I want to welcome Kally Jo Surbeck. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
Hi Barbara. Thank you for having me. I’m horrid at introductions, please pardon me. I have always written. My mother was an English teacher and from my earliest memories, she instilled a love of literature and reading. I have been writing ‘professionally’ since 2000. My history has allowed me to write for several genres and houses. I am a multi award winning, International selling author who has been blessed in being not only a solo writer but also having been included in several anthologies and other publications. A few of my accomplishments are Colorado Author of The Year, the EPPIE (Excellence in electronic publishing) Action category. I was, at that time, the first woman to have written and won in said category. I am also the winner of the Daphne duMaurier in thriller/suspense. My poetry was my first writing sale at the age of twelve. My works are in several different anthologies, commemorative additions, and one is even in the Holocaust Museum.
Tell us about your latest release.
This looks horrible, my being so far behind. When The Awakening released, I was in the hospital and remained there for all of last spring and summer, into early fall. This story came from a short that was part of the Tempting Fate anthology from Phaze/Mundania Press with Melissa Schroeder, Michele Callahan, Rena Marks and myself. Several readers had written me asking for an expansion. As soon as my rights returned, I did just that.
If you know much about the Fates, my favorite was/is Atropos aka Attie, Death, Bearer of the Shears. She’s fascinating to me and I felt she deserved more depth. The Awakening is her personal story and self-awakening.
Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.
1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Oh, wow! Villains are probably my favorite characters, when well crafted. And many have done this. I’m a huge comic fan. They were some of my first collections and obsessions. That said, Negan in The Walking Dead is an incredible character. Won’t give any spoilers, but the dynamics of his character are intriguing. I just finished Mary Burton’s The Shark, and the villain is so cold. It gave me chills. I think Misery by Stephan King may have my favorite villan just because there is so much to her. I could list ones I love all day long, but I’ll stop here.
2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Again another hard one. They are all so different. If I can choose only one, it’s a coin toss between Attie in any of the books she is in and Mac in For the Love Of… They are both strong, competent women who feel the true them is unworthy of love. And they both learn that true love, be it friends, lovers, family simply love you. All of you. Your flaws and imperfections are part of you and that is acceptable.
3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write in several genres, but sub-category romance. I have been very blessed to be allowed to write in all, from high fantasy, to action, to historic. When I first started writing one of my siblings was also writing. I believe there is room for everyone, but did not want there ever to be said there was a competition or even the assumption of one. That said I picked, a category as far from theirs as possible. Romance appealed to me because you have the most broad spectrum possible, from sweet to the most erotic. Though most of my titles are under the erotic venue, it’s a misnomer. There is very little if any actual graphic sex in my writing. But at its base romance is life. It’s hope. It’s potential. And I thoroughly support that!
4.) What are you working on now?
I have a couple projects in the works. As I stated earlier, my health has severely put me behind. We also moved from Wyoming to New Orleans. I have been editing on the side and am really excited to see those authors’ stories hit the shelves. But I have more planned for Attie’s Legacy. Paths Chosen is the second. It is available now. And there are three more books to the Yadderwal series but until more is known about what will happen at that house the line is on hold.
5.) What got you to start writing?
I use to do forensic accounting but I was severely injured. There is long-term fallout and I could no longer work my job. I tried several different things. Acquired more degrees. But I couldn’t find anything that I could do on my schedule. No one wants to hire someone who may or may not be debilitated without warning. I was reading a book when another scene flashed into view. I thought, I can write. I can tell stories. So I pursued it. I wrote for myself and my friends and family anyway. It seemed the logical choice.
6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
To me, it’s like watching television. My characters do not appreciate my input. They have stories to tell. I listen. I only hope I can do them justice.
7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
How incredibly honored I am to be able to be active behind the scenes and in front of this industry. There has been a lot of negative press of late, but over-all the writing (while the writing itself is solitary) community is a very supporting, encouraging, loving one. At least the one I am a part of and foster.
8.) Do you have any special talents?
Many. We all do, so I’m uncertain on how exactly to answer this.
9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
It’s a toss up:
Always keep writing – because you must.
Never give up – Because the person you are truly letting down is you.
There will never be a book everyone loves or everyone hates. You’ll have someone who loves this but hates that. Just write what is true to you and then trust that the people who read it either get it and you or, take a deep breath and realize it wasn’t for them. And that’s not a bad thing. You’re just not their cup of tea. Don’t take that personally.
10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d love to have a drinking session with Edgar Allen Poe. Get his thoughts and personal version rather than just the nasty trash talk so many have heaped on him.
