Please give author Kai Strand a warm welcome at Andi's Young Adult Books today! Get to know her and her book 'King of Bad' a little bit better. And then remember to ask her some of your own questions. She loves interviews!
The simple question, “Who trains the bad guys?” The bad guys might be prone to making evil decisions, sure, but they have to perfect their powers somehow. Even discovering their powers on their own can prove futile at best and fatal at worst. Enter the idea of super villain academies. A high school-like atmosphere for teenage villains proved more than I could pass up.What message do you hope readers will get from it?
First and foremost, this book is meant to entertain. I don’t have any hidden agenda where I’m trying to change anyone’s political or religious views, or moral compass. With that said, my characters come across situations where they have to make choices. Sometimes a reader will agree with a choice and other times they might be yelling at the page in front of them saying, “What are you thinking?” Basically, there is no clear-cut good and bad in our world, but we are expected to recognize it as such. King of Bad navigates that path.What is one of your favorite things about this book?
My favorite scene is too spoilery to share. Darn it! It is one of Mystic’s scenes and it makes me laugh every time. Since I can’t share that, I’d say the abilities. It’s fun to discover villainy abilities. Like Love Bug who has psychic abilities and can make people see her as their ideal woman. When they are completely smitten she gets anything she wants from them. Or Beat Feet who can make someone dance or run against his/her will. I imagined the old black hat cowboys shooting at the feet of the person they were tormenting, shouting, “Dance!” and I thought, how about a villain who could do that without the bullets?What makes bad boys such compelling characters?
I think it’s a few things. Bad boys don’t ask permission. There is no hesitation to wonder if their action is right or wrong. There is no worry over the consequences – they act, they move on. I think that kind of freedom is compelling to rule followers. Something we really want to experience ourselves, but can’t bring ourselves to do. Then I also think we want to reform them. I don’t understand why this is such a common trait in women. Logically we know it is futile, yet we tend to fall under the spell that he might be bad, but I’ll change that. He’ll change for me. (Whatever! Finally, it’s sexy! Just the way a bad boy moves – so fluid and self-assured. Aaahhh!Will we ever see these characters again?
Yes, the second book in the series, Polar Opposites, is under contract. I don’t have a release date yet. After you’ve read King of Bad, hop onto my website and see the sneak peek for Polar Opposites to see what is next for these guys. While you are there, sign up for my newsletter so you receive release updates.On what other projects are you currently working?
In the young adult world, I’m editing a ya romantic suspense that I’m excited about. It is so different from anything I’ve written with deep emotion, beautiful drippy language, and cheek fanning scenes. I like to say it is a cross between National Treasure and Wuthering Heights. I can’t wait to get it out there.Please tell us about your other published works.
My other books are middle grade novels.What is it about writing for the younger crowd that appeals so much to you? Will we ever see more for adults?
I have two books in the Weaver Tales series, The Weaver and The Wishing Well. They are both set in a fictional village of storytellers, called Word Weavers. The villagers speak in story, so the books are very lyrical. They both have the same gnome-elf, Unwanted, who casts a wayward wish for the main character. Family and friends play important roles to each main character, but in the end they have to find their personal strength to overcome their troubles. The books don’t have to be read in any specific order.
My other fantasy mg is a Narnia-esque tale with an alternate world and fantastical creatures. Terra learns she is a Nature’s Spirit destined to help in the Underworld city of Concord. Then she learns she is named in a prophecy concerning the fate of the death tribe and now the leader wants her dead. Filled with adventure and a lush underground world.
Finally, I have a contemporary middle grade novel about a priss of a girl named Natalie whose invention makes her an overnight sensation. When the media turns on her, she has to figure out how to get control of her life back.
I love what a young (or young at heart) reader does with a story while they are reading it. They are so actively apart of the plot, they are emotionally invested in the characters. Adults who read adult books don’t read the same way. Plus I know that books were my escape hatch from my reality when I was young. And I had a good, decent reality! I hope to provide that same escape for today’s (and tomorrow’s) young readers and teens.You have teacher guides for your books on your website. Why did you create these?
I don’t have any plans to write for adults, but I can’t say it will never happen. I have two storylines in my head that don’t transfer to young adult (or even new adult) well, so maybe some day.
The themes in my middle grade books, bullying, abuse, inferiority, make for good group discussions and I know educators don’t always have the time to discover it for themselves. My hope is if the themes and discussions that are provoked by the book appeal to the teacher, the teacher materials will save them a little work bringing it into the classroom.Your name, Kai, is one of my favorites, belonging to a couple of special people in my life. Do you know its meaning? How did you come to be named Kai?
I love that you have a strong connection with Kai. I’m surprised that you know a couple people with the name! I’ve only met one other in person and he pronounced it differently.What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
Most people pronounce it with a long I, but my name is pronounced with a long A. My grandfather was born in Sweden and my mom wanted to honor our heritage with my name. It’s funny, because if you google Kai Strand, you’ll get me (thank goodness) and a bunch of Swedish men. Perhaps if there had been Internet when Mom chose it, she’d realize she was giving me a gender identity issue (winks). As for meaning, my mom always told me it was the Swedish spelling of Kay, but as I understand it the Finnish meaning is ‘rejoice’ and the Hawaiian meaning is ‘ocean.’ However, I believe it is mostly a nickname in Sweden.
GRIMM is my guilty pleasure. So much so, that I created a private Facebook group so that my friends and I can watch it online ‘together’. It is SO much fun to watch it that way. The flurry of comments when something surprising or gross happens is entertaining in itself. Plus the gals like to tease me over the crush I have on Captain Renard, every time he takes his shirt off.Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for hosting a stop on my tour! I truly appreciate the opportunity to visit with your readers and share my book with them. Plus, I love interviews! Is that narcissistic of me? I hope not.Thank you so much for your time!
by Kai Strand
Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.
He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?
Read an excerpt:
Sitting front and center in math class the next morning was the Amazon. Jeff almost stumbled when he saw her. Even folded into a standard classroom desk, her body went on and on. Her olive skin glowed under the fluorescent lights. Miles of wavy sable locks tumbled to her waist. A short skirt revealed a never-ending expanse of legs gracefully wrapped together under the desk. They seemed indecent. Jeff wasn’t attracted to her, per se, but she intrigued him. And scared him to death.
Amber colored eyes gleamed when they met his. She looked him over from head to toe and a half smile curved her full lips. Jeff fought the urge to scurry past and with all the casual aloofness he could muster, he sauntered to his desk at the back of the room. He heaved a loud mental sigh when he was safely behind her. He might understand Pyro’s claim that something wasn’t right about the Amazon. Though he doubted that he and Pyro were referring to the same thing.
To Jeff’s dismay, the math teacher had the Amazon introduce herself to the class. She stood at the front and stared pointedly at Jeff most of the time. When she spoke he groaned. Her voice was warmed butter rum—soothing, comforting and intoxicating. Jeff made the mistake of glanc-ing at her while she spoke about her home in northern Italy. As soon as they made eye contact, Jeff was transfixed. Though she continued to speak aloud to the class she also spoke directly to Jeff in his mind. It wasn’t in a language that Jeff understood, but he knew she was hypnotizing him.
When the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died, the end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for younger children Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Visit Kai’s website, www.kaistrand.com, to browse her books, download companion materials or to find all her online haunts.
You can usually find Kai online at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaiStrandAuthor
or Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaiStrand