Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview & Giveaway with Kalayna Price

Kalayna Price is the author of two dark urban fantasy novels in the Haven series - Once Bitten (my review) and Twice Dead and is about to launch Grave Witch, the first book in her new Alex Craft urban fantasy series which releases October 5. The novel is a taut UF thriller with a solidly constructed mystery and  engaging set of characters. It is a departure from the usual kick-ass heroine so prevalent in UF these days and readers of similar suspenseful stories such as Diana Rowland's Demon series will definitely enjoy this.

Kalayna is offering a signed copy of Grave Witch to a commenter and she will be dropping by to respond to reader questions.Check out the Contest Guidelines at the end of the post for full details. You can find out more about Kalayna Price at her website and blog.

Welcome Kalayna!

SFG: Grave Witch, the first book in your Alex Craft series releases next week. What’s the 411 on Alex?

Alex Craft is a private detective and a grave witch—a voice for the dead. She can speak to ghosts and raise “shades” which are a person’s memories given shape and form so that they can be questioned. When she raises shades, her psyche crosses the chasm between the land of the living and the land of the dead. The land of the dead overlays reality perfectly, except that on that plane of existence (where ghosts and spirits dwell) everything is dead or decaying: hues fade, metal rusts, and buildings crumble. Alex sees into this plane, and as a result, using her magic does a number on her eyesight.

Alex is a fun character to write about, and she exists in a world where magic is well acknowledged but not always well accepted. She has magical, physical, political, and emotional hurdles to navigate in the story, and, of course, there’s the ghost silencing killer and a case which might cost her soul.

SFG: Death as a character is rarely used, how did Death make his way into your novel?

With dreamy eyes and a sardonic smile? Okay, no, not exactly what you meant.

Death was a character who showed up very early on in my plotting. With Alex having the ability to talk to ghosts and spirits, it made sense that she could also see the grim reaper. When trying to decide how Alex would have met him, I had this great idea for a scene from her backstory which I eventually distilled down to one sentence and used to open the book: 
“The first time I encountered Death, I hurled my mother’s medical chart at him.”
Their relationship improved after that first, rather unfortunate, meeting, but there is still tension there that creates great chemistry between them on the page. When I first decided to make Death a character, I don’t think I realized how his character would play out, but by the time I started writing the first book, I knew he’d be a major series character.

SFG: Is there a planned over-reaching story arc and number of books planned for the series and do you know how it will end?

“Yes” to the former and “not so much” to the latter question. There are several underlining plot threads that will play out over the series, and I know where the story is headed, but I don’t have a set in stone “this is how the series will end” plan for the books.

SFG: It must have been exciting when you signed with Ace/Roc. Can you describe the moment when you first learned of the deal?

Actually, that ‘moment’ was stretched over several days, which was both agonizing and thrilling. What happened was this: About a week after my agent sent Grave Witch out to editors, I received a call letting me know an offer had been made. I was ecstatic, but that isn’t the end of the story because the book then went to auction. The days while I was waiting for the end of the auction are a blur. I remember pacing a lot, and I was pretty useless at work. News would come in a flurry and then there would be more waiting. I remember reading an update from my agent in an email and then the phone ringing. I told her I’d just read her email and her response was “Well, I have more news.” By the time the auction ended I was emotionally exhausted. Happy. Thrilled. Maybe even scared. But more than anything, excited.

SFG: What is it that most appeals to you about writing fantasy/urban fantasy?

The versatility of the genre. The authors writing Urban Fantasy tend to take the best parts of other genres and mix them together so you have these thrilling stories with magic and murder, horror, love, tragedy, mystery—you name it, and it has probably been incorporated into an urban fantasy book. I love the genre, and I hope my books will provide others with the same kind of entertainment I’ve found in other great writers in this genre.

SFG: You also have another successful dark urban fantasy series on the go. Tell us more about the novels of Haven.

