Author Interview: Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

Author Interview: Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas! I have read the first book in the series and it was absolutely amazing. I am so excited to share this third instalment in the These Vicious Masks series. Keep reading to learn more about the book, and find out what Tarun and Kelly have to say about working with a co-author. 

These Vengeful SoulsTitle: These Vengeful Souls
Author: Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

England, 1883. On the run with the grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants two things: to be reunited with her friends, and to get revenge on the evil Captain Goode. Not only has he misused his and Sebastian's powers to rack up a terrible death toll, but he's also completely destroyed any hope of Evelyn or her friends regaining the life they once knew. 

Evelyn is determined to make Captain Goode pay for what he's done, but is her revenge worth risking the lives of Sebastian and her friends? Or is it better to flee the city and focus on staying alive? And with the Captain spreading lies about Sebastian in an attempt to flush them out of hiding and turn the populace against them, does she even have a choice at all?


Interview: Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

What was your inspiration for the theme of Victorian superheroes?

Kelly had always loved historical novels – romance, mysteries, and fantasies, while Tarun grew up reading tons of superhero comics. We thought it would be a unique marriage of the two and when we started brainstorming, the tropes of both genres seemed to fit together really well. Once we had a few ideas for characters and scenarios there was no going back.

What are the challenges and benefits of writing with a co-author?

The main challenge of co-authoring is everything tends to take longer. We have a rule that we both need to approve everything that goes into the book, so even if we save some time by drafting different chapters, a lot more time gets sucked up editing each other’s work and discussing the best compromises.

But we think there are benefits to those never-ending discussions. Whenever a story issue comes up, the two of us set our mind to figuring out solutions in different ways. And when one of us comes up with an idea, it’s helpful to get immediate feedback on it from the other. It’s just really nice to always have someone to brainstorm with. Writing alone can be a frustrating process full of second-guessing and doubts. Co-authoring is like having a trusted beta reader who motivates you every step of the way.

Kelly: How do your degrees in Acting and Sociology help you in your writing?

Ah, you read my bio! Well, it’s a bit of joke, but I do think they both help in the writing process. Acting is another form of storytelling, and when I’m working on a role it’s always important to create a strong backstory for whomever I am playing. It allows me to give a more realistic, honest performance. When I’m writing, I want to make sure my characters are behaving in ways that make sense given the background we wrote for them. I think it also gave me a decent ear for dialogue. With Sociology, well, that’s looking at how larger groups of people behave and interact, how cultures emerge, etc. When writing about something like London’s high society or a secret society, it’s important to think about what societal pressures look like for our characters.

Tarun: Do you create any playlists while you are writing? What would be on a playlist for These Vengeful Souls?

Back on our first book, I used to create playlists to get me in the mood for writing certain scenes, but then I realized I was using it more as an elaborate way to procrastinate. Now it’s just whatever albums I happen to be into at the time, mainly to keep my energy and enthusiasm up for long writing sessions. For These Vengeful Souls it was a lot of Prince, older soul music, Haim and Fleet Foxes. The one song I did use for mood though was Izzy Bizu’s Mad Behaviour. I just heard the song while working on the last chapter of These Vengeful Souls and they got forever linked in my head. I have no idea why– I guess sometimes things just click!

Describe your series in 3 words.

Angsty Victorian X-Men

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.

About Tarun Shanker

Image of Tarun Shanker

Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.

About Kelly Zekas

Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.

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About The Candid Cover

Olivia ❀ YA book blogger, Starbucks lover, novice New Yorker, & professional bibliophile.

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