Saturday, June 1, 2013

Anastasia V. Pergakis discusses her writing and causes close to her heart. #Interview & #Giveaway @AVPergakis

Joining us on the blog today is fantasy author and my friend, Anastasia V. Pergakis.  Her novel Cleanse Fire is the first in the Kinir Elite series, a military inspired fantasy series about an Elven Captain who leads his team on a missions while he is haunted by his past.  

Welcome, Anastasia!

Jesi:  First of all, I loved your book!  Cleanse Fire opens with an incredibly emotional scene. What was it like to write that scene? Did you have any reservations about starting the book out setting such a dark tone right in the beginning?

Anastasia:  I honestly don't remember much of the "writing" part for that scene. It just was sort of, 'there'. It wasn't until after it was written and I went back to read it over that I felt shocked and surprised. I knew the scene going in was going to be emotional and graphic, but I didn't expect that. I was a bit scared that I could write a scene so graphic. I almost didn't include it because of the graphicness of the scene, but in the end, I left it there as it really is a great scene and gets the reader into Derac's head right from the start.

Jesi:  Many times when I read fantasy, I have trouble with the names. Either they are ridiculously long, unpronounceable or spelled crazy. I love the names of your characters because they are different enough to set a fantasy tone, yet very readable. How did you come up with your character names?

Anastasia:  Some of them I made up – or felt like I made up – out of thin air. The name was just there and it fit. Kie's, Derac's, Rakan's names were like this. I also get out my baby name book and try to find names that have a particular meaning. But, to make it fantasy, I often change the spelling in a radical way to make it fit with the language and culture I've created for my fantasy creatures. Aeli's name was one such name where I changed the spelling in a funky way to fit with the elfish language. Other times I take two different names and mush them together to form a new name. Tyn's full name is Tyngrad and I came up with it looking at the names "Tyler" and "Grady" at the same time. Surnames though, are always just me throwing some letters together until it sounds right.

Jesi:  I know you have donated some of the profits from Cleanse Fire to charity. Can you tell us a little about the charity you support and why?

Anastasia:  I support two charities now, actually. Wounded Warrior Project ( helps wounded soldiers and their families in the United States heal after returning home with both the physical and mental injuries of war. Help for Heroes ( is an organization that helps wounded soldiers in the United Kingdom.

My Dad served in the US Army for 20 years, so soldiers hold a special and personal place in my heart.

I'm sure some are wondering why I would help an organization in the UK when I live in the US. Well, I could get all political and talk about them being our allies and on the same side, etc. But, truthfully, it's from a long story my Dad once told me that for some reason has wedged itself into my heart. Many times the US and the UK soldiers get together for some "skirmish war games" and my Dad gained a close friend through one of these times (after the guy knocked out his two front teeth!).

A soldier in the UK makes the same sacrifices a soldier in the US does. It's wonderful when they work together toward a common goal and so I support both with all the thanks I can muster.

Jesi:  Such great causes!  Thank you for your generosity. You recently produced your first audio book for Cleanse Fire. How was that process for you? Can you tell us about your narrator and why you chose to work with him?

Anastasia:  It was a whirlwind of fun! Chad Tindale and I met through when he auditioned to be the narrator for my book. He read the excerpt I posted with such intensity, I listened to it about five times in a row! He totally blew me away with his talent and energy.

I sent him a copy of the book and he fell in love with it. He went above and beyond than just "reading" it in audio format. He gave each character their own voice and unique accents even! The girls too! He got into reading the lines as if he was on a stage acting – full of emotion. His wife even loved the story so much, he wasn't allowed to record chapters until she was at home to hear it!

It was great fun having such powerful feedback for my book and then having a great new medium to showcase it, is just a bonus for me. The audio book was finished much sooner than I ever anticipated thanks to Chad's love of the book and his dedication to helping me get it out there. I could never thank him enough and I can't wait to work with him again when the next book in the series is finished.

Jesi:  As readers of my book reviews know, I have a habit of casting real people, usually actors, in my mind as the characters when I read.  As you are writing, do you base your characters on real people?  If Hollywood made a movie of Cleanse Fire, who would you like to see playing the leading roles?

