Book: Escaping the Caves
Jess runs away from a life of violence to become an outcast only to find Escaping the Caves is harder than she thought.
I’ve always loved to read and write, and did Creative Writing the summer of 2010 at the University of Edinburgh. That was a real eye-opener as I got to meet so many wonderful people who also wanted to write. They inspired me to ‘just go for it’. Even so, I spent some years doing other things. I got a degree in social work, worked and lived in Ghana for a while, before I realized that I’m better suited for what I really want to do, which is write. I’m currently studying journalism in Oslo, while I continue to write stories in my spare-time. (Not sure how long this was supposed to be, if you want me to change or add something let me know!)
"Escaping the Caves" is my first published novel, but I’ve been writing short stories and books for the past eight years. Attending the Creative Writing Course at the University of Edinburgh in the summer of 2010 was a real turning point for me . That’s when I admitted to myself and others that being a writer is who I am, what I want to do. I’ve always thought about starting a website and a blog as a way of sharing thoughts about writing and life in general. Once I got a publishing contract, I finally got the push I needed to do just that. I’ve just started out, but hope it can be a way for me to connect with readers and others who enjoy writing. In addition to blogging about life and literature, the website is a place where I can post small short stories, as well as writing about my own up-coming books. Apart from the happiness writing gives me, I’d just like for people to get as much joy from reading my stories as I enjoy writing them.
This is not the story of how the world ended. No one really knows how it ended. All that is certain is somehow, somewhere, someone screwed up.
For generations, Jess and her tribe have guarded the entrance to the caves, protecting the human world from the demons within. The bloodthirsty creatures, once the cause of humanity's downfall, seek nothing more than to finish the task.
Caught in a web of grief, Jess flees the tribe for the outside world, becoming an 'outcast'. She crosses the desert, seeking out a new home away from the fight, but her warrior's scars make it a difficult life, the center of a propaganda-fuelled hatred unparalleled in her old world.
But when Jess finds a home, she finds that her old life will not be forgotten so easily. The demons have found a new exit to the cave.
Angela B. Chrysler Interviews Kristin
Angela B. Chrysler: Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?
Kristin Talgø: I would say I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but it’s closer to the truth to say I’ve been writing stories since I was seven. I kept writing through my teens, but didn’t start taking it seriously until I was nineteen. I attended a Creative Writing Course at the University of Edinburgh summer of 2010, and the writing environment and support I found there really encouraged me to stick to what I wanted to do; namely write.
I’m currently studying journalism in Norway, I’ll be in my third and final year come this fall. Apart from that, I’m obviously very fond of reading; I also enjoy drawing though that isn’t one of my strong suits. I have a lovely three year old daughter, who keeps me busy. In between writing, working and caring for her, I try to make room and time for my friends and the rest of my family.
Angela B. Chrysler: Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.
Kristin Talgø: “Escaping the Caves” is not the first book I’ve written, but it’s the first to be published and the first I’ve attempted to publish. I’ve written five others and am currently working on my seventh. I consider the first book I wrote a sort of trial run, but the other four I hope to revise and edit, as I think they could really work, but they’re still a work in progress.
Angela B. Chrysler: What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?
Kristin Talgø: I enjoy writing sci-fi, fantasy or books with an element of the paranormal about them and those are the genres in which I write.
“Escaping the Caves” is a futuristic novel set in a post-apocalyptic word. The world was overrun by monsters that nearly wipe out humanity. After a devastating war, it was left to a chosen few to keep the monsters confided to a set of caves. The task of keeping the monsters from once again roaming the earth has been passed down through the generations. It’s a small community governed by strict rules. There is no room for the people living there to show their pain and fear. If one person starts to crack up, it’s only a reminder that they’re all cracking up a little every day. Whoever decides to leave the community becomes an ‘outcast’. They’ve betrayed humanity and so are shunned in the outside world as well.
