DA Kentner is an award winning author who also enjoys meeting and interviewing authors of many genres.

As author KevaD, my novel "Whistle Pass" won the 2013 EPIC eBook Award for suspense. Previously, in 2012, it won a Rainbow Award in the historical category. "Whistle Pass" is currently out of print, though I'm considering finding a new publisher, or self-publishing the novel. What do you think?

"The Caretaker", a 3,000 word short story, won 'Calliope' magazine's 18th annual short story competition. Click the blue ribbon to view their site and entry rules for this year's short fiction competition.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Debut Young Adult Author Nina Berry

Hawaii born Nina Berry currently resides in Hollywood by way of Chicago, where she threw her first snowball and earned a Master’s degree in Film and TV - which has nothing to do with the snowball. She’s had a screenplay optioned, her television credits include writing for Ghost Stories, and she’s worked on programs like Married…With Children and That 70’s Show. Besides being a world traveler, Nina’s interests include a passion for preserving endangered species – especially tigers.

Nina just saw the release of her debut novel “Otherkin,” the first offering in a young adult (YA) paranormal series involving animal shifters, including (no surprise here) tigers. “Othermoon,” the second in the series, will up the ante for a number of characters introduced in “Otherkin,” so be sure to start reading now!

Wasn’t that all stereotypical ‘feel good’ verbiage? Let’s get into the not so stereotypical aspect of “Otherkin.” It’s rare an author can infuse a painful reality into a paranormal atmosphere. Yet, that’s exactly what Nina Berry has done, and what sets this book apart from many others. The main character, high school student Dez, is sentenced to wearing a back brace to combat a disease attacking her body. We sit on her shoulder through her frustrations, agonies, and outright anger with unaccepting classmates as she tries to fit in, knowing she can’t, no matter what she does, or how hard she tries.

The realism portrayed in Dez didn’t come from research, but the author’s own experiences as a teen confined to a back brace. The emotions pouring from the pages are genuine. The difference between Dez and the author is that Nina couldn’t shift into a beautiful and courageous tiger to escape her limitations and bigoted classmates. Tiger shifter Dez discovers she can, and accepts not just her destiny, but the responsibility to protect the freedom of those like her, while battling her own enemies.
The end result is a story filled with action and adventure, twists and turns, and unexpected plot variations that will keep readers guessing. “Otherkin” is a thrill ride. Sit back and enjoy.

Q) Oh, yeah. I have to ask this question. The woman on the book cover bears a strong resemblance to you. Coincidence?

A) Well, that’s very flattering, thanks! I had nothing to do with picking the model used for the cover, but I did write a book about a protagonist with red hair and green eyes, like me. So it’s not surprising they picked a girl with those traits. A number of people have asked this same question, or even insisted that it’s me, but you’d need to add a few years, some freckles, and a lot more nose for it to be me.

Q) It would have been easy to turn this story into a “preachy” tale of animal rights. Instead, you masterfully injected your beliefs and hopes without standing behind a pulpit, thereby allowing the story to remain the reader’s primary focus. How did you so skillfully accomplish this?

A) Being preachy is boring, and boredom is death in a novel. My main goal always is to tell a good story. For me, a good story involves three-dimensional characters dealing with problems I care about. One of the things I care about is treating other people and animals with respect, so once I realized I wanted to tell a story about shape-shifters, that is, people who turn into animals, that theme infiltrated the writing very naturally.

Q) I read somewhere you worked with Playboy (no, not as a model – get a grip, folks). Explain, please.

A) I was a young, naïve feminist who had just moved to Hollywood, and one of my first temp jobs was assisting the President of Production at Playboy Entertainment – the video portion of the Playboy empire. I was leery at first, but it turned out to be a great job. I really liked my boss and my co-workers. The accounting department was particularly awesome; they had their own margarita machine ready for Friday afternoons. So I stayed, had a lot of fun, and learned many things they don’t teach you in school.  

I have a lot of great stories from those days, but I will only share them if you guarantee me anonymity.

Q) Why did you opt to begin this series in a high school? And, will the next series you’re considering follow the YA foundation you’ve established in “Otherkin”? 

A) The books I love the most are the ones I read as a kid and a teenager, so I decided those are the types of stories I want to tell.  The teenage years are when we really start to figure out who we are, so it’s an exciting time to write about. Also, just from a practical standpoint, I wanted to write about a girl with a back brace, and that only happens when girls are teens, before their bones stop growing. I also like stories about underdogs, and kids are usually outmatched when they face off against adults. It’s very satisfying to write stories where the kids sometimes win. I do plan to write things for adults too, but yes, the next series will also be YA.

Q) You once stated that, for a while, writing was a means for you to “run away.” What did you mean by that, and, how has your relationship with writing changed?

A) As any reader knows, reading can be a great escape. I started off as a reader myself, and got lost in the worlds in the books I loved. So when I first started writing, I wrote the stories I wanted to read to escape. There wasn’t much of me in those stories. I didn’t want the reader to “see” me, because that was scary. What if they didn’t like what they saw? Eventually I figured out that there’s no way to please everyone all the time, nor should you try. So it’s still scary, but often the most personal things make the best stories. Readers know when they’re encountering an emotional truth, so I’m trying to give them a bit of that, along with entertaining them.

Q) Any parting thoughts for those yet to pick up “Otherkin”?

A) If you like adventure, romance, or tigers, you might like the book.  And thanks for listening (or, er, reading in this case)!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net

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