Today we welcome debut YA Author T.K. Richardson, author of Return the Heart, which is now available.
Return the Heart is T.K. Richardson’s debut novel, and like much of her writing, is subtly influenced by her love of Russian history and literature. Raised on the West Coast, she improves the lives of children near and far by advocating for abused and neglected children in her community, as well as sponsoring a Christian based orphanage in India. She lives with her husband and children in California where she is at work on her next novel.
To a casual passerby, Lilly Paige is anything but special. As a seventeen year old, she is faced with all the complications of a teenager, but deep down there is much more. Lilly has a gift, though sometimes it seems to be a curse.
Lilly can peer into the hearts of others – their deepest, darkest secrets are there for Lilly to see – but to what end? Raised by aloof parents, Lilly has been independent her whole life, but soon she will need to rely on her friends to evade an evil that has sold her gift to the highest bidder on the black market. Lilly and her four closest friends are immersed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, that will not only reveal more about Lilly’s gift, but also her link to an old Russian prophecy.
Can Lilly and her friends escape the danger that is so close they can practically feel it? Where will their perilous journey lead them – to darkness or light?
Lolita Suzanne: Welcome, thank you so much for visiting us here at Steamed! today. Congratulations on your first release. Can you share the story of “the Call”, the “email” or how you broke through into publishing with us?
T.K. Anderson: Like so many other writers I queried for what seemed like forever. Finally, when I felt the manuscript and I were both ready I sought out different publishers to submit to. I’m very happy with my publisher and the work they have put into Return the Heart.
LS: The cover is absolutely beautiful. Now, can you tell us what your book is about?
TKA: Return the Heart is the story of 17 year old Lilly Paige who has the secret gift of reading the heart. When that gift is exposed and sold on the black market she discovers her gift is more than the target of criminal obsession – it’s somehow linked to an old, Russian prophecy.
LS: Ooh, who doesn’t love a good prophecy? What inspired this story?
TKA: Return the Heart was inspired by my children, my love for Russian history and literature, and a desire to create a captivating story that would delight teens. What followed is a story filled with action, secret gifts, a seedy underworld, and more twists and revelations than the reader expects. Toss in a Russian element and Return the Heart is like an action movie about teens and for teens.
LS: I confess, I am an utter and total folklore nerd. What genre would you characterize this story as and why?
TKA: The book is intended for young adults, but I’m finding that people of all ages, from 10 to 92, are reading and enjoying the book. As an author I am very excited that the story is reaching so many different people and age groups.
LS: That’s really great. I love finding stories everyone can enjoy. When it comes to actually writing a story, are you a plotter or a pantser?
TKA: Oh, I’m definitely a panster. I’ve tried outlining before and I’ve tried plotting the story, but I work better when I just wing it and let the story take on a life of its’ own. It’s more fun that way, too. Of course, it probably makes it harder when I’m editing, but it’s the price I’m willing to pay.
LS: Hehehe, I’m a pantser, too, and seeing the story and characters take on a life of their own is half the fun. Do you have a favorite character?
TKA: Hmm… Well, I really love all the characters, so I don’t have a favorite. Each has qualities that I find admirable and that I love.
LS: If your characters went on summer vacation where would they go?
TKA: They might go to Disneyland, or the beach, or somewhere most any other teens would enjoy going.
LS: Do you have any writing habits/quirks/superstitions?
TKA: I don’t think I do, but my family may think differently. I do like to write at night, though. I love it when the dark surrounds everything and blankets my world in mystery and shadows. It’s my ideal time for writing, and it’s quiet.
LS: Quiet can be a good thing, especially when there are kiddos around, lol. Did you always want to be a writer?
TKA: No, I never dreamed of being a writer and it was never something on my list of things I wanted to be. One day the main character, Lilly, “appeared” and I rushed to write her down. Six weeks later the first draft of my first novel was complete, and I’ve been writing ever since. I love it, and I wouldn’t change the way it came about. Although I never dreamed of being a writer, I can see that my love for reading and history really prepared me and opened the door for my writing.
LS: Those dang, pushy characters, lol. Where would we writers be without them? You mentioned your love of reading, what authors inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite authors now?
TKA: Growing up I was really inspired by history and biographies. Corrie ten Boom and Chaim Potok were probably my favorite authors and very influential as a kid. As an adult my favorite authors are Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gogol –all Russian authors from the past. To me their work is the pinnacle of writing, outside of the Bible.
LS: Okay, last question. If you could be stranded on an island with one fictional character who would it be and why?
TKA: Oh, that’s a tough question. I think it would be Prince Andrey from War and Peace by Tolstoy. I always had a secret crush on him and I wished his story was happier. He’s one of my very favorite characters and one that has stayed with me.
Thank you so much for joining us today, and we wish you the best of luck on your release.