Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Threshold Child by Callie Kanno: Interview and Excerpt

 


 
 
  • Tell us about your current release.

The Threshold Child is my first published novel, and it was released in September 2012. I actually started writing it when I was in high school (more than ten years ago, now), and I worked on it casually over the following few years. I finished it in college, and then it just sat on my computer. Then, last year, my husband suggested that I dust it off and see about getting it published. We figured we had nothing to lose!

 

It follows the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who has been raised to be a warrior and a spy. She is sent out on her very first mission to help fight a war against magic-users. She is faced with the questions that many of us struggle with during that time of life—discovering who she really is, deciding when to simply follow orders and when to question what she has been told, etc. In that way, it’s easy to relate to the story, even though the circumstances are fantastical.

 

  • What is the heroine of your story like?

The main character’s name is Adesina, and she is a typical teenager in a lot of ways. She occasionally makes bad decisions, and has a hard time dealing with the consequences. She has always been at the top of her class, and so she thinks very highly of her own abilities. It is that very overconfidence that causes trouble, actually. However, she is also very vulnerable in certain aspects. She wants to be valued, and she wants to be recognized. She has never had a stable emotional environment, so she’s still figuring all of that out. On the other side of the coin, she is deeply loyal and fiercely determined. She would do anything for those she loves, and she wouldn’t stop trying until she accomplished her goal.

 

  • How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

Most of the time it all starts with a specific scene in my mind. I experience it almost like a movie. I see the setting, the characters, the actions and reactions. From there, I start asking myself certain questions: Who are these people? How did they get to where they are? Where do they go from there? I add layers as I go, and eventually I have an entire story. If there are plot holes or anything like that, I haven’t asked myself enough questions.

 

  • How did you start your writing career?

I have been writing ever since I was in kindergarten (I still have those early drawings with stories written on them). My mom wrote children’s books, and I loved reading those. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. When I was younger I dabbled a bit with poetry and other short works, but I never felt quite at home doing that. I guess I’m too long-winded! I wrote most of a novel before I began The Threshold Child, but I never finished it. It was a good exercise, though, and it showed me that I really enjoyed writing longer works.

 

  • Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?

There are three people to whom I attribute all of my writing abilities. The first person would be my mom. She taught me to love reading and about the fun that could be found in telling stories. The second would be my best friend, Brenda. She is an incredibly talent writer, and she taught me the importance of writing well. I don’t claim to be an exceptional author, but I am always striving to improve my skills. The third person would be my husband. He is the person I talk to about all of my ideas, and he helps me to refine them. He also is the one who encourages me to chase after my dreams and to trust in myself.

 

  • What book are you reading now?

Right now I am reading Shogun by James Clavell. I’ve only just started it, but I’m really liking it so far! I love the classical style of writing, and the story is very well-crafted. We’ll see if it ends up being a favorite or not!

 


 
Callie comes from a family of writers, and she has loved telling stories from a young age. She is a wife and a mother, and she currently resides in Utah. She dabbled a bit in poetry and short works while she was in school, and now she focuses on writing novels. The Threshold Child is her first published novel, and she is currently writing the sequel.
 
 
 
 
 


 
Adesina was trained from childhood to serve her land as a warrior and a spy. When she is selected to combat a group of seditious magic users, she must summon all of her talents--some of which have been buried in the deepest part of her.
 
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L’iam’s expression was unreadable, which made Adesina rather uncomfortable. After a few moments of thought, he gestured to his companion. “A’asil, how would you like the chance to regain some of the pride this young woman took from you?”
Sa’jan and E’nes turned around in surprise. They had not been aware of the others’ presence.
A’asil was eager for the opportunity. “I would be pleased for such a chance.”
L’iam looked at Adesina. “Would you be willing to humor us? I would like to see how the L’avan measure up to a Shimat.”
She considered for a moment and then nodded. What harm could it do?
E’nes wasn’t of the same mindset, and looked a bit worried. “What kind of challenge did you have in mind, L’iam?”
He shrugged casually. “A’asil is rather well known for his talent at throwing knives.”
A wide grin flashed across A’asil’s face, and Adesina also felt a wave of satisfaction. She cocked her head to one side, giving her opponent a superior smile. “I accept your challenge, and propose we do it in Shimat style.”
A’asil became wary. “What does that entail?”
She made her voice as offhanded as she could. “It is nothing too complicated. Both competitors stand facing away from the target, then turn and throw their knives without pausing, one right after another.”
He appeared to be at ease with this idea, and Adesina had to suppress a smile. She knew from experience that it was harder than it sounded.
L’iam led them to a spot behind the fort where targets were set up. A’asil was handed five throwing knives and gestured to go first. Adesina measured the appropriate distance from the target and pointed to where her opponent should stand.
He turned his back to the target, taking a moment to breathe and steady himself. He spun and threw all five knives one after another. Adesina watched carefully and thought that he did surprisingly well.
The first knife flew left of the target, the next one hit the outer ring, the following one hit the inner ring, and the last two hit the center.
There was a murmur of approval from the watching L’avan. In spite of that, A’asil was trying not to look disappointed. He walked up and retrieved the knives from the target, turning them in his hand as he walked back to the measured distance. Adesina took them from him and positioned herself with her back to the target.
She closed her eyes, shutting out all distractions and focusing on her goal. It was almost as if she could feel where the target stood and how she would need to throw her knives to strike its center.
In the split second between when she opened her eyes and when she turned, her eyes met L’iam’s. Her eyes were a glowing swirl of purple, gold and dark green. L’iam looked stunned by what he saw.
Adesina whipped around and sent all five knives flying into the heart of the target.
She was met with a stunned silence.
The young Shimat had a hard time not looking smug. She glanced around the group of spectators, but all of her feelings of self-satisfaction were swept away when she saw L’iam and E’nes. They were both staring at her with strange expressions on their faces.
A’asil walked up to her and offered his hand. “That was extraordinary!”
Adesina took his hand and tried to force a smile past her concern. Why were they looking at her that way?
“Yes,” she said distractedly.
K’eb and Sa’jan also walked up to her, commenting on her show of skill. Adesina’s focus remained on E’nes and L’iam, who were speaking to each other in low voices. Sa’jan was in the middle of observing to the others the more minute differences of throwing styles when L’iam’s strong voice commanded her attention.
“Adesina, would you be willing to try something harder?”
This brought everyone around to look back and forth between Adesina and L’iam. Everyone seemed to anticipate the young woman’s next show of talent.
She gave a curt nod. Her months in the High City made her hungry for any kind of challenge thrown her way.
L’iam approached her and handed her two more throwing knives. “Directly behind you are two tilia trees. Without looking at your target first, I want you to turn and throw those knives at the lowest branch on each tree. And I want you to throw them simultaneously.”
Quiet mutterings of disbelief sounded on every onlooker’s breath. Adesina studied the face of the issuer of the challenge. There was no mocking gleam in his eye, no doubtful tone in his voice. It was merely a request, just to see if she could do it.
She closed her eyes again, focusing on the landscape behind her. A slight breeze stirred the air, giving her all the information she needed. She could hear where the wind met the resistance of the trunk and fluttered through the branches and leaves. It painted a picture in her mind of what she couldn’t see with her eyes. A moment more passed before her mind locked on her target and she began shifting her body accordingly.
She opened her eyes, once again meeting L’iam’s for a fraction of a second, and whirled around to release both knives. There was a single and distinct thud as both blades hit their mark at the exact same time.
This time the silence was mingled with something else: fear.


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