Saturday, August 22, 2009

Amber Kizer Interview + Giveaway



I have an interview and guest post for you from Amber Kizer, the author of Meridian. I'm sorry for the delay in getting these posted, but again, my computer was a bit messed up and I have a lot that needs to go up these days. You get extra entries for commenting on the guest post but more details on the giveaway below the interview.

Interview with Amber Kizer
by: Lauren

•Have you always been interested in writing a novel like Meridian, with a mix of paranormal/fantasy elements? When or how did the idea first come to you (if you remember!)?

As a reader I've always loved books that use our reality but are tweaked-whether by magic or because there are more levels to life than what most people experience. But, I didn't set out to write a paranormal story and fit all the bits around that. This book is very close to my heart--the idea came from sitting vigil as my grandparents died (about 18 months apart). They both had very different dying experiences, though in both cases, as a family, we chose to work with a wonderful hospice organization (St. Vincent's Inpatient Hospice Care, in Indianapolis, IN).
With everything in life, I like to know as much as possible so I read and did a bunch of research on dying, the physical process itself, the psychological process, and people's near-death experiences.

For this story, I wanted to explore the idea that the "light" people talk about as they die is an actual person and what that might mean. For the story, Meridian looks like just a girl, until a soul is dying and then she becomes the bright light, the window they can take to the afterlife, the next step.

What if everyday of a person's life was that of being a window to beyond? I wanted to give a face to death that wasn't the Reaper's, wasn't something out of nightmares. And saying "God" is there in death doesn't say much--what does that mean really? How does that look?

And from a science aspect we're all energy. Where does that energy go? And isn't a soul of any animal or plant worthy energy? How does that look? How does that fit with the major religions and cultural norms?

And I also wanted to explore some organized religion as fear based--the idea that people hide behind religion because they're afraid or upset or angry. How does that twist what can be profound and comforting in faith? The mob mentality is so easy to manipulate if you're good at it--I wanted a character (Perimo) who was good at it and used it.

Of course readers don't have to know any of that-but that's where I came up with the question I tried to answer in this book!


•I love the names of characters, especially if they are unique. Where did Meridian come from and does it mean anything in particular?

Character names are very important to me and usually that's one of the first things I know about a story-who is in it and what are they called? I knew Meridian's name from the very beginning, but it wasn't until we got to know each other (sounds strange to non-writers I know!) that I realized her name has all sorts of levels to it. Meridian can mean a midpoint like midday. It can also be the center of an object. It's used when talking about the longitude of Earth. In Chinese medicine Meridians are the energy pathways used in acupuncture. So it can have many connotations-what the reader should take from that is that our Meridian is caught-she lives-in the middle of life and death.

Actually all the characters in this book have names that "mean" something to me as the writer and might resonate with readers who like to dissect deeper levels in a story.

Tens, the male lead, is a Protector and as such knows things about Meridian that he doesn't really know how he knows. His full name is Tenskawtawa and comes from a Shawnee religious and political leader from the 18th century. He was Tecumseh's brother and he was also known as "The Prophet". With our Tens's backstory, and gifts, I knew it was the perfect choice and it felt right.

Also to find Fenestra and Aternocti, I played with all sorts of different languages and took inspiration from Latin primarily. I wanted names that could be pronounced even without knowing the meaning but here's my definition of both:

Fenestra is a human with Angel DNA that is triggered if they are born at midnight on December 21st. Fenestras are "Windows to the Afterlife"-they literally become windows for dying souls to get to the good place (call it Heaven or Enlightenment or Nirvana).

Aternocti are "Dark Nights," also human with Angel DNA of a different nature. As they are corrupted they lose their humanness, but Aternocti thrive on disaster, fear, destruction, and cruelty. They shepherd souls to a bad place (call it Hell or ignorance or the Underworld).


•On the cover, there is a design of skulls in the back that seems to lead into a door. I was wondering if this has any meaning for the book or was simply added by the illustrator? And if it does have a meaning, anything you can share?

Isn't that the coolest cover? And the metallic additions they've added make it glow in the sunlight. I'm so impressed by the designer's vision and the artist's interpretation. And if you take a look at the cover, the girl is a painting. She's not a real girl, she's the artist's idea what Meridian looks like based on my description in the book.

