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I’m back from vacation and ready to get down and dirty finding new free and amazingly bargained books for you! But first this week I have something special. I convinced super hot and crazy talented …

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Special Interview and Giveaway: The Taker author Alma Katsu

Submitted by on September 22, 2011 – 11:07 am38 Comments

Alma Katsu likes to write stories that pull the reader through a journey that is sweeping in scope, a little dark and a little magical. The TAKER, her debut novel, has been described as “an epic supernatural love story” at the crossroads of literary and historical with, as promised, a supernatural twist. Named after her aunt, Alma grew up surrounded by history and it seeped into her subconscious.  She lives in the Washington, DC area, has a MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University, once studied with John Irving, and counts fairy tales among her greatest influences. You can find out more about The TAKER at

When and why did you start writing?

I was one of those kids who was always reading, and the next and most natural step is to try to write your own stories. I think I started in the third grade.

What was the motivation and/or inspiration behind writing The Taker?

I wanted to try to write a story that readers wouldn’t be able to forget. Really, it was that simple.

Can you tell us about the research that went into writing The Taker from a historical standpoint?

I grew up in an area of Massachusetts that is rife with Colonial history, so some things were well known to me, like the way houses were constructed. When you write a novel, though, strange questions come up that you hadn’t expected—what would someone eat and drink for breakfast? How many pairs of shoes was a person likely to own? It was fun, but sometimes you can’t find the answer and have to guess. That’s why I’m glad The Taker isn’t a straight historical—those readers take their research very seriously.

 How did you decide on Alchemy as the means for your characters to obtain immortality?

Without being too much of a brat, let me ask you a question: how do you know that alchemy is responsible for everything that’s happened?

One of the keys to the story, which will come out more as the trilogy progresses, is belief vs. fact. We tend to live our lives based on beliefs, and beliefs are our interpretation of the world we experience. Every so often, an immutable fact comes along and changes the way we see our world. Let me give you an example: five hundred years ago, you probably would’ve believed that when an apple fell from a tree, it was God’s hand pushing it down to earth. Then Newton devised his theory of gravity and that had a profound effect on how we understand physics.

I tried to leave open the question of where Adair’s powers come from, though our instinct is to believe the story that we’re told. The Taker begins in the early 1800s, when people tended to view their world in terms of their religion, so Lanny worries that God has turned away from her and she’s being punished for her wickedness. If you ask Adair, he believes alchemy is science and his power comes from knowledge—but by the same token, some people viewed alchemy as magic. The three—religion, magic and alchemy—have a long, tangled history that I tried to bring out in this novel.

I have a fascination for the relationship between faith and science. In so many cases, it seems science has disproven what we’ve taken on faith—or has it? I don’t think the real answer, the truth of our spiritual relationship to the cosmos has come out yet.

What made you decide to write the love story with Lanny from an unrequited love perspective?

The story all springs from the characters, doesn’t it? Being who they are, there could be no other outcome for Lanny and Jonathan. Lanny wants a deep love and the Jonathan of her youth can’t give that to her.

A long time ago, I was a music critic and spent a lot of time around rock stars. Let me tell you, the amount of attention they get is mind-boggling. Most of these guys were married to women who had been with them since before they were successful, and the wives knew what their husbands were doing. It was the price of being married to these guys.

Jonathan is like a rock star. He is constantly bombarded with the attention of women, and given his youth and society of the time, he is not going to be able to resist the lure of easy sex. And Lanny, because she has known him since before he was a sex god, when he was her Jonathan, can’t help but be devastated when he strays.

Lanny and Jonathan seemed doomed from the beginning. Is there a part of you that wishes their story ended differently?

We’re not done with them. There’s lots in store, and by the end of the trilogy the three main characters will have grown in amazing ways

How do you feel Lanny sees herself?

She knows she’s flawed, and those flaws run deep, so she tries not to think about them. That’s why she’s had a shallow existence for two hundred years. But she knows now that she has to own up to who and what she is or she will never find happiness.

Adair, while villainous had seemed to have some redeeming qualities. Why make him have a softer side? Did he really love Lanny?

Until recently, I was an intelligence analyst (I’ve had a lot of jobs, can you tell?) and for a while studied genocides and mass atrocities. Usually there’s a charismatic leader involved, and studying these individuals, I came to understand that no matter how delusional and soulless a person may be, they want approval. They want to be loved.

Adair thinks he is above the human experience. He sees himself as a man of science. With his minions, he thinks that he doesn’t care if they love him because he’s being like a good father, giving them discipline and structure. But he, too, wants to be loved, and that’s why he responds to Lanny. She is the only one capable of loving a beast like Adair.

Is there a lesson regarding the power that people can hold over others that you are trying to get across?

The only lesson there is that you can’t control someone else. You can’t make them love you, and the tighter you try to hold on to them, the less control you have. The fear of being unloved and ending up alone is probably the most common—and shameful—fear we have. Each of us at some point in our life is afraid we’ll end up alone, but it’s such a shameful thing to admit, we try to hide it. We stay in relationships when we should leave, we cling to our children even when we should encourage them to make their own lives.

We’re anxious with the foreshadowing from the end of the book that Adair is returning and Lanny and Luke’s peaceful existence is about to come crashing down. Can you give us any hints on what is in the future for them in the next book?

You’re very astute! Without giving too much away, let’s just say Lanny’s troubles are far from over. What would you do if you were pursued by a man who can’t be stopped? Many characters return for the second book, The Reckoning, including some you might not have expected.

What is next for you?

The Reckoning is with the editor now, and I’ve started writing the third and final book, The Descent, but I’m taking time out to launch The Taker. There’s also a spin-off that I’m working on, so if the response is good to the trilogy, hopefully it will see the light of day.