11.) What song would you say describes your life?
I’m Still Standing – Elton John
12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A Gryphon. Then I would have the best of both worlds. Run with the speed of the lion and fly like and eagle.
The Awakening Blurb:
A Balanced Choice
Some say she dances too close to Hades, controlling life and death. She laughs at those fools. Why dance with a god of the Underworld when it’s her power that determines when humans pass?
Her sisters call her morbid, again she laughs. Two of her sisters are called artists--a weaver and a mixer. That's what they are. Her third sister left them all hanging.
No. Atropos believes it is she who is the true artist. The knowledge of life and death gives humans their ultimate passion and ultimate drive. Therefore, with her shears she breathes passion, hope, sadness, sorrow, drive, and determination, all that and more, she breathes into the human with the snip of her shears.
But, what if she miscalculates a life? What if a time is cut too short?
The Awakening Excerpt:
No matter how many times she looked to the firmament, its glory still made her breath catch. It was beautiful and awe inspiring. A shooting star raced southbound, first brilliant gold, then faded from sight. Only its memory lingered. Attie shivered. One more angel fallen. One more life consumed by the elements surrounding it. She sighed softly.
The sparkling stars that remained anchored in the dark heavens shone down enticingly on those innocent enough to still believe in their ancient power. People, en masse, made wishes upon stars every night of the year, yet they had lost faith in the gods. It didn’t make sense to her.
She shook her head at the functioning of the complex and complicated human mind. She was one of the lingering but generally unseen forces that to this very day touched human lives, affected them. She and her sisters crafted life, yet it seemed the only time the Moirai were remembered these days was in some ancient philosophy or mythology class at university. Perhaps a rare child with a still open mind who had the mystery of the ancestral herald pulsing through his veins tossed a coin into the waters of a pool, praying to the sisters, pleading for luck, or life, or mercy without even knowing exactly what they were doing, who they were calling to. Even then, in the most rare occurrence, when a child had heard the lore and had remembered, called out with knowledge, the child didn’t really understand to whom he spoke, or knew that one of the sisters stood beside him to hear his uttered prayer.
The general populace still, at times, uttered their names. Occasionally in blame. Fair enough accusation, Attie conceded. Often enough they were to blame.
It was all incredibly sad. The way of things. People forgot. Memories faded as the generations slipped quickly past. The stories of the gods, the teachings of the ancients stopped being repeated, or the tone in which they were told shifted from reverence and awe to that of some fable and flight of fancy. Once, years ago, she had sat in on a mythology class in England. The professor, snooty nose jutted high in the air, spieled on and on about the truth of the gods. His version was so twisted and polluted Attie cried. She’d walked out of that class and never returned to another. That was over two centuries ago. She could only image what time had now done to the tales.
Mortals forgot. Gods remembered.
Indeed, it was the way of things. She’d seen the pattern run its cycle time and time again. But to what end? This? Her gaze scanned the horizon, taking in the honking horns of quickly moving automobiles, the absent-minded chatter of people having their inane conversations about nothing as they hurried from one busy work task to another. It was slow tonight, here in the city. Most people were indoors or encased in vehicles, or on public transits hurrying to get back to their private little boxes they called home. People were just inches away, yet whole worlds apart. Totally unaware of each other, they worried their worries and carried on with their plights thinking their lives, their concerns, were unique among the masses. Perhaps that was one reason she liked to be among mortals. Her aloneness seemed…universal.
Attie walked among them, had since she had been banned from Olympus, yet mortals never saw her unless she purposely showed herself to them. The gods, herself no exception, remained veiled, watching the creatures they loved and protected throw their lives away, yet not truly being of affect any longer. Effect, indeed. Affect, no.
Or more so, as the case was nowadays, the gods gave up faith and turned their backs, knowing that humans’ time was so much shorter than their own. Even she had been tempted to look away, to run from her decree. Time, so fleeting, slipped for those in despair. Generations could pass in the blink of an eye. If she blinked right. But mortals’ lives were lives, too. Any life demanded respect, no matter how fleeting. And over the centuries, millennia, much to her amazement Attie had witnessed those mortal lives do wonderful things. Greater things than even those endowed with the power of Olympus. And humans, while shrouded with incredible, unfounded egos, still worked for an end result of significance. They worked for a cause and with purpose. The gods had simply believed things should be handed to them. At least, that’s how it was the last time she was there, Attie amended.
All of that to contend with, people and their egos, gods and their superiority complexes. Then there were the Fates. Cursed to duty, bound to honor a code long forgotten to humans of an age long passed, that was how the Fates existed.
