Exclusive Interview with Writer K Kibbee
The third installment of K Kibbee’s The Forests of the Fae series, Lang’s Labyrinth, was published at the end of last month by Incorgnito Press. I had a chance to peruse a review copy of Lang’s Labyrinth and assemble some questions for Kibbee about her experiences, writing, and this excellent series. You can see Kibbee’s detailed answers below. Some of the details include spoilers for The Forests of the Fae trilogy, so please read with caution.
People knowing their value/worth (including capacities) is crucial. What experiences have helped make this an interest of yours to create through your writing?
While your point is an excellent one, I suppose the realist in me sees it as equally important to note where one is lacking. I’ve always possessed a natural predilection towards language and the arts. I sometimes joke that I was born with a pen in my hand. While other kids were at basketball practice or sneaking off to skip rocks at the quarry, I was cutting photos out of magazines, pasting them in notebooks, and writing imaginary lives for the faces in the pages. And yet it never seemed “realistic” to pin all of my aspirations on creative writing.
Thus, I marched into college with a resolute plan to become a Wildlife Biologist. I enrolled myself in the prerequisite starter-pack of Biology 101 and Chemistry 101, but just a few short days in, I became painfully aware that my swiss-cheese, silly-hearted brain was no match for the collegiate sciences. I remember vividly, my stodgy little Biology professor coming to me at end of term and explaining she’d “gifted” me a D grade, so that I’d realize the class credits, even though my test scores had warranted an F. “You just worked SO hard,” she said, giving me this empathetic little pat. It was right then and there that I knew. I knew my weaknesses and I knew my strengths. And I knew that a life in the arts, though it may not get me a sun-tan in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, or a car that would run without a push first… that was my path. That’s was where my heart lied.
Do you have any favorite heroines who are empowered by simply being who they are? What heroines in real life and pop culture inspire you?
Not to sound trite, but no “everyday heroine” comes to mind in anything I’ve seen or read as of late! Every time I think of the image of a heroine currently presented to girls, I think of Wonder Woman or some other fantastical, bionic woman who has powers beyond all realistic imagining. Also, I’ll cop to not being a voracious reader. I prefer that my ideas be organic and whether its subconscious or not, I see many writers emulating what they read. I agree that reading the work of others can be inspiring, but I have enough imaginary folks tromping around in my head already. I don’t think there is room for any more!
Real-life wise… I’m always very drawn to women who use their station to do good. Women like Michelle Obama, J.K. Rowling, Ellen DeGeneres, Angelina Jolie. Women who get out there in it and make a real difference for the causes they believe in.
For girls who do not know their value, and aren’t going on a coming of age journey like Anne’s or Grace’s, what sage words can you give them regarding where to start?
Anne and Grace’s journey may have its fantastical elements, and certainly isn’t one that most of us is likely to embark upon (though you never know!), but that doesn’t make the core of it any different. The things that Anne learns through the course of the books and the woman that she matures into has much more to do with learning life lessons and much less to do with learning about fae folk. Anne’s strength and ability to overcome the fae ultimately comes down to her unwillingness to give up and her desire to help others. I think that Anne comes to see her own worth through the eyes of others… and what she is seeing is a reflection of the strong woman that she ultimately becomes.
Where did the idea of Grace’s town come from? Is it based on a real place that people can visit?
Oh yes, this bit I quite love! While the town of Devlin was initially inspired by a story that a friend parlayed to me about a cluster of overgrown homes that she and her brother played in as children, the roots of Devlin run much deeper. This story of my friend’s was told to me a great many years ago, and always stuck with me… this image of free-spirited, fearless children playing in these dilapidated old homes that had been overtaken by nature… but the idea really blossomed when I heard about a small, abandoned ghost town just an hour or so down the road from me, called Frankfort.
