Interview with Ann Marie Kazutomi
Darkness Falls: Magikos Alliance
Ann Marie Kazutomi
K.U. International, Inc. (2013)
Reviewed by Jennifer Hass for Reader Views (01/14)
Article first published as Interview: Ann Marie Kazutomi, Author of ‘Darkness Falls’ on Blogcritics.
Ann Marie Kazutomi has been enthusiastic about writing ever since high school. After successful careers as a finance director for a car dealership, and owner of her dream business—a tea store where she created personal blends and educated customers about tea—a serious car accident changed her focus and directed her back toward the creative world of fiction writing. She is currently working on a degree in history as part of her commitment to writing accurate, authentic fiction set in ancient worlds. Ann Marie currently lives in Aurora, Colorado with her husband and talented twin daughters.
Tyler: Welcome, Ann Marie. I'm very intrigued by the story of "Darkness Falls." To begin, will you tell us a little about the main character, Alexander Vaerius Maximus. I understand he's not human, so what exactly is he?
Ann Marie: Alexander is a Cruetian, otherwise known to ancient humans as a Dark-Soul. The Cruetian people are descendants of the three Titan protectors, who were created by the Titans and controlled by their need for human blood. When the Titans were ousted by Zeus, the goddess Hecate saved the three Titan protectors and placed them on earth to live amongst humans. Alexander is a 2300 year old Cruetian, with a huge destiny to fulfill. He is not only the Cruetian Crown Prince, but is also the leader of the Magikos Alliance, which is an alliance of supernatural beings.
Tyler: Whoa! What do you mean by the “need for human blood”? Were the Titan protectors evil? So are the Cruetians bad guys are good guys? Are they enemies to humans?
Ann Marie: No, they are not evil. Are some of them bad? Of course, just like we have bad humans, there are bad Cruetians, but the majority are not enemies to humans. Their need for blood comes from their original creation. During the Titans’ reign, ancient humans believed in human sacrifice to the gods. The Titans viewed this as an opportunity, since they did not have any use for the sacrifices. When they created the Titan protectors, they made them so that they needed human blood to survive. By doing this, the Titans made the protectors dependent on them for their very survival. Since the protectors could not go to Earth without a god helping them, they had to wait for the Titans to give them the sacrificed human blood. Even after they were put on Earth by the goddess Hecate, they did not kill humans, and even protected them. The human blood they need is for survival, and the majority of the Cruetians have found ways to get what they need without harming humans.
Tyler: Alexander has been cursed by his ex-wife. Will you tell us a little about the curse and how he plans to lift it?
Ann Marie: Alexander’s deceased wife was the Stregian princess, or the witch princess. The Stregians had been at war with many of the supernatural beings, including the Cruetians. For Alexander to be able to create the Magikos Alliance, he had to gain peace with the Stregians. The Stregian Queen demanded he marry her daughter; however, she never intended peace. Her daughter, Fiona, was a plant to infiltrate the Cruetian royal family. Fiona plotted to kill the royal family with the help of Alexander’s cousin, Seth. When Fiona’s betrayal was discovered, Alexander executed her, which gave the Stregian Queen the opportunity to ask the Celtic goddess, Cerredwen to place a curse on all Cruetians. The curse was designed to exterminate the Cruetians by not allowing them to procreate, but their goddess, Hecate, stepped in and adjusted the curse, so that they could have children with their Amara. This started him on an 800 year journey to find his Amara, in which he discovers another prophecy that stated his Amara was the key to the curse.
Tyler: Alexander believes Kara, a human, is his “amara” (chosen one). Why does he believe that?
Ann Marie: Alexander grew up and lives in the supernatural world. They believe and listen to their prophecies. It was a prophecy that informed Alexander that his Amara would be a human, and although he is shocked and nervous about the idea, he knows that his people need her.
Tyler: What kinds of difficulties exist in Alexander loving a human?
Ann Marie: The biggest issue for Alexander and Kara is that even though Cruetians are now known to humans, humans still do not know about the supernatural world that exists around them. It was an accident that Cruetians were discovered, so they have kept most of their abilities and the existence of other supernatural beings a secret. Besides that major issue, Kara is a strong-willed American, something that Alexander is not familiar with. He is an Alpha male who is used to getting his way; this causes numerous conflicts between the two.
Tyler: Kara calls Alexander a vampire, but he is offended by this remark. How is he different from a vampire?
Ann Marie: Modern humans have called the Cruetian people vampires, and although the name Cruetian comes from the Latin word Cruoris, which means blood or gore, the Cruetian people do not kill humans. However, the Cruetian people do call their criminals that suck a human dry, vampires. This is why it is offensive to Alexander. The Cruetians view their most horrendous criminals as vampires.
Tyler: Our reviewer at Reader Views, Jennifer Hass, was impressed that the novel did not fall into easy or stereotypical romance novel plotting. What was important to you in creating a believable romance between the characters?
Ann Marie: For me, I believe there has to be more to a story than just the romance. Do not get me wrong, I love a good romance, but I also like to have a complete picture of who the characters are. People have told me that my characters are quite complex, and that the world I have created is even more so. I take this as a huge compliment. I spent a year doing research and creating the world my characters live in, before I ever began to write the story. I believe the world and the people around a person has a lot to do with that person’s character. I think it would be hard for an author to write any story without completely understanding their characters first, but to write a romance and create a relationship between two people is even more difficult. The author has to understand every aspect of their characters to make it believable and realistic. I know that might sound odd coming from a fictional writer, but I want my readers to step into the Magikos world and feel what my characters feel. I let the characters guide me during my writing. My family all think I’m crazy because there are times when I am writing that I laugh out loud, or even start crying, because I can feel my characters excitement and happiness. I can feel their anguish, their fear, or even their anxiety. That is what I want my readers to feel. I want to create a story that they can get lost in, and believe they are really there. I want them to see what I see in my imagination.
