January 25, 2011

author interview: darby karchut

Today, I welcome the lovely Darby Karchut whose debut novel Griffin Rising comes out June 15th, 2011 from Twilight Times Books. She’s also granted me an ARC of said novel, so I hope to have a review up for you in the coming months.

For centuries, rumors have abounded of a lowly caste of supernatural beings known as the Terrae Angeli. Armed with the power to control Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, these warriors secretly serve as guardians for mortals in danger.
But for one young angel-in-training, Griffin, life is hell as a cruel master makes his apprenticeship a nightmare. On the verge of failing, a new mentor, Basil, enters his life and changes it forever. It is their father-and-son relationship, sometimes turbulent, often hilarious, always affectionate, that sings through the story like a pure note.

Masquerading as the average teen next door, Griffin struggles to learn his trade, navigate the ups and downs of modern life among humans (including falling in love with the girl next door), and prepare for the ancient trial-by-combat every apprentice must pass at sixteen or be forced to become mortal.

When did you decide you were going to be a writer?
Are you kidding me?! I’m not a writer. Writing is hard work! No, no, I’m more of a storyteller. But to answer your question, I had never written a thing, except maybe a Christmas letter or two, before I began writing Griffin Rising. I know. Bizarre, huh?

But I read. A lot. All the time. I eat books. Which I guess explains how Griffin Rising came to be. You know the old saying: you read and you read, and then one day, you throw up a book.

Nowadays, I still read loads of books, not only for pleasure, but to study the craft of writing. Every book has a lesson.

As a debut author, what were some of the struggles you faced between writing Griffin Rising and publication? What was your writing journey like?
Ok, this is where it gets even more crazy. I started writing Griffin Rising on July 17, 2009 and finished the manuscript in November, then revised it about a bazillion times. In February, 2010, I began querying agents and publishers, and started getting requests for full manuscripts. While deep in the midst of the querying process, I also wrote the sequel. Then, on June 26, 2010, I landed a contract with Twilight Times Books. And on November 11, 2010, I accepted a second contract (again with Twilight Times Books) for its sequel entitled Griffin’s Fire.

I realize incredibly good fortune has played a massive role in my success, along with plain old hard work. I had the right book at the right time for the right publisher. And the right publisher for me. Lida E. Quillen, the owner and publisher of Twilight Times Books, Robina Williams, my editor, and Ardy M. Scott, the artist who designed the fabulous cover for Griffin Rising, have been amazing to work with. They are a sterling example of why small and mid-list presses are rocking the publisher world.

What inspired Griffin Rising? Your biography mentions a love of mythology and the Hero’s Journey (a passion I undeniably share). How much of an impact did they have on Griffin Rising?
In the summer of 2009, I came across an obscure and rather brief description from the Middle Ages about a lower caste of angels. According to tradition, these angels, besides acting as guardians of humankind, were also said to control the four elements of earth, fire, wind, and water. And thus, Griffin, Basil, and the other Terrae Angeli were born.

In addition to religious influences, I’ve also added bits and pieces from other cultures and historical events. Touches of classical Sparta, the Irish myths of Cuchulainn, Finn and the Red Branch, the European feudal system, the Plains Indians of North America, and Great Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War Two all found their way into Griffin’s tale.

Are you a plotter (plot everything out before writing) or a pantser (write by the seat of your pants)?
I’m a hybrid. (Does that make me a “green” writer?) I write a fairly detailed story arc, then promptly forget to follow it once I begin writing! But it is there in my subconscious as I work, guiding me along.

What is your favorite part about writing?
OMGosh, I love revising! I mean it. The first draft is always sheer agony for me. Talk about labor! But once I get a rough draft slammed out, then I am a state of sheer bliss. I live to tweak.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
As I mentioned earlier, read constantly, especially in your genre. Just as apprentice artists used to spend hours in museums copying the works of the old masters, study outstanding authors and their books. Soak up good writing, then use it to find your own voice. Know the rules of writing, then break them as necessary. Anything to make your story better.

Be fearless.

Now for funsies… what’s one random or strange fact that people don’t know about you?
I have memorized every poem in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I recite them to myself when I go for my daily run. Just for fun.

Because I am the biggest Tolkien geek in the world.

No. Really. I have the action figures to prove it.


All her life, the archetypal hero and his journey have enthralled Darby Karchut. A native of New Mexico, Darby grew up in a family that venerated books and she spent her childhood devouring one fantasy novel after another. Fascinated by mythologies from around the world, she attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a degree in anthropology. After moving to Colorado, she then earned a Master’s in education and became a social studies teacher.

Drawing from her extensive knowledge of world cultures, she blends ancient myths with modern urban life to write stories that relate to young teens today.

Darby is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Pikes Peak Writers Guild. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, where she still teaches at a local junior high school. She enjoys running, biking, and skiing the Rocky Mountains in all types of weather.

You can find more about Griffin Rising and Darby at her website: www.darbykarchut.com


  1. Brooke, thanks for having me today - I loved answering your questions.

  2. Great interview! Now I am totally intrigued and looking forward to Grifin rising!

  3. Super interview, Brooke.

    I told you that you'd soon have no secrets, Darby. :)It's interesting that Griffin Rising is your first writing. Your road to publication is a writer's (aka storyteller) dream. Just shows you have talent as well as the right time and right publisher. I'm so excited for you. Griffin is a wonderful story. Congratulations. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

    Sorry I'm so late getting here. Been one of those days.

  4. Shannon: I hope you enjoy reading about my guys as much as I enjoyed writing their story.

    Bev: Oh, it's so nice to see you here! You are always a ray of sunshine, friend!

  5. Great interview!

  6. Suizyq: Brooke did a terrific job!

  7. What a fun interview. And wow, I can't wait to read this book!

  8. What a great interview! I think the book sounds wonderful and I am looking forward to the review.

  9. Su and BookGeek: I hope you like my tale!

  10. LOL! Wow. LOVE the tidbit about Tolkien. I adore the movies but haven't gotten up the enthusiasm for the books yet.

    Also, I love your passion for writing and how you said if you read and read enough, eventually a book comes out--rather forcefully. XD I find it difficult to stick to one genre and it's hard to juggle two books in two different worlds. Plus, schoolwork plays a major factor, eventually making it IMPOSSIBLE to write anything! Though nothing stops me from reading. :)

    Lovely interview. :)

    The Authoress