Welcome Author Sara Beaman! She has come by to discuss what makes her such a big nerd, something we LOVE here at TeamNerd ;) and why she loves belly dancing. She also opens up about her debut novel, Redlisted, a complicated tale full of vampires with souls, an army of ghouls, and doppelgängers.
Annabell: Here at TeamNerd we are PROUD of being Nerd-a-licious to the core! *hehe* What qualities do you possess that qualify you as a nerd?
Sara Beaman: I have some pretty nerdy hobbies, like playing obscure board games, Magic: the Gathering, and pen-and-paper roleplaying games with various kinds of dice. I tend to get obsessed about topics others might not understand the appeal of, like the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, prisons, cephalopods, the British empire, North Korea, the Cold War… I could go on. I'm also excessively enthusiastic about English grammar and syntax, although I try not to be the kind of person who corrects others' grammar all the time.
Annabell: Do you like to collect anything odd or quirky or fun (i.e. stamps, shoes, golfballs, lava lamps, etc)?
Sara Beaman: I collect Tarot decks, but my collection isn't that impressive. I think I have ten or twelve decks. I love seeing the different ways artists choose to interpret the archetypical symbolism of the cards.
Annabell: What were you like in high school? Were you the shy type with her nose in a book or a popular athlete? Were you a part of any organizations?
Sara Beaman: I was sort of antisocial. I'm an introvert. And I have no hand-eye coordination, plus I'm naturally slow, so sports were never an option. I did end up being the co-president of the Web Development club in my senior year, though, which I suppose is another point of nerd street cred.
Annabell: You’ve been a belly dancer for the past ten years. Why did you first get involved in belly dancing and what do you love so much about it?
Sara Beaman: My mother started taking belly dance classes when I was a teenager, and after three years I very reluctantly followed her into it. Belly dance completely transformed my self-image and made me into a happy, mostly functional human being. Through belly dance anyone can feel beautiful. Everyone is welcomed into the community, regardless of shape, size, age or even gender. (Most people don't know that belly dance was originally performed by men and women alike! It's true!) Plus it's great exercise.
Annabell: You also enjoy sketching and do it VERY well by the way *wink* Where did that love come from? Why didn’t you use your own capable skills to make the cover for Redlisted? Will you use them to make the cover for the sequel?
Sara Beaman: First of all, thank you! I started drawing years and years ago because I wanted to make fan art. For the longest time I drew only manga style illustrations. Recently, I've been trying to retrain my hand so I can learn to draw in a more realistic style as well.
I went with a photo for the cover of Redlisted because I thought it would look more professional. I tend to be really hard on myself when it comes to my illustrations!
I'll probably continue to post character portraits and the like on my blog. If people enjoy seeing them, I'll have to seriously consider illustrating the cover for the sequel.
Annabell: Moving onto your book, Redlisted.
So many books pair vampires against werewolves, you chose to go in a different direction and pair vampires against ghouls. What drove you to make that decision?
Sara Beaman: Redlisted has a complicated plot, so I tried to make the supernatural elements as tight and logical as possible. I decided not to include a ton of different supernaturals. I figured the world and story were already arcane enough.
Without giving too much away about the book, I liked exploring the idea of vampires having souls. Most vampires in books, movies, and other media are considered to be soulless, inhuman and amoral. "Revenants", my version of vampires, are like ghosts that maintain control over their physical bodies. They have human minds and souls, and yet they frequently have to perform inhuman acts in order to survive.
Annabell: There are few different paranormal fictional creatures in Redlisted. Can you break down the list and explain each one (so readers are better aware).
Sara Beaman: What is a Revenant?
A "revenant" is like a vampire, but with a human soul. Revenants "initiate" humans--in other words, bring them back from the dead--by feeding them their blood. If a person's soul has already moved on, the initiation fails. So, like ghosts, all revenants have something that ties their spirit to the physical world--unfinished business, living lovers or spouses, that sort of thing.
Revenants are organized into Houses. Each House has its own unique supernatural powers. For example, revenants from the House of Mnemosyne all have powers that relate to the mind, and revenants from the House of Coventina all have powers that relate to the physical body.
What is a Warden?
A "Warden" is a type of revenant. Wardens are unique in that their only supernatural powers deal with finding other revenants and resisting or nullifying those revenants' powers. They exist to keep other revenants in check.
What is a Doppelgänger?
A doppelgänger is a human or revenant who is physically identical to someone else. For example, the main character of Redlisted, Kate, is a double, or doppelgänger, of the villain, Mirabel. The two look exactly alike.
What is a Ghoul?
A ghoul is a revenant without a soul. Sometimes, if a revenant initiation goes badly, the human will re-animate as a ghoul. More importantly, if a revenant is exposed to sunlight, they will lose the connection with their soul and become a ghoul.
Ghouls are mindless killing machines. Their only motivation is to seek blood, and the only way to kill one is to destroy its heart.
Annabell: Redlisted has a very intricate and complex plot. How did you keep track of all the details and twists? Did you use a big poster board or stickynotes or a journal? A combination of different things?
Sara Beaman: I didn't do anything but read and re-read and re-re-read the manuscript, over and over again. I started out with some notes about the mechanics of vampirism and blood magic as well as a general idea of what happened before the beginning of the story. Everything else I figured out as I went along. The characters did most of the work for me.
I always work hard to keep track of what each character knows and what their motivations are. I treat large organizations the same way. Even though I often write in first person perspective, I still consider what is happening "off screen" with all of my major characters. But I don't write any of it down! Maybe I should.
Annabell: The book is told from several points of view, mainly, from Kate and Adam in both present and past tense. Why did you choose to write in different points of view?
Sara Beaman: I actually set out to write the entire novel from Kate's perspective, but then Adam got whiny and demanded that I write his storyline too. At first I kept the two storylines in two separate files. I wasn't sure if I wanted to integrate them, since writing from multiple first person perspectives generally isn't done. It's "experimental".
In the end, Adam got his way. He usually does.
Annabell: Redlisted covers conspiracy theories, the dark side to plastic surgery, the power of hidden messages within technology. Could you break down the type of research you had to undertake in order to make sure these various elements in the plot worked?
Sara Beaman: I didn't do any research specifically for Redlisted except about travel distances and sunrise/sunset times. Most of the settings I used are places I've visited in real life, or places I've studied at length. Similarly, the themes I chose to integrate are all topics I studied in college or developed an interest in before writing the novel.
Annabell: Redlisted explores the idea of dreams and memories being transferrable through blood. That was such a unique and clever element to the plot and to two of the characters. What inspired that aspect of the plot and characters? If you could transfer dreams or memories with any one of your favorite authors, who would you choose and why?
Sara Beaman: I was inspired by a fairly common magical trope: psychometry, the ability to read memories stored in objects. Since I was writing about blood magic, it seemed natural that if memories could linger in someone's possessions, they would be written in an individual's blood as well.
It's hard for me to choose just one author whose memories I'd like to visit, but I think I would have to pick Oscar Wilde. I would love to experience his sardonic perspective on British society firsthand.
Annabell: If you were initiated into being a Revenant, what would you want your power/gift to be?
Sara Beaman: I would be the worst revenant ever. I can't even kill bugs. But, if I were to wake up dead, I'd want to have telepathy. I would love to be able to understand other people on a deeper level and to figure out what my dog is thinking.
Annabell: Thank you to Sara Beaman for giving us an inside look to how her plans for Redlisted came about and for the chance to discover more about her!
To learn more about the author, go here.
Add Redlisted to Your ‘To-Read’ List!