Tyler: Tell me a bit more about your research, Ann Marie. Is it all research into mythology, since you obviously are blending Greek and Celtic myths and maybe others too?
Ann Marie: For this series, I did do a lot of mythology research. However, that was just the beginning of my research. I also needed to know the differences of how each ancient civilization lived, how each civilization changed through the centuries, and how they would have interacted with supernatural beings. One of the interesting things that I discovered was that ancient humans would have probably accepted the Cruetians and other supernatural beings without hesitation. This is why in the series, the Cruetians are also known as Dark-Souls. This was the name that ancient humans called them. However, as time went on, and Christianity became popular, the supernatural became forbidden. It was seen as evil. We see this in how the idea of witches was perceived, and how people were executed simply because someone thought they might be a witches. To create a world that spans over centuries, I had to understand how civilizations changed. From the way they lived, to their beliefs, to how they thought on a daily basis.
Another aspect of my research was in their names. I looked up ancient Greek and Latin, and then created the different supernatural beings using ancient words as their basis. For example, Magikos is a form of the word “magic” in Greek, and Cruetians stems from the Latin word “cruoris,” which means “blood.” Amara stems from many languages with its meaning being, “beloved, eternal, immortal, lovely, grace, paradise, unfading, wisdom, dear, sweetheart,” and even “she will love.” It seemed like the perfect word for a chosen one to be called. So as you can see, my research spans a lot of topics. Even the characters’ names I needed to make sure were realistic to the time period they were born, so I had to search records of people’s names during that time period.
Tyler: Will you give us an example of how you use your research and the creation of your fictional world to develop a specific one of your characters?
Ann Marie: In a way, this could be a spoiler, for I hint throughout “Darkness Falls” who Alexander’s grandfather is, but never actually reveal it. If you know ancient history, it is easy to guess, but if you do not, most people do not put it all together. It is known that Alexander the Great had two wives when he died. However, in some ancient texts, it shows he had three wives. His third wife was name Parysatis, and she was the sister of his second wife, Stateira. When Alexander died, history shows that Roxana, his first wife, killed Stateira to guarantee her child’s succession. However, history does not show what happened to Parysatis. There are a lot of theories, but nothing confirmed, so I used this to my advantage. Since in my series, ancient humans knew about the Cruetians, I had her run for help to a Cruetian who was living in Babylon. He took her to Rome to meet his king, Avitus, who was one of the original Titan protectors. I also had her pregnant with Alexander the Great’s child, which is why she was being hunted, because Roxanne wanted that child dead. Avitus agreed to help Parysatis and her unborn child. That child years later would become Avitus’s wife, Hypathia, and their firstborn son would be Alexander, named after his grandfather. Also based on all historical accounts on Alexander the Great’s features, I gave my character, Alexander, those same features.
Tyler: Ann Marie, when I introduced you, I remarked on your “commitment to writing accurate, authentic fiction set in ancient worlds.” What do you believe is important in making the fantasy feel authentic for readers? And just how accurate do you need to be if your characters and worlds are fictional?
Ann Marie: I believe that a fictional writer could pretty much create any type of world that they can imagine. However, I think that if they are using either a historical or current person, situation, or event within their story that they have to at least use the basic facts within their story to make it believable. I am an ancient history buff, and am intrigued with that time period. It is why I enjoy using it within my stories, but I want to make sure that my stories represent that time period as accurately as possible within the world I have created in my imagination.
Tyler: There are a lot of fantasy and romance novels out there. Would you say you were influenced by any, either in a good way or in the sense that you could write a better one?
Ann Marie: I love to read, and there is probably not a science fiction, fantasy, or romance novel, being historical, paranormal, contemporary, and even erotica that I would not read. There are so many amazing authors out there that I am always finding a new book that interests me. Would I say that I have been influenced by them? Absolutely! Every time I read a book I think that it enhances my own imagination. I think reading and talking to other authors is always a positive influence for an author. It gives us the encouragement we need to move forward with our own ideas.
Tyler: What’s next for you, Ann Marie? Is a sequel planned?
Ann Marie: Yes there is. With the cliff hanger at the end of “Darkness Falls,” my fans would be extremely upset if I did not write a sequel. I consistently get fans asking when the next one will be out. I am currently working on the second book in the Magikos Alliance series, “Darkness United,” and can say that it will be released at the end of 2014. I am also working on another paranormal series that will incorporate a future earth, ancient Druids, and a world called Nakor that exists on another plane of existence. I hope to have the first Nakorian novel out next year.
Tyler: Thank you again, Ann Marie, for the opportunity to interview you today about “Darkness Falls.” Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information we can find there about the novel and the series?
Ann Marie: Currently you can find information about “Darkness Falls,” as well as, information about me on my website www.AnnMarieKazutomi.com. A person can also contact me with any questions they might have, as well as become a member to receive updates on my future books. It also has the Magikos Alliance dictionary online, and has links to purchase “Darkness Falls.” I have to say, my website is still a work in progress, and I hope to have a section that will allow my fans to ask my characters questions, as well as, timelines and family trees, so that my fans can have a complete picture of each of these worlds.