Today we are talking to Etta King the author of “The Life and Times of the Heir and the Keeper.”
Tell us about your book The Life and Times of the Heir and the Keeper?
Well it’s a story set to finish up what stated off as a turbulent first semester for Judith, Elizabeth, Jonathan, and a few other characters who I describe in this book’s “Roll Call.” There’s resolution to a few hanging moments, but new characters emerge and add their own bits of drama to the web of the story. I particularly enjoyed writing Francis’s story here, because he adds something voyeuristic to the story. He’s very much “Manhattan,” in his search for the next fun thing.
In the book blurb it says“you better hope you’re not the collateral damage in someone else’s drama.” What did you mean by that?
Now this was meant as a reference to how connected the characters are; from Judith to Elizabeth, to Chad and Jonathan, to Francis and Louisa, and even Matt. All the characters have their own agendas and their decisions don’t only affect them, they affect other people. A particularly obvious example – no spoilers – would be how Jonathan’s issues with his uncles, his grandfather and his friends somehow affect Elizabeth, Judith and Chadwick, who hasn’t had as huge a role in the novels as of yet. The interconnected-ness is something I’ve found to be intrinsic of college; there seems to be less than three degrees of separation between everyone.
What gave you the innovation to write this particular story?
Well, I was inspired by my freshman year in college; it took me by surprise, how so much could happen in so little time. There were parallel stories in my year and that laid the foundation for the series and the way these books are being written. The first book, The Life and Times of Elizabeth and the Duchess, was written from the perspective of the girls in this series, Elizabeth and Judith. This book, The Life and Times of the Heir and the Keeper, is more so the guys’story. Jonathan and Francis get their time in the limelight and, if I do say so, they have as much drama as the girls. The entire series will chronicle their college experience, from start to finish, as each character grows or even stays the same. Once I had the idea, the story just kept building and my imagination basically ran wild. I enjoy writing about these characters; they are like old friends that I can come to at any time, and, even better, I discover new things about them each time.
Has your writing been inspired by friends/ family?
Oh yes! Little anecdotes from friends and family have somehow gotten into my stories, sometimes without my realizing it. It’s funny too, that even when I’m not thinking of anything specific, readers tend to find similarities with their own colleges or their own experiences. The fun part in that is that all ages could read my stories – and have so far – and still experience the same return to college, the same entertainment as anyone in college or high school.
Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Oooh! Yes! I love this scene, by the way:
I woke up to the sound of my phone vibrating on the floor. I scooted out of bed, trying not to wake Elizabeth as I went to pick it up. I grabbed it and I saw four missed calls. All from Chadwick. Crap, it was six thirty-seven. I called him back and made my way to my bathroom, while it rang.
“Hey,” I said when he picked up. “Sorry, about that; you were on the phone when we went upstairs.”
“Yeah, that’s okay, I’m home. Look, Jon, I’m going to say this just this once and then I won’t say it again.” I got an ominous feeling and leaned against the sink, ignoring the cold marble.
“Judith,” he began and I bit down on my groan. If ever I was tired of hearing one person’s name in a day.
“I don’t care what it is you did, I really don’t.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Whatever. Just don’t do anything else.”
“What?” I couldn’t help the irritation creeping into my voice.
“Nothing else, okay? Just don’t lead her on, don’t mess with her.”
“What the hell do you think I did?”
“Honestly? I think you hooked up with her and never called her back. Or maybe you did and she didn’t understand how you worked.” How I worked??
“Jesus, Chad, seriously?”
“Look, I’m not judging you.”
“Are you drunk?”
“I’m not judging you, I just want you to leave her alone, okay?”
I was silent; what the absolute fuck had Judith said to Chad? What was her problem anyway? Three weeks was all it had been, for God’s sake.
“I didn’t do anything to her, Chad.”
“So why is she calling me and crying?”
I massaged my temple and shook my head.
“Because she’s Judith, Chad. Because I haven’t told her about Elizabeth and I, and I don’t feel like calling her and skipping that conversation, so I’d rather just not. Because yes, she called me, called my house, sent me messages, but all I want is for her to calm down and stop acting like I’m Judas. Because yeah, we’re friends and she feels that means she has exclusive rights to my number. Because…” My God, I could go on and on.
What are you working on now?
At this very moment? Taking my MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) haha…and well a few other random stories that might come to something later in the year. Also, a medical drama!
Have you written anything previously?
I’ve written a lot, but in a diverse fashion that hasn’t exactly translated to a full novel. These two would be the first of those. Here are excerpts of somethings I’ve written on a whim:
I turned toward the voice with an automatic smile and moved my LV Montsouris to make room for him.
“Gates,” I replied, as he made himself comfortable on the seat next to me.
Stetson Gates, oh so very, very cute and for some reason we were like best friends. Ever since the day he’d caught me throwing up in his brother’s bathroom. Okay, so it wasn’t very glamorous.
“Are you okay?” He’d asked, a worried frown putting a crease between his brows. I’d coughed and spat before replying in a defeated voice, “I hate food.”
“Oh,” he’d said, as though he’d understood.
I’d dropped the sterling silver knife I’d stolen from the dining room, the handle of which I’d been stuffing down my throat.
