Dispirited by Luisa Perkins, published March 17, 2012

Today we have Luisa Perkins who will tell us about her new book “Dispirited” published by Zarahemla Books.

First of all, what’s Dispirited about?

A boy named Blake teaches himself how to get out of his body in order to go looking for the spirit of his dead mother. One night when he comes home, he finds that another being has taken over his body in his absence. For years, he watches an impostor live his life. Then his father remarries, and Blake hopes to get help from his new stepsister, Cathy, who has some unusual gifts.

What’s the story behind the story? How did you get the idea for Dispirited?

When I was about 18, I read about astral projection for the first time. I thought it sounded interesting, but I wondered what would prevent an evil spirit taking over your body while you were out of it—and what you could do about it if that happened.

Then, years later at my doctor’s office, I saw a photograph of an old, abandoned house in the woods. It fascinated me, and I knew I wanted to use it as the setting for a story. I was fortunate to be able to purchase permission from that photographer to use that same image on the cover of the novel.

What theme do you explore in the book?

The big theme in Dispirited is displacement. What is home, and what does it do to a person to be away from it? Blake gets displaced from his body, but his newly blended family also gets displaced from their homes in Manhattan once they move to Kashkawan, the small town where the story takes place. There are a lot of smaller variations on that theme that get explored as the story moves forward.

Are the names of the characters in the book important?

I take a lot of time naming my characters. I never want them to distract from the story, but I think knowing the meanings of characters’ names adds subtle depth. The “bad guy” is named Zared—that’s Hebrew for “trap.” The name Kashkawan is also important; it means “it is foggy” in the Algonquin language.

What about dark fantasy interests you?

There is opposition in all things. Shadows give relief and depth to a landscape. Reality is difficult, and a vicarious journey through darkness can help make sense of the challenges in life. At least, that’s my experience as a reader.

Why did you choose to write a YA novel?

Well, that’s not what I set out to do. I just wrote the kind of story I like to read. It happens to have three teenagers as the main characters. These days, I guess that means it’s YA. My own three teenagers really liked the book, but so did my mom and my husband and a lot of other people who haven’t been teenagers for a while.

What is the hardest part of writing?

Starting. Every day. (The second hardest part is stopping.)

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I spend time with my fabulous husband and six kids. I clean and cook. I knit and garden and read and play music. It’s a normal but wonderful life.

Who are some of your favorite writers and why?

Oh, I could go on for days. Mark Helprin, for his beautiful prose and uplifting themes. The Bronte sisters, because they were pioneers of dark fantasy. Jane Austen, for her grace and dry wit. Terry Pratchett, for his absolutely wacky sense of humor. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Tad Williams, Neal Stephenson. Okay, I’ll stop now.

What made you want to be a writer?

I started writing stories when I was four, so I don’t remember it as a conscious decision. Whenever I turn the last page of a really great book and feel that combination of satisfaction and regret that the experience is over, I think, “I want to do that for someone else someday.”

Here is the links for you to check out her book. Happy reading…

The paperback should be up on Amazon by Saturday, but until then, it can be ordered here:

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