We are really happy to have Author Dakota Banks here today. She is the author of the Mortal Path Series and book 2, Sacrifice was releases today. Woot! Congrats Dakota!!!! So today she is here to celebrate her new release. Be sure to stay tuned till the end or you will miss you chance to win a signed book. Please give Dakota a warm welcome.
BLI: Dakota, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Dakota Banks: First, I want to thank Book Lovers Inc for inviting me here today!
I knew I wanted to be a writer from an early age. I was one of those kids who always carried around two or three books, and my dad had to sign a release at the library so I could get an adult library card when I was eight years old. I had phases where I read intensely in one area: science fiction, mystery, Shakespeare, Russian authors, poetry, Pulitzer winners, classics, biographies, mythology…. I’m probably forgetting some. Let’s just say the only reason I got a tan during the summer is because my mom made me read outside. I had a life other than books, too. I played high school volleyball (I had a mean spike) and had a lot of friends, not all of them book lovers (gasp!). I was writing throughout this time and getting rejection letters. Still have some of them. I got oh-so-close to having science fiction stories published but couldn’t seem to push my writing over the threshold.
College took me in another direction. I attended an engineering school, fell in love with math and computers, and ended up with a career in computers. Writing was pushed aside by my career and family. It wasn’t until I’d accumulated quite a few candles on my birthday cake that I came back to it with a now or never attitude. It worked.
BLI: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Dakota Banks: The first book I wrote was written day-to-day, figuring things out as they came at me. That book got me an agent, but didn’t get published in its original form. I rewrote it and published it later, after I had several books in print. I had a lost feeling the entire time I was writing it, so with my next book, I wrote a synopsis first. It was a terrific experience. My first synopsis was about 15 pages long and contained only the high points of the story, including the ending. It served as a guide for me in my writing (not that I stuck to it word for word) and gave me the feeling of knowing where I was headed in each writing session: toward the next high point in the synopsis. This method works for me, but may not for other authors. It leaves plenty of detail to be filled in, such as all the characterization, description, and dialogue, and that’s where my real interest lies–in the compelling details. I just need a framework to hang it all on.
BLI: What are 3 items that are must haves when you sit down to write?
Dakota Banks: I assume you mean besides my computer, right? 1.) A quiet place to work. I used to work with a laptop on the kitchen table, and my concentration was bad. I had two boys zipping around the house and the TV was close by. It’s amazing I got anything done. Now I have a bedroom for my office with a door I can close if the house gets too noisy. I also wear earphones and listen to classical music to create a bubble around me and my workspace. I am not one of those writers who could work through a hurricane. 2.) Tea or coffee. I like brewing loose-leaf tea. 3.) One or more cats. I’m a cat lover and have three of them, Peanut, Marble, and Snickers. They sleep on my large desk or nearby on a cat tree, and sometimes provide inspiration by walking over the keyboard. I’m still looking for an opportunity to fit “zgyk/” into a story.
BLI: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Dakota Banks: On any given day book lovers are usually bleary-eyed and yawning from staying up all night finishing a good book. A reader would merely insert a bookmark, close the book, and go to sleep at the regular time. Book lovers have twenty bookmarks in their nightstand drawers but never use them.
BLI: If someone saw you sitting in a corner cafe , which book would they find in your hands?
Dakota Banks: Hmm. Tough to narrow it down. I’d say a James Rollins, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, or Lee Child book. And the croissant on my plate would be half-eaten, my coffee cold, because I’d gotten caught up in the book.
BLI: Did you want to be an archaeologist, or did you just find it fascinating to add it in your writing world? How did you research this topic?
Dakota Banks: I have a strong interest in archaeology that precedes the Mortal Path books. It’s an alternate path my life could have taken, I guess. My kids are adopted from Peru and Ethiopia, coincidentally two countries with great archaeological depth. I research by travel when possible, the internet, professional journals, and contacts with people in the field who are only too happy to spill their guts to a writer–unless they think they are on the verge of a new discovery.
BLI: Your Mortal Path Series is set in an highly intriguing world with Sumerian Demons and Immortal Assassins. Can you tell us a little bit about your world?
Dakota Banks: The Mortal Path world is built on Sumerian mythology. The Sumerian civilization (about 5,300 BC – 2,000 BC) is thought to be the earliest civilization in the world (though there may be a rival or two now), and was formed in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, an area known as the Cradle of Civilization. You probably remember all of that from elementary school. Ancient Sumer is modern-day Iraq. The Sumerians were responsible for a great leap in development, giving us writing, mathematics, Hammurabi’s Code of Law, the wheel, astronomy, the clock and calendar, the potter’s wheel and kiln, boats, canals for irrigation and transport, bronze implements, and other things we take for granted now.
Some speculate that this big advance was due to alien intervention–that the Sumerian gods were aliens and that they left Earth after speeding up human development. Supposedly, these aliens are coming back to check on the fruits of their labors, and soon. In December 2012. Google “Planet X” and you’ll see what I mean.
