|Kathy DiSanto, Author|
Currently a communications specialist, DiSanto is considering retirement when she can “look forward to making stuff up, all day, every day!” In the meantime, she enjoys blogging, listening to music, reading, and walking her two rescue dogs, Molly and Lucy.
Don’t miss the excerpt from AMANDA’S EYES following the interview.
Q: What inspired you to write about eyes with “the power to see into the hidden dimensions of the human heart?”
Kathy DiSanto: As I recall, the idea started with one of those news stories we see all too often: A crime is committed, the perp’s neighbors are interviewed, and almost to a man and/or woman, they say they never saw it coming. “So and so seemed like such a nice guy.” We rely on appearances—it’s human nature, right?
Think of the beloved British children’s show host who was recently revealed as a pedophile. Or Bernard Madoff, who “looked” so good, he convinced a lot of financially savvy people to invest in “one big lie.”
Wouldn’t it be handy if we could see folks like that for what they are, rather than what they appear to be? That thought was where the book started.
Q: A reviewer said “One mark of good fiction is a story’s ability to create empathy in the reader” and that you succeeded in doing so in AMANDA’S EYES. How did you create such empathy? Why will readers care about Reporter A. J. Gregson?
Kathy DiSanto: What a marvelous compliment! Thank you!
I believe (hope) readers will empathize with A.J. for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being, I’m pretty sure they sense A.J. would care about them. This woman considers herself of the people and for the people. She’s part pragmatist—a realist who sees the world as it is—and part philosopher. A semi-cynical closet idealist a bit embarrassed by her own belief that she can help balance the scales of justice. Those are admirable traits, but if that were all there were to her, readers might find it hard to connect. Not many of us can identify with perfection! So I made her feisty and stubborn and occasionally sneaky. She gets scared and admits it. She has trouble believing in her new talent. She eats junk food, hates makeup, and likes dogs.
Q: You have set your book in the future with an “intrepid woman reporter”, which reminds me of J D Robb’s series with Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Did her series influence you?
Kathy DiSanto: Not really, although I’ve always admired Robb’s ability to create strong, intrepid female characters, both in the Eve Dallas series and in her Nora Roberts romances.
Q: AMANDA’S EYES is set in the future, and technically could be described as science fiction. However, the book is also a mystery thriller. Who will enjoy the book more – the SciFi reader or the mystery reader?
Kathy DiSanto: Boy, if you only knew how much trouble I’ve had figuring this out for myself! Trying to categorize this book for Amazon involved several quarts of ice cream and a couple pounds of chocolate.
If I had to choose between the two, I would say mystery thriller readers will enjoy it more. Way I see it, in true science fiction—the kind devotees gobble up—science plays a central role. So much so, science is almost another character. In AMAND’S EYES the science is secondary—just gee-whiz enough to make the story interesting (and an eye transplant possible), but not so advanced it will give non-science types pause.
That being said, I already have some really nifty techno-ideas for the sequel to AMANDA’S EYES, because I love science. (I mean, genetics, cloning, exo-skins, flying cars, quantum computing … what’s not to love?) It will be interesting to see if those additions help me firm up the genre.
Q: Mmmm. If I’d known that ice cream and chocolate were involved, I might have asked about this sooner. But we digress.
How important is credibility to tell your story? What kind of research did you conduct to make the future technology and lifestyles believable?
Kathy DiSanto: Personal opinion: When writing about the incredible (as in second sight), try to keep the rest as credible as possible. This made writing a futuristic novel tough, because I came from a romance background, and my imagination simply didn’t want to warp space-time!
I got past that “future shyness” by reading a lot of science and technology magazines: New Scientist, Discover, Wired, Scientific American, etc . (BTW, did you know science magazines feature some of the best writing out there? No kidding!) I also read books like The Scientific American’s Brave New Brain, looking at what we can do now, what we can’t do yet, and what scientists believe we’ll soon be able to do. All that reading fired up my imagination and helped me get comfortable with projecting forward.
But, like they say, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. That being the case, I was always conscious of my limited expertise and avoided giving too much detail. No need to say too much, get it wrong, and reveal how much I don’t know!
Q: Did you write AMANDA’S EYES purely for entertainment or were you also trying to deliver a message?
Kathy DiSanto: I love this question! The answer is both. Sort of.
I hope readers do find AMANDA’S EYES entertaining! An entertaining book draws the reader into the adventure. It fires the imagination, makes you smile, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Makes you forget, at least for now, that arthritic knee or the check that bounced or the fact that your flight is delayed yet again. These are all good things, reward enough in themselves.
