Myth, Magic and Love - A Divine Blend P. C. Cast e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (November, 2006)
P. C. Cast was born in Watseka, Illinois, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between there and Oklahoma, where she quickly fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology. After high school, she joined the United States Air Force and then went on to tackle public speaking, teaching and writing. Her stories based on mythology have garnered numerous awards: the Prism, the Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers' Best and the Laurel Wreath. Goddess of Spring was awarded the Affaire de Coeur for Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy in the 2005 Readers-Writer's Poll.
LUNA (Harlequin's single title fantasy imprint for women) released Elphame's Choice, the first of five epic fantasy novels set in the world of Partholon. Brighid's Quest came out in 2005 and a special LUNA edition of Goddess by Mistake (newly titled Divine by Mistake) was released this past September. There are two additional books in the world of Partholon scheduled: look for Divine by Choice December 2006 and Divine by Blood Fall 2007.
P. C. Cast also writes the popular Goddess Summoning series for Berkley Publishing. The third book in the series, Goddess of Light, was released in 2005. Goddess of the Rose (a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast) was on the Barnes and Noble Romance Bestseller List this year. The fifth installment, Goddess of Love, will be released in 2007. The author and her daughter Kristin have also teamed up to co-author a paranormal YA series, The House of Night. Book 1 will hit the bookshelves in May 2007.
P. C. and her daughter have put down permanent roots in Oklahoma along with their spoiled cat and adorable Scotties. The author loves to hear from her fans and can be reached at PCCast.net.
Q: Did your previous military experience prepare you for the writing life?
A: This is the first time anyone's ever asked me that! Interesting question ... yes, I suppose it did. It gave me the opportunity to travel and meet lots of different kinds of people, which helps in creating new places/people in my novels. It also instilled in me a good dose of self-discipline, which is essential in overcoming the ever-present writer's procrastination.
Q: What attracted you to mythology and why did you use myths as a basis for your various series?
A: My dad attracted me to mythology. He gave me the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was about nine, and I went from there to Heinlein and Anne McCaffrey and was hooked. I use myths as a basis for fantasy and romance series for a very simple reason – I write what I like to read, and I enjoy reading fantasy based on mythology.
Q: Why is incorporating a romance important to the kinds of stories you tell - would you be able to tell them as effectively without a romantic sub-plot?
A: I couldn't tell the same stories without incorporating romance within the plots. The absence of romance was one of the primary problems I had with reading straight fantasy or sci-fi (note I said "had," times have changed and today many authors are incorporating romance in the sci-fi/fantasy genre). I mean, think about it: If an author creates a vibrant society and/or world and populates it with characters who live and breathe, there's bound to be sex going on! It only makes sense. It also makes life richer and far more interesting. So, all of my books will have some element of romance in them.
Q: Do you prepare a thorough outline before you begin writing or do your characters determine which direction your story is headed?
A: Both! I sell books on proposal, so that's a form of an outline. But after I begin writing the actual book my characters always change things and often take the plot in very unexpected directions. A good example of that happened in Goddess of Light. I definitely didn't plan the secondary love story in that book (between Artemis and Eddie), but the characters refused to behave!
Q: In your most recent releases, Divine by Mistake and Divine by Choice, your female lead, Shannon, is wrenched from her modern world via an antique vase and thrown into a mythological world where she is considered a goddess. To add to the confusion she finds herself hand fasted to a centaur. What's the allure of stories where a modern day heroine is removed from her comfort zone and thrust into a situation that is completely foreign to her?
A: I love these kinds of stories! I think the allure is that readers easily identify with the heroines, so when they are taken on mythological adventures, readers are right there with them experiencing everything as the heroine does. I think it's perfectly normal for a woman who has been pulled from 21st Century America into an ancient mythological world to wonder about things like "where the hell is the toilet paper" and after being faced with marriage to a centaur she very well might drink too much ...
Q: How challenging was it to portray a believable romance between a human woman and a centaur?