For the Mortal Path, my idea was that seven demons serving the Lord of the Underworld remain on Earth, alive today and still carrying out their chaos and destruction orders. Since they can’t operate directly in the Great Above where humans live, they need to recruit humans and turn them into Ageless assassins. The Ageless then walk among us, doing the demons’ bidding. Maliha Crayne was once an Ageless assassin, but she rebelled against her demon’s control. To redeem her soul, she has to save as many lives as she’s taken under his command. There’s a ticking clock: whenever she saves someone, she ages a little. If she dies without achieving balance, her soul belongs to the demon, who will torment her forever. In addition to her personal redemption, she’s found a way to eliminate all of the demons from Earth, and is searching for artifacts to assemble that will allow her to do that. Needless to say, the demons oppose that idea!
BLI: Your heroine Maliha Crayne made a bargain with the ultimate evil and now tries to save her soul with her own hands. How did you come up with the idea for the over all story arc of the series?
Dakota Banks: I was intrigued with the idea of a person who was initially good being turned to the dark side and then having to claw herself (sometimes literally) back to the kind of person she originally was. I didn’t want my heroine to be all good or have just minor personality flaws, I wanted her to really struggle with a troubling past. I also like the idea the the demons remaining alive on Earth have been the source of wars, illnesses, droughts, and everything else that has kept the human race from achieving its true potential. If Maliha is able to find and use all the artifacts, what would the world be like then, without the destructive influence of the demons? Are we ready for another giant leap forward?
The final idea that really did it for me was the visual image of Maliha’s scale. She has a balance scale (like the scales of justice) carved on her body. When she saves a life, the scale comes to life and a figure moves from the “lives taken” side to the “lives saved” side. As soon as I had that in my head, there was no way I could set aside the Mortal Path story.
BLI: Maliha is an assassin and as strong as those come. Tell us a bit about her character. What do you like and dislike the most about her?
Dakota Banks: I like that she’s clever and brave and will throw herself into a situation when someone’s in danger, regardless of the threat to her. I really love that after hundreds of years of being an assassin, she had the courage to defy the demon and start down a path toward freedom, even though she’s told that no one has ever succeeded at what she’s doing. She’s fantastic with both martial arts and modern weapons. Now that she’s not under the demon’s control, she’s rediscovering the joys of friendship and longing for the kind of life she had before, as a wife and mother. But what man would love her, knowing the horrible things she’s done in the past? The things I dislike about her come from the period of her life when she was an assassin. Maliha can be self-indulgent, immature, stubborn, and yes, a bit snarky. But when a woman’s lived alone, having everything she wants–men, money, beauty, possessions–for over two hundred and fifty years, it takes a while to turn over a new leaf.
BLI: What can we expect of Sacrifice?
Dakota Banks: The title is meaningful. Keep a box of tissues handy. I certainly needed them when I was writing. Now I’ll let a reviewer’s words speak for me: “Sacrifice was an intense read…. Rich characters, out of this world action, fast-paced and heart-wrenching romance, what more can I ask from a great urban fantasy series?” – Larissa’s Bookish Life
BLI: I feel for Maliha and her plea throughout the series. I really want her to have a Happily Ever After. Can we expect one?
Dakota Banks: My original concept for the series was that Maliha would end the story alone, as she began the story as a solitary assassin. A “full circle” thing. I rapidly gave up on that, somewhere in the middle of the first book, when I realized I loved Maliha and her friends too much to do that. Yes, there will be a HEA, but not for some time. I don’t see it clearly yet.
BLI: Will there be more books in this series?
Dakota Banks: Yes. I’m writing the third book in the series now.
BLI: What is next on your schedule? Any other projects we should keep our eyes open for?
Dakota Banks: The Mortal Path books are so research-heavy and emotionally draining to write (don’t laugh–I go through every up and down with Maliha!) that while I’m actively working on one, I can’t fit in much writing on other projects. I do have plans for another paranormal series, a departure from the dark nature of Mortal Path, and a standalone that is a transitional novel, meaning one about a person with a terminal illness changing his life through paranormal means.
BLI: Now to the mean questions (we apologize in advance):
Can you summarize your Mortal Path series for us twitter style (140 characters tops)?
Dakota Banks: This is amazingly hard! Here we go, at 139 characters including spaces:
Healer unjustly burned as witch bargains with demon to be Ageless assassin. Now works to save soul and kill demons, helped by close friends.
BLI: Who’s your favorite side character?
Dakota Banks: I love all the side characters, so it’s hard to pick just one. I’d have to say Hound, who is a Vietnam vet who now runs a private eye service. Then there’s Yanmeng and Amaro and …
BLI: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
Dakota Banks: Only three??
1). Whip swords
2). Shards of the Crystal Lens
3). Maliha and her friends – great characters I think you will LOVE
4.) Constanta’s grave
5.) Jake and Lucius
6.) Really bad villains torn straight from history
Stop me, somebody stop me!
BLI: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Thanks to Maria we have a SIGNED copy of Sacrifice to give away.
All you have to do is ask Dakota a question or just leave a meaningful comment about the interview.
Please leave us a way to contact you
(email in blogger profile or twitter name is okay).
This giveaway is International!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, September 11th and we will announce the winner on Sunday.