Let's take a moment to do a happy dance for my very first author interview! I am so excited and honored that Cate Tiernan and Hachette Book Group have given me this opportunity!
Sweep series. She also wrote the four-part Balefire series. Her latest book, Immortal Beloved, is the first of a trilogy following Nastasya, an Icelandic immortal with