A: I've done this a few times now – between Shannon and ClanFintan, and then in Brighid's Quest between the centaur Huntress Brighid and the human warrior Cuchulainn. There will also be a centaur/hybrid Fomorian love story in Divine by Blood, which I'm working on right now. It doesn't get any easier. I think it's very important that there's never a hint of bestiality in these love stories. My centaurs are not animals – they are brave and honorable, heroic and noble. Besides that, bestiality would turn off the vast majority of my readers (and I'm not comfortable with it, either). So my goal is to create relationships that go beyond the bonds of the physical, even though my centaur High Shaman can shapeshift into human form for the actual lovemaking. Those of you who have read Brighid's Quest know that Cuchulainn and Brighid fall in love before Brighid becomes a High Shaman, so she does not have the ability to shapeshift when they are first handfasted. In that book, Brighid and Cu loved each other's souls before their bodies learned how to love. And, yes, there was quite a bit of sexual tension going on.
Q: Tell us a little about Divine by Blood, due out next year? Is this the last book of the Partholon series or are you planning more?
A: Honestly, I'm not sure if this will be the final Partholon book or not. Right now, I'm focusing on tying Elphame's Choice, Brighid's Quest, Divine by Mistake, and Divine by Choice together in a grand finale in this book. When I get that done I guess I'll have to decide if there are more stories to tell in Partholon, and if so, I will tell them.
Q: If you could change places with one of your heroines, which one would it be - and why?
A: Definitely Shannon in Partholon. She is so me that it's embarrassing; I'd definitely be comfortable in her skin. And ClanFintan is probably my favorite hero. Yummy!
Q: If you could take on the role of one mythological god or goddess, which one would you choose - and why?
A: This is a hard question because I adore all the goddesses I create. I think if I had to choose I would pick either Gaea from the first Goddess Summoning Book, Goddess of the Sea, or Venus from my June 07 release, Goddess of Love. Gaea because she was so wise and loving, yet she also had an excellent sense of fun. And Venus because ... well ... who wouldn't want to be the Goddess of Love?! And I do adore my version of her. She's funny and filled with life and love (and has an excellent fashion sense).
Q: How do you believe that legends, myths and mythology have shaped human existence and our social structure?
A: You can tell a lot about a society by the myths they tell. Look at The Odyssey and you will see what type of men the ancient Greeks revered when you study Odysseus, and, likewise, the women they cherished when you observe Penelope. Today our myths are changing. They are returning to the more matriarchal pre-Hellenistic point of view where women no longer sit chastely at home waiting for 1) their men to rescue them and/or 2) their men to enjoy all sorts of freedoms that are unavailable to them. Today more women are graduating from college than men. Women own their own homes. Women travel together, invest together, have adventures together, and live fulfilled lives that don't necessarily revolve around men. Our society is changing and the proliferation of strong heroines in our paranormal stories is reflective of that change.
Q: Do you believe that we will ever outgrow our need to touch on the fantastical?
A: I hope not! I think it would be very sad if we no longer wanted to be touched my magic and myth.
Q: Tell us a bit about the young adult novel that you and your daughter are working on?
A: This series is so much fun to write! It's called The House of Night. Book 1, which will be out in May (St. Martin's Press) is titled Marked. It's my first venture into YA, my first vampyre book, and it's my daughter, Kristin's, first published novel. Lots of firsts! It tells the story of Zoey Redbird, who is Marked as beginning the Change, which will either culminate in her becoming an adult vampyre, or it will kill her. She leaves her high school and moves into the House of Night, with other fledgling vampyres. But Zoey is not your typical fledgling. She has been touched by the vampyre goddess, Nyx, and her destiny will change the fabric of the House of Night and the vampyre world. It's slick and funny and cutting edge. It deals with real teenage issues in a paranormal setting. MaryJanice Davidson says, "Cast reeled me in from paragraph one. Zoey Redbird has quite enough on her plate without seeing dead people, thank you, and too bad for her. Without poor Zoey's trials and tribulations, there wouldn't be such a fine book. I snorted and giggled through the whole thing, and devoured it in one sitting." We just finished Book 2, Betrayed, and I couldn't be happier with the series!Find out more about the author, her books and current projects, and read her blog at PCCast.net.
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