Interview with Kat Heckenbach, author of “Seeking Unseen”

YA modern fantasy: It may be Angel’s wish…
It’s been two years since Angel learned the magic chip of wood inside her locket would grant any wish. What is taking her so long to choose? An alarming discovery about her beloved foster brother Zack makes the decision easy…but everything else gets complicated after she runs into her old friend Melinda, who demands to go along for the return to Toch Island.
…but it’s Melinda’s journey.
Melinda doesn’t fit in with the magical freaks any more than she did with the losers back in Florida, but she never wanted to belong before. A secret world surrounds her where even the bugs have magic… She’s more of an outsider than ever. So when ex-con Doran Ashe slinks out of the shadows and offers her an easy road to powers of her own, Melinda follows him despite-or maybe because of-everyone’s warnings.

K. Carroll: When I picked up Seeking, I liked Angel all right. But then Melinda came in and I was completely hooked. Was Melinda supposed to take over the book the way she did?

Kat: Actually, no. At least, not from her point of view. When I first decided to take Finding Angel from a stand-alone to a series, I had every intention of keeping the entire thing in Angel’s point of view. As the story began to solidify in my mind, it became more centered on Melinda, but I still expected to tell Melinda’s story completely through Angel’s eyes.

But it just didn’t work. I got up to the point where Angel runs into Melinda, and Melinda just came to life more strongly than I expected. I found myself diving into her head instead and realized that is the only way the story could properly be told.

Well, that and the fact that Melinda is just rather stubborn and demanding :P.

K. Carroll:
Horatio makes for an interesting pet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a psychic beetle before. What was your inspiration for him?

Kat: I keep trying to figure this out, to be honest, and I’m not sure exactly what inspired me. He came into the story at first as just a beetle–odd looking, but not necessarily sentient or magical. I wanted something strange to happen, something that would link to Angel’s past in the first book. Angel’s little foster brother Zack is based quite a bit on my son, who is really into bugs. I happen to think beetles are rather amazing with their enormous variety and the way they can actually look metallic. So I picked a beetle to be that linking element with Zack finding it in their back yard.

But I felt there was a stronger connection between Gregor (the character who has been searching for Angel) and Horatio than owner and pet. And having Horatio sentient helped the plot tremendously. The truly deep connection that allowed Gregor to really communicate with Horatio–and later, that allows Angel and Horatio to communicate–fully formed as I wrote. I kept seeing him as something “more”…a kind of spirit guide or something, He’s ancient and mysterious and knows a lot more than he lets on. I intend to explore this a lot more in the third book and possibly reveal where he came from…

K. Carroll: Both Finding Angel and Seeking Unseen have a theme of science and magic clashing, with unsavory results. Why is this?

Kat: I am a science geek (I have a bachelor degree in biology) and it came naturally for me to include a lot of science in the books. But the reason I made it a clash is symbolic. Christians and atheists clash over science, not because the facts change–gravity is real, covalent bonds exist, there really are fossils buried in the ground, etc.–but because of the worldview behind our observations of those facts. I wanted to set up a situation in which science is a real thing, studied by people with magic, the way science is a real thing in the real world, studied by people of Christian faith.

When you bring those things together, though, there will be a clash. The science on Toch island is studied with the worldview of the Empowered (my term for those with magic). When certain characters come into the story and look at science from a non-magic perspective they can’t see the whole picture. They try to force it into this box, make it a genetic thing, and they end up crossing moral lines. I see that happening in our world–scientists and doctors crossing moral lines because they see people as walking DNA strands instead of complete beings of both body and soul.

K. Carroll:
I’m already itching for more books with Melinda. Any in mind?

Kat: Oh, yes! As I said, Melinda is rather demanding. She pretty well took over Seeking Unseen and her story will definitely continue into a third (and likely final) book, which is as yet untitled. The ending of Seeking Unseen makes it pretty clear that there is another story to be told, and I definitely think Melinda is the one to tell most of it. Angel will be there, and I do think some parts will be in her point of view, just like in Seeking Unseen. But it is going to be much more Melinda’s story.

Here are a few hints: It’s going to have a time-travel-ish situation and a dilemma Melinda must face regarding that situation. And Melinda generally doesn’t like being cornered…

K. Carroll: Will they ever swap their horses for dragonback riding? 😉

Kat: Is that a challenge? Heehee. I could possibly work in some dragonback riding–there are certainly enough dragons to choose from on the island. And if Melinda has her say, there would never be any horseback riding, ever. Smelly beasts in her opinion, but dragons have nice, clean scales :).

Find Kat on Facebook or visit her blog!


4 thoughts on “Interview with Kat Heckenbach, author of “Seeking Unseen”

  1. I just love it when a character comes in and completely takes over a story. Those are the best kind of characters. All you have to do is sit back and watch them work.

    I had an English professor who thought very ademantly that authors controlled characters rather than characters controlling authors. He refused to believe that authors didn’t have full control over their writing.

    Then two of his favorite authors (Doris Lessing of “The Good Terrorist” and Stanislaw Lem of “Solaris”) declared that characters got away from them all the time and it made the best writing.

    It was one of the best “I told you so” moments in history.

    The book sounds really interesting! I gotta give it a shot now. =)


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