Vampire hunter Damon Brock's newest assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn't the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer an option when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. Forced to unite against the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they must decide between their lifelong beliefs...and their newfound desires.
- What was the first thing you did when you found out SHADOW HUNTER was going to be published?
Absolutely ecstatic and completely stunned! Though, Shadow Hunter has a bit of a story to it. It actually sold on a proposal of sorts after I had already sold the first three full-length books in the Execution Underground series. I had contacted my editor at Harlequin, Leslie Wainger, to tell her I had an idea for an Execution Underground novella. This sparked an idea with her and she took the idea to the head of the HQN line at the time, Tara Parsons. About two days later, my agent, Nicole Resciniti, called me and told me that Leslie and HQN were cooking up something really big and she was negotiating with them. She couldn’t tell me what it was at that point, because they wanted to make certain everything was in order with the offer first, so I was in suspense. So I was waiting with baited breath wondering what this crazy amazing offer could possibly be. Three days later, Nicole called me and told me that Harlequin wanted me to write a short prequel novel to the Execution Underground series about the origin of the Rochester division, the division on which the series focuses. She told me the advance they were offering, and then said “...and they’re going to put it a trade paperback anthology with a Lords of the Underworld novella by Gena Showalter!” I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. The thought of being in an anthology with Gena was mind-blowing. To add to my stunned feeling, Harlequin wanted the book within one month, so I had less than 30 days to write a polished enough version to be on my editor’s desk. I was in a mixture of excitement and pure panic over the deadline that I knew I had to fulfill—after all, how could I pass up that kind of opportunity? Meeting that deadline was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and it was the first time I ever wrote under deadline, but I did it and it was well worth it.
- What do you plan to be doing on release day of your debut novel SHADOW HUNTER?
On the release day of Shadow Hunter in the After Dark anthology, June 25th, a group of bloggers (who are listed on my website) will be posting the first chapter of Shadow Hunter for a 24 hour exclusive only, so potential readers will be able to get a little taste of the book to see if they’re interested in purchasing a copy. I’ll also be having a giveaway on my website of a gift-basket that includes a copy of After Dark (signed by both myself and Gena) and a signed ARC of Twilight Hunter along with lots of other fun goodies. Aside from that, I don’t really have any plans. My husband and I will probably go out to dinner, and I might swing by my local B&N to see if the book is on the shelf.
- For your debut you are releasing your novella in an anthology titled After Dark with a PNR favorite Gena Showalter, did you do a little dance when you found out that news?
Definitely! I’ll admit that after jumping around and screaming in excitement on the phone with my agent, when I told my family, I started sobbing. It was a combination of excitement and the thought of the amazing things that being in an anthology with Gena would do for my career. Plus, I’d grown up with my mother, aunts, and cousins all reading Gena’s books, then passing them on to me, so being even considered in the same league as her was like a dream come true. Finding out I was going to be published was life-changing, but finding out I would be in the anthology with Gena was when I knew I’d really become an author. Tara Parsons and Leslie Wainger along with the other staff at HQN had enough faith in little debut me that they thought a novella by me—one they’d never even read, because it hadn’t been written yet—could do well when placed by a NYT Bestseller, and not any bestseller, but Gena-freaking-Showalter! The thought is still unbelievable to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel worthy of the kind of confidence they’ve put in me.
- In SHADOW HUNTER Damon has to pick his team for the Execution Underground, do you secretly have a favorite among the new team members and if you do, who is it?
Well out of all of the hunters, Damon is definitely my favorite. But out of the hunters Damon chooses to be in his division, I’d say that if I had to choose then Jace McCannon, the hero of Twilight Hunter (which releases on August 27th), would be my favorite. I don’t know whether that’s because I’ve written Jace’s book already (I wrote his before Damon’s and his was the one that sold the initial deal to HQN) and since I haven’t written the other hunters’ books yet I haven’t really fallen as much in love with them, or whether it’s just him as a character. I’m also partial to Ash Devereaux, the hero of book four, as well. But really, I love them all. It’s really difficult to choose a favorite. They’re all very different and I love different things about them. In a way it’s like asking me to pick my favorite child haha.
- Why did you decide to set this series in Rochester, New York versus a more exotic or well known locale?
Originally, my thought was to set the book in NYC. I wanted a big city, urban setting with a gritty sort of feeling to it. I wanted somewhere that I could imagine organizations of supernatural hunters and the monsters they hunt could be lurking amongst us unnoticed. After discussing it with a friend, we decided that NYC wasn’t quite “gritty” enough and that lots of books had been set there. I didn’t want the series to seem overdone or clichéd. The friend that I was speaking with about this happened to be a native of Rochester and suggested I use it as the setting instead, so that’s how it came about. If it hadn’t been Rochester, it probably would’ve been Detroit, which is where I grew up.
- SHADOW HUNTER ends on quite a shocking note for Damon and Tiffany, are they going to be getting a set of novellas or a full length book for the rest of their story?
Yes, Damon and Tiffany will have a full length novel later on in the series, so readers will get to see the rest of their story. =)
- So far the Execution Underground is all male, are there any plans that it may go coed, I’m sure Tiffany would love to join!
As of current, the Execution Underground doesn’t have any plans of going co-ed, even though they do have some females who’ve assisted in hunts before, like Tiffany. They’ve been a male only organization for centuries and seem to be set in their ways, so I don’t think they will be making any changes, at least not anytime soon. ;-)
- If you could co-author a book with any other author dead or alive who would it be?
That’s a difficult question, because I have the beginnings of a co-authored work started with my lovely friend and amazing UF/PNR author, Kate SeRine. I fell in love with her Transplanted Tales series and since we’re friends and we both have the same agent, I brought up the idea of working together, so we set out to brainstorming. It’s still in the planning stages and we’ve had to set it aside for now because we both have other contractual deadlines, but I think we’ve both had loads of fun with it thus far. I’m looking forward to when we can really dig into it together.
Aside from Kate, it’d be hard to choose just one. I think you learn a lot about another author’s process and how they approach their writing when you work with them, so I’d love to pick J.K Rowling and Suzanne Collin’s brains about world-building. I’d want to work with Charlaine Harris and Laurel K Hamilton for their amazing first person narrative voices. As for other paranormal authors, I really admire JR Ward’s writing and her book Lover Awakened (Zsadist’s book) is one of the few romance novels that has reduced me to complete sobbing at the main character’s “black moment.” That’s a powerful emotion to evoke in a reader, so I’d be honored if I had the chance to work with her. I’d also love to work on something with Gena, both because she’s an amazing author and also because she is such an incredibly nice person.
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you travel to?
I’ve traveled to a LOT of different places, especially considering I’m only in my early twenties. I’ve been to Japan, Ecuador, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and the Bahamas as well as loads of places around the USA. My favorite place I’ve traveled to thus far would definitely be Japan.
If was going to travel to somewhere I’d never been before, I’d like to explore Asia more. I’d love to go to India, or somewhere in Southeast Asia.
- What is next for Kait Ballenger?
Next up on the release docket is Twilight Hunter, the first full length book in the Execution Underground series. Twilight Hunter releases on August 27th. Currently, I’m working on book number two in the series, Immortal Hunter, which releases in late January 2014. There are plenty more Execution Underground books to come. Aside from that, be on the lookout for some debut YA urban fantasy written under my maiden name, Kaitlyn Schulz. I have a YA series about to go out on submission, so hopefully something comes from that.
BIO: Kait Ballenger is a full-time paranormal romance author, wife, bellydancer, graduate student, and soon-to-be-professor. She is the multi-published, award-winning author of the Execution Underground paranormal romance series. With a B.A in English from Stetson University, Kait is currently earning an M.F.A in Writing. Kait believes anything is possible with hard work and dedication. One day, she hopes to be a bestseller and to see her novels on the big screen. Look for the next two books in her page-turning Execution Underground series: Twilight Hunter, book one (August 2013) and Immortal Hunter, book two (January 2014).
For more information, please visit www.kaitballenger.com or follow her on Twitter @kait_ballenger.
After Dark on Amazon: After Dark
After Dark on Barnes&Noble: After Dark