Jess, a trained monster hunter turns her back on the family tradition. No longer wanting to live with the possibility of being killed by those monsters, or living with the ghosts of those who have, Jess leaves the only life she knows and travels across country to find herself. As she attempts to escape the death of her sister, and the ghosts that dwell inside her mind, Jess finds more than what she bargained for. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, even human ones…
Angela B. Chrysler: What inspired you to write this book?
Kristin Talgø: Generally speaking, I get my inspiration from everything from music and movies to books, poetry and articles. It gets mixed up with my imagination and the strange inner workings of my mind. In this case, and I know it sounds corny, the idea came from a dream I had. In the dream I was having an argument with someone. I was desperate for that person to listen to me, to understand me, but when the person turned around there was nothing but disdain and contempt on his face. We were standing on a street, people gathering to see what the commotion was about and when I tried to seek their understanding and acceptance for my pain, I was met with the same distaste. In their eyes I was weak for crying, for revealing my hurt. In the distance there was a huge, dark mountain range stretching for as long as I could see. When I woke up, my mind automatically started building on it. The scene from the dream blended together with my imagination.
Angela B. Chrysler: How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
Kristin Talgø: The original title was “Cavemen”, but having read through the book my publisher suggested “Escaping the Caves” as it works better with the theme running through the book where the main character, Jess, tries to escape the caves, both literally and mentally.
Angela B. Chrysler: Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
Kristin Talgø: It was my publisher who commissioned the cover art. Once the artist had made a mock-up, I got to see it and get my input on it. As this is my first published book I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved the cover the moment I saw it. I think the artist really captured the sinister and malevolent presence in the caves. It’s dark and eerie, just the way I like it!
Angela B. Chrysler: If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Kristin Talgø: I really don’t know what to say to that. My characters, the way they look and act, are so firmly fixed in my head; it’s difficult to picture actors putting on their faces, so to speak. But I suppose to play Jess; I think Mia Wasikowska could be a good fit, both in the way she looks, but also because I think she’s really good at taking on strong, independent and complex characters. To play John, it would have to be someone who can pull off that kind and considerate, yet manly combination. Ryan Gosling maybe? He’s quite good at that isn’t he? Not to mention, he’s always popular and about as handsome as they come!
As for Kyle, that’s a difficult one. Kyle as a character is the kind of man who can be cold and closed off, but has that spark in his eyes, knows how to turn on the charm. I suppose, based on movies I’ve seen him in, someone like Chris Hemsworth might’ve worked.
Angela B. Chrysler: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Kristin Talgø: For as long as I can remember, even as a quite small child, I used to make up imaginary worlds in my head. I never had a problem playing on my own as a kid; I would just make up different scenarios and play them out. When I played with my friends or sister, I remember I would often be a bit of a director, I wanted things to play out the way I’d pictured them in my head. I must’ve been a bossy playmate, at least with my sister. But it was this joy in creating different worlds and universes in my head that sparked my desire to write. To put them down on paper and have them come to life.
Angela B. Chrysler: Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Kristin Talgø: I’m not much of a plotter. Once the idea for the book had been formed in my mind, the people, scenes and dialog are usually quite clear to me. That being said, the story develops as I write it. I usually have a sense of where the story is headed, but I never really know what’s going to happen until I get there. That’s part of the fun. Discovering a story as I go along, discovering the twists and turns as I write them. It’s an exciting process, as I can sort of ‘feel’ the whole story at the back of my mind, but I have to dig it out, one word, one sentence, at the time. I like not knowing entirely where it’s headed, that way anything is possible.
Angela B. Chrysler: Who is your favorite character from your book and why? How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Kristin Talgø: My favorite character is probably Jess. I really liked how she turned out. She’s strong, capable and independent, knows her own mind and doesn’t take bs. from anyone. At the same time, I like how she has her weaknesses too. How she’s vulnerable and fragile, she desperately wants to be loved and understood, to find someone and somewhere to belong. Where she can be accepted for who she is, all of her, both the good and the bad. She’s also stubborn and she’s got an attitude, but a kind heart. To sum it up, I like the complexity of her. How she’s proof that there doesn’t have be any disparities between being strong and vulnerable at the same time. How that’s just part of being human.
