I love finding new authors, especially when they write YA fantasy which is my favourite genre. Imagine my delight when I discovered YA author, Kam Verdee, and then found out she was a fellow Birmingham lass.
After a small amount of stalking (on my part!) I managed to convince Kam to join me on my blog for a chat about her writing, love of fantasy dramas, and her latest book, Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King. Over to Kam.
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
Yes, I’m a fellow Brummie! I’ve lived in Great Barr, Birmingham all my life, and in the same house would you believe for the past thirty four years, and I have no plans as yet to move out of the city.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be many things to be honest. For the most part in secondary school, I had my heart set out on manufacturing and designing my own cosmetic brand. I used to call it being a Make-up Scientist (of course that profession doesn’t exist) but I was going to show all my friends what a great Make-up brand I would be able to create. Funny enough, when we were given work experience placements from school for a day, I was sent to HSBC bank, and I didn’t like it one bit. BUT, little did I know, I’d end up building a career in the banking industry years later. It’s funny how things can work out.
List three words to describe yourself.
Ambitious, Loyal, Hardworking
Who would play you in a film about your life?
I’d love Helena Bonham Carter to play me because not only is she a talented actress, but she’s different, and there’s something very dark and mystical in the way she acts in movies. When she played Bellatrix in the Harry Potter franchise, I was probably the only one rooting for her! (Nope, I was a secret Bellatrix fan too, Kam!) 😉
What’s your favourite snack food when writing?
I don’t tend to snack when I’m writing, but I am rarely seen without a big mug of either coffee or lemon green tea.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
I’d love to have the ability to travel anywhere in the world just by thinking of a particular destination. When I want a bit of me time, I’d think of a deserted, tropical island, and with a click of the fingers… tada… I’d be there.
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I began to write as a way of escape really when things weren’t going so well in my life. I suffered with depression for a long time, and I knew I had to divert my mind somewhere else. I’d go up to bed early and put pen to paper and began to write about a young girl who had to face her own challenges, and the more I wrote about the girl, who ultimately would become Heera, the better I was coping with keeping my anxiety at bay.
When I’m not writing, I’m always either watching some sort of American fantasy drama or film or spending time with my family and friends. I also love to listen to music, and I pick the genre depending on my mood so it varies from Rock, RNB to Hip Hop. If I didn’t have any of these things in my life, I wouldn’t know what to do.
Where did the inspiration for Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King come from?
I’d have to say from the Harry Potter books. When I found myself feeling low, the Harry Potter books transported me to a magical world, where Kam’s problems simply vanished for a short space of time. And when things became really bad, I wanted to relive that magic again but from my own perspective, so I created a character, gave her a name, and described how she feels, where she lives and what challenges she must face. Like the Harry Potter books, I wanted to write a book which helped me to escape to another world and fall in love with all of the different characters you meet along the way… even the baddies too.
What do you like the most about writing young adult fantasy?
I love the fact that there is no limit to your imagination when writing about the different types of creatures, characters or plots in this genre. I also like to highlight issues of what young adults are facing at the moment such as bullying, low self-esteem and the constant pressure to fit in with the ‘in’ crowd, and just because it’s a fantasy book, doesn’t mean you can’t talk about these topics.
Just like me, you’re a fan of fantasy dramas. Which one is your favourite? Do you draw inspiration from these kind of shows?
As you probably know by now I love all things fantasy and supernatural, and my favourite TV series is called, wait for it… Supernatural, where you can see two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (they’re very easy on the eye so that helps) hunt monsters, ghouls and other mystical creatures. I do find inspiration from these types of shows because the writers and producers also bring humour, love, family dynamics and romance into the episodes, keeping the viewers on their toes, and this is something I bring into my writing as well. In that way, there is a little bit of something for everyone in my book, and the reader won’t want to put the book down as the plot twists are revealed from chapter to chapter.
Heera is a great protagonist. Where did your character inspiration come from?
I feel there is a lot of pressure on youngsters these days to look, dress and act in certain ways, especially when it comes to following celebrities on social media like Facebook and Instagram. I use both these platforms, and images of celebrities looking flawless are constantly put on display and it’s hard to ignore this. With Heera, I wanted a character who was faced with this type of pressure to look and act a certain way, but she doesn’t follow the crowd. She just wants to be herself, and in saying that, I wanted Heera to be a bit like me. Being a British Asian woman, you are expected to have certain beliefs, act a certain way, but I have never conformed to pressure and I refuse to let anyone change who I am. Heera is like any normal teenager, and when she knows what she can achieve, she becomes strong, independent and a great role model for young adults.
Can you give us a brief excerpt from Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King?
‘NO! That’s not Mrs Mead… something’s wrong with her. Look at her eyes!’ How could he not see the scarlet eyes transfixed on me? I tried to pull away from him so I could run out of the office, and it was only then I saw his eyes flash red. ‘You’re quite right, Heera. Mrs Mead is not really here, and I am not actually Mr Powers… he is somewhat indisposed,’ he grinned. He grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let me go, while his other hand was placed firmly over my mouth. I could feel him pushing me towards Mrs Mead, who was now leering at me.
Within seconds, I felt a cold rush of air surrounding me, and in the next moment, I dropped to the floor with the sheer force of something hitting me. I slid away from Mr Powers, who lay knocked out cold on the office floor. Lena and Kal were standing over him. Lena was holding a wand. It was dark brown, carved and appeared to be smooth, and the tip, although blunt, was drawing smoke. Could it have been a spell that hit me? It couldn’t be… I mean what was I thinking?
Kal helped me up. I blinked several times trying to fathom out what was going on because I had only seen wands in movies and read about them in books, and I knew what I was seeing couldn’t be real. I had to be dreaming.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently writing my second book in the series. Heera Watson will definitely have to face more challenges, and I’ll let readers know when it’s due for release. I have many other book ideas I’d like to pursue as well, but my main focus is writing this second book before I can think of another project to delve into.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KamVerdee/
BUY a copy of Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King today –
Heera Watson is like any ordinary fifteen-year-old girl…not! Torn between the British way of life and her Indian heritage, she’s the target of catty comments at school in Birmingham from Laura Foster, the ‘It’ girl at St Claire’s, and her gang. Heera is constantly pressured at school to look and dress in certain ways, but all she has ever wanted is to be herself. Her journey to becoming the person she really wants to be starts when she finds three sacred crystals in a safe at home. This discovery puts thousands of lives in danger, and catapults Heera into a mind-blowing quest through the magical kingdom of Fallowmere. There, forging new friendships with people and creatures she never imagined could exist, Heera bravely confronts deadly challenges to save her loved ones from the devious Dark King, who will stop at nothing to carry out his evil schemes. Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King is a wonderfully imaginative tale of courage, friendship, battle and what it means to face your true destiny.
Kam Verdee was born in 1983 and currently works and lives in Birmingham with her family. Kam has always had a passion to write, and after establishing a successful career in banking, Kam began to write her debut novel, Heera Watson and the Rise of the Dark King, which she worked on for three years. Besides writing, Kam’s life revolves around her family, listening to music, and enjoying British and American fantasy TV dramas.
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