WQ: How did your idea for The 13th Sign begin?
KOT: Space is one of my obsessions. I majored (briefly!) in aerospace engineering in college, and I always click through those “cool space thing happening TONIGHT!” links on Facebook. When I finished writing Selling Hope (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 2010), which is about the hysteria surrounding the 1910 visit of Halley’s Comet, I knew I wanted to write another space book. So I asked myself: what about space fascinated me as a tween? I knew the answer immediately: my horoscope.
I originally thought: SCORE! A twelve book-series! (Every author does this in the beginning, I imagine. :-D) I started researching astrology, and quickly stumbled upon a “missing” 13th sign of the zodiac: Ophiuchus. When he is included in the calendar (which he should be! His ankle dips into the ecliptic that makes up the zodiac), he throws off the calendar significantly, making almost everyone a new horoscope sign. I got that writer ZING! that I get when I read a fact that I want to share with others. I knew I wanted to tell Ophiuchus’ story. (If you want to find out your 13-sign horoscope, hop over here to learn more!)
WQ: What aspect of the zodiac (the names, the personality traits, the constellations, etc.) interested you the most?
KOT: Ah, great question! I actually think it was the history of the zodiac that interested me the most. Most folks who know about these things agree that the Babylonians were the first to develop this idea, some say as far back as 2500 B.C. Like most humans, they were likely trying to make sense of the world around them, to find order in the chaos. Like most humans, they looked up to do that. At that time, Ophiuchus was included in the zodiac calendar, along with other constellations.
I also discovered in my research that many scholars think that the 12 Labors of Hercules was a way of teaching astrology to young Greek students. Each labor was a constellation. When I found that little tidbit, the idea of “labors,” or challenges, formed the basis of The 13th Sign.
WQ: In your research, did you learn anything surprising about your personal zodiac sign?
KOT: I’m an Aquarius (water bearer in the house!), and I thought I knew quite a bit about my sign at the outset. I did discover that Aquarians are the least likely to believe in the zodiac, which is interesting. (For the record, I don’t quite know how I feel about horoscopes. Day-to-day, they are rarely accurate for me. But I personify an Aquarius to a T!)
WQ: How did you decide which signs to give to your main characters?
KOT: I knew I wanted Jalen (which, side note, means “healer;” significant to the story!) to be an Ophiuchus once the signs were altered, so in order to be that, her traditional 12-sign horoscope needed to be Sagittarius. As for Ellie and Brennan, I wrote their characters first, then picked which sign suited them best. Once (tiny spoiler alert!) Ophiuchus is awoken and the characters undergo a personality switch, I kinda already knew what they should act like post-personality change: the zodiac told me which traits they should exhibit! (Another aside: I think the zodiac could be a really cool tool for writers to create well-rounded, realistic characters. Each sign has such a variety of traits!)
WQ: Which zodiac character was the most fun to write? The most difficult?
KOT: Leo and Virgo were by far my favorite signs to write – their characters were so distinct and vivacious and fun! I had the most difficult time writing Pisces. Two fish, but not twins (that’s Gemini’s domain, after all!). I had a difficult time coming up with a challenge that involved fish but was still exciting and unique. I hope I made my Pisces friends proud!
Thank you, Shalena, for hosting me today! I appreciate any opportunity to chat about books and reading! :-D
And thank you, Kristin, for sharing with us! ^_^
If you want to read my review of The 13th Sign, you can find it here, or if you want to know what I learned about my own zodiac sign(s) after reading Kristin's novel, just click here.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don't forget that the giveaway for a signed copy of The 13th Sign and swag ends tonight! Click HERE to go to the giveaway page!
Thanks for reading!