Frankfort sits on a boggy little inlet across from Astoria, Oregon, and was founded over a century ago. Sadly, the railroad prospects that were meant to make the town into a port mecca were never realized, and thus, Frankfort slowly shriveled up. The residents died off and moved away, and in the 1960’s, the last of them finally tired of the inaccessibility to electricity and water, and pulled up stakes. So… of course… you end up with this gathering of ghostly homes and bare storefronts that are now choked by ivy and moss, and teeming with coyotes, crows, and all manner of ((eek!)), who knows what! But what makes it all the more intriguing, is that the town is gated for most of the year, and only accessible by boat. It’s completely shrouded and secluded, and only visible by air. It’s sort of this quiet, spooky gem of the Northwest and my mind reels just imagining what goes on there!
Where do you draw your inspiration for the fae from? Are there any particular folktale traditions that you follow?
I’ve always been attracted to the older fae lore–the Grimm works… the old, original fairy tales that were passed and translated from Babylonian to Egyptian, Egyptian to Scandinavian, Scandinavian to Russian. All of these timeless tales that were meant to frighten little children and keep them out of the woods. I feel like we’ve completely forgotten what the fae really embody… the wildness of things… the unpredictability of nature. We’d do well to remember.
I love the connection that Grace has with ravens (and her own companion Onyx). Ravens have an interesting mythological history as well. Can you talk about where this capacity of Grace’s comes from?
Both Devlin’s Door and The Raven Queen (books one and two in the trilogy) delve deeply into Grace’s relationship with ravens; specifically Onyx. I too am fascinated by ravens… not only by their physical form but also their intelligence and capacity for learning. I did a bit of “geeking out” in The Raven Queen and had Anne do some research for me, which she parlayed to the reader.
After a changeling overtakes Grace’s body in [The Raven Queen], Anne is perplexed by the fact that ravens seem to stalk and attempt to attack her. Delving into raven research, she learns that ravens and crows have the capacity to recognize faces and to pass that information genetically to their offspring, who in turn share the same wariness. Of course, I always push the envelope a bit with my imagination, and so I created a bit longer and deeper thread that allowed ravens to recognize the presence of a changeling in human form.
With regard specifically to Onyx—Grace’s brother, who was apprenticed to a chimney sweep in his boyhood, actually discovered the raven in some poor woman’s fireplace, when he was just a wee chick. Grace’s family raised and trained him to do a number of tricks, which, coupled with the (shhh!) fae curse, created quite a crafty creature.
The trilogy’s driving focus is a friendship. Why are strong bonds between women (of any age) important–especially in YA novels geared toward young women?
Well, I suppose the reply to this is a personal one… to be decided by the reader. But for me… I feel like we’re too often encouraged to be competitive with other women, and for that reason the friendships we share with them aren’t always as open-hearted and genuine as they could be.
In days of yore, women came together in what I would almost describe as communities… helping each other, caring for one another’s children, sharing arduous chores. But we’ve moved away from that community nature so much. Be it through technology, immersion in our busy lives, a realignment of priorities, or just sheer numbness, we’ve lost that connection… that sit-on-the-porch-and-conversate type of connection that women once shared.
Now we’re told that we need to be “better than… we need to look the best, be the thinnest, achieve the most, have the best car, have the nicest shoes.” But when it comes down to it… none of that really matters… and in denying ourselves those true, heartfelt connections, we’re missing out on some pretty important stuff.
If the trilogy was to be turned into a film or television series, do you have any casting choices for the characters?
Good gravy, I don’t dare to dream! I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to peek in the windows of fancy houses, because I’m afraid I’ll get heartsick that I can’t have what’s inside. No… I think I’ll wait to fantasize about that until I’m holding a freshly-inked movie deal in my hot little hands!
I am in love with the ending of Lang’s Labyrinth. It was very much a surprise for me! Do you plan to tell the story of Samantha’s adventures? I’d love to know more about her.
Anything is possible!
She is right about that! Thank you for your time, K! What do you think of the interview? If you have any thoughts, questions, or comments, please leave a reply below!