Monday, May 16, 2011

Author Interview: Darby Karchut

Today, I'd like to welcome Darby Karchut, the author of Griffin Rising to my blog.

A bit about Darby (as quoted from Goodreads): All her life, the archetypal hero and his journey have enthralled Darby Karchut. A native of New Mexico, Darby grew up in a family that venerated books and she spent her childhood devouring one fantasy novel after another. Fascinated by mythologies from around the world, she attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a degree in anthropology. After moving to Colorado, she then earned a Master’s in education and became a social studies teacher. Drawing from her extensive knowledge of world cultures, she blends ancient myths with modern urban life to write stories that relate to young teens today. Griffin Rising is her first novel. She is currently working on the sequel, Griffin's Fire. 

How did you come up with the idea for Griffin Rising?
One day, in the summer of 2009, I was browsing in my favorite bookstore and discovered a book about legends from the Middle Ages. Obsessed with all things medieval, I thumbed through it and came across a short paragraph that described a lowly caste of guardian angels that were said to control the ancient elements of Earth, Fire, Wind and Water. Not being particularly interested in angels, I put the book back and forgot all about it.
A few days later, while running the trails in the foothills near my home, the idea of writing a story about clandestine warrior-angels, who live among us while training their young apprentices, just roared up behind me and slammed into my head. Like an avalanche, you might say. And thus Griffin, Basil, and all the other Terrae Angeli were born. One book blogger referred to my book as Jedi Apprentice meets Touched by an Angel. I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

What was the journey to publication like for you and how did you celebrate when you found out that Griffin Rising was going to be published? 
Okay, this is the weird part. I never wanted to be a writer. I have never really written anything until I wrote Griffin Rising. But I read all the time. In all genres, but especially young adult. 
But Griffin kept nagging me to write his story, so on July 17, 2009, I jotted some notes down in a spiral notebook (which I still have). A few days later, I started writing. I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote it for months. By November of that year, I was finished with the first draft. Then I spent a few more months polishing it. Revising is my favorite part of the whole process – I live to tweak! In February of 2010, I started submitting it. After about 70 rejections, I changed the title, improved my query letter, and then submitted it about 30 more times. 
At that point, requests for full manuscripts really started popping up. (I’m convinced it was the title change). In April, Twilight Times Books pulled it from the slush pile, and then in June, offered me a contract.
So from first sentence to signed contract: eleven months. My head is still spinning. But along the way, I spent hours each day studying not only how to write, but how the publishing industry works. Authors need to know both sides of that coin.
On the day I sold my book, I celebrated in typical Karchut fashion: I high-fived my husband, opened up my laptop, and started working on book two.  

The Kellsfarne manuscript mentions the four different ranks of Terrae Angeli: Sage, Guardian, Mentor and Tiro. What differs between each rank and how do you move up? 
Oh, I’m glad you asked about the Kellsfarne Manuscript. It is one of my favorite aspects of the book’s historical background!
I created the Kellsfarne so that the Terrae Angeli will have a hierarchy similar to the celestial angels, but with their own unique names and duties.
Tiros are apprentices – like a squire to a knight. (Tiro is Latin for young soldier or recruit). Mentors are the Knights. They not only train their apprentices, they are also the most active in saving and guarding the mortals around them. Guardians are mentors who no longer train apprentices. They are more powerful than Mentors and act as liaisons between Flight Command as well as advisors for the Mentor/Tiro teams out in the field. Sages are very highest level of the Terrae Angeli. I’m going to keep their nature and powers under wraps for now.
To emphasize the antiquity of the Terrae Angeli, the Kellsfarne Manuscript’s title is a blend of the Book of Kells and the early Irish monastery of Lindisfarne. 
As for moving up in rank, it is based on choice first and then ability. Many Mentors want to become Guardians, but some, like Basil, choose to remain Mentors because they would rather be actively training Tiros as well as being out in the field. It is similar to the military in a lot of ways. 

Do the Terrae Angeli and the celestial angels ever come into contact with each other?
Rarely, but it does happen.

Besides angels, what other paranormal creatures do you like reading about? 
I enjoy all of them, but right now I am fascinated by the Tuatha De Danaan who are mythical Irish warriors. They are the legend behind what we know as the Fey. 

I know you're busy working on Griffin's Fire, the sequel for Griffin Rising. Can you give us a summary/hints about what to expect? 
* SPOILER ALERT *Griffin’s Fire will be a bit darker and a bit more intense. Here’s a blurb about it: Struggling to adjust to life as a teen mortal, ex-angel Griffin enrolls in high school, which quickly proves to be a battleground. And to make matters worse, his Mentor, Basil, has been ordered to take on a new apprentice, the gifted and egotistical seventeen-year-old Sergei, who is determined to make Griffin’s life a nightmare. But secrets, even kept for the best of reasons, can break hearts and Griffin is forced to make a choice that could cost him Basil’s trust and Katie's love
A big thanks to Darby for taking the time to answer my questions!

Darby can be found on: [her website] [Goodreads]
Griffin Rising can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble]


  1. "Jedi Apprentice meets Touched by an Angel"

    Ha! I like that! You'd think it wouldn't work, but obviously it has! Glad you never gave up! That is very motivational.

    And I'm fascinated by the Tuatha De Danaan, too!

    Thanks for the great interview.

  2. Oh my gosh I can't wait for book too after reading that blurb! It sounds so good:) This was such a fun interview, I love hearing about the road to publication and how different it is for everyone. Thanks Zahida and Darby!

  3. This book is coming up in my queue, and I can't wait to read it now! Darby sounds like a fantastic author, and I love how she describes her book :)


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