Interview with Anna Kashina, the author of THE GODDESS OF DANCE

Anna Kashina’s THE GODDESS OF DANCE is the most recent release from Dragonwell Publishing, published in trade paperback on September 30, 2012. This weekend we are also releasing the e-book and hardcover versions. Here is what Anna Kashina says about her writing.

Q: How did you first start writing and how did Dhagabad and the Spirits of the Ancient Sands series come about?

A: I have been writing since I was five, and most of the time I have been getting the ideas from my dreams.  When I was little, I used to think that I was just seeing things that happened somewhere – possibly not in the world that we know.

Once I woke up from a very realistic dream set in a city that resembled the ancient Baghdad from the Arabian Nights.  It was about a princess who fell in love with her slave – a djinn, an immortal wizard whose absolute power has been contained by magical forces outside this world.  I had an incredibly sharp image of her standing opposite him in a huge palace library at the very moment when she realizes that she cannot live without him, and that they can never be together, unless a miracle would free him from slavery.  I started writing it right away.

A year later, having done lots of research about the ancient Middle East, I have completed the first draft of the novel.  The story burned inside me, and every time I sat down to write I ‘remembered’ another detail from my dream – as if I have really seen a lifetime and was now unraveling it piece by piece.  It was very intense, like being in love.  And, while I started thinking about trying to publish my novel, I kept postponing the actual attempts.

Q: How did you find your first publisher for the book that came out back in 2000?

A: One day I was on an overnight flight to London, sitting next to a very nice man.  We chatted on and off during the trip, and as we were coming out of the plane, I asked him about his occupation.  His answer was:  “I am a book publisher in New York.  By the way, I am looking for new authors with an unusual take on foreign settings.  So, if you happen to know anyone, please spread the word.”  My heart pounded as I opened my mouth to tell him that I wrote a novel, but what came out instead was: “Actually, I have a friend who writes fantasy.”  He smiled and handed me his card.  “Have this friend contact me,” he said.  And then, he shook my hand and left.

It took me another month to work up the courage to call him and confess that it wasn’t a friend, but I myself who was the author.  He only laughed.  “Send me your manuscript, and we’ll see,” he said.

The phone call came after another two months.  “I loved your book,” he said.  “I am going to publish it.”  I felt surreal – as if I was suddenly a part of a fairy tale.  But he was true to his word, and my book came out as a beautiful hardcover.

This story has taught me to believe in myself, and never be too shy to try and reach for my dreams.

Q: Tell us about your other work.

A: I have written a total of five novels, and have a list of work in progress, which I really need to prioritize.

This year three of my novels came out — THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD and THE GODDESS OF DANCE from Dragonwell Publishing, and THE FIRST SWORD from Wildside Press. In addition, my novella, “Solstice Maiden” has been included into the upcoming ONCE UPON A CURSE anthology from Dragonwell Publishing, which features such legends of fantasy as Peter Beagle, Patricia C. Wrede, and Nancy Kress. It is a great collection, and I am very proud to be part of it.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: My Russian fairy tale-based fantasy novel, “Mistress of the Solstice”. A shorter version of it, “Ivan and Marya” has been published in 2010 as an e-book, but the publisher soon closed down and the book disappeared. The story still burns inside me, and I hope the new novel will be even better than the original short version.

Q: You have written fantasy based on Russian and Arabian fairy tales, as well as medieval action adventure. Do you feel like your writing has a theme that your fans would stick to?

A: A: Several themes, actually. First, all my novels have cross cultural elements and root deep in mythology and folklore. Even my medieval action adventure, THE FIRST SWORD, has several mythological themes that blend into the story, such as the carnal and beautiful Forest Mother.

But more than that, I feel that all my novels explore the themes of absolute power trapped and confined in a mortal form — more obviously so, in the djinn from THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD and THE GODDESS OF DANCE, but indirectly also in THE FIRST SWORD, where the elite Majat warriors who are pretty much all-powerful in their medieval setting, are trapped by the code of their Guild to the point that they are essentially deprived of the ability to command their power. This theme gets developed even better in my new novel, THE BLACK DIAMOND, which, I hope, will be published soon.

In a humble way, I feel that the same concept has been explored by N.K. Jemisin in THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOM, a novel I greatly admire.

Q: Who are your favorite fantasy authors?

A: Terry Pratchett. I keep an entire collection of his books, some in multiple formats and re-read them every once in a while. A more recent favorite is N.K. Jemisin, who I feel must be a soul mate in some other plane of existence. And the fantasy author that probably influenced me most as a child (besides J.R.R.Tolkien and Lewis Carroll, of course) is E.T.A. Hoffmann, known to the American readers as the author of NUTCRACKER. I know that Dragonwell is releasing a collection of his stories soon, including those that have not been published in English. I can’t wait.

I admire a lot of other fantasy authors, and could easily name 10-20 more favorites, but the three I mentioned are the ones whose books I keep coming back to in good and in bad times.

Q: You are originally from Russia. Do you find it hard to write in a foreign language?

A: Frankly, by now I don’t feel that English is a foreign language. Russian, maybe. But seriously, these two languages are different and they never mix for me. If anything, they help each other and I feel that they make my writing richer than it would have been with only one background.

Generally, the language I am reading in at the moment becomes more dominant in my head. Lately it tends to be English.

A: Where can the readers learn more about you and your books?

A: My blog, reachable through http://www.annakashina.com.

I am also on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/annakashina) , and always welcome new fans and followers!

If you do look me up, check out a gorgeous trailer for THE GODDESS OF DANCE is up on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSw_O1qhOII&feature=player_detailpage

There will also be one for THE FIRST SWORD REALLY SOON, and if you sign up to follow me in any media, you will learn it first hand.

Of course, I should also mention the buying links for my book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Goddess-Dance-Anna-Kashina/dp/0983832021/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1350140361&sr=8-3&keywords=anna+kashina

and on Dragonwell Publishing web site:

http://publishing.dragonwell.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=10007

Incidentally, Dragonwell Publishing is running a special on the e-version of The Princess of Dhagabad until Monday, so please check it out at:

http://publishing.dragonwell.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=185

 

 

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