Meridian is a Fenestra-a Window to the afterlife---so the door behind her is a window like what she becomes for the dying. The skulls are a hint that where there is a good, there is also evil. Everything on this cover is found in the book-even red roses--I'm very lucky-readers know what they're getting when they pick it up!

•You love to bake, which is amazing. I really wish I could but I wouldn't exactly trust me in the kitchen. If you could make any kind of cake (the dream design if you will) what would that be? Also, would you ever want to see your book cover on a cake (or have you already)?

Thanks! Yeah, I really find baking a cake is a great way to work on a book-just like gardening or quilting which I do as well-while I've got a story stewing in my brain.

Honestly, I think everyone can bake if they can follow directions-if you can follow the instructions for hooking up a new appliance or computer you can do the steps in a recipe. Really. It's chemistry which seems like magic and of course there are levels of difficulty, but anyone who likes to eat food should know how to prepare it!

I have to say I'm totally hooked on TLC's Cake Boss-Buddy is amazing with cake and fondant. I wish I could intern in his bakery (okay I'll be honest, I wish I could shop in his bakery!) and learn from his expertise. I love getting a request and then trying to translate that into cake-like a Goldfinch or a Bat from the book Bat's in the Library. But the wedding cakes that are modern and goofy are my favorites to play with. Of course, there's more pressure there to come out with a good cake when it's for a wedding! Everybody should play with luster dust and lemon extract-painting the most amazing, beautiful designs on cookies is just so fun and the colors are incredible (and edible!).

A dream design? I guess it would be more like working with a cake artist who I really respect and learning from them-like Buddy on Cake Boss, or Colette Peters who has fabulous cake books (her recipes turn out just like they say they will) CAKES TO DREAM ON is my favorite and a great place to start. I know enough about cakes to be dangerous, but taking it to the next level would be fantastic!

They've come along way with putting art on cakes and it's actually really simple to order a book cover on a sheet cake-they "print" them with edible food colors. But what I'd really love is to have a Food Network Challenge with four of the best cake artists interpreting MERIDIAN in cake! That would be awesome! I'm so in to judge that competition!

•Since August is the month I celebrate my 2-year blogging anniversary, I want to know: what is something you've done for at least two years? Do you still do it, and why or why not?

Two things come to mind that relate to the book. The first is that every year since I was little we go to a tiny town in Indiana where my grandmother's family is all buried (and now my grandparents) for Memorial Weekend. I just don't feel like it's Memorial Day if I'm not in a cemetery during that weekend. I love being in cemeteries-they seem to whisper if you listen closely enough. We clean the graves, and plant a ton of bright flowers (my grandmother always planted her favorite pink geraniums, but since the torch has moved on now we shake it up with Gerbera Daisies, petunias, marigolds-anything cheerful and joyous). It's a way to pay respects but also gather as a family and celebrate the love we feel for people we know, or generations passed we didn't know, but who have always been there in stories or photographs or in a certain smile or way of standing. Death just isn't scary, it's just part of life for us-which doesn't make the grief any less to say goodbye, but there's comfort in the rituals.

The second thing, since this is your celebration and happens in August: is every year since I can remember we've taken blankets (and up here in the pacific NW hot chocolate) outside to a big field and watched the Perseid Meteor Shower. It's fantastic and you don't have to know anything about the constellations or need a telescope. All you have to do is lean back (pillows are good or the neck protests the next day!) and watch the sky. Some years are better than others but we always see 10 or more blazing meteors in about an hour. Some years it's ten in a couple of minutes. Everyone in the US should be able to see them, the show starts August 12th at something like 3AM, but honestly for several days on either side you can see them. It's awe-inspiring and great perspective to take in a natural fireworks show! Since MERIDIAN is released on August 11th, that's how we're going to celebrate!


Giveaway-

Open To: INTERNATIONAL!!!

To Enter: Leave a comment about the book, Amber, or the above interview.

Ends: August 31

Prize: A Copy of Meridian and One Butt Cheek at a Time

Extra-

+1 follow the blog

+1 leave a comment on the Guest Post with Amber
http://shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com/2009/08/guest-blog-with-amber-kizer-giveaway.html

+2 if you have my button on your blog (the party button, in the top left hand sidebar)

LEAVE A NEW COMMENT FOR EACH ENTRY OR I MIGHT MISS IT!