We’d both winced at the loud clattering sound it made as it hit the marble tiles and I burst into painful sobs. He’d come in and closed the door behind him, saying “That’s not the worst thing in the world.”
And that’s how it started.”– Clarissa + Mia (unfinished)
“I can’t believe you kissed him!”
“Oh shut up, Samson! What suddenly, you give a bugger who I kiss?!”
“Of course I give a- I mean you’re my-”
“Your what?!Your what, Samson? Girlfriend? I think not! That ship sailed ages ago!”
“Look I care about you! I know I haven’t…”
“You CARE about me? You absolute wanker! Where were you when I actually needed you? Shagging that stupid chav, Cassandra, that’s where! ‘Oh I’m sorry, Delilah, can’t talk right now, you know I have my own life, can’t be watching you too, you should talk to Marnie or that shrink of yours!'”
“Cassandra’s not a chav! When did you get so posh, anyway? And I’m sorry! I just- I was confused and I didn’t want you to think-”
“That I could count on you? Trust me, I don’t.”
“Don’t shut me out like this, Delilah. I wanted to talk.”
“That’s why you brought me here? To your grandmother’s old place?” I looked around at the ancient room, with irritation. It reminded me of when I was younger and we used to come here and I’d pretend he was my prince who’d save me from my wicked stepmother. Bloody hell.”– Rockingham (unfinished)
Are there any chapters that were cut in the editing process you wish had made it into the book?
Actually nothing was cut, but plenty was added in the editing process. I wrote an entire chapter simply to work in one teensy-weensy technical detail. Sorry, can’t share that right now… J
Can you give us one fun fact we might not know about The Life and Times of the Heir and the Keeper? Something about the story itself or the writing process?
Well I began this story early – sometime around Fall 2011 – but there was so much research to be done that it took much longer than planned! I conducted some polls asking guys every question from how long did they stay mad in a fight (five minutes was the unanimous answer) to what kind of music they preferred to what they would do to let a girl know they were interested. I visited a few other colleges, noted the interesting similarities, spoke to students, teaching fellows and sometimes professors. It was time-consuming but definitely fun!
How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
No, I’d always imagined I’d be an attorney like both my parents, then I considered being a judge – that was around middle school – then I discovered medicine and got set on that. I think I began writing a year after that, and I can’t think of a reason for it, except that it really must have been meant to be!
If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three material things you couldn’t be without?
My Kindle (I have a treasure trove on it!), an extremely large blanket and a camel, since they would probably have the best knowledge of where the water is. The blanket would be because,it actually gets quite cold at night in the desert. The Kindle, well, you know why!
What are you reading now?
ExamKrackers MCAT Chemistry Review! Yes, it’s fascinating haha!
Which author has inspired you most and why?
I think Georgette Heyer, to be honest; her use of language is brilliant and she wrote with such elegance. No word, sentence or page was ever wasted.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Just keep writing. The first thing you write – ever – will probably be your raw talent expressed. It will be amazing and you will think, wow, I have to write! This is my calling! But everything after that won’t match up; you just keep trying to get back that same feeling. And the reason you won’t feel done is simply because you’re becoming a better writer. You’re finding ways to make your story come out in the best way possible. And yes, you’ll look back on old stories and laugh and maybe cringe a little, but it’s journey and you’ll know when you’ve reached a new section of it. When you’re ready for everyone to see what you’ve been working on!
As a Quotes Person I always like to ask To finish off, do you have a quote or poem that has stuck with you over the years and what is the story behind it?
“A story only needs to be as long as it needs to be to tell the story.” I’m not sure where I heard this and this might likely be a misquote, but it’s stuck with me for a long time. Since the days when I worried about how many pages each chapter should be in little novellas I would start on Fictionpress. I’d remind myself of this and focus instead on getting the right story told, the right way, not the longer way.
Etta King is the author of the Caspian University novels, a series chronicling the life and times of a group of wealthy teens that inevitably discover the various flavors of college drama. Etta writes from her personal experiences as a college co-ed and as the product of an all-girls prep school. Here she witnessed the very eccentricities and foibles, which she depicts in her novels.
In a home filled with books, it was no surprise that Etta grew to be an avid reader, and that translated into writing when she was thirteen. She wrote simply for the fun of it, whatever would come to mind, from fantasy to thriller to romance, and shared her stories with her friends.
In 2010, at twenty-one and just as she was about to graduate from college, Etta began writing “The Life and Times of Elizabeth and the Duchess.” This was a story, which had first taken shape in 2008, after her freshman year, but had been put on hold. With graduation looming, Etta recalled the characters, and the events, which had inspired them, and took pen to paper. Literally, as Etta enjoys writing out her stories before typing them out. Soon the first book had been completed and the series was born.
“The Life and Times of the Heir and the Keeper,” comes as the sequel to “Elizabeth and the Duchess,” and serves as the second semester of these teens’ college saga. Etta is currently working on the third book, in what will be an eight-part series.
Etta King lives with her family in Westchester, New York.
Website: http://www.ettaking.com (flash-based, non-iPhone compatible)
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Giveaway: $30 Amazon Gift Card & 1 Signed Paperback