Verdell Walker is the author of THE COVEN series. Born and raised in the South, writing has been her escape from reality for many years.
Verdell is an avid sports fan and absolutely devoted to the Green Bay Packers. A gifted cook and baker, few things make her happier than making a meal for her family and friends. Except maybe writing about her favorite boys. You can find more about Verdell at her website.
Favorite movie you’ve seen recently? Django Unchained, hands down.
Best vacation spot? Puerto Rico
City or Country? Definitely country. I live in the city now, but I grew up in small Georgia town.
Favorite color? Depends on the day, but red is a constant favorite.
Biggest Pet Peeve? Having to repeat myself and when people don’t get up for pregnant women/the elderly on public transportation.
Can you tell us about your newest book, The Coven: Fire and Ice?
Fire and Ice is Book 1 of The Coven series, which centers on a group of 5 young warlocks – Blaze, Cody, Sebastian, Q, and Etienne – who are their kind’s and humanity’s first line of defense against a supremely powerful warlock named Seth.
Fire and Ice focuses on Blaze Ward, the leader of the Brotherhood, and Katherine “Kat” Grey, a reformed Queen Bee. After her clique’s bullying causes a classmate’s suicide, Kat leaves the vicious world of the California “in crowd” to live with her mother in Massachusetts. But when she steps in to protect a classmate from being bullied, Kat sparks a war with Hannah, Milton Academy’s own Queen Bee.
Kat’s courage and compassion attract the attention of Blaze, Hannah’s ex-boyfriend. As they fall in love, Kat challenges Blaze to become a better man and leader while he helps her find redemption as she makes it her mission to stop bullying at Milton. But when Hannah teams up with Seth to destroy her, Kat becomes a hostage in the age-old war between the Brotherhood and their greatest enemy. Saving Kat will require more than Blaze’s strength and skill; it will mean breaking one of his kind’s most sacred laws. Blaze will have to make a choice: his honor or Kat’s life.
The Coven: Fire and Ice has two topics happening simultaneously: bullying and magic. How easy was it mixing the two together?
My overarching goal with Fire and Ice and the rest of the series was not to let the magic overshadow the story. At the end of the day, this is a book about the characters and the choices they make, and bullying is one of the major themes. Some of the characters just happen to have extraordinary magical powers. I wanted to take the JK Rowling approach; Harry Potter may be a powerful wizard but those books are ultimately about his maturation from a boy to a man. Of course, since most of the major characters have powers it gave me the flexibility as a writer to create some kickass feats of sorcery!
Bullying is such an intense topic. I know that it breaks my heart whenever I read about it. Did you have any difficulties writing about it?
For me, it was definitely personal. I was bullied a lot when I was younger, and I remember the pain and anger I felt. Today it’s even worse because of the Internet; when I was growing up you could at least escape it at home. But now, it follows you everywhere on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The Internet and social media have made bullying morph into an even bigger beast than it already was. I definitely wanted to explore it because it’s an issue that just about all young adults face in some form. The book opens with a pretty startling suicide, and it’s the catalyst that leads Kat to change and face the wrongs she’s done.
This novel was definitely a vehicle for me to comment on the destructive nature of bullying and its far-reaching consequences. We all need to be cognizant of the power our words and actions have on others.
Book one in the series is about Blaze and Kat. Will their story progress in the series or will it move on to different characters?
I’m planning five books to be in The Coven series, each one focusing on a different member of the Brotherhood. That said, Blaze and Kat have really resonated with a lot of my readers, and they love their relationship. I’m thinking of doing a novella featuring the two of them at some point.
I’m working on Book Two as we speak – it will focus on Cody Quintana. I’m shooting for it to be available early next year.
Have you given any thought to who you would want to play Blaze and Kat if it were ever a movie? What about any of the other characters?
When I was writing Fire and Ice, I saw Bradley James from the Merlin TV series in my head when I pictured Blaze. I even modeled Blaze’s physical description on him somewhat. As for Kat, it would be Jennifer Lawrence – I am not ashamed to say that I have a crush on her. I think she’s fabulous and so real. She has the self-assuredness and gravitas necessary to play Kat.
If your house was burning down (and you actually had time to save some books), what three books would you save?
I’m gonna cheat a bit here – I’d save my iPad, because nearly all of my favorite books on it! But of my print collection, it would definitely be:
1. Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials omnibus
2. Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
3. Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red
What is currently in your To-Be-Read pile?
Too many books to count! But my top picks are:
1. The Dark Monk (The Hangman’s Daughter series), Oliver Potzsch
2. Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
3. Crucible of Gold (Temeraire series), Naomi Novik
4. The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier
5. Crocodile on the Sandbank, Elizabeth Peters
6. Lover at Last, JR Ward (obsessed with her, counting the days until this comes out!)
7. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn