his love alive with some almost-heartfelt confessions, though few and far between. She and Hunter can never be together without fighting the urge to strangle each other with their bare hands. And to top it off, two-faced Canosa won’t leave her alone. Her resolve to do the right thing is wavering as she tries to protect the ones she loves, simultaneously searching for a reason to keep on living, and the final chapter of Siren Suicides comes to a tumultuous close, bringing death, life, and love.

We cannot wait to get started! Especially since we loved your last book – Blue Sparrow – and enjoy reading your blog. Tell us a bit about it.
It’s really just my musings on being a rookie writer (I started writing full time last year), and things I have learned, like, how to conquer writer’s block, or how to edit a first draft, or plotting vs pantsing, things like that, and always with a dash of humor. I blog every Wednesday and Saturday, so twice a week. You can subscribe to it here: http://www.kseniaanske.com/subscribe/

We know we asked you this in our previous interview, but for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t read that yet, tell us about yourself.
Let’s see, the highlights. I started writing at 15, albeit in a diary and albeit not really understanding what writing means. At 16 I ran away from an abusive home, at 17 got pregnant, at 18 became a mom, at 22 ran away from my country, Russia, to US, an architectural student back then, not knowing English and not dreaming that one day I’d be writing. Fast forward, at 33 I became suicidal because my body got very sick and I had to revisit my past and to dig up the fact that I was sexually abused by my father and step-grandfather, neglected by my mother, and a slew of other gruesome things, after which I simply wanted to kill myself. Well, my friends and my therapists wouldn’t let me. They pulled me out, they pushed me to write. Writing Siren Suicides literally made me reborn anew, and so I dedicated the books to anyone who ever has thought of parting with life. All 3 Siren Suicides books will be downloadable forever for free on my site. I quit my marketing career last time to write full time, and have 8 more novels planned out already!

My God! That’s traumatic; our hearts go out to you. We don’t know what to say.
If we ever get our heads round it and want to communicate with you on social media…?
You can follow me everywhere. I’m in a lot of places. Here is the whole list: @KseniaAnske, Facebook, Google+, Youtube, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Goodreads, Scrib, ReadWave.

You say you’ve got eight novels planned. Which will see the light next?
Next is Rosehead, a fantasy/mystery/magical realism novel about Lilith Bloom, a 12 year old American girl who travels to Germany for a grand family reunion and discovers with the help of her talking pet whippet that her grandfather, Alfred Bloom, the famous rose gardener, feeds strange things to his garden in order to make the roses red and everlasting. There are a lot of nuances in this book that have been inspired by me reading Sherlock Holmes when I was little, The Hound of the Baskervilles in particular. I am writing 2nd draft currently. It should be done beginning of October 2013, then go to my editor, and then get published!

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3 Comments

  1. Great interview and the summaries are spot on. There is so much beauty, thrill, angst, love, confusion, hatred, longing — all crammed into 3 novels. I now to Ksenia who while selling her book, is also making it free forever from her website, to help give hope to those who, sadly, have been in her shoes. Try reading her dedication and plea to those considering suicide…you will not be able to hold the tears back. Bravo!

  2. THANK YOU!!! xoxo

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Books: Week ending August 23, 2013 | Indie Author Land

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