My least favorite character is probably Marjorie, John’s ex-wife. She’s the epitome of everything I dislike and would hate to be. She’s selfish and self-centered, with very little empathy and understanding for any pain but her own. She can feel very sorry for herself, but she’s not capable of much sympathy for those around her. She sees the people in her life as pawns she can move around to her advantage, not as humans with their own needs and desires.
Angela B. Chrysler: What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Kristin Talgø: Do it. There’s no reason why anyone who wants to be a writer shouldn’t do just that, as long as they’re prepared for a bumpy road. People always tell you that you need to work hard for the things you want in life, but that can never prepare you for just how hard you’ll need to work. If you want to be a writer, you’ll probably have to work twice as hard as you thought and at least twice as hard as you’d like. But if that’s really what you want to do, then that’s just the price you’ll have to pay. You’re going to have to work hard in life no matter what you do, so you might as well work hard for the things you really want. If being a writer is what you really want, then all that hard work is worth it. At the end of the day, if that hard work means you get to do what you feel you’re meant to do in life… What’s there to think about?
And don’t let anyone belittle your desire to write. Being a writer is just as legitimate a profession as wanting to be a plumber, nurse or teacher. We all got our parts to play in this world. If you feel writing is where you’re abilities are, then write is what you should do.
Angela B. Chrysler: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Kristin Talgø: Recommend it to friends! Spread the word; lend it to a friend or both. I think that’s probably the best way of making sure people who might enjoy reading it get the chance.
Angela B. Chrysler: Why did you write a love story?
Kristin Talgø: “Escaping the Caves” is a dystopian sci-fi novel, but there is a love story within that. Two actually. The book is in many ways character driven, the story revolves around Jess and the process she goes through, even if her process is affected by outside events. The reason why I wanted there to be a love story within the sci-fi story, apart from me being hopelessly romantic at heart, is because I think love is such a rich and complex subject. You can really go to town with it. Stretch it, inspect it and look at it from all sorts of angles.
Love, especially romantic love between two people can be so extraordinarily wonderful, but also so painfully complicated and cruel. I think love stories are a great way of examining the human psyche, understanding people and why we do the things we do.
Also, love is full of contradictions. It’s irrational. It’s perfectly possible to be head over heels in love with someone who’s terribly mismatched for you, and not being able to feel that crazy rush with someone who on paper should be your ideal match.
It’s this complexity and those contradictions that make love stories so interesting and fun to write about.
Angela B. Chrysler: What can we expect from you in the future?
Kristin Talgø: More stories and more books! Where I’ll be in the future as a writer is, just like with everything else in life, difficult if not impossible to predict. All I know is that I spent far too long doing other things, when what I really wanted was to write, to be a writer. Life’s too short not to do what makes you genuinely happy. So I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t expect it to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. I intend to keep writing and I hope there will be people who’ll want to read my books and enjoy them. Stories only truly come to life when they’re shared.
Angela B. Chrysler: And now for the zanier questions! Are you a compulsive shopper/hoarder?
Kristin Talgø: When it comes to books, yes. I physically can’t walk by a book store without going inside for a look. I keep telling myself to get one, but I always get three. Also, the buy with one click option on Amazon is decidedly dangerous… At least for my bank account.
Angela B. Chrysler: What do you want your tombstone to say?
Angela B. Chrysler: What do you want your tombstone to say?
Kristin Talgø: “Man, that was a lot of fun! Can I go again?”
Angela B. Chrysler: What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Kristin Talgø: I’d like to travel as much as possible and experience as many different places as I can. I’d like to show my daughter that there is a whole world out there, and that there is a lot of different ways of living. It’s easy to lose perspective when all you see are the same things and same people every day. Sometimes we need to take a step back to see the bigger picture. Also, I love travelling simply for the sake of travelling. I’m a lot happier when I’m on the move and not in the same place for too long at the time. I’m hoping to pass on my love for travelling to my daughter, as well as my love of books. If I can raise a self-reliant girl with a love of books and adventure, then I will feel I’ve done something right as a mother.