Paperback Dolls wish to extend the biggest thanks to Alma Katsu whose schedule is very busy but she still found time to answer our questions. THANK YOU!

Haven’t read THE TAKER yet? Well, we are so excited about the book we want to share it with the world…so we are having a BIG GIVEAWAY!!! We have not one, not two, but THREE copies of this amazing book to give to three lucky readers. What is more, the incredible NYC jewelry designer (and book lover), Janet Cadsawan, has designed a piece inspired by THE TAKER and we are giving one away!

This stunning piece is the villainous Adair’s Vial. It is said to contain the elixir of life. The pendant is made from Brass and measures  2.5″/6.35cm L.  The necklace -is a beautiful metallic cord that is 17″ – 18.5″ in length.

  • First name drawn will win Adair’s Vial, and a signed copy of THE TAKER
  • Second name drawn will win a signed copy of THE TAKER and bookmark
  • Third name drawn will receive a pre-loved signed arc copy of THE TAKER

This contest is international and will run through October 1st. Usual rules apply.

Paperback Dolls is made up of women from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different tastes and beliefs that were brought together through a love of reading. We like to think of ourselves as a cyber version of "The View" that focuses on books, authors, and reading. We are proof positive that one common love can unite the most opposite of people and form lasting friendships that introduce other ways of life and perspectives to each other.
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  • says:

    thanks for the interview! i can only read the first half..i’m afraid to know something before i read the book! dying to read it!

    Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    Great interview. I’m looking forward to reading this!

    Giselle at

    Reply to this comment »
  • Leigh Ann says:

    Great interview! Love that the book has historical research in it!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Deborah says:

    Thank you for the interview. Several friends have highly recommended this book to me.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Bree Jordan says:

    Thanks for the interview. I hadnt heard of the series yet.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Ashley says:

    wow. Thanks for the info. Beautiful necklace.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Ana Lucía says:

    OMG.OMG.OMG!!! I’m dying to read this book seriously!! I’ve heard it’s amazing a friend in UK read it months ago and she can’t stop talking about it.
    And it involves alchemy, that’s interesting…I like that subject.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Stephanie Vignal says:

    Ana Lucia, you will love it!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Dovile says:

    Thanks for making this open internationally!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Julie Witt says:

    I am so excited to read this book now! I love that the book leaves it to you to try to figure out who is the beauty and who is the beast! Awesome review!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Julie Witt says:

    I love reading books having to do with Alchemy, and I love that you name that as the reason for the powers that the characters have:) I’m even more excited to read this book now than I was before!!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Victoria Zumbrum says:

    I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Doll Day says:

    HUGE thanks to Alma Katsu! Thank you so much for the interview! You are amazing!!!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Vivien says:

    I’m so excited to know that there’s a sequel already! Great news.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Mary Preston says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this Trilogy. It sounds exciting.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Emily L says:

    I can’t wait to read this novel. Great interview. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    Wow what a great giveaway!! =) Thanks so much for the chance to enter! =)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Brittany Hiester says:

    I would love to win this book and getting the necklace with it is a bonus :D

    Reply to this comment »
  • charlotte williamson says:

    i wana win soooooooooooo bad

    Reply to this comment »
  • Chirumi says:

    Thanks for the giveaway~

    Reply to this comment »
  • Ifrah Kamil says:

    Thanks for this great interview ! can’t wait to read your books !


    Reply to this comment »
  • thegirlonfire27 says:

    I was always reading too, it used to drive my mom crazy! I guess reading at the dinner table doesn’t make for good conversation. Great interview.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Denise Z says:

    I so want to read The Taker. Thank you for sharing today and for the awesome giveaway opportunity.

    Reply to this comment »
  • says:

    Everyone is saying so good things about this book, and the author is very kind, oh gosh, I want this book for me <3

    Reply to this comment »
  • Lesley D says:

    Great interview! I’m really looking forward to reading The Taker!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Yto says:

    i liked the interview. and i am curious about the taker.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Lori Strongin says:

    REALLY interesting interview. I know it sounds weird, but I kind of like stories where the boy and girl don’t end up together–it feels more realistic to me than forcing a Happily Ever After when it doesn’t make sense for the plot or characters. Couple that with a ghost story, and I’m totally on board!

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!


    Reply to this comment »
  • Angel says:

    Great interview i’ve been wanting to read The Taker ever since I heard about it

    Reply to this comment »
  • Vivian Mah says:

    Sounds like an amazing book! Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Janhvi Jagtap says:

    Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!:)

    Reply to this comment »
  • GILL says:

    Very interesting – I do like the fact she doesn’t necessarily stick to absolute historical facts which can restrict some stories.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Diayll says:

    I loved this book!!! It was fantastic and I think Alma is a fabulous writer!! Thanks for the giveaway!


    Reply to this comment »
  • Lauren says:

    Thanks for the interview! I can’t wait to read your book!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Kelly W says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! Been wanting this book for a while even before it came out, but it’s been put on the back burning due bills and books are just expensive these days.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Justine says:

    Those are awesomely thorough answers! I especially appreciated her responses to the questions about alchemy and unrequited love.

    Reply to this comment »
  • NolaMoody33 says:

    The day before yesterday I was disappointed just because of my sample essays composing assignment. Nevertheless, my friend recommended to find professional writing service. Thus, I did so and reached good grades.

    Reply to this comment »
  • [...] awesome book blog Paperback Dolls is giving away three signed copies of Alma Katsu's debut novel The Taker!   This book has received such positive reviews [...]

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  • [...] from her new release, Locked in Silence.Author Appearances:Alma Katsu, author of The Taker – Paperback DollsAngelina Kace, author of Descended by Blood – Tynga’s ReviewsClaudia Gray, author of [...]

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