by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Harvesting #1
Publication: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Steampunk Press
Genre: Horror, Urban Fantasy
When mankind finally consumes itself, can any spark of humanity survive? Layla fights to keep those she loves alive when the zombie apocalypse unfolds, but she soon learns that zombies are not the only problem. With mankind silenced, those beings living on the fringe seek to reclaim power. Layla must learn who to trust, fast, if she hopes to save what is left of our kind.
*Excuse me while I have a fangirl moment*
I was hypnotized by this story from page one, and by the end I was head-over-heels in love with a new author. The Harvesting is so much more than you could possibly anticipate after reading the synopsis. Feel free to read my FIVE ZOMBIE HEADS review here. I fully intend to devour every word Melanie writes until that despondent day when one of us dies. I will probably go first, especially if there’s a zombie apocalypse because Melanie Karsak is a post-apocalyptic BADASS! I know, totally unlike me to admit that, being the proud zombie apocalypse aficionado that I am. That should tell you something right there. She’s also bloody-freaking-brilliant, and if you don’t already know that, you will in just a moment after you read the following guest post she so graciously wrote for our reading pleasure…
By Melanie Karsak
I like symbols. When I read a book, I noticed what numbers, colors, months, and objects a writer includes. As a writer, I pay attention to symbolic detail. Sometimes my symbols are silly pop culture references, sometimes they clue a reader into the deeper thematic meaning of the series, sometimes they hold special spiritual significance, and occasionally they are personal. No matter what I write, the “things” in my novel are there for a reason.
For my guest blog today, I wanted to talk to you about a few symbols embedded in “The Harvesting.” If you have not yet read the novel, “The Harvesting” is a horror/dark fantasy novel that begins with z-day (the zombie apocalypse). But that’s just the catalyst of this work. Layla Petrovich, my protagonist, soon finds herself in the midst of a battle for our modern middle earth while she also dealing with the human elements of life: love, death, and budding psychic powers? Throw in some supernatural elements, and you have “The Harvesting.”
Layla was almost named Simone. The name Simone means “to hear or listen.” Layla’s real hang-up is her ability to “see.” Layla needs to see people for who they are, see the spirit realm, and see the shadow nature of herself. Since this is her major issue, I axed the name Simone and went with Layla which means “dark beauty.” Layla is green eyed and raven haired, so she fits the bill physically. But the beauty of darkness is also important to her, so the name selection of Layla was significant. I also purposefully chose the name Petrovich. Petrovich means son(s) of Peter. Layla is Russian descended. I have been working, for years now, on a Slavic novel set in the medieval period that features a family line stemming through the sons of Petyr. Layla is descended from this family. All my books are weirdly interconnected like this. After my canon is done, it should tell one massive cohesive story. I am including an image of the lovely Olivia Wilde who would, I think, make a great on-screen Layla:
Layla acquires her very first shashka, a Russian sword, at a “White Elephant Sale.” The shashka, depicted below, is a really cool weapon. It is a slashing sabre, but it looks like a gigantic kitchen knife:
Layla and Grandma Petrovich pick up this item at a “White Elephant Sale.” What is a “White Elephant Sale?” Well, it’s a lot like a yard sale, but the term is interesting. The term “White Elephant Sale” comes from the notion of purchasing or owning something that seems useless to the buyer (even though it can be very useful when under the right hand) but is beautiful. Like own a real elephant might, it also costs the owner time and money. It is an object that is adored for its looks but little thought goes into what it takes to maintain it. The white elephant is an important symbol in the series because it refers to the way we treat our natural world and how we treat one another. As “The Harvesting” series unfolds, I think the importance of this symbol will become more apparent to the reader.
I admit to being a LOST fanatic. I always really loved the show, but during the last season of LOST, I had just moved to Maryland. I knew no one, my husband was working third shift, I was at home with a small child, and I was pregnant. LOST and the characters therein started to become a really meaningful part of my otherwise pitiful life. You might notice when you read the HarpWind Grand Hotel chapters that I mention in which rooms my characters are staying–by number. This is no accident. If you know LOST, you might notice the numbers are, in fact, the LOST numbers. I aligned my characters to the characters in LOST. Dorky? Yes. Fun? Oh yes! Will it give you further insight into my series? Definitely! Did I like the last ten minutes of LOST? No, I hated it.
“I want to be a Pulitzer Prize winning author of an earth-shattering tale of human woe.” Yep, that was me for the first ten to fifteen years of my writing career, which is why you have never heard of me until now. Then something happened. I stopped taking myself so serious.
I love to write. It’s fun. I get to live in my head. I can think about hot guys and no one gets upset. I build worlds. I mess with people. Part of the reason I wrote “The Harvesting” was to break out of my too-serious side. I wanted to bring “fun” back into my writing after years of feeling miserable about the success or failure—more often failure—of what I was putting out. As I was writing a scene toward the end of Layla’s narrative in “The Harvesting,” I included a moment that seemed a little—funny, playful, satirical—I am not sure what, but it involves a child’s toy. I wrote the scene then went to my window and looked outside. I was asking myself if I needed to go edit the scene out. Just then, a single bubble blew past my window. Just one. It was the middle of the afternoon on a school day. There was no one around (I went outside to check). I decided that the gods of whimsy and misrule were in agreement that the playfulness is an essential element of human survival.
There are tons of other symbols buried in “The Harvesting,” but I leave those to the reader to discover. For those who have read the novel, did you notice any? Do you have any questions?
How about favorites from other novels you’ve read? I know I love JK Rowling’s names.
My thanks to My Book Addiction for having me today! Please be sure to stop by my facebook and blog and say hello! Novel excerpts, contests, and other random goodies will be coming soon!
About the Author
Melanie Karsak, steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Visit the author at her blog to learn more about upcoming projects, book signings, and other neato things. Visit her online at melaniekarsak.blogspot.com.
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