Nina Berry

Nina Berry

Nina Berry, author of the paranormal YA OTHERKIN series from KTeen. OTHERKIN and OTHERMOON are currently available everywhere in trade paperback,e-book, and as audiobooks. Nina Berry grew up bodysurfing in Hawaii, learned to snowball fight during college in Chicago, and now lives and works in Hollywood, pretending to lead the glamorous life.

MACI & ZOE:
Was there something that you had to take out of the Otherkin books? If so what?

NINA:
I took out so much! I over-write my first drafts and have to go back and cut, every time. I had about five pages more at the beginning of the very first book, which my editor asked me to cut. I wanted to establish Dez’s ordinary life and her insecurity with a scene where a cute boy puts his hands on her waist, but he feels the hard plastic of her back brace, is a little weirded out by it, and she runs away. But my editor thought that wasn’t necessary and out it went. The story now starts with quite a bang, plunging Dez into adventure right away.

I also cut scenes with Dez and her humdrum friend Iris, including phone calls and emails between the two of them as Dez goes off to Morfael’s school for shifters and reaches out to her “normal” friend to feel better. In fact, Iris got cut from the rest of the story because I realized that she wasn’t directly connected to the story. All her scenes felt like treading water rather than moving forward.

In the third book there was a sexy dream sequence, a scene between London and Amaris where Dez eavesdrops on them, which I’m can’t help thinking maybe I should’ve kept in. Only it was a lot like a scene between London and Siku in the first book, so it felt a little too familiar. Basically, things that aren’t central to the plot got cut, or things that slowed down the pace of the main stories. So some characters don’t get as much “screen” time as I would’ve liked. But this is Dez’s story, so I focused on that.

MACI & ZOE:
What’s your favorite genre?

NINA:
I could never pick just one! From the start I loved paranormal and fantasy because my favorite books as a child were the Chronicles of Narnia and the Half-Magic books by Edward Eager. But I also love historical adventure, thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, biographies, and on and on.

MACI & ZOE:
Do you read books on an electronic device or a real book?

NINA:
Both. I prefer real books in general – the smell of the paper, the ease of flipping to your favorite scene… but I use a Kindle when I travel because it’s so much easier to carry.

MACI & ZOE:
How did you get started writing?

NINA:
As soon as I could use a pencil I wrote my first story, titled “The Cat and Dad” when I was four. I even illustrated it with terrible stick figures drawings, and it used all the words I knew how to spell – like “jig,” and “pig.” For years after that I kept notebooks full of the beginnings of novels – from pirate stories to science fiction, depending on my latest obsession. But I didn’t get serious until around four years ago, when I took classes in writing for teens and made myself actually finish the stories I wrote.

MACI & ZOE:
What books are you reading right now?

NINA:
I’m reading a bunch of books for research – so books on the history of Argentina, books on John F. Kennedy, and a book and dvd on how to tango. (The next thing I need to write takes place largely in Buenos Aires.) I love research. For fun I’m reading Dangerous Women, a collection of short stories about, well, dangerous women, by writers like George R.R. Martin, Jim Butcher, and Sharon K. Penman. Nothing better than a story about a dangerous woman.

MACI & ZOE:
How many books do you read a year?

NINA:
Not enough. I spend far more time writing now, so the number has gotten smaller than I’d like. Maybe seventy-five books? It used to be a lot more.

MACI & ZOE:
What’s your favorite dessert?

NINA:
Bananas Foster. It involves ice cream, banana liquor, and bananas, and then you set them all on fire. It’s like a dessert volcano of deliciousness.

MACI & ZOE:
How long does it take you to write a book?

NINA:
It’s hard to be exact because there’s that whole “daydreaming” portion in front, which can take years. But once I start writing the first draft, I can get a book done in five or six months. Not bad given that I have a regular day job. I like more time than that if I can get it.

MACI & ZOE:
What was the first story/book you wrote? Was it any good, what was it about?

NINA:
The first real novel I wrote and finished was a terrible science fiction thing I’d be ashamed for anyone to see now. It was derivative of a British TV series I loved at the time called Blake’s 7, and it was about a girl who could see the future because her brain and had been messed with via scientific experiments. There’s a decent idea buried in there somewhere, but really it was just awful.

But that’s okay. Everything you write teaches you a lot. Then you use what you learn in the next book, and the next, and you keep getting better. I’m still learning a lot as I write.

MACI & ZOE:
What are you working on now?

NINA:
I just finished the first draft of the first book in my new series for Harlequin Teen. It’s not out until early 2015, but it’ll be called THE NOTORIOUS PAGAN JONES, and it’s an historical thriller about a disgraced teen film starlet who gets caught up in danger and intrigue in Berlin just as the Berlin Wall goes up in 1961. It’s very different from the Otherkin books, and the protagonist, Pagan, keeps surprising me.

MACI & ZOE:
Do you ever miss the characters you write about? What characters do you miss the most and Why?

NINA:
Writing the end of the last book in the OTHERKIN series was so hard. I kept avoiding it because I didn’t want to say goodbye. After three books, all the characters feel like old friends. Maybe it’s because I’m so close to Dez already, but ’ll miss the so-called supporting character the most, her friends and mine – November, London, Siku, and Arnaldo. In my head they’re out having a lot of adventures where they are the stars. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get a chance to write some of those stories some day.

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