Was I trying to deliver a message? Probably several, but I didn’t have a specific agenda. Writing AMANDA’S EYES was my way of exploring issues like good vs. evil and the cost of doing the right thing through someone else’s eyes (no pun intended). I tried to follow where her reasoning led.
I aimed for thought-provoking, rather than preachy. What I believe isn’t the point. The point is you knowing what you believe and why you believe it. In the best of all possible worlds, every individual would work out the big questions for him- or herself. Problem is, not many of us even bother to ask those questions. If I had to say, I guess I’d say I hoped to start that internal conversation.
Q: Although set in the future, your reviewers frequently mention that AMANDA’S EYES is a mystery thriller, suggesting cross-genres. How do you create suspense to make it a thriller?
Kathy DiSanto: Several ways, one of which was constantly introducing new elements of tension. First you’re waiting for A.J.’s memory to return, then you’re wondering if the Ferrymen will come after her, then you run into her gift (which even she has trouble believing), then her attempts to convince others she has this gift, etc. The tension is heightened and sustained by her flat refusal to back off coupled with her determination to force a confrontation with an apparently unstoppable group of killers.
I’m also partial to cliff-hanger chapter endings.
Q: What makes a good villain? Is the concept of villain vs hero relevant to AMANDA’S EYES?
Kathy DiSanto: I’ve heard it said that a good villain is one you can empathize with, at least on some level. Maybe. The villain in AMANDA’S EYES obviously does quite a bit of good with his sham philanthropy. We can also sympathize with the ill-born mechanic Tanya Sidorov … up to a point.
If the concept of villain vs. hero is relevant to this novel, I would say its relevance lies in the fact that we all have it in us to be either … or both. The mystery is why we choose the roles we do. Do we choose? Or are villainy and/or heroics determined by our circumstances?
Q: What’s next? Will you write another A.J. Gregson thriller?
Kathy DiSanto: That’s the plan! As a matter of fact, the next novel is already in the works. (And folks who sign up for my e-mail list can get an exclusive preview!) I think I have at least two more A.J. Gregson novels in me.
I’ve also got a few short stories in mind.
After that … who knows?
Q: Tell us about Kathy DiSanto? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Kathy DiSanto: Well, when I’m not busy with my day job as a communications specialist, I’m listening to music (my sons are both musicians), while walking my rescue dogs, Molly and Lucy. Or I’m reading. (I devour books, so if anyone knows of any good authors, drop me a line.) I blog about writing and indie publishing. I also like to put a few rounds down range every now and then.
Recently, I’ve been getting my retirement ducks in a row. I’ve never been able to write full time, but come next April, that will change! Can’t tell you how I look forward to making stuff up, all day, every day!
About Kathy DiSanto
Kathy’s publishing career dates back to 1997, when she published two romances with Bantam’s Loveswept line. One of them, For Love or Money, won a 1997 Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award.
In 2012, Kathy self-published two futuristic thrillers. AMANDA’S EYES is a near-future paranormal thriller and the first novel in a series featuring crime reporter A.J. Gregson. WHY LIVE? is stand-alone dystopian science-fiction.
Thanks to her day job as a communications specialist with a major university, Kathy has written more than two hundred features for print and the web.
She is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Author Network, the Independent Author Index, the Indie Writers’ Network, World Literary Cafe, and the International Association of Business Communicators.
About AMANDA’S EYES
Waking up is the pits when you come to in a hospital with a broken arm, a colorful assortment of abrasions and contusions, and a face swathed in bandages. It’s even worse if you can’t remember what hit you.
The bad and the ugly are crime reporter Amanda “A.J.” Gregson’s business. But learning she had a ringside seat for an explosion that killed two agents of the Continental Intelligence and Investigative Service (CIIS), incinerated an entire block of warehouses, and did so much damage to her eyes they had to be surgically removed? Well, that gives the darker side of life a whole new meaning.
Haunted by elusive nightmares, A.J. waits for her transplant and struggles to remember the events leading up to the fateful night of September 4, 2075. Weeks crawl by without a glimmer, before memory floods back the night before surgery, every brutal detail crystal clear.
The explosion had been the work of the Ferrymen.
"The Ferrymen. My not-so-magnificent obsession for more than a year. Only a cataclysm could have made me forget. I guess you could call them hitmen. You could also call Einstein a math whiz. Think ruthless. Think unstoppable. Think killers so proficient 'caught the ferry' was fast replacing 'bought the farm' in common usage, and you have the Ferrymen in a nutshell."
