OBS reviewer Lee sits down to chat with author Willow Rose about her first book in the “Daughters of the Jaguar” series, Savage.
About the author: Willow Rose writes YA Paranormal Romance and fantasy. Originally from Denmark she now lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters. She is a huge fan of Anne Rice and Isabel Allende. When she is not writing or reading she enjoys to watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Read OBS Savage review here
Lee: Your main character Christian is from Denmark, as are you. What led you to move to Florida? Was it for similar reasons as Christian? Did you experience similar culture shock upon moving to the United States?
Willow Rose: My husband and I moved to Florida three years ago with our two daughters. We chose to leave the cold and move to the sunshine state where every day is a potential beach-day and where winter-boots are something you wear with your shorts when they bring in artificial snow in December for the kids to play in. We wanted a change and it turned out to be the best decision we ever made. We didn’t have as big a culture shock as Christian has in the book, mainly because today Europeans know a lot more about what goes on in the States than they did in 1983. News travels much faster and especially Danes are not that different from Americans. What Christian experiences is based upon what my husband experienced when he travelled to Florida in 83 to live with a wealthy family for a year. The beginning of the book is inspired by his journey. But the rest is fiction.
Lee: What made you decide to set the novel in the early 1980s?
W.R.: Because I wanted the three books to take place during three different decades. Plus I love history and the 80′ies were so fun.
Lee: How much of the culture and myth that Aiyana’s family comes from is true and how much did you invent?
W.R.: Some of it is taken from the Maya-Indians who worshiped the Jaguar as a god and then some of the background is taken from the real Timucua Indians that inhabited Florida before the Spaniards came. The rest I invented.
Lee: Do you agree that Christian is somewhat unlikeable at the start of the book, or at least egotistical? What made you decide to create such a complicated protagonist?
W.R.: He is kind of a player and has developed some unlikable traits because of the hurt from loosing his mother in an early age and the lack of affection from his father. But deep down inside he is such a sweet and loving boy that just misses his mother deeply and suffers from that loss. He is just trying to protect himself from ever feeling pain again – which of course is impossible. He is twenty-two and this is when his choices become extremely important for how the rest of his life is going to turn out.
Lee: Are we going to learn more about Dr. and Mrs. Kirk in future books? Dr. Kirk seems like a very menacing, controlling figure; will we find out how he became that way?
W.R.: I have to say I haven’t planned on it but now I want to. We will meet both of them in the second book, but they don’t play a major role. In the next novel Christian will be in his thirties and life has become a lot more serious and so has his problems.
Lee: What kind of research did you do for the novel? Was it difficult or time-consuming?
W.R.: I researched a lot on the Timucua Indians and I took a trip with my family to St. Augustine to see the area and the places I wanted to put in the book. It didn’t feel like it was time-consuming – probably because I thought it was a lot of fun.
Lee: Christian is torn between two girls in Savage: Aiyana, the one he deeply loves but cannot have, and Heather, the one he is encouraged to be with but does not feel passion for. What inspired this love triangle in your mind?
W.R.: For me the triangle represents the struggle inside of Christian. He is torn between two worlds. The world of science and the world of magic where you have to believe in things you cannot see. Aiyana represents this magical world and choosing her is choosing a life of music but also insecurity and chaos. Heather is the sensible, stable choice. With her he could become a doctor and have a secure – even wealthy life.
The triangle kind of just happened as I wrote the novel. I like to say that the story and the characters come to me. It is like they “pop up” in my head. That is the best way I can describe it. The characters are just there all of a sudden and then they start to do stuff and talk to other people and soon there is a whole story that I have to tell or else I will burst. I simply adore the characters from Savage and I know everybody else will too. They are so lovable. I have a hard time letting go of them.
Lee: Will there be other shape-shifters besides jaguars in the future installments of the Daughters of the Jaguar trilogy? Will readers get to meet other members of Aiyana’s tribe?
W.R.: There will only be jaguars in this series as far as I have planned. We will get to meet others from her tribe and we will get to meet her family again.
Lee: Why did you decide to have such large amounts of time pass for Christian and Aiyana between novels?
W.R.: I wanted people to get to know the characters very well. I thought that was a great way to do it. Plus it gave me a lot more story to tell. It is so exciting to begin a novel with characters you know so well and care for and then discover that a lot has happened to them the last ten years.
Lee: When do you anticipate finishing the trilogy? What stories are you thinking about next?
W.R.: I will write three books about the main character Christian – the plan is to have them out before Christmas. It is sort of a family-saga really. In the first book he is in his twenties and so is the woman he falls in love with. In the second book they have kids of their own and are in their thirties. In the last book they will have young teenagers. I am also planning on doing a book about Aiyana, the spirit-filled Native American girl that he falls hopelessly in love with. About her and when she first discovers who she really is. I might also do a book about her sister who does telekinesis and their grand-mother who predicts natural disasters. I love those characters so much that they each deserve their own book.
Thank you to author Willow Rose for an amazing interview!