Tuesday 19 April 2011

Delightful Debutantes #15: Alma Katsu & The Taker.

I recently read and loved Alma Katsu's debut novel, The Taker.  Perfect for fans of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, this is a wonderful tale of undying romance through the ages, with an interesting paranormal twist. You can read my review here. I'm very happy to have Alma on the blog today to talk a little more about the novel. 

The Taker is described as ‘an immortal love story’ but to me, it was so much more than that.  Epic in scale, it combines elements of paranormal romance with historical fiction and also depicts Lanny’s journey throughout the ages – her self discovery and coming of age:

If you were to describe The Taker to prospective readers in just one sentence, how would you describe it?

I haven’t done so well with this question, I’m afraid. I usually say, ‘epic supernatural love story,’ which one of the publishing houses cleverly came up with. Lately I’ve been saying (as it seems to be something most people can relate to): “It’s the story of a girl who is in a rush to grow up, to be an adult with an adult love relationship, but she doesn’t know how to cross that bridge to adulthood, and so she makes some bad choices and does some terrible things. She makes a very bad deal with a very bad man to get her heart’s desire, and has to figure out how to save herself and the man she loves.” That’s two sentences, though. Can’t seem to squash it down to one.

UK Cover

The Taker is brimming with compelling characters. I found Lanny fascinating, but she’s not the only character who will leave the reader with food for thought.  Who were your absolute favourite characters to write, and why?

Lanny was very difficult for me, and I think that’s because she is closest to me. (Though I’ve never done such a terrible thing to someone I love!) Adair, on the other hand, has been really fun because he is so complex and so bad. No-holds-barred bad. He does whatever he wants and who wouldn’t want to be able to do that? He takes over every scene he’s in, and he can be quite seductive, so you don’t mind.

In The Taker, the reader is taken on a journey throughout history – from 19th Century America to Hungary in the 14th Century.  What kind of research did you undertake in writing the historical parts of the book?

For 19th century America, I did a fair amount of research even though I grew up in the heart of Colonial-era Massachusetts. All sorts of funny things come up that you never thought of before, like what did people eat for breakfast in those days? When was gin first manufactured? I used two reference books for clothing. For the other historical background, especially Hungary, I relied more on things I already knew, believe it or not. I have one of those day jobs where you accumulate a lot of random facts in your head.

I have read countless novels depicting the ‘Immortal love story’ and yet The Taker provided me with something totally new. The storyline surprised me and left me wanting more.  What were your inspirations and influences when writing The Taker?

The strong is strongly influenced by Catholicism and Buddhism. I was raised a Roman Catholic but my mother is Buddhist, so on one hand I was constantly made to feel guilty about every aspect of my life with no hope of redemption, very Catholic, and on the other hand, hearing from my mother about reincarnation. The multiple lifetimes of the characters function the same as having multiple lives. The characters change over time, working their way towards forgiveness or nirvana, take your pick. Lanny goes from being completely self-centered to thoughtful, Jonathan even more so.

US Cover

Jonathan, the object of Lanny’s affections is described as being ‘exceptionally beautiful’, and he seems pretty impossible to resist for just about any woman!  If The Taker were ever made into a movie, what actor would you like to see cast in the part of Jonathan St. Andrew?

This question comes up a lot with readers, and you can tell how old the respondent is by their answer. I don’t know any of the current young actors I’m afraid, so I have no suggestions, alas. Johnny Depp;s name has come up repeatedly but perhaps he’s not young enough. I adore Josh Harnett (and he’s the friend of a friend!) but again, maybe not young enough. Whom would you cast?

Me - I think Johnny Depp is a perfect choice, if only he were a little younger....Hmmm...these days I think Ben Barnes would be a good choice (he has the right hair for the part!) or Henry Cavill, who is all kinds of yum!

Can you name three other books that readers of The Taker might also enjoy?

Hmm, I’m having a hard time thinking of books that have all the elements of The Taker. Anne Rice novels are an easy answer. I loved Slammerkin (Emma Donoghue) and The Dress Lodger (Sheri Holman) which are both historic with strong female lead characters, but no supernatural element. A Reliable Wife (Robert Goolrick) is historic and incredibly sexy, but again no real supernatural element. Keith Donohue’s novels have wonderful supernatural elements but are not smutty in the least.

What can readers expect in the sequel to The Taker?  Can you offer any insights into what happens next, or maybe what characters we might get to know more about in the second book?
I don’t want to give anything away! I hope it will suffice to say that most of the same characters are back with a couple new ones. It’s a bit different from The Taker. The working title is The Reckoning, which might give you a clue as to what it’s about.

Thank you very much for your kind words about the novel and for your interest. I am most appreciative.

Thanks Alma for the great interview! The Taker is out now in the UK and will be released in the US in September 2011. If you can't wait until then, you can buy it on The Book Depository with free international shipping!

I also recommend you watch this great Book Trailer for The Taker:

Next up on Delightful Debutantes: Yvonne Woon & Dead Beautiful.


  1. Great interview, Leanna! I already wanted to read this one, now I'm even more excited! September can't come soon enough---and I love the trailer!

  2. I can't wait to read The Taker! Johnny Depp is a great choice - if only he was younger!
    Slammerkin and The Dress Lodger are among my favorite books too.

  3. Great interview. I love the sound of an 'epic supernatural love story.

  4. Fantastic interview. Loved your questions and very much enjoyed Alma's responses. Definitely have to read this one.

  5. I have to say she has spectacular taste in actors. Johnny Depp, Ben Barnes and Henry Cavill? Yum to all three! I can't wait to read this one, thanks so much for the interview!

  6. Ooo! I want to get this book. Fabulous interview. I definitely want to read this. I love historicals with a paranormal twist. How can I resist one set in Colonial America? Btw...Ben Barnes...yay! I'll be first in line for that movie ticket. Great interview!


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