Though they were many a time badmouthed and often noted only for the sadder results of their calling, most missed the beauty of the Fates. She and her three sisters were the centurions of hope. They gave life and love. They made certain there was happiness and equity. They maintained the balance and justice of the ages from generation to generation. Yet who stood on the battlefield for them, defending them? Who cared about their wants, needs, and desires? What happened when the Fates lost hope? Those were questions that weighed heavily on Attie’s mind and soul. They had always, but each day now seemed to compound the pain, the pressure, the sadness more so than it had in the past.
In succession, her sisters’ faces flashed before her. Instantly, Attie’s heart warmed. The sisters. The sisters stood together and helped each other. They always had. They were all they had. There was solace in her sisters and their solidarity. And they had managed. Pretty damn well, in fact. Just look at them now. Chloe and Chesis had found love. And not just heart beating, twitter-paited lust, but full in head over heels love. Once again, the mountain fairly sizzled with their zest for life. That was good. That was enough. Maybe Lu and she were the balance of not having love. Maybe that was how the scales equalized life beyond the Fates. Half ‘n half. If that were the case she would accept it, sadly, of course, but she’d do it just the same.
Her sisters had noted her recent melancholy and tried to help where they could. That meant a lot to Attie. She didn’t always know how to tell them or thank them. She knew they each fought this same battle, just on different fields, in different times. They all had their own crosses to bear, but they each certainly dealt with it in just as varied a manner as their duties called for. Miraculously Chloe and Chesis had made it work. They had tilted the scale, accepted love, and continued to perform their duties. That had not seemed possible to Attie. She thought it had to be one or the other.
She shook her shoulders slightly, watching the water slough off the waterproof material. It wasn’t that she didn’t want love. Actually, she craved it, but was scared of it as well. As the death dealer, she witnessed death and loss every day. How many people would understand her occupation or the struggles she dealt with on a regular basis? It was a hard, solitary life she led. Being a god was difficult enough for mortals to accept, to comprehend, but the fact that she was Death, Attie figured, might be a little much. Attie tried not to complain. As a matter of fact, she generally kept to herself. There were a few demi-gods she spoke with on occasion. Mortals she had befriended over the years. And, of course, the sisters. She had all of that, but for safety—hers and theirs—she kept a defined distance and not sought out love or accepted even a faint foreshadowing of possibility. Not in a long, long time.
At times like this, when she stood in the world but not of the world, she acknowledged she had created the reality she lived in. She was alone by choice, not force. She had always been attractive. Whenever she didn’t like her eye color, or hair, or weight, she modified it. With the snap of her fingers, she could change her voice and her height, but what she could not change was who she was on a core level. The Attie of old. Daughter of Zeus. Sister of the famed Moirai. It meant nothing. She was, after all was said and done, just Attie.
Her life, excluding the fancy little spin ball thrown her by Zeus when he condemned her to be an orphan and a Fate forever, was shaped by her choice alone. The Fates were above reproach, their decisions not allowed to be questioned. That had always meant a great deal to Attie. Even if people had forgotten about the gods and their ways, she had not. She knew her job. She knew how important her role was to the world and therefore she held herself to a high standard.
It was the fall of the year. Time for the old to pass away, regenerate, and start anew. In that vein, she felt she had to be truthful. Alone in the alley, she solemnly acknowledged how she had pushed away almost every single immortal and mortal alike because of a single truth. It hurt too much to lose.
Attie sighed. With the exhalation she sent her sisters a burst of love, wishing them happiness for as long as it was theirs to experience. She also sent a special little prayer for Lu, wherever she was.
They thought Attie had lost her ability to care, her sisters had. The cruel irony was, they were wrong.
It was not that she no longer cared, but that there was so much out there in the universe to care about—she’d gone numb. She had spent so long distancing herself, stepping back from connections, lying to herself that she didn’t need or want those bonds—so very long. For the majority of her life she’d justified her lonely existence and actions. She’d justified herself right into her current despised state of numbness.
Her curse, her plague, was to determine the length of time each mortal was allotted. It was a power she had neither wanted nor craved. There was a time, long ago in her youth, she had hoped for no more than a playful existence. But with Zeus’ decree she become a Moirai, that hope had vanished like a puff of smoke on a windy day--gone before it could even be fully conceptualized. Her job was cruel, but life was cruel. She had for centuries performed the best she could, showing no partiality, not for the elderly, the kind, the wicked, the young, or the strong. Never once had she played favorites. Everyone was allotted a period of life. It was up to them how they lived it.