The novels of Haven follow Kita Nekai, a shapeshifter on the run from her clan and responsibilities who is turned into a vampire and sucked into the supernatural underbelly of a city called Haven. Kita’s world is a closed one—meaning as a whole society doesn’t know supernaturals exist—while Alex’s world is open and everyone knows the monsters under the bed really are real. It’s a lot of fun to be writing two series that have worldbuilding on opposite sides of the spectrum. At first I was a little worried about writing two series in the same genre at the same time, but Alex and Kita are very different, as are their worlds, which shapes how their stories are told, so I haven’t had any trouble keeping them distinct.

SFG: When did you first “discover” urban fantasy as a reader? Do have favourite writers/series?

Kalayna with Laurell K. Hamilton
I discovered urban fantasy long before the subgenre had a proper title. My first introduction to the genre was an Omnibus edition of the first three Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton. I was fourteen at the time and had never read anything like it. I fell in love and wanted more of this gritty but humorous contemporary fantasy mixed with mystery, romance, and horror. Of course, there wasn’t much more out there in the nineties. As the genre began to explode in the early/mid part of the last decade, I was thrilled.

I have a lot of favourite authors, and it’s hard to pick just a couple, but I’d say some of the best authors I’ve read recently include: Karen Chance, Kim Harrison, Chloe Neill, Patricia Briggs, and Ilona Andrews.

SFG: You have a number of other passions besides writing including your art and fire hoop dancing. How and why did you become a fire hoop dancer?

Well, I didn’t jump straight to fire. In fact, two years ago, I couldn’t even keep a hoop up around my waist. My brother was actually the one who got me into hooping. He saw someone doing it at Dragon*con 2008, got a little obsessed, and coerced family and friends into trying. I must be the slowest, most uncoordinated person in the world because it took me almost a week to reliably keep the hoop at my waist, but it was great exercise and I was in excellent company, so I kept working at it. Within a couple weeks I was learning tricks and having a lot of fun on top of the workout and the chance to hang out with friends—talk about a no lose situation!

I’d been hooping a little over six months the first time I hooped with fire. I think it’s probably something you’re either going to love or hate. For me, the roar of the fire all around me is a major adrenaline rush. I love it!

SFG: What other projects to you have coming up and can you tell me something about them without having to kill me afterwards?

Currently I’m focusing on the two series I’m contracted to write. The next book in the Haven series, Third Blood, will be out in a few months, and the second Alex Craft novel will be released next summer. Other than that, I can’t give out any definite news, but there have been rumours about a sky pirate anthology . . .

SFG: You’ve appeared at a number of conventions. Tell us the craziest thing that has happened to you at a con?

I wish I could say I had a really crazy con story, but nothing is popping to mind. Of course, my threshold for crazy might be different as I started attending cons in college when ten of us would pile into one room and would survive the con by eating Ramen cooked in a coffee pot because we couldn’t afford to go any other way. Those were crazy times.
Kalayna and friends with members of the Clockwork Dolls at Steampunk Worlds Fair 2010

Thanks so much for having me here today, Doug!

You are most welcome Kalayna, and you have an open invitation to guest anytime.

Kalayna Price is the author of the Alex Craft Novels, a new dark urban fantasy series from Roc, and the author of the Novels of Haven from Bell Bridge Books. She draws her ideas from the world around her, her studies into ancient mythologies, and her obsession with classic folklore. Her stories contain not only the mystical elements of fantasy, but also a dash of romance, a bit of gritty horror, some humor, and a large serving of mystery. She is a member of SFWA and RWA, and an avid hula-hoop dancer who has been known light her hoop on fire.

Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say . . .
As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around . . .

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life . . . and her soul.

Click Here to read the first chapter.

  1. Leave a comment, or question about the book, the series, writing or urban fantasy in general, to be entered into the draw to win a signed copy of GRAVE WITCH.
  2. One name will be drawn at random. Open internationally.
  3. Giveaway runs until Midnight, Saturday October 9.  
  4. Leave a way for me to contact you.
  5. Links to this post on your favourite social media sites, blogs, etc., would be appreciated.


  1. That is a very beautiful cover for Grave witch, modern with a gothic feel to it! I love the interview and we surely read the book in the next few weeks!

  2. The Alex Craft series sounds cool. I will put it on my wish list.
    And that Sky Pirates rumor sounds intriguing. I must keep an eye out for further news.