Angela B. Chrysler: What is your favorite Fiction/Non-Fiction book?
Kristin Talgø: My favorite Fiction is “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë; I know whole passages of that book by heart. My favorite Non-Fiction is “Tracks” by Robyn Davidson. That book went straight to my heart, a great inspiration for the possibilities in life. That there’s more to life than what everyone expects of you. That you can make up your own life as long as you have the guts to do it.
Angela B. Chrysler: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
Kristin Talgø: There are so many books that have meant and mean so much to me. That being said, Stephen King is probably the writer that has influenced me as a writer the most. I started reading his books when I was about thirteen and I’ve been hooked ever since. I greatly admire him as an author and his ability to describe events and emotions using the exact right words and the exact right amount of them. Not to mention his ability to create characters not based on descriptions, but on how they act and how they speak. I love the way a lot of his books are all connected somehow, a whole universe filled with different stories, worlds within worlds. There are times when I’ve skipped pages in his books, when the story has become too gory and gruesome for my taste, but I think he’s at his best when he writes about the simple things in his stories. The human condition and the way people connect and communicate with each other, or fail to. Despite writing horror, Stephen King has written some of the best love stories, in my opinion!
Also, I figure that if he could have two kids and write ‘Carrie’ in the laundry room of a doublewide trailer, then I can certainly write in an airy kitchen with only one kid.
Kristin interviews her characters
Author: Hi, Jess. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Go ahead and tell the audience a bit about yourself.
Jess: Ehm, hi… I’m Jess. I used to be a fighter in the Caves. I was good at it; it was what I was born to do. What I’d been trained for. But losing my sister and best friend kind of messed with my head, though it was pretty messed up to begin with. The Caves will do that to you. So I left. I wanted to find myself again, if possible. And now…I’m still trying to figure that out, I guess.
Q: Okay, I know you’re not entirely comfortable with this sort of thing, but why don’t you tell us where and when you were born.
Jess: Sure. I was born December 12th 2097, in the settlement around the Caves. What childhood I had was all right. They start prepping you for a life in the Caves when you turn four so it didn’t last very long, but those first few years, what I remember… It was good.
Author: I know your life in the Caves was a strained one; it must’ve shaped you in a lot of ways. How would you describe yourself?
Jess: Describe myself? I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it. We don’t spend a lot of time on introspection around the Caves. Soul-searching isn’t advisable when your soul is killed off a little every day. I used to think I was brave, now I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ve become selfish.
Author: I suppose a life like that might do that to you. Why don’t you tell us a bit more about where you grew up?
Jess: Look, I spend most of my time trying to forget about where I grew up. If you hadn’t already done so, I could’ve written a whole book about what the Caves are like. But words are never going to explain what it’s like growing up in a place where all you are trained for is killing. To live your life never knowing who’s going to have their head ripped off next… All everyone teaches you are how to keep your fear and grief to yourself. But trust me, that’ll eat you up.
Author: I can’t imagine what that must be like. Or I can; I wrote the book after all, but tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not fighting in the Caves.
Jess: I don’t fight anymore, you know that. But back by the Caves, when I wasn’t in them trying not to get mauled, my main hobbies were drinking, smoking and… Well, you can say what you want about the men around the Caves, cave-mentality and all, but they know how to have a good time, I’ll give them that.
Author: Talking about men, are you serious with anyone?
Jess: What? I… What does that have to do with anything? Look, are we done here?
Author: Almost, tell us about your worst fear.
Jess: Listen lady, I didn’t want to do this in the first place. The only reason I’m doing it is to get you off my back, but this is where I draw the line. Worst fear? I think I’ve experienced them all. There’s not much left to fear. Except maybe… No, never mind. Can I go now?
Author: Sure, Jess. Thanks for coming. I wish you all the best.
Author: That was Jess, and now it’s time to talk to you Kyle. You were a hard one to talk into coming, but thanks for doing this. Go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell the audience a bit about who you are.
Kyle: I’m Kyle. Second Commander of the Caves.
Author: Okay… Brief and to the point as usual. Try to elaborate a bit. Tell us where and when were born.
Kyle: I don’t see how this is relevant, but fine. Just like my ex-wife who you just met, I was born in the settlement around the Caves. Born July 2nd 2091. Unlike Jess, I didn’t waste my time on longing for a happy childhood. I was born for a reason, with a purpose. Which is more than I can say for any of you.
Author: Okay, no reason to be rude to the audience. You’re a hard man to figure out, tell me, how would you describe yourself?
Kyle: I would say I’m efficient, determined and unsentimental. Other people think I’m hard and uncaring. Makes no difference to me. Compassion isn’t going to do you any good in the Caves. When those monsters come at you, you can’t worry about the people around you. You just got to trust they can handle themselves. Those who can’t… I’m sorry for them, but breaking down isn’t going to help anyone. Jess used to know that.
Author: We’re not talking about Jess, we’re talking about you. Tell us more about where you grew up.
Kyle: Seriously? Didn’t you already ask Jess that? The Caves are bad and bloody. If you want any more details, tell people to read the damn book.
Author: Kyle, please be nice. Why don’t you tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not fighting the monsters in the Caves?
Kyle: I do what most people do when they’re not fighting. I’m not a drunkard, but I drink, sure. Everyone does that. Gamble? Probably a bit of that too. Smoking? I leave that to Jess; she’s like a damn chimney when she’s stressed.
Author: And women? I understand that you have quite a reputation. Are you serious with anyone?
Kyle: Why? You interested?
Author: Sorry, you’re not really my type anymore. Okay, final question. Tell us about your worst fear.
Kyle: Fear? Fear is useless. It’ll cripple you, destroy you. If you let it, it’ll kill you. No. I’m not afraid. Maybe… Seeing Jess, after she lost her sister… Losing your mind like that… I’d rather let the monsters have me.
Author: Well, let’s hope it won’t come to that. Thanks, Kyle. And good luck. You’re going to need it…
Author: John, hi, thanks for coming. I know you have things to do, so let’s get started. Go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell the audience a bit about who you are.
John: Hi, I’m John. I run a diner, my father’s really, in a small town called Havensfield. I met Jess not long after she’d left the Caves, but didn’t see her again until she strolled into town one day. Maybe not strolled. She… She’d been through a lot. When I’m not working, I take care of my daughter Eve. She’s four.
Author: A hard-working family man. Gotta love that. Tell us where and when you were born.
John: I was born in Havensfield. April 14th 2095. I grew up there, that’s where I met my wife, now ex-wife, Eve’s mother. After the divorce, I took Eve and moved to one of the larger cities. Been working as a journalist, writing some books, none published yet. But Dad’s older now, and so I’m working at his place for the time being. Trying to keep it going and keep an eye out for Dad.
Author: You strike me as a responsible, caring kind of man. But how would you describe yourself?
John: Caring? Sure. Becoming a father will do that to most men I think. As for responsible? I don’t think I’m any more responsible than most people. I like to think I’m easy-going though. Live and let live, and all that.
Author: Tell us a bit more about where you grew up.
John: Havensfield? Okay, it’s a small town. It’s sitting at the bottom of a large mountainrange, surrounded by forest. An idyllic sort of place, at least I think so. Maybe a bit boring for some folks. Like every other town it has it faults, but we take care of each other around there. Look after one another.
Author: Sounds like a good place. Tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not working at the diner or taking care of your daughter?
John: The usual I guess. I like to read, write. Spend time with…friends when Eve is with her mother.
Author: The way you said ‘friends’ makes me think there’s someone in the picture. Someone who’s a bit more than a friend maybe? Are you serious with anyone?
John: Oh, ehm… I… Well, I’m not sure what she’s thinking, she likes to keep her feelings to herself, but… Serious? I hope so.
Author: Okay, final call. Tell us about your worst fear.
John: Worst? I’m a father. It goes without saying what I fear the most. I don’t even want to think about it, let alone say it out loud.
Author: No worries, John. There’s no need. Thank you for coming, and say hi to Eve from me.