Thursday, August 30, 2007

Under the Radar: Erec Rex

Kaza Kingsley, author of the new Erec Rex series, has been interviewed on Fox News and NBC among a variety of other TV networks. So why, you may ask, did I choose to highlight her as an "under the radar" author? Well, for one, I haven't seen a single blogger review of Erec Rex besides Sookie's. If I ask any of my friends (besides one, who is a fan since I introduced her to it) if they've heard of Erec Rex, I know they'll give me a negative answer. And if teenagers and bloggers aren't talking about it, it needs more attention! :-)

Kaza kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions concerning her series. I hope it will inspire y'all to check them out. My 18-yr-old brother is a huge fan, and I enjoyed the first book - just re-read it in fact in preparation for the sequel which I have an ARC of but haven't gotten a chance to read. (My brother stole it the moment it arrived!)

What was your inspiration for Erec Rex?

I started to get into Greek, Roman, Celtic and Norse mythology (yes, I really am a geek!) and loved the stories so much they inspired the Erec Rex books. In fact (a tidbit for your blog!) the entire series is (very) loosely based on mythology. Erec finds he has to go on 12 quests - Hercules goes on 12 labors. And, while the quests are very different from the labors, there is an echo of each within them. King Piter (Ju-Piter), Queen Posey (Poseiden) and King Pluto (Pluto) as the three rulers / gods echo ancient Rome. Of course there is a completely different plot, different things happen, but it's really fun for me to riff off this stuff when I create my world.

Was there anything (like aniballs or inquizzles) that you particularly had fun inventing?

Man, I had fun inventing it all. Inquizzles rung a chord for me, because I would love nothing more than my own personal room full of them. The only problem is I could go through the whole roomful in one afternoon! I love answers and finding the truth, in fact it's a darn shame in life we can't always know it. In case there was ever a doubt if this is a minor obsession of mine, I'll reveal to you the book three title: Erec Rex: The Search for Truth.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun with the animated dinner jacket in the epilogue. You may see him again!

One of the things I loved about the book was its setting - everything from the sideways castle to the FES felt so imaginative and vivid. Tell us a little bit about your world-building process.

It's funny, my process seems more to involve eating really yummy organic chocolate bars (love the ones with ginger in them) and sipping good herbal tea, getting in a good frame of mind, maybe meditating first, and just letting go. Sometimes it feels as if I'm watching the scenes that are happening in a movie, as I'm writing them. Of course, I do mold and shape them, make them go a certain way to some extent, or plan them based on what has to happen. It's not totally passive. But the setting just is what I visualize when it happens.

Which authors have inspired you the most?

I loved the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum when I was a kid. He was so imaginative. I used to actually believe the things he invented were real, and think someday I could go there, that's how much it struck me then. Now I love so many books it's hard to find a favorite. I guess in my genre I like the Phillip Pullman Dark Materials trilogy a lot. Now I'm reading a nonfiction book Eat, Pray, Love that has me hooked, and helping me get more into meditation again. I guess every book I read affects me in some way.

How many books will there be in the series?

Eight books in the Erec Rex series, as of now.

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

I love escaping into another world. It makes things that are happening in the real world less of an issue, too. And there's the excitement of seeing how it's reviewed, sales, etc. That's more of a rollercoaster, though. (John Lennon called critics "hippocritics" - I love that.)

Thank you so much, Kaza!

You can purchase Erec Rex and its sequel on

The rest of the schedule for Recommendations From Under the Radar today:

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy: Friends for Life and Life Without Friends both by Ellen Emerson White
Shaken & Stirred: The Changeover and Catalogue of the Universe, both by Margaret Mahy
Big A, little a: A interview with Helen Dunmore
Jen Robinson's Book Page: The Treasures of Weatherby by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Bildungsroman: Swollen by Melissa Lion
Finding Wonderland: Lucy the Giant by Sherry L. Smith
7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Billie Standish Was Here by Nancy Crocker
Fuse Number 8: The Noisy Counting Book by Susan Schade
Chasing Ray: Juniper, Genetian and Rosemary by Pamela Dean
lectitans: Who Pppplugged Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Writing and Ruminating: Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown


Jackie Parker said...

Fun! Thanks Erin!

Susan said...

That's a neat interview. I didn't know these books at all. And now I will!

Sherry said...

Thanks Erin and Kaza!

Acting Gal said...

WAHOO!!! That first book was so amazing!! And as you well know I'm SO jealous of you having that book.....*humph* :D

love ya!

Acting Gal said...

*ahem* correction. ....."of you having the SECOND book...."

Sookie said...

Oh! Wonderful! I'm so glad to see this book getting more attention...

jocelyn said...

I hadn't heard of these books, either, but I enjoyed your interview & the books sound great; I'll definitely check them out.

Kaza Kingsley said...

Thanks again for the interview, Erin! Hope your doing great. Keep in touch ...