    (email in profile)

  3. I liked the Haven series. I was actually wondering just the other day when the next installment will be released, so I'm glad I read this interview. I'm also looking forward to reading this new book. I find it really interesting that the author decided to turn Death into a character.


  4. Wonderful interview. :)

    Urban Fantasy is my favorite genre - it has so many elements, and is limited only to the imagination. I like that this genre can sometimes have a 'gritty' feel to it, bad ass and brooding - with no worries about an HEA. :)

    kweenmg at yahoo dot com

  5. I really like the cover. It seems like it fits really well with the book.

    sgiden at

  6. Love the fire hooping . Grave Witch is definitely right up my ally. I will be reading this soon. Karen Chance is also one of my favorite authors

  7. That was an interesting interview. If you had to cast Death as an actor,who would you use?

  8. Love the cover of Grave Witch and am looking forward to reading. will you be coming back to dragoncon soon. I love to meet authors and that is a great place to do it lol.

  9. I'm really looking forward to this book, especially for the interactions between the protagonist and Death. I read almost nothing but urban fantasy and am also really excited about how the genre has exploded in the last few years!

  10. Grave Witch sounds great. I'm always on the lookout for a new Urban Fantasy series to try. I look forward to picking it up.

  11. The series sounds great.
    Please enter me.

  12. I've never read the series before but it sounds great!

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

  13. I am interested in reading the new series with Death as a character. It sounds good.


  14. Hi Kalayna!
    congrats on the release :) can't wait to get my hands on your book! and I have to say I absolutely love the cover - do you have a say in choosing it?
    greetings, Ina

    inale87 at gmx dot at

  15. Great interview. This new series sounds really good.
    Cool video,I don't think I could ever do that.


  16. Great interview. Grave Witch sounds good. I love the cover. I am a big fan of urban fantasy books.

  17. Once Bitten adn Twice Dead have been on my wishlist for awhile, not I have added this one. I love the concept and would love to read it.


  18. Has anything in the books ever surprised you? Something you hadn’t even considered happening happened?


  19. Whoa girl, the future belongs to the brave indeed!! The fire hoop video was amazing.

    As for urban fantasy, I have to thank LKH for intoducing me to a fabulous world of unlimited stories that can be as creative as an author's imagination.

    Definitely remains my favorite genre.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  20. Thanks Mirko! The artist is Aleta Rafton, and she did an amazing job on the cover.

    Hi Sullivan! Yea for sky pirates. Keep your ear to the, uh, wind. Hopefully there will be more info soon.

    Marg, I'm so glad you've enjoyed the Haven novels. I can't wait for people to read Third Blood. It should be out the first part of next year.

    Michelle, my thoughts exactly on the genre. Thanks for stopping by!

    Thanks Sandy!

    Thanks Sharon! I cannot wait for Karen Chance's next book (in both series) be hit shelves.

    Debbie, good question. Unfortunately I don't have a good answer. I could tell you a lot about authors, couldn't tell you a think about actors. I'm bad with names and faces, especially when it comes to celebrities. So the honest answer is "I don't know". Maybe that would be a good contest for my blog once the book is out--let the readers suggest actors for the characters. What do you think? ^_^

  21. Thanks Pam! I love Dragon*con--It is my absolute favorite fantasy con, so I'll definitely be back.

    Thanks Ms. Laura! I hope you enjoy it.

    Thanks Michael!

    Ashley, Grave Witch is the very first book in the series, so this is definitely the place to start! Thanks for checking it out.

    Thanks Cait!

    Hi Ina! Thanks for stopping by. My editor asked me to write up a detailed description of Alex and asked if I had any particular scenes I thought would translate well into a cover, but beyond that little bit of input, this is all the amazing artist (Aleta Rafton) and the design team at Roc. I love it! I totally want a poster-sized version to hang by my writing desk.

  22. Thanks elaing8! You'd be surprised. I've taught people as young as four and as old as seventy-eight to hoop. Now I wouldn't suggest trying fire hooping until you've mastered at least waist hooping.