107 comments:

Erica said...

Meridian sounds really interesting - I need to get a copy of it

:) Erica
thebookcellar@wi.rr.com

Erica said...

+1 I follow

Wanda said...

I love Amber's thoughts which culminated in the writing of this book. I also loved reading about your cake baking.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Wanda said...

I just became a follower of your blog.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Jessica Secret said...

Oooh, Meridian looks awesome! Please enter me!

shutupjessicasreading(at)gmail(dot)com

Jessica

Jessica Secret said...

Oooh, Meridian looks awesome! Please enter me!

shutupjessicasreading(at)gmail(dot)com

Jessica

Jessica Secret said...

+1 I'm a follower.

Sorry I posted the last one twice. :)

sian said...

I would love a copy!

Pam said...

I love how Amber and her family celebrate the lives of family members who have passed on. A beloved great aunt passed away last month at the age of 93 and her wake and funeral were a total celebration of her life, including happy hour and jazz music. And afterwards, our entire family went out for dinner together. We had such a good time that we decided that every year on either Margie`s birthday or the anniversary of her death, we`re going to get together and do the same thing to continue to celebrate her life.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Pam said...

I`m a follower.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Jessica Kennedy said...

I've read good reviews for this book. I love the cover!

Jessica Kennedy said...

I'm a follower! :)

elaing8 said...

This sounds like an interesting book,I can't wait to read it.Great interview.

elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

elaing8 said...

I'm a follower

elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

Cindy said...

I follow!!

please enter me, this sounds good!

cnhand84 at yahoo dot com

DeNiSe MaDnEsS said...

I really Like the mame
Meridian Its so unique !!!!
Denise Madness
deniseguzman682(at)gmail(dot)om

Ann Diana Dinh, said...

I really like the cover...

behapppppppy(at)hotmail(dot)com

Ann Diana Dinh, said...

I'm a follower!

behapppppppy(at)hotmail(dot)com

DeNiSe MaDnEsS said...

+1 follow the blog

+1 leaving a comment on the Guest Post with Amber

+2 Posted your botton on my blog
DeniseMadness.blogspot.om

WhatBriReads said...

Looks like a good book. I really like the cover.

getanzt@gmail.com

WhatBriReads said...

+1 I'm a follower

Liz said...

Meriam looks like an amazing book! Plus I love the cover!
-Liz

liztapioka14[at]yahoo[dot]com

Liz said...

I'm a follower!
-Liz

liztapioka14[at]yahoo[dot]com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail! I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Sliding on the Edge said...

" . . . a window to beyond." What a beautiful concept.

trishalynn0708 said...

Please enter me

I am a follower

lovestoread0708(at)yahoo.com

Robby said...

I need this book! I really want to read it soooo bad! It looks so good!!!

+1 Follow the blog

robinw19@mac.com

Chelsie said...

I'd love to win this! It looks so amazing.

+1 I'm a follower

<3 Chelsie

Jenny N. said...

Great interview. I liked how Amber came up with the idea of writing this book.

jen4777[at]hotmail.com

Jenny N. said...

Just started following your blog

jen4777[at]hotmail.com

Vera said...

I always wonder how authors come up with names for their characters, so it was interesting to hear Amber's perspective!

Please enter me - vvperesk@gmail.com

donnas said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great book and yumm cake.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

donnas said...

I am already a follower.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Wrighty said...

I can't wait to read this one! Amber must be so creative. To write such a fascinating story and also be able to create such amazing cakes - wow! I love the information about the cover too and how well the designer and artist knew what to do with it. Sometimes I wonder where certain covers come from but this sounds like it's right on the mark! Thanks for the offer!

+1 comment
+1 I follow.

5wrights1[at]verizon[dot]net

Trin said...

Very unique and interesting ideas on life, death and dying. I look forward to reading this book.

khal5671 AT mwcc.edu

Trin said...

I follow the blog

Trin said...

I am "wearing" your button
http://trinsnook.blogspot.com/

Wendy said...

Hi, Amber!