Anastasia:  Well, I so love the cast you came up with when you reviewed Cleanse Fire. I even shared it on the Kinir Elite blog because the cast was so fitting!

While writing though, I do have a particular person(s) in mind when writing each character, if only to get personalities shown correctly and such. But when it comes to their looks, no, I don't think of any particular person.

So, to answer the last question, if Cleanse Fire was made into a movie, I'd probably go with the cast you saw while reading it because like I said, they fit so well!

Henry Cavil (Derac)
Keira Knightly (Kie)
Sean Patrick Flanery (Tyn)
Rosamund Pike (Aeli)
Sean Bean (Rakan)
Armie Hammer (Jardel)

Jesi:  The Speak Loudly campaign has been fighting censorship in teen books, specifically in schools.  Of the books under fire, many include issue books which deal with heavy themes or controversial subjects such as eating disorders, abusive relationships, sexuality issues, teen suicide, alcohol or drug abuse, etc.  Do you feel there are topics which should be considered off limits in Young Adult literature? 

Anastasia:  As a recovering alcoholic, no I don't think these topics should be off limits. Teens have always struggled with these things and in my personal opinion it seems to get worse with each generation as the drugs are stronger, culture views on things like sexuality change, and even the way parents raise their children change.

Having these "controversial" books, even those that are fiction, can help struggling teens make it through hard times. I was bullied and ridiculed as a teen and like I said, I was a raging alcoholic and addict during my teen years as well. But books – reading about the same struggles, knowing that I wasn't alone, that someone at least thought about the things I was going through - made all the difference to me. The characters in the books were able to make it through – they dealt with whatever monsters were in the book, and within themselves. They made it! Feeling alone is the worst thing a teen can feel and knowing that I wasn't, even on a subconscious level, kept me going.

Books – not even controversial ones – ANY book, can help a teen cope. It's an escape and sometimes even a life lesson thrown into an epic adventure. I'm an adult now (and sober for almost 7 years) and I still read for the escape and for the adventure. Books should never be banned. EVER!

Jesi:  I appreciate you sharing your story with us.  People who overcome such obsticles in life never fail to amaze me.  What are you writing now that Cleanse Fire has been released? 

Anastasia:  "Blood Trade" is the sequel to "Cleanse Fire". The story picks up a few days after Cleanse Fire ended but it's an entire new adventure for the team. They are asked for help from the Tinally Elite (the faery team) dealing with a ruthless terrorist.
The other project is titled "Burden of Prophecy" and it's the first book of an entirely different series, "A Faery's Tale". As the title suggests, there is a prophecy that must be fulfilled - unite the five faery kingdoms. But, of course, tensions are high because of hatred and ignorance brewed over the last thousand years. It's heavy on the romance themes as the two main characters, Aelic and Rosyani, are a fated pair meant to bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy, but they were born as enemies and now have to make their sudden and rash marriage work somehow AND fulfill the prophecy.

 Jesi:  Thank you so much, Anastasia, for joining us today.  Readers, Anastasia is hosting an awesome giveaway.  See below for details!


Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter to win an E-BOOK COPY OF CLEANSE FIRE. Simply leave a comment on this post, answering the question: "Who is your real life 'super hero' and why? (Can be anyone!)" then enter on the raffle copter! I can't wait to see your answers, and I wish you luck!

Giveaway runs from June 1 to June 7!


Grand Prize #1: A paperback copy of “Cleanse Fire” – signed by the author, a color poster of the team – signed by them, a special edition bookmark of Derac – signed by him, and five Kinir Elite bookmarks.

Grand Prize #2: A paperback copy of “Cleanse Fire” – signed by the author, a black and white poster of the team – signed by them, and five Kinir Elite bookmarks.
Head over to the Kinir Elite website ( to enter! Follow along on the tour to have more chances to win one of these amazing prize packs. Contest ends on June 12, 2013!

*Open Internationally!*

Book Links:
Barnes & Noble

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