    (*Random disclaimer* Always have someone trained in fire safety present when you play with fire. What you can't see in this video are the people waiting on the sidelines with a fireblanket and fire extinguisher in case something went wrong. Also, this video was from my first burn and I had a crash course in fire safety before fueling up. Fire hooping is thrilling, but always be safe and use proper precautions! *end safety warning*)

    Thanks Crystal!

    I hope you enjoy all of them, Lori!

    Ladytink, has anything in my own books ever surprised me? Yes and no. I'm a plotter, so I generally know where my story headed before I start writing. My characters occasionally surprise me, this happens most when I first start writing that character and discover he/she springs to life on the page. I've also occasionally surprised myself by deciding a twist or turn in the story needs to be added and I realize I already laid the groundwork for that twist without even realizing it. But major shocking moments? Not really.

    Thanks Cathy! LKH is definitely one of the people who drew a lot of readers to the subgenre (and, I guess, to prove there was indeed demand for a subgenre). Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Hi Kalayna!

    Grave witch sounds great looking forward to reading it. the cover is gorgeous, did you have any input on it?

    I'm currently reading Once Bitten and loving it so far!! I have Twice dead on the shelf..will read next :)

    thanks for the contest!!


  24. The book sounds great. I love books written with humor. Thank you for sharing the interview. I cannot wait to read about Death :)

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  25. Grave Witch sounds like such an exciting book. I am even more excited because Grave Witch sounds like a Necromance and my first Urban Fantasy love was The Dante Valentine Series by Lilith Saintcrow!
    So wheee I love Grave Witches!

    What's the difference between a Grave Witch and a Necromance in your mythology?

    Also you mention Sky Pirates and I can't help but think of Firefly!!!
    Were you a Firefly lover? XD
    Should we expect anything like that?

    Thanks so much for the chance to win and for the wonderful interview!

    Kelly //

  26. This book sounds really cool and I'm going to try and read it. I liked how you put Death as a character, very unique indeed. And I LOVE the cover!

    e-mails in my profile!

  27. I've really been enjoying the Novels of Haven because they are different than most of the urban fantasy I read. Sounds like this series will have some fun twists as well. Can't wait to read it.

    angela.donner @

  28. Hi, Kalayna,

    GRAVE WITCH has been the most wanted book on my "wish list"! It sounds fantastic, and I love the idea of Death as a character! Great cover too.

  29. Can't wait to read this book. It's getting a good buzz!

    thebooklass (at) gmail (dot) com

  30. I have been anxiously awaiting for this one to come out! Squee! It's coming soon! Congrats Kalayna!

    Did you have any say in the cover design! I am totally drawn to books by how "pretty" they are and this one rocks! =)

    Kate aka YzhaBella
    mleger0546 (@) rogers(dot)com

  31. Read the excerpt on her website and it totally hooked me in. Definately gotta get this one

    jenlilley at hotmail dot com

  32. This sounds very interesting, I hope to read it soon.

    email in profile

  33. I'm really interested in the shapeshifter turned vampire storyline, and hope to be able to get those books soon. There's been a few authors that are delving into steam punk recently - any urges to write in that genre?

  34. It would be untrue for me to make a blanket statement and say "I like urban fantasy", because as with any genre there are always good books, mediocre books and bad books.

    Lets just say that I think a good author can write a fabulous book in any genre and get people to buy and read it.

    Its the story and the writing that pull me in not necessarily the genre.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  35. Seriously, LOVE the cover. Can't wait to read it!!! Been looking forward to it for awhile now and now it's almost here!!!


  36. I'm always looking for new series to read, sounds good!

  37. I love the idea of Death as a hot guy - that makes a achnage from a skeleton in a cloak!

    Kayalyna - You've said Grave Witch is start of a series - do you have a big over-reaching story in mind? Or are you just seeing what happend book by book? Basicially is there a set number of books you've got planned? Thanks!


  38. Sounds interesting!
    Death as a character? Okay, now I have to read this...

  39. I have not read any of her books, but they sound very interesting and I will have to check them out. The new series sounds like it will be a good read. Thanks for the heads-up.

