27 Jan 2016

Author Interview with Tanja Kobasic

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
The Untapped Series is an urban fantasy featuring conjoined-twins, Scarlett and Jade Jennings and Vegas’ uprising star and Illusionist, Sebastian Cole. Sebastian introduces himself to Scarlett during her book signing, and their attraction is instant, unbeknownst to them that they were destined to meet. Despite the rumors that Sebastian possess demonic powers , that his own mother tried to kill him, Scarlett finds herself drawn to him. But for Scarlett to be with Sebastian, Jade must be appeased. Yet self-centered Jade, unstable and increasingly aggressive, only fuels the shadows that have plagued Sebastian since his birth. Nothing is coincidence.

What inspired you to write it?
The Untapped Series is a spin-off of my debut novel, Angels in Stone. Angels in Stone is speculative fiction, layered in historical facts that date back to early Rome, the birth of Christianity and the Roman Empire.
There is nothing romantic about the Stone Series. I received a lot of mixed reviews; some readers enjoyed the complexity whereas others found the complexity too much or too dark. I thought that a paranormal romance would be less unsettling. But the new story needed to have validity. What I’d decided to do was use the same foundation that I’d created in the Stone Series and applied it to the Untapped Series. I’d spent a year researching Brazil, the Lost City of Z, the slave trade, Christianity and the Roman Empire. I wanted to introduce readers to the Vividus family who had ties to the mad Roman emperor, Nero. I wanted to use Sebastian Cole to do so. Sebastian’s father, Valerian Vividus was a Voodoo Priest working out of the French Quarter in New Orleans and without giving anything away, Sebastian was born with otherworldly powers, powers that do not belong to him. Still, despite having the back-story, there was the issue of Sebastian’s love interest. Who was she? Nothing came to me, nothing that inspired me to begin writing. She had to be special, someone who would be able to tell a different story with a fresh and challenging perspective. “I should just make her a conjoined-twin,” I’d tossed off the remark during dinner with a business partner. That flippant statement opened the creative floodgates, and Scarlett Jennings was born.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

There was no question that the cover for Vanishing Twin needed to show that the series featured conjoined-twins. That is not to say that our artist, Silviya Yordanova had it easy. We toiled back and forth until she was finally able to depict the sister’s unique anatomy, particularly that bridge of flesh that Scarlett despises. Joined at the pelvis, the sisters share everything from the waist down, so you can imagine the challenge that Scarlett would face during the tender act of love. One reader had contacted me to say that she was able to refer to the first book cover when reading this paragraph below:
“This was our virginity, our moment, our hymen. This was my first love, probably my only love, and she’d felt every inch of him with me. When Sebastian had taken our virginity, Jade and I had never been more separated. He’d almost split us in half. Almost.” Scarlett Jennings – Twin Flames

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
Sebastian Cole’s role would be a hard position to fill. He’s biracial and has unique features along with a mess of corkscrew curls. The actresses we’d used in the film frames were exceptionally striking but if I had it my way, I’d love to one day see Nina Dobrev acting the lead role of Scarlett Jennings. I’ve never given any thought as to the actress I’d like to see playing Jade.

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
There are four books in the Untapped Series and because the Untapped Series was born out of the Stone Series, I’ve been re-writing Angels in Stone, giving Sebastian Cole a few scenes so that both series can be read simultaneously or separately. I’ll be fusing both series with a final book and that final book will take place in Brazil.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
The Untapped Series is set in Las Vegas. It made sense to place Sebastian Cole in Sin City, especially because he’s an illusionist with his own show. Because I’m a very visual person with a hunger for film, I started with a storyboard, testing to see if using Las Vegas as the backdrop to my story would work. It did.
Along with Gregory Pratt, (our graphic designer) we created 3D renderings of the hotel, including amenities, hotel suites, Club EF5, Sebastian’s enormous theatre and art gallery. The storyboard mushroomed into what looked like a true hotel site. I thought, why not? So we created restaurants using the same interior design program, created bios and characters that I introduce in the series, stock images of staff that ran the different hotel sectors. I’m a foodie, so it was great to feature my recipes in some of the “five-star” eateries. If you Google www.thevortexhotelandcasino.com you’ll actually be able to see what I’m talking about. We’ve had agents and executive assistants emailing us, wanting to book a room for their clients and bosses.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?

Strangely, I’m not a fan of paranormal romance. As for the supernatural, there is a certain draw to the unknown - that cosmic uncertainty that makes fiction more plausible.

What made you want to become an author?
I wouldn’t say that I’m an author, more of a creator. With dreams of becoming a movie director, I’d been writing screenplays for years. Unable to bring those scripts into fruition, I’d decided to convert those scripts into manuscripts. There is a liberation to that; writing a book because the writer is able to be actor, director and cinematographer.

How do you come up with character names?
Cruel Intentions. I loved Ryan Phillippe’s portrayal of Sebastian. The sister’s names didn’t come to me so quickly. Conjoined-twins are identical. But what I’d discovered was that identical twins don’t always look identical. It’s rare, but true. Scarlett’s eyes are a deep brown with a reddish hue and Jade’s eyes are a striking green. Once I’d decided on their physical appearance, naming them was a cinch.

Do you struggle to come up with book titles? Do they come before, during or after you've written your book?
No, I’ve never struggled to come up with a title for a book/script/poem, especially a book that stands on its own. Creating a title and a subtitle for a series can be challenging. I look for a link, something that connects the core of each book to the next.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
Lolita by Vladimirovich Nabokov.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Crappy movies full of clich├ęs and bad dialogue; it seems to light a fire under me, learning what not to do.

Where is your favourite place to write?

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Lolita directed by Adrian Lyne.

Name two of your favourite authors.
Vladimirovich Nabokov – always. Right now I’m enjoying Margaret Atwood but that’ll change.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I love animals more than I do humans.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
Now that’s a frightening thought. I have too many personalities and looks.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
We have geese and ducks (with chicks in tow) taking casual strolls across the busy highways all through summer. The vision is as beautiful as is it horrific—a living metaphor.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I’ve been converting another script into a manuscript. An omniscient point-of-view told by a dog (not really a dog but an Earthly Guardian). He’s been ordered to save a boy’s life. The dog turns Westmont, Los Angeles upside down in the process.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
To buy a house with a porch in the historical section of New Orleans where I can sip sweet tea and write.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
The lost city of Z in Brazil.

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Evel Knievel. If you’re too young to know who the hell I’m talking about — Google it.

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