Hi Cate! I’m delighted to welcome you to Keep Calm and Read a Book – I absolutely loved your trilogy so it’s a pleasure to be talking to you.
Where did the inspiration for the trilogy come from?
My four-book mini-series, Balefire, dealt with immortals, and I became intrigued about what their lives must be like. Also, I want to introduce a really awful character who seems irredeemable, and then redeem her.
One of my favourite aspects of the novel is the depth of Nastasya’s back story – you create an entire, convincing life that spans centuries. How you craft it so skilfully?
You should see all the stories I *didn’t* put in! The short answer is: I just thought about it a lot. The longer answer is I worked it all out, figured out every one of her names and pinned them to a timeline of her life. Then I chose time periods that would show a certain aspect of her character development. In the beginning, all of her names and towns are in Iceland, Finland, and Norway, because travel would have been so much more difficult, especially for a single woman. Later I had her jumping all over the place, especially once trains and air travel became common place. Once I picked a certain time period to describe her in, I did a lot of research: social customs, clothes, food, classes of society. It was so fascinating. I love doing research.
How did you manage to achieve such an authentic voice, bearing in mind that Nastasya’s back story starts in her birth place in Iceland?
I just know her, inside and out. I know how her voice changed, from when she was a relative innocent to when she gradually became harder and harder. I just know what she sounds like, what she would say.
Was there ever a temptation to place the story entirely in familiar territory, rather than from all over the world?
Ha! Well, I did have her in New York a couple of times, and I lived there for eight years, so I could describe it pretty well. I did have her go to a bunch of places I’ve at least visited.
Paranormal fiction is a very crowded market – did you feel great pressure to differentiate yourself from what can be a very copycat genre, or did the storyline come about naturally?
It came about naturally; I had no idea whether it would be similar to what’s already out there or not. That said, there are some paranormal genres that have been done a lot, so there’s no need to add to them.
Do you read widely in the genre, or do you prefer to read books of an entirely different nature?
I actually don’t read very much young adult fiction at all. I probably should, but I’m always afraid I’ll be too influenced by it. Mostly I read non-fiction books on a million different subjects, and I read some genre fiction, like romances. And I love memoirs, biographies, even if they’re fictionalised, like Thurber.
One of the foundations of the concept of ‘good’ living at River’s Edge is the need to make Tahti magic , ‘pure’ magic, rather than using the easier Terava magic, which generates power by draining the living things surrounding it. What led to the creation of these two concepts?
I created that concept in Balefire, because I wanted there to be a distinct difference in magickal choices and ability. I wanted the characters to have to start with that one basic choice, before they get any farther.
Who is your favourite character in the book, and why?
Nastasya, just because I know her so well and sympathize with her. I was so proud of the progress she made, and how she kept sticking it out.
If you were an Immortal, what would be the first thing that you did?
Buy certain stocks. Buy land.
I can’t wait to read the next book you write – have you got anything in the pipeline at the moment?
I always have something going! My next project is a trilogy that will be coming out from Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse) I’m revising the first book right now, but it’s mostly done. It’s a very fun idea, fun book. I can’t to see if you like it or not!
Thank you so much for talking to us. I wish you the best for continued success with your brilliant trilogy!
Many thanks also to Emilie Ferguson at Hodder & Stoughton for the review copies and the chance to talk to Cate. You can find out more about her on her website.