Bio: Kat Doughty is a mom to four active boys, which is why she needs a fantasy world or two to escape to on a regular basis. When she's not busy writing, taking photos or trying to keep her children alive, she is probably hiding in the pantry.
To the Dark is a romantic fantasy novel about a girl who figures she has her life all figured out until it all gets challenged by another group of students who she's always been told are too dark to associate with. Tell us a bit about the genesis of the book?
I came up with the idea when I was working as a maid in a German hotel. I was 19, a girl with a recognizable Eastern European accent and, although my German was pretty decent at that time, I was finding it hard, if not impossible, to move past the maid job. So, while I was changing bed sheets and scrubbing bathrooms for sixteen hours a day, I was thinking about social norms and expectations and making up little stories for myself. The book is what eventually came out of one of those.
The Dark Ones are a group of people that handle the magic of this world differently than those in Lucianna's side of their world. Could you tell us a bit about the differences?
In short, the Dark Ones are based on Gypsies. They are wilder, more aggressive and a little more physical in all directions than the mainstream people would like them to be. They don’t necessarily do the same type of civilization as the rest of the world and the idea is that keeping closer to the primal part of their heritage is what makes their magic stronger. At the same time, if you have that much more power, there have to be checks in place, so they had to develop a strict structure and clear expectations to prevent the rest of the society from hunting them down. The White Ones are more or less your stereotypical middle class white folks from somewhere in the 50’s, set on their way of life. Many of them understand the system is flawed, but for some reason the bullies who preach supremacy of one group over another always seem to be the loudest.
Lucianna is a very together girl until it all gets shaken up. Even when she has doubts, she tries to keep things handled. Did you base her on anyone? Would you have done things differently than she did under the circumstances?
I think a lot of people (including myself) are living in their happy little box, largely unaware of things that go on outside of it. There was a girl from Brazil in one of my German classes who was telling us stories about the life in Brazil and, in her mind, it was all about the beach, good food and dancing. Incidentally, the older lady in the seat next to me was also from Brazil and at the end she turned to me and said in a quiet voice, “I know where she is from. It’s a rich area and she is too young to know any better. She hadn’t seen the homeless and the poor before she left for Germany. That’s not the place I am from or how my family lives.” I think she just wanted to share with someone without calling the other girl out, but it scared me. It made me wonder if I was living in a dream world myself. It’s not that I come from a rich family or an affluent area, yet I was always taken care of and never had to worry that I would be hurt or killed if I left the house. At nineteen I took a lot of it for granted, mostly because I didn’t know any different. Lucianna is how I imagined it would feel to be dragged outside of that cushy place and, in a way, was a promise to myself that even if couldn’t relate directly, I would always remember to think of those whose boxes were more like cold and drafty death row cells. I’d like to think that were that me, I’d do what needed to be done instead of falling to pieces. Even for Lucianna, things could have gotten much worse, but the reality is that I am lucky enough to be still sitting in that happy little box, so I am hesitant to make any promises.
James is a very strong male lead who plays off of Tate's personality, both are dominant men in many ways, but they show that in different ways. How would you respond to them if you were in Lucianna's shoes?
Ha, that’s a tricky question. Tate is meant to be a jerk who really only wants to get some. He plays nice for a while, but that doesn’t change who he is. Personally, I am not that good at following directions and I’d most likely get fed up way before Lucianna did. James is more of a Prince Charming sort of guy. If you can find me one of those, I’ll happily let him play the boss since I would know he always made the right decisions (by which I mean decisions I would make myself). The problem is that most human males lack the ability to read my mind and are therefore completely useless in that sense. I think I’ll stick with my husband, who is neither Tate nor James, but a genuinely nice guy who tries his best to make me happy. In my experience, both Tate and James kind of guys end up being jerks, even if they don’t mean to be.
To The Dark has a very nice drawn out romance, can you tell us a bit about it and working on creating the build-up?
I am not sure I can at this point! The final version is stitched from bits and pieces that I played with over the years. I remember there being a solitary tower on a cliff at one point and Lucianna making slaves out of the village people before James returned, but the story has been in my head for so long I was mostly just writing it down in a way that made sense. The Dark Ones also used to be telepaths early on and the concept of Trial was very vague until they made Lucianna’s daughter go on one despite the fact that she had no magic whatsoever… Turns out there is a lot of time to make up stories when you are a manual laborer. What I am trying to say - don’t look to me for answers as to what I did from literary perspective. For some reason it seemed impossible for me to work on anything else until I got this book out, so that’s exactly what I did.
Can you tell us a bit about The First Singers, your next book? Do you have anything else in the works or soon to come out?
I am very excited about The First Singers! It’s a dystopian trilogy (I am pretty sure you re not allowed to write a dystopian story without it being a trilogy) about an eighteen year old girl who is about to go on a sort of rite of passage chase that would take her to a life of luxury at the fabled Island. The downside is that if she gets caught, she’ll end up being a part of the food chain of the Caretakers, humanoids who are in control of the survivors of the human race. I am currently in the finishing stages of the second book and so far it’s going well, I think. I am waiting to hear on a short fantasy story and there are several other books already lined in my head that I only hope to get to at some point in the future.