Great interview, I can't wait to read Meridian, it sounds really good. Plus I love the cover! :)

Wendy said...

+ 1 I follow.
+2 Posted your button on my blog. :)

What a Girl Reads said...

Great interview, I love long answers! The book sounds very interesting, so does the Meteor Shower!


+1 follow the blog
+1 leave a comment on the Guest Post with Amber

sara
sosarora_11(AT)hotmail(DOT)com

throuthehaze said...

This book sounds very interesting!
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

throuthehaze said...

follower
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Debs Desk said...

Please Include me in your giveaway.
Thanks
Debbie
debdesk9(at)verizon.net

Debs Desk said...

I am a follower.
Thanks
Debbie
debdesk9(at)verizon.net

tetewa said...

I'd like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com

Tynga said...

Please count me in! Ive had my eyes on meridian for a while!

I am a follower =)

Beth said...

OOH! I love those cake decorating shows too! It IS amazing what they can do with a cake!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Beth said...

I'm a follower.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

purplg8r said...

I love that the characters name all mean something..thats really neat!

belle2211(at)yahoo(dot)com

I Heart Book Gossip said...

I would love to read this.

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

I Heart Book Gossip said...

+1 follower

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

I Heart Book Gossip said...

+1 posted on sidebar

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

Marie said...

I'm impressed with how much careful thought has gone into the characters, I love books that have characters with depth.

I am already a follower.

marielay@gmail.com

Kate said...

I would love to read these. Please enter me.

neverendingshelf@gmail.com

Kate said...

+1 follow the blog

neverendingshelf@gmail.com

Kate said...

+1 Left a comment on the post

neverendingshelf@gmail.com

Kate said...

+2 added your button
http://neverendingshelf.blogspot.com

neverendingshelf@gmail.com

Ella Press said...

I read a review of this book, and I isntantly put it on my TBR List, so I'd love to win it.

Ella Press said...

+1 I already follow

Zombie Girrrl said...

+1 I'm a follower
+1 I commented on your ineterview/guest post
I really want to read Meridian! It sounds awesome what with the whole being the doorway to the other side thing. I've never read anything like that before! And One Buttcheek at a Time sounds hi-larious! The name alone makes me chuckle. ^^
+2 I put your badge on my blog, crackinspines.blogspot.com
zombiegirrrl21 at aol dot com

Erica said...

+1 commented on Guest Blog

thebookcellar@wi.rr.com

Valorie said...

On memorial day, my family also goes to the cemetery to give flowers and respect. Unfortunately, I live so far away that I am missing out and it makes me sad.

+1 I follow.

+1 I commented on the guest post.

Valorie
morbidromantic@gmail.com

Kimberly B. said...

This book sounds really great!
+1 I follow your blog. Thanks!
beax0002 (at) umn (dot) edu

Llehn said...

Meridian is an awesome name! I didn't realize it is significant in so many levels!

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

Llehn said...

Already a follower.

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

Llehn said...

Left a comment on the guest post.

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

Kimberly B. said...

I also commented on Amber's post!
+1
Thanks!

oO mâr!âNâ Oo said...

+1 I already follow the blog

sarima89@gmail.com
--Mariana

oO mâr!âNâ Oo said...

+1 left a comment on the Guest Post with Amber

--Mariana
sarima89@gmail.com

Bunny B said...

Great cover! I wanna read this book!!! Oh.. and the mention of baking is making me hungry!

bunnybx at gmail . com

Bunny B said...

+1 I follow the blog

bunnybx at gmail . ocm

Bunny B said...

+1 left a comment on the Guest Post with Amber


+2 party button on my sidebar: http://bunnymoney9.blogspot.com

bunnybx at gmail . com

Rachel said...

Once I read this "For the story, Meridian looks like just a girl, until a soul is dying and then she becomes the bright light, the window they can take to the afterlife, the next step" I was instantly hooked on reading this. I feel a bit bad for Meridian and this is just such a unique idea.
+1 Already following
+1 Left a comment on the Guest Post
rconnell94@yahoo.com

Ikutorocks12 said...

