Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How "Call Me Zhenya" Came to Be

This week, I'm going to spend some time talking about my Kindle Scout book, Call Me Zhenya, and how I came to write it. Next week, I'll be encore-posting some blog posts I did over at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers about Kindle Scout and the Scouting process. I hope you'll enjoy a peek inside my creative process (aka--KK's brain is freakin' weird).

You might get tired of seeing this cover.
I won't. It's pretty. *pets*

The seed idea for this book hit me several years ago. I was watching an episode of Angel (first-run--I told you it's been a while...), during the Season Four arc when Angelus was unleashed. There's a scene where Wesley Wyndham-Pryce (STILL BITTER, JOSS WHEDON) breaks Faith out of prison so she can go do her vampire-slaying thang. She was in prison voluntarily, atoning for her sins from way back in Season One (and Season Four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but they needed her, so she took a fancy dive through a glass window and high-tailed it out with Wes. (Which, frankly, any lady in her right mind would do, because, hello, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce.)

That scene got me thinking. What if a spy were in prison voluntarily, taking a hit for something that happened in an operation that wasn't her fault? That evolved into having her there for protective custody. Then another spy comes to let her out. And what if that spy were the man who betrayed her? Or the man who killed her lover?

The idea sat in my ideas folder for a long time, just called "Spy Girl." I'd thought about writing it to submit to a specific publisher, but then the line at that publisher was discontinued before I got the manuscript underway. So it continued to incubate.
Evgeni Malkin, Russian Werewolf Spy

A few years later, my BFF and I were talking about story ideas, hockey player fic, and specifically Evgeni Malkin. (This was the same type of conversation that led to me writing Blood on the Ice, which started with "Vampire hockey. Go.") At some point, one of us said, "Evgeni Malkin, Russian Werewolf Spy." Maybe she said it, maybe I did--I don't actually remember. But that made me start thinking about "Spy Girl" again, and suddenly the whole story fell into place. The Spy Girl, inspired by Faith, became Anna, who's been sitting in a prison in Barrow, Alaska for two years under what she was told would be temporary protective custody. Then along comes Evgeni Belyakov, Russian Werewolf Spy, an assassin who's been having second thoughts about an assignment he was involved in two years ago. Poking around in places he wasn't supposed to, he found out things he shouldn't have. And now he's going to atone by breaking Anna out of prison. Because if she stays there, the Agency that promised to protect her is going to kill her to prevent the information inside her genetically enhanced superbrain from falling into enemy hands.

So that's the story of the story. I hope you'll take a minute to drop by and vote. I had a hell of a lot of fun writing this book, and I think you'll have a hell of a lot of fun reading it.