Like most readers, we're always on the prowl for new books to read and fresh series to follow. Today we welcome freshly minted author, Kait Ballenger, and she's here to talk about her sexy Hunters and her high adrenaline PNR series, Execution Underground.
EXECUTION UNDERGROUND 101
BRAINE: Hi Kait! Thanks for stopping by Talk Supe to give our Supies an EXECUTION UNDERGROUND 101 crash course. Can you tell us what the series premise is?
KAIT BALLENGER: Thanks for having me!
BRAINE: Can you tell us what the series premise is?
KAIT BALLENGER: The series focuses on the Rochester division of the organization, the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND The EXECUTION UNDERGROUND is an international network of covert supernatural hunters, human men with extraordinary abilities, who fight to protect humanity from all things that go bump in the night.
BRAINE: I know there are vampires and werewolves and "superhumans" in the series, are there other preternatural creatures involved?
KAIT BALLENGER: Loads! The possibilities are endless. I have plans for lots of supernatural creatures to make appearances, but just among the six hunters who comprise the Rochester division alone, the supernatural creatures they hunt include vampires, werewolves, demons, witches/warlocks, ghosts/poltergeists, and non-werewolf shapeshifters. The heroine of book two, Immortal Hunter, is also a Faerie, so the Fae exist as well, though they’re not hunted since they are natural enemies of the demons and protect humans just like the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND does.
BRAINE: A smorgasbord of Supes! How exciting! How are your creatures and myth different from the archetypes?
KAIT BALLENGER: If I went through and listed the differences among all of them, I’d be here for hours! Lol! I do actively try to switch up the myths some and put a unique spin on them though—the twist in Twilight Hunter is one I can’t give away without spoiling the plot, so I’ll keep that hush hush for now. But I think the main originality of the series comes from the fact that the heroes are human, which is something you don’t often see in paranormal romance. We see a lot of human heroines, but not a lot of human heroes. Paranormal romance readers have really come to romanticize the supernatural and though there is always a supernatural villain in paranormal romance, ultimately, the hero is usually some sort of benevolent paranormal creature, or a non-benevolent creature that fights against his nature in order to be good. Though I love reading books like that, my heroes aren’t that way. They’re humans who because of a serum injection provided by the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND (which gives them increased strength and healing capabilities) and extensive military-like training are capable of fighting and hunting the supernatural bad guys. My heroes are just as dark, tortured, and alpha as the heroes in more traditional paranormal romance, but they’re unique in their humanity.
BRAINE: Yes, I can attest to how human your Hunters are, flaws and all. Where are the stories set at?
KAIT BALLENGER: The series takes place in Rochester, New York, a city that (in the series) is overrun with supernatural creatures.
BRAINE: Another group of sexy New Yorkers! Can you tell us a little something about your Hunters, like as a group, what are they like?
KAIT BALLENGER: As a group they are six alpha males, who ultimately are friends and like brothers to each other, despite how often they clash with one another. Like in real life when you get any group of headstrong people together, there is bound to be conflict and differing opinions. Damon Brock, the leader of the division, has to be as much of a hard ass as he can to try and keep all the other hunters in line, so then Headquarters stays off their asses, but often the guys don’t want to listen to Damon’s orders and trouble ensues. Jace McCannon, the hero of Twilight Hunter, is Damon’s biggest troublemaker. Even though they fight often over details of the job, at the end of the day, they’d do anything to help each other if they really needed it...well, with the exception of Damon and Jace maybe. They’re not fans of each other lol.
BRAINE: Yes! I actually love the conflict between Damon and Jace. Not that I don't like bromance but we all know that's not how it works all the time. So how does one qualify to become a Hunter?
KAIT BALLENGER: The EXECUTION UNDERGROUND—by tradition—is an all male organization that has existed for over a century. Humans don’t know about the existence of supernatural creatures in the series, so you can’t really just sign up for the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND since most people have no knowledge of its existence. There is a strict recruitment process. Recruits are usually found either by legacies (young men who are the sons of previous EXECUTION UNDERGROUND hunters) or men who have some sort of supernatural knowledge because of events within their life, usually either they were a victim of some supernatural based crime or someone close to them was. Recruits tend to start fresh out of high school, but occasionally some men are recruited at an older age. The training involved before you can become a hunter takes many years before you’re ever actually allowed to go out in the field, which is why recruits usually start young. Once you sign on for training, there is no turning back. There’s no such thing as dropping out or not being cut out for the job. If you sign up and the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND divulges their secrets to you, you’re in for life. It’s a huge commitment, so hunters don’t become what they are lightly. They choose to dedicate their life to their profession.
BRAINE: What is it about your characters that readers can identify with the most?
KAIT BALLENGER: Even though my heroes and heroines are all good people, they all have their flaws, which I think allows readers to identify with them, because no one is perfect. It’s when they’re at their lowest and most human that they are easiest to relate to. Everyone at some point in their life has had some sort of personal struggle and the personal struggles of my characters involve things that real people struggle with, not just supernatural creatures. For example, Jace McCannon, the hero of Twilight Hunter, who is a werewolf hunter, has a strong internal battle over not wanting to turn out to be like his dead beat dad. He wants to be a man of worth, but has a hard time being able to recognize that he is a true hero, despite his background. Frankie Amato, the heroine of his story, who is a werewolf and packmaster of the Rochester wolf pack, struggles to maintain her position as a powerful woman in male dominated surroundings while still being able to have vulnerabilities.
BRAINE: And it won't be PNR without some heat! Can you share our Supies what the heat level of EXECUTION UNDERGROUND's like (I know but I don't want to sound all pervy)?
KAIT BALLENGER: The heat level of the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND is pretty high lol. Those who have read Shadow Hunter, a prequel novella to the series in the After Dark anthology with Gena Showalter (which by the way, does NOT have to be read before Twilight Hunter, I wrote Twilight Hunter first) will find that the heat level in Twilight Hunter is much higher. I had to tone down the heat level for Shadow Hunter on the request of my publisher since Gena writes both adult paranormal romance and YA. Twilight Hunter is more reflective of the heat level of the whole series. It’s not erotica, but the sex is explicit and I don’t beat around the bush with silly euphemisms. ;-) It’s definitely on the hotter side of paranormal romance.
BRAINE: The prequel novella, SHADOW HUNTER, and book 1, TWILIGHT HUNTER, are already out, how many more books are you planning to write?
KAIT BALLENGER: Tentatively, I’ve planned for one full length book for each hunter. There are six original hunters in the Rochester division, so each will receive his own book, though Damon Brock (vampire hunter and leader of the division, who is the hero of the prequel novella, is in both the novella AND has a full length book of his own), so there will be seven total. Right now, I don’t have any plans of extending the series after that, but the possibility is open. I’ve thought about the possibility of doing a series about a division in another city, aside from Rochester.
BRAINE: As EXECUTION UNDERGROUND is new, which existing PNR series does it share an area code with?
KAIT BALLENGER: I think the series will most likely appeal to those who are fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The heroes are modern badasses, kind of like the heroes of the BDB are, but Harlequin (my publisher) has paired my novella with a Lords of the Underworld novella by Gena Showalter, so I think fans of that series might enjoy the Execution Underground as well.
BRAINE: If you are to add a tagline for EXECUTION UNDERGROUND, what would it be?
KAIT BALLENGER: Oh, that’s a hard question lol. I don’t know that I could come up with one for the whole series since the heroes all have different specialties and interest, but the one you’ll find on the cover of Twilight Hunter—which I’m proud to say I came up with—is:
sleeping with the enemy could be deadly...
BRAINE: Any new projects in the works?
KAIT BALLENGER: Currently, I’m just working on the EXECUTION UNDERGROUND, but I have a YA paranormal/urban fantasy series about to out for submission under my maiden name, Kaitlyn Schulz.
BRAINE: Do you have upcoming gigs or book signings?
KAIT BALLENGER: I will be at Authors After Dark this month from August 15th-18th. I’ll be signing books there as well as interacting with readers. I also have two signings in September. One at the Barnes & Noble in Daytona Beach FL on September 7th and the other at an authors event with the Orlando Library in Orlando FL on September 22nd. I’ll also be at Coastal Magic in Daytona Beach this coming February.
BRAINE: Thanks again, Kait! We look forward to more EXECUTION UNDERGROUND books AND your upcoming YA novel!
Get the books
Kait Ballenger is a full-time paranormal romance author, wife, bellydancer, graduate student, and soon-to-be-professor. She is the multi-published, award-winning author of the Execution Underground paranormal romance series. With a B.A in English from Stetson University, Kait is currently earning an M.F.A in Writing. Kait believes anything is possible with hard work and dedication. One day, she hopes to be a bestseller and to see her novels on the big screen. Look for the next two books in her page-turning Execution Underground series: Twilight Hunter, book one (August 2013) and Immortal Hunter, book two (January 2014).