I think that names are really important in a story. The names Amber used in Meridian are so unique and it's cool that they have meanings that relate to their character. Sometimes I visit a website called 2000-names which just has tons of names and their meanings. I especially like the japanese ones.
I'd love to be entered in this competition please XD

email: miriamfrancos[at]dsl[dot]pipex[dot]com

Ikutorocks12 said...

+1 extra - I follow

email: miriamfrancos[at]dsl[dot]pipex[dot]com

Ikutorocks12 said...

+1 extra - I commented on Amber's guest post

email: miriamfrancos[at]dsl[dot]pipex[dot]com

Beth said...

Meridian looks great, would love to win a copy.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

etirv said...

This was a deep interview, thanks!

Follower!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

wdebo said...

Great interview!! I want to read it so badly!! :)

+1 Following!

+1 leave a comment on the Guest Post with Amber
http://shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com/2009/08/guest-blog-with-amber-kizer-giveaway.html

Wdebo :)


electricalbookcafe@yahoo.com

rbailey1958 said...

These R the type of books I like 2 read. It sounds like it would B a great read. Thanks 4 the chance 2 win
pkbailey@charter.net

rbailey1958 said...

Follower
pkbailey@charter.net

TheBookworm said...

Buddy from The Cake Boss is awesome! I want him to make me a birthday cake. ;)

Please enter me!

TheBookworm
emailthebookworm(at)yahoo(dot)com

Shawna said...

Shawna Lewis
weloveourdogs@juno.com

I was just wondering if you as the Author of this book have much input on the covers? Do you get to choose the cover art or does that not fall into your lap?

Shawna said...

Shawna Lewis
weloveourdogs@juno.com

I follow this blog all the time ;o)

Shawna said...

Shawna Lewis
weloveourdogs@juno.com

I let a comment on the interview!!

Shadowofwonder47 said...

OMG! These both sound like awesome books! Please enter me!!!

+1 I am a follower.

Shadowofwonder47[at]yahoo[dot]com

BrittLit said...

Amber is just a woman of many talents, quilting, gardening, baking, writing, living. *laughs* I love to quilt too.


teensatthelibrary[at]yahoo[dot]com

BrittLit said...

+1 follower

teensatthelibrary[at]yahoo[dot]com

BrittLit said...

+1 left a comment on guest post


teensatthelibrary[at]yahoo[dot]com

BrittLit said...

+2 party button on sidebar

teensatthelibrary[at]yahoo[dot]com

~The Book Pixie said...

I want these books so bad. They both sound really good. Great interview, btw.

~Briana
thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

~The Book Pixie said...

+1 follow blog

~Briana
thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

~The Book Pixie said...

+1 commented on guest post

~Briana
thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

~The Book Pixie said...

Posted party button on left sidebar:

http://thebookpixie.blogspot.com/

~Briana
thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

~The Book Pixie said...

Posted party button on left sidebar:

http://thebookpixie.blogspot.com/

~Briana
thebookpixie[at]yahoo[dot]com

Book Sp(l)ot said...

I love reading her thoughts about character names...especially after seeing what about all the animals she has and her thoughts on that, AMber Kizer really interests me now--her books too!!

I follow your blog, btw

book.splotATgmailDOTcom

Book Sp(l)ot said...

and +1 now for commenting on the guest blog :)

Kiara said...

Well, I saw the cover and I said... "I HAVE to read this". Is't always like that. And then I read the review and I was really sure!! Hehe.
I love the meanings of names from the characters, they are the best!!

My e-mail: kiara.dg(at)gmail.com

Kiara said...

+1 I'm following the blog.

Kiara said...

+1 I commented the Guest Post with Amber here.

Kiara said...

+2 I have your button on my blog here.

Thank you for this contest!! ;)

Bianca said...

I've heard many great things about these books! I would love to enter.

Bianca said...

I follow your blog!

infinitemusic19 at gmail dot com

Alexa said...

I really want to read Meridian!

lovinfitch(at)aol(dot)com

Alexa said...

+1 follower
lovinfitch(at)aol(dot)com

Alexa said...

+2 have your button on my sidebar:
http://hookedonyabooks.blogspot.com/

lovinfitch(at)aol(dot)com

a flight of minds said...

We'd love to be entered if it isn't too late!

+1 following

Thanks!
Alex & Lauren at aflightofminds(at)hotmail(dot)com