  40. Fire hooping! That is so awesome! Kalayna you are sooo good!


    spettolij AT gmail DOT com

  41. This series sounds really good. I've been hearing a bit about this author recently and I really want to get started reading her books. Plus, her name is super awesome.


  42. i'm in total cover love over your book! and sky pirates - don't get my hopes up, now! i'll be adding your other series to my tbr list as well!

    k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

  43. Grave Witch sounds amazing. Can't wait to pick it up!


  44. What a great interview. I was thinking of picking up Grave Witch but now it's definitely on the "to read" list!

  45. First, thanks for the giveaway and the post. I really enjoyed it.
    Okay...second, fire hoop dancing!!! What the....
    That is awesome and only in six months. I watched the video. You are hardly moving your hips! Very awesome. Yap, I am in awe of your wrting but with you fire hoop dancing too.

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

  46. Great post! I can't wait to read this book. Grave Witch has a wonderfully haunting cover which draws me in, leaving me to know more! I can't wait until Tuesday!


  47. A new writer to read for me!
    (e-mail on my profile)
    i would love to read Grave Witch, getting into my whole book den with fall/winter coming and i become the book hermit!
    (only time I get to ready now a days since i volunteer and rehab for a animal rescue)

  48. Hey Kalayna! I love your books!! I can't wait for the next Haven book. I'm also pretty excited for Grave Witch! Will you be going to the RT convention next year? I'm trying to figure out how to get there and it would be awesome to get to meet you!

  49. I love stories where Death is a character (first that comes to mind is Neil Gaiman's Sandman series). I'll put this one in my TBR pile.

  50. i've been wanting to read this series.

    count me in ! :)

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  51. I love the idea of this series. I am totally curious about 'Death'. Does he sport the usual cape with scythe, or his more modern?


  52. I'm right with the author, remembering back to when urban fantasy was still a baby genre. I'm loving what so many creative authors are doing with their own twists on the mythos!

    Looking forward to getting a hold of a copy of Grave Witch!

  53. This book sounds scary! and I want to read it! I've never read a great ghosts novel, and that's shameful because the theme allures me. The fact that there are mysteries and investigations involved makes it all better. Please count me in for the contest.

    I posted on my blog sidebar:

    jen7waters (at) gmail (dot) com

  54. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like a great start to a new series. I really cant wait to pick it up.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  55. Urban Fantasy has been growing rapidly over the past few years, what do you think has caused this growth?

    Love to give your series a try!


    Dottie :)

  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. Great post!And interview ...i like Grave witch ...I think i will buy it :)

  58. This book is definitely on my wishlist. I love the idea of there being consequences to practicing magic and I love stories about necromancers.

    jen at delux dot com

  59. Loved the interview, I haven't had a chance to get near a computer to read my favorite sci fi blog (ahem
    sci fi guy) and to see all these great Q&A's just feeds my soul..

    I haven't had chance to read this series, but the premise is really interesting. Would love to be submitted..

  60. hate when I write backwards..meant to say I haven't had the opportunity to read any books by Kalayna Price and this new series sounds really interested..

  61. Kalayna is a new author to me, but both her series sound great.

  62. Grave Witch sounds interesting and unique. This is one of my favorite things about UF: You think you’ve heard it all before then--Pow! Someone comes up with an entirely different approach. Lucky us! Thanks. (Email in profile.)

  63. This book has been on my wish list for a while now.



  64. Great interview. Please enter enter me contest. I would love to read this book.

  65. I am personally addicted to anything that has ghosts in it so this would be perfect. Thanks for a great interview!

    icewoman96 at gmail dot com

  66. Grave Witch seems really interesting! I read a lot of urban fantasy, and I'm always looking for books that stand out above the crowd. This sounds like one of them.


  67. i always love anthropomorphized Death, and the idea of grave witches sounds pretty cool, please enter me in the giveaway!


  68. I love books about necromancers and the like, and this book sounds like a great new take on that kind of idea. I can't wait to read it.

    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

  69. Great looking cover and interesting premise

  70. This sounds so interesting, a must for UF fans


  71. It is safe to say that you are an extremely enthusiastic individual who responds immensely to situations when you win or lose cash? tfs price action review


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