Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Q & A w/ Michael Griffo author of The Darkborn Legacy

The awesomeness continues with our special guest, Michael Griffo joining us to discuss his two series, The Darkborn Legacy and The Archangel Academy.  When you're done catching up with him, don't forget to enter our birthday giveaway sponsored this week by Kensington where you could win your very own copy of Moonglow!

Why did you set this trilogy in Weeping Water, Nebraska?

Originally I was going to set the series in the fictional town of Faith, South Dakota.  Why?  I have no idea, but it is a part of the country that intrigues me and I did want to make the location of the trilogy somewhat isolated and rural, definitely not a town near a big city. However, everything changed while I was doing research on the state. I came across some notes I made for the Archangel Academy Series and reread the information I found on Weeping Water, Nebraska, which is Michael Howard’s hometown. By the time I was finished reading I knew I had to set this new trilogy in the same town where Michael grew up. 

Weeping Water is a small, isolated town that’s already been touched by the supernatural, so I thought it was perfectly fitting to make this Dominy Robineau’s hometown as well. I thought it would also be fun for anyone who’s read the Archangel series – kind of like when two TV series do a crossover episode.

On a selfish note, I’ve always loved the name Weeping Water and since Michael moves from there early on in the series I didn’t get to explore the world of Nebraska all that much, so now I can.

How will this trilogy differ from The Archangel Academy Series?

The biggest difference that readers of both series will notice immediately is the writing style. I wrote the Archangel series in the third person so I was basically omniscient. I knew everything that was going on, both inside my characters’ minds and all throughout the outside world. The Darkborn Legacy is the complete opposite.

This series is written in the first person so everything comes from Dominy’s mind, her point-of-view, and literally, from her sight. Nothing happens that she can’t see or feel. I’ve never written in this style before so in the beginning it was quite a challenge. I even had a mini-meltdown and thought of changing it back to third person because I didn’t think I could meet the challenge!  I was nervous I wasn’t going to be able to tell three books from only one character’s point-of-view or be able to have the story reach its full potential. After writing the outline I thought I was going to be limited in my storytelling, but luckily, I was wrong and just the opposite occurred. 

Writing in the first person has really opened me up creatively and forced me to come up with new ways to share what’s going on in Dominy’s world—all the secrets, adventure, and romance—that not only happens to her, but to all of the characters. 

In addition, I’m writing in the present tense, not the past tense. So not only does the reader experience everything through Dominy’s eyes and mind, but they experience it as it happens to Dominy. I think it makes for a much more immediate and intimate experience because the reader really can’t get any closer to Dominy than this. It’s as if all the drama is happening to them.

One final difference, which I think is a direct result of this type of first person storytelling, is The Darkborn Legacy is in many ways smaller and more contained. There’s just as much action and drama, but there are fewer characters and locations, so the writing is a bit more focused and the reader gets to invest more in each person. Whereas the Archangel series was sweeping, almost epic, Darkborn is a bit more personal and intimate. 

What is the central theme of MOONGLOW?

In a word, the central theme of MOONGLOW as well as SUNBLIND and STARFALL, the next two books in trilogy, is friendship. In The Archangel Academy Series, the central theme was the love story between Michael and Ronan, but here I wanted to explore a different kind of love, the love between two best friends – Dominy and Jess.

For most of us, our first and most enduring relationships are friendships.  Boyfriends and girlfriends, even spouses, come and go, but (as clich√© as it may sound) friends are forever. I wanted to explore that relationship in these books because, in my life, friendship has always been vitally important. In fact, I have friends from the sixth grade and I haven’t been in grammar school for quite a long time! 

So these books focus on a different type of love story, the love between two friends put to the ultimate test. Dominy and Jess suffer greatly because of the curse that’s been placed upon Dominy and it should destroy their relationship, it should sever it forever, but instead it strengthens the bond between these two girls. I think readers will truly embrace their friendship and see it as an example of how wonderful life can be if you go through it with a friend by your side.

Considering the trilogy is called The Darkborn Legacy, how dark will these books get?

Well, things do get pretty dark. The trilogy is definitely for the young adult audience, but for every bit of action and violence there are emotional ramifications. Dominy goes through a terrible time as a result of this curse – both physically and psychologically.  She suffers and is damaged, but unfortunately, in order to grow as a person and to rise above harsh circumstances, there sometimes has to be damage. 

Since Dominy is the narrator I wanted to take advantage of that fact so I tried to push the envelope a bit. I didn’t want her world to be neat and tidy, there needed to be some mess or else the reader won’t care if she overcomes the struggles and hardships she’s confronted with because they’d always know she’d come out of it unscathed. 

And the hardships can’t only be physical, she can’t just win fights and wars, she needs to suffer emotionally as well and I can tell you that Dominy does. But without giving too much away (and this is, after all, a trilogy!) she also overcomes many obstacles.  If I’ve done my job right, the reader is going to suffer—and survive—right along with her.

How are Dominy Robineau and Michael Howard of the Archangel Academy similar/different?

At first glance Dominy and Michael are nothing alike. Where he was introverted, quiet and nervous, Dominy is outgoing and spirited and fun.  Michael grows into the man he was always meant to be, but Dominy starts out very comfortable in her own skin. Unlike Michael, she’s very lucky – she likes herself and most of the people in her world like her too. 

But when their lives are forever changed—when Michael is turned into a vampire and when the curse strikes Dominy—they react in a similar fashion. Initially, they’re frightened, they don’t know what’s happening to them, but even in their confusion they refuse to let outside forces destroy them and they fight back, and that’s what, I think, makes them interesting, relatable characters. Readers want to think they too would fight and not crumble in the face of adversity, they want to think they would have the inner strength to survive, and through Michael, and especially Dominy, they get to experience what it’s like to overcome. They stumble, they fall, they make mistakes, but they never stop trying to reclaim their lives and that’s an important lesson for anyone.

Thank you Michael for your time! Read more about his series by visiting his website or follow him on Twitter @Michael2264

1 comment: