The last thing teenager Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing over the summer was meeting Ren, a mysterious white tiger and cursed Indian prince! When she learns she alone can break the Tiger's curse, Kelsey's life is turned upside-down. The unlikely duo journeys halfway around the world to piece together an Indian prophecy, find a way to free the man trapped by a centuries-old spell, and discover the path to their true destiny.
Q&A with Colleen Houck
Q: Who are your favorite writers?
Houck: J.K Rowling (Harry Potter Series), Chris Paolini (Eragon Series), Stephenie Meyer (Twilight Saga), John Steinbeck, Walter Farley, Jules Verne, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Orson Scott Card, and many more!
I was fascinated with Chris Paolini’s story and when I found out he was such a young author and carried around his manuscript for four years before getting it published on his own, I was even more impressed with his grit and determination. The science fiction of Orson Scott Card and Jules Verne carries me away to places I never imagined. When I was young, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls and ride horses like Alec and have great adventures like they did.
Q: Who inspired you to become a published author?
Houck: The personal stories of Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling really touched me. Both women just decided one day to give writing a try and the course of their lives changed. One day I woke up and decided I was going to give it a shot, too. I always loved creative writing in middle school and high school, sci-fi and fantasy being my favorite, and have been an avid reader all my life, but I never considered it as a career. Seeing Rowling and Meyer--two self-trained writers--have the courage to give writing a try inspired me to channel my creative energy into imagining and writing the Tiger’s Curse series.
Q: In what environment do you get your best writing?
Houck: I write at my desk near a window with a great view of Oregon pine and beautiful houses. I always light a candle when I write as a reminder to include the senses of smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound in my writing. It has to be quiet and, until recently, my dog always slept at my feet. That's my comfort zone when writing. I really love writing in the afternoons because that’s when things get quiet. In the mornings I like to write personal correspondence to people who write to me about my books and do the research on the exotic locations I write about. I walk everyday and listen to music that inspires me to keep writing, but I can't listen to music and write at the same time because I get too distracted.
Q: When you’re not writing and reading your own books, what are you reading?
Houck: I’m reading everything YA right now. My favorite books are fantasy with a touch of romance but I love Sci-Fi, children's chapter books, and mainstream fiction as well. I recently finished the Percy Jackson/Lightning Thief series which I loved and currently I’m reading The Life of Pi which I originally purchased because of the tiger on the cover, but I also have shelves full of books waiting for my attention. The next books on my list include Scott Westerfield’s Uglies trilogy, Alyson Noel’s Immortals series, and The Guardians of Gahoole by Kathryn Lasky.
Q: Anything else you want to share with Amazon shoppers?
Houck: Writing my own book was a chance to channel my inner hero. I’m a lot like my character, Kelsey. We both have a special blanket given to us by our grandmothers, we both love chocolate, and we both sat in the back of class. But where Kelsey took a leap into the unknown as a teenager, I took a lot longer to come out of my shell. In writing this series, I’ve been able to leap along with Kelsey.
I also wanted to say how grateful I am to all of the Amazon readers who have left such kind and supportive customer reviews of my books. I originally self-published my first two books through Amazon and the reader comments created enough buzz to attract a film producer and interest from foreign publishers before I even had an agent, which I’ve learned is kind of unheard of! Amazon was really the key to launching the Tiger’s Curse saga and, because of that, I now have a career as a full-time writer.
When 18-year-old Kelsey takes a job with a circus, she finds herself oddly attracted to the white tiger she has been hired to feed. Little does she know the animal is really a 300-year-old Indian prince who has been cursed and transformed by an evil wizard. She soon discovers the truth and, to her amazement, learns she may be the only one who can help. The next thing she knows, she is on her way, with the tiger, to India, where they embark on a dangerous quest to break the curse. The tiger can change into a man for 24 minutes during each 24-hour period. And what a man! “He’s like James Bond, Antonio Banderas, and Brad Pitt all rolled into one,” Kelsey thinks. Originally self-published as an e-book, Houck’s first novel is part Twilight, part Indiana Jones, and part fairy tale. Although her book—the first in a proposed series—is sometimes derivative, she tells a good story filled with chaste romance that will keep readers turning pages to the inconclusive ending. Grades 7-12. --Michael Cart