Author Interview ~ Cait Ashwood

A huge thanks to Cait for taking the time to answer my questions. Warning to future fan’s this post contains spoliers (Don’t worry too much, Cait gives plenty of notice.) If you havn’t read Caits debut novel The Seekers (Order of the Lily Book 1) then check out my review. Plus Cait has given us a excerpt from Order of the Lily Book 2, Wow!

Banner The Seekers Author Cait Ashwood

1) What drove you to write fantasy?
Fantasy is where I grew up and have spent the bulk of my time as an adult. It seemed the most natural place for me to write, as it’s what I’ve been reading. That, and I often grow weary of reality. Give me something fantastical to occupy my hours, and I’m a happy girl.

2) Who are your favorite authors, and what genre do you enjoy reading the most?

Sherwood Smith, R.A. Salvatore, Mercedes Lackey, and J.R. Ward top my list of favorite authors. I’ll spend time in epic fantasy, romance, PNR, and just about anything else that catches my interest, including softer sci-fi.

3) Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?

The earliest memory I have of reading a book was most likely a Little Bear chapter book, and the only impactful thought I had about that book was that Little Bear got in trouble with his mom, too.

4)  How did you come up with the idea to write about The Seekers and the Chosen?

This started off as a daydream of mine, about a simpler time. Obviously, the more time I spent in this little daydream of mine, the more complex and complicated it got. I had never thought to write it all down; it just kept growing and expanding in my head. It was my escape when life got too real. Then I met this crazy lady with explosive brown curls tapping away madly on an iPad. When I asked her what she was doing, she said she was writing a novel. Those of you who participate will understand my meaning when I say that this auspicious meeting occurred in November – that’s right, I had run into one of my area’s two MLs for NaNoWriMo. The first draft took two years, and then I floundered about attempting to edit it for six months. I took another two months, read every book on the writing craft I could, got a few good critiques and suggestions, and re-wrote the entire (then) one hundred and twenty-four thousand word manuscript. The re-write took two and a half months. A month and a half later, and my little world floated out onto the internet to sink or swim on its own.

Author Cait Ashwood The Seekers

5) Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Always a gift. The curse is the number of hours in a day and those pesky things called bills.

6) Where do you write? Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

I have a few places I write. My NaNo group meets weekly year-round at a local Panera. My bestie writes weekly at a local cafe on open mic night. Then…there’s my desk with Muse the black moor goldfish and Calliope the snail for company.  As for quirky habits, my muses have this fun thing they like to do where they make me work and fight and claw for every word before 10:30pm. After 10:30, it’s like they clock into work and I can finally get some work done. I can occasionally woo them with some wine, but that’s hit or miss.

7) Do you have any further romantic plans in the future for Audrey?

Why yes, yes I do. While trimming for spoilers, I’ll share an excerpt from Order of the Lily with you. If you haven’t read The Seekers yet, you may have no idea who the mystery man may be.

“How…how long?” His voice broke on the words, and more emotion showed in his eyes than she’d ever seen.
His grip on her bicep was strong, but she didn’t even feel the discomfort, nearly hypnotized. “I don’t know, really. It’s like,” she paused, fishing for words, “it’s like it was always there, but I never dared to hope—”
She didn’t get to finish as his lips crushed down on hers. She froze for half a second in shock, then responded, letting her eyes flutter closed. This was no romantic kiss; this was a claim staked.

Order of the Lily Cait Ashwood

8) Which character from your novel do you most identify with?

I have to go with Audrey on this one, as she’s the only character I’ve created to actually sort of be based on myself. Everyone else is different and unique but Audrey…she’s mine.

9) Out of the world you have created, where would you most like to spend the day, and why?

This is actually our world in the future, so a lot of things we have today are ruins. Still, I’d love to have a Seeker whisk me off around the world to see all of the great archaeological feats that are left standing, and all of the beautiful places with pristine lagoons. And at the end of the day, I can sleep in my own bed with no jet lag. Best of both worlds.

10) Did you find any specific challenges in writing The Seekers, and what would you do differently next time?

Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing the first time around. I had no plot, no outline, just a super vague plan. I ended up cutting out the first four chapters, re-wrote my beginning about four or five different ways, and didn’t have a villain until I randomly decided to change a character into a bad guy half way through, simply to fill the void. This messed up a lot of the dialogue, as the character was originally sugary sweet and then seemed bipolar when they were revealed as a villain. It was a disorganized mess! I’d definitely do all of my character sheets in advance next time I’m writing in a new world, because starting with everyone as a blank slate, there was a lot of distance. I couldn’t connect with them. By the time I finished writing the first draft and started on the re-write, I truly knew who they were and could bring some life into them. I’ll definitely make sure to do some practice writing and character sheets ahead of the actual writing of the novel next time so that I don’t have that awkward dissociative phase to work through.

11) If you were a Chosen, which power would you wish to have?

I love animals, so I’d definitely choose to be an animal seer if I had the choice.

12) Give us an interesting fun fact about The Seekers.

Semi-spoiler warning, but not a horrible one. Hound was actually originally supposed to die samurai-style upon his discovery of his condition. My alpha reader and bestie literally begged me to let Hound live, no matter what the cost. Especially during the re-writes, this enabled me to give him a lot more of a story arc, and I really like the finished product and how everything turned out. It’s definitely had a series-wide impact but is probably one of the best changes I’ve made to the manuscript.

13) Were there any scenes that you found particularly challenging to write, and why?

This may sound silly, but the hardest scene for me to write was when Audrey has to leave Mia behind. Mia is based on my own Great Dane, Naomi, and the thought of ever having to leave her behind like that made me cuddle her for about an hour straight after writing that scene.

14) What got left out of the final draft?

The first original four chapters, for certain! The biggest casualty there was the description of Audrey’s bathroom in her house before she goes back with the Seekers. Gosh, that place was heavenly. If my books ever make me rich and famous, I’m building her bathroom for myself.

Author Lorraine Ambers Banner

15) Were there alternative endings you considered?

Well, Hound was originally supposed to be dead. The other answer is going to have a spoiler, so don’t read it if you don’t want to know.

Are you still with me?

You sure?

Okay. Hound originally wasn’t supposed to be able to work for the Seekers at all. Once Gretta took control of him, he was supposed to be their man, through and through. While writing that, I decided I really couldn’t do that to him. He was supposed to be leading the opposing forces at the Battle of the Institute and, despite my alpha reader’s pleas, I still hadn’t decided if he was going to survive the battle. As I sat down to do the re-write, Audrey decided to skip ahead and figure things out faster than I’d intended, but it made sense with the plot. This meant that she had a chance to tell Hound about himself and free him from Gretta’s control before the actual battle, so he no longer had to lead the enemy in the attack against his own brethren. After that, he was going to decide he was too dangerous for society and seclude himself in a cave and become the Ghost of Calanon, preying on bandits on the main roads. He became sort of a mythic figure that Gwyn (who originally was quite a bit more assertive) searched for until she found him. Book 1 ended with Gwyn being the first to lay eyes on Hound since the Battle of the Institute. Her mission was to slowly begin healing him and convince him to return to the fold.

16) What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seekers, Order of the Lily. It’s about half-way written at this point, and time has been reserved with the editor to get cracking on it. Exciting things are afoot!

Cait loves to have new followers, this is where you can find her:

www.caitashwood.com

www.facebook.com/cait.ashwood

www.instagram.com/ashwood.cait

www.twitter.com/caitashwood

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