Kat Mayor is a native Texan, wife, mom, and ultrasound technologist. In addition to The Spirit Chaser, she has written a young adult series, The Circle. She’s a full-time reader, part-time writer, and when she’s not kicking a story around in her head, she loves to read and review books on Goodreads.
Interview with Kat Mayor
S&S: The Spirit Chaser was nothing like I expected to get when I decided to review your book from Netgalley. I thought I’d be getting a light-hearted, maybe slightly spooky piece with a large dose of romance that would probably have me rolling my eyes. Instead you delivered something that took me through this whole gamut of thoughts and emotions, and the book really seemed to dramatically change in tone. So my question is: Was this one of those books that wrote itself? You know, where you start off with a clear vision of what you want, and then the story seems to take on a life of its own? Or was it planned and plotted from beginning to end?
KM: When I started writing The Spirit Chaser, the only part I had envisioned was the investigation of the warehouse in the first chapter. I am a major pantser and I write completely out-of-order. As I imagined bits of the different investigations, I began writing them down. I soon realized I had to think of a way to introduce the female lead in a way that I thought was believable. That’s how Casey became Barrett’s best friend from high school. Within a couple of months I figured out the ending, and then I filled in the middle section from there.
S&S: The one (very small) issue I had with your book was the crass language in the bedroom-ish scenes. It seemed to be a sharp contrast to the rest of the writing at times. Was this a deliberate choice or just simply your style for that type of scene?
KM: This is more of an epic fail on my part. You are not the first person to say this. If I could change one thing in this book it would be toning down the sex, and deleting some of the sex scenes. I can tell you what I was trying to accomplish. I didn’t want Casey and Austin to have a nauseating, mushy, overly-sweet romance. I was also trying to distinguish Austin in the earlier parts of the book from Austin near the end. He acts and treats Casey differently as the demon becomes stronger. I think I could have done a better job showing it, though.
S&S: For what it’s worth, I actually liked the sex scenes! Especially the fact that things aren’t, uhm, perfect in the bedroom between the two of them right off the bat. It was simply the things Austin said in reference to his dangly bits that bothered me.
S&S: Alright, I ask everybody this… What does your coffee/tea mug say about you? Mine makes it clear I don’t tolerate mornings, people, or morning people well.
KM: Keep Calm and Kill Zombies
S&S: That’s awesome! I found my next coffee mug! You have great tastes!
S&S: Obviously, when someone writes a paranormal-centered book, the obvious question to ask is “So, do you actually believe in demonic entities and ghosts and such?” What I’ll ask instead is: What was it that got you interested in writing about things that go bump in the night?
KM: I’ve always gravitated toward the darker side. One of my favorite television shows is The Twilight Zone. I read Stephen King as a teenager. I saw the movie and read the book, The Exorcist for the first time in high school. I enjoy being scared and am always looking for something to creep me out.
S&S: If this ever gets picked up as a movie, who would you hope to see playing the supporting cast? The main characters were great, but it was your supporting characters that really drew my attention in terms of simply wanting to know more about them.
KM: Barrett – Penn Badgely, Thai – Kenny Leu, Josie – Shannyn Sossamon, Luis – Esai Morales, Bob – Benjamin Bratt, Gary – Morris Chestnut. — Some of these actors are not the right height or age, but this is how I imagine the characters in my head.
S&S: One of the things that struck me about your book was the easy depiction and companionability of interfaith relations. I don’t exactly advertise it, but I have no problem admitting the fact that I’m a rather strong-minded atheist. This is for a couple of reasons not worth going into at this time, but suffice to say that I have a certain expectation of how strongly religious people act and are portrayed. Given that I love possession books, obviously I’m able to set aside my issues with religion in search of a good story. Anyways, I absolutely loved the way you portrayed the religious and faith aspects of the characters in your book. They seemed like religious people I’d actually want to know. That’s…saying quite a lot, actually, for those who know me! Your characters ran the gamut from not-quite-sure Christian to strong-faithed Catholic to Native American Shaman and Buddhist, and you made them work. It all worked so well. This cooperation of faiths was so quietly and easily done that it really made an impression on me without it seeming deliberate on your part. I loved it because that’s what I want to see. That I DON’T see that basic respect of religion even if you aren’t part of that religious sect is one of the things that irritates me so bad about religious people….Okay, so I actually realized I don’t have a specific question for this. I guess we’ll leave it with any comments on this specific aspect of your novel?
KM: Well, I actually did do it on purpose. I’m glad it didn’t seem that way. I’ve always thought any ghost hunting crew should have a Shaman for the Native American aspect in a lot of hauntings. I also wanted a Buddhist because of their beliefs in the afterlife and astral projection. And you can’t have an exorcism without a Catholic priest. If there is one thing I learned from researching this book, it was that all the different religions have some kind of belief in the afterlife. I wanted to show how useful it would be to have “specialists” from some of those religions on the ghost-hunting team. I have to acknowledge that part of the reason I did it was my own personal experience. I work with a fantastic, but diverse group of women. We all come from different faith backgrounds and working with them, I’ve learned so much. I think the media likes to pit religions against each other without seeing that people of different belief systems can and do get along. In my workplace we have very open discussions about our beliefs without anyone getting upset.
S&S: Favorite Girl Scout cookie?
KM: Tagalongs. I’m all about the peanut butter.
S&S: Will there be any more novels from this universe? I’d absolutely love to see more from the supporting cast!
KM: Yes. I’m actually about a fourth of the way into a second book called Melancholy Ghost.The SCI crew is back together. But no demons in this book. It’s all about the ghosts. At some point I would like to write a story with Thai and the East-Asian belief in Hungry Ghosts.
S&S: Is it too soon to put my name in the hat for the possibility of being an ARC receiver? Pleaaaaaaaaassssee?
S&S: Let’s talk briefly about that ending. You did so good on that ending. I’ve often had bookworm bitchfests with my buddies over how people tend to like to give happy or peaceful endings when they’re not needed. Where sometimes it makes the novel stronger if you end it on a rough note. WOW, did you end The Spirit Chaser on a rough note! So, cheers to you, because as I put it to a friend “It was absolutely horrible-awful-no-good-evil and perfectly awesome.” Was that the original ending you had in your head? And what was your beta-readers’ reactions to it?
KM: Well, like I said, I’m a major pantser. I didn’t come up with that ending until two months into the writing process. I knew that (Spoiler text in white. Highlight it if you want to read it.) Austin would pay a steep price for his reckless behavior, I just didn’t know how high it would be. (End spoiler.) When I decided on the hunter becomes the hunted storyline, I started thinking about the last two paragraphs of the book. Being a huge fan of The Twilight Zone, I based the ending on one of my favorite episodes—(Spoiler text in white. Highlight if you want to read it.) Number 12 Looks Just Like You. (End Spoiler.) I knew that there would be plenty of people who didn’t like the ending, but I honestly don’t think I could have ended it another way. My editor loved the ending and thought it perfectly suited the story. I had to warn my beta reader beforehand because (Spoiler text in white. Highlight it if you want to read it.) she hates it when MCs are killed off. (End Spoiler.)After reading it, she agreed that the ending was fitting.
S&S: Well, if someone bitches about the ending, you send them my way. I’ll give them a proper education on how sometimes unhappy endings make books stronger!
S&S: …and, ending on a light note, without naming the movie, can you describe your favorite scene from your favorite scary movie?
KM: Long black hair completely covers the young girl’s face. She slowly crawls forward, drawing closer and looming larger on the screen. Her nails are broken and chipped, from clawing at the stone walls that imprisoned her for seven days. The clothes that were once white, are stained and wet. Water pools on the floor under the television as she climbs out of the screen and toward her next victim.
S&S: *makes sure her TV is turned off* I STILL can’t watch that movie without covering my eyes during certain scenes. Gyaaaaaagh!
In closing, The Spirit Chaser is a fantastic book, and I’m so, so happy Kat Mayor agreed to sit down for an interview with me. I highly recommend this book, folks! It’ll screw with your head, heart, and possibly soul. Wonderful work! You can see my full review here. Read it, then go support an indie author and purchase The Spirit Chaser on Amazon!