The transplant surgery goes off without a hitch—welcome news, because A.J. is raring for a rematch with Hell's Boatmen. But contrary to popular belief, what you see isn't always what you get. Take her new eyes, for example. Those baby blues may look perfectly normal, but they possess a power that turns her world upside down—the power to see into the hidden dimensions of the human heart.
When the Sight unmasks the mastermind behind the Ferrymen, the unveiling is as stunning as it is unbelievable. The revelation sets her on course for a second head-collision with evil. Will she survive the final encounter?
In the beginning, it was pitch black.
And there was pain. But distant, like a memory. Or a threat, prowling the far reaches of the darkness.
Weightless. Suspended in the void. No up, no down. Nowhere.
Beyond the blackness, time passed. Snatches of sound began to drift in. Patchy. Disconnected. A rhythmic, pneumatic sigh. Hollow beep. Voices murmuring words without context.
“Count … three …. ”
“Family …. outside ….”
” …. dead …. ”
A warm touch, tenderly reaching through the darkness. A whisper. Close, very close.
“… going to be all right … fine … listen … mother now.”
Listen to your mother now.
Hours crept by. Mental synapses sputtered dimly to life as the brain began to reboot. Thought sparked, flickered, died. Cut in again. Shorted out. Coalesced laboriously, one syllable at a time.
The memory came together in fits and starts—a kaleidoscope of disjointed fragments and gaping holes, arranging, then rearranging, until the pieces finally fell into place. At long last, a scene unspooled against the blackness, like a movie in a darkened theater.
• • •“A police reporter, Amanda Joy?” She shook her head, giving her blue eyes that where-did-I-go-wrong roll that still managed to make me feel like I was a scabby kneed five-year-old tracking mud across the marble floor. “Call me an optimistic old woman, but I was hoping you would choose a more … well, a more dignified profession”
“Come on, Mom. Nobody would call you old.”
“Don’t change the subject.” But she was pleased. I could tell by the slight smile and the way she lightly touched her glossy black chignon as she glanced around the crowded restaurant.
Lunch at the extremely pricey Henri’s was Mom’s idea, billed as a girls-only celebration of my brand-new college degree. If I had been in my right mind, I would have shut my trap and gone along for the eats and used Dad as a buffer. Told him and let him tell her. Less flack for me that way. But under the influence of that post-commencement high and further intoxicated by raspberry grilled salmon, basmati rice, and steamed vegetables, telling Mom about my new job seemed like a good idea. Now I was in for it.
“We were discussing your poor choice in career tracks,” she reminded me.
“I’ve wanted to be a reporter since I was sixteen. You know that.”
“Yes,” she said, deliberately studying her flawless manicure. The violet nail polish matched her off-the-shoulder silk blouse. A delicate bracelet—diamonds strung like tiny, winking stars—glittered when she flexed her wrist. Her eyes lifted again. “But I had deluded myself into thinking that was a phase. I hoped you might grow out of it.”
“Before or after I got my degree in journalism?”
About WHY LIVE
"To be, or not to be, the woman I was engineered to be?" is the question third-generation clone Kai-Lee Fox can't help asking herself. For more than 400 years, the star cruiser Janus has been a Utopia of sweetness and light. Life goes on and on and on for the Quingenti, five hundred souls who fled Earth when the Global Assembly refused to legalize immortality by human cloning. Who knew six words as apparently harmless as, "There was only one Ella Fitzgerald," could trigger a rebellion? But those words no sooner leave Kai's mouth when the light goes on and the trouble begins. Before long the truth that rocks her world makes itself known to a handful of others, and at least one of them doesn't have the sense to keep quiet.
When Dr. Ke-Ling Yan, the Colony's lead geneticist and a member of the ruling Council, announces his intention to move for the abolition of cloning, the mild-mannered Quingenti reveal their dark side. How far will they go to contain the rebellion? As far as the Alpha Genesis Option. The AG microchip, implanted in every colonist's brain at birth, is the excruciatingly painful fail-safe designed to wipe the mental hard drive and prepare it for reprogramming. But before the mind police can make their move, Ke-Ling does the unthinkable--he commits suicide. His farewell ship-wide broadcast takes containment off the table for good, and life aboard the Janus degenerates into an interstellar witch hunt. Will Kai-Lee and her friends survive the inquisition? Where do you run when you're on a space ship millions of miles from nowhere, and the hounds are closing in?
Twitter address: @Kathy_DiSanto