Meet the Author of THE BLACK ANGEL CHRONICLES, Kristen Orlando!Swoon Reads Staff
Give a big Swoon Reads welcome to the second of our five new authors, Kristen Orlando (formerly known as Sophia Kelley on the site), and her book, The Black Angel Chronicles! We were blown away by the exciting world of undercover operatives and our newest butt-kicking hero, Reagan. We can’t wait for you to become immersed in this story of love and espionage!
If you were a top secret agent, what would your code name be?
Hmm… how about Red Sunrise.
Have you ever taken any martial arts or shooting lessons, or wanted to?
I am a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts and love watching the UFC (Ronda Rousey, you’re amazing). As much as I love watching MMA, I have yet to take a martial arts class. (Although, I really want to!) I learned so much about Krav Maga while writing this book. I watched a ton of videos to learn the best techniques and talked to friends who have practiced Krav Maga for years. Right now I’m trying to organize a group of girlfriends to take a Krav Maga self-defense class with me. I can’t wait to learn! As far as shooting lessons, I did go with an instructor to a gun range to learn how to fire a gun while writing this book. Knowing what it felt like to hold a gun in your hand (they’re heavy) and then fire it (a little bit scary) definitely helped me while writing The Black Angel Chronicles. I’ll probably never fire a gun again, but I’m glad I learned.
How did you come up with the idea for The Black Angel Chronicles?
We all seem to come up with our best ideas in the shower, right? The Black Angel Chronicles came to me mid-shampoo. My husband and I had just rented the movie Red, which chronicles the lives of retired CIA agents. Somewhere between body gel and conditioner, I started thinking to myself, what would it be like to be the daughter of super-secret CIA agents? What kind of upbringing would that be? To be the child of two incredibly talented, kick-ass people who are in constant danger? And then I thought… that’d make a great YA book! For the rest of my shower, my mind was going crazy thinking about what the group would be called (immediately came up with Black Angels and it stuck), what they’d do, how the group would function, how Black Angel children would be trained, etc. I was so excited about the idea, I could barely get the shampoo out of my hair before I ran into the other room to ask my husband what he thought. He loved it.
I knew right away I wanted to have Reagan struggle with which path to choose because I think that’s something so many people go through, myself included. I had applied to college pre-med (both my parents are in medicine) but deep down, I knew I loved writing and that medicine was not the life I wanted. I wrestled with the little voice in my head for the first six months of college; what my parents were hoping for me versus what I wanted for myself. Changing my major from Biology to English was incredibly scary because there was no direct path for me anymore. Being a doctor, it was much clearer: college, med school, internship, residency. But I had to listen to my heart and choose the life I wanted, not the one someone else wanted for me. (And just a side note… my parents couldn’t be more supportive or prouder of me. They read every single page of this book while I was writing it and are my biggest cheerleaders. In fact, I think their brief hesitation about my college major/career change was one of the best things that could have happened. It made me work extremely hard to prove I could make a living following my passion.) I think people at one time or another in their life wrestle with this same set of crossroads. I definitely wanted to make sure that while readers maybe couldn’t relate to Reagan’s strenuous training or dangerous double life, they could relate to her emotions and her struggle.
Who would play your characters in a movie?
Such a fun question and definitely something I’ve fantasized about! Okay, here goes:
• For Reagan Hillis, it’d hands down be Hailee Steinfeld. I think she’s an amazing, young actress and I always had her in my mind when I was writing Reagan. Gorgeous dark hair, almond shaped eyes, fair skin. She’d be perfect.
• For Luke, need a tall, handsome, strong but sweet blond like Chord Overstreet.
• For Harper, I always had Chloe Grace Moretz in my head. Harper is spunky and I think Chloe would be the perfect, loyal best friend.
• For Elizabeth Hillis, I adore Kate Winslet and think she’d be amazing as Reagan’s mom. I could also see someone like Robin Wright or Vera Farmiga in the role.
• For Jonathan Hillis, could definitely see someone like Patrick Wilson or Hugh Jackman as Reagan’s dad.
What makes you swoon?
Sweet notes. Random dance parties. Morning cuddles. Laughing until my face hurts. Grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. A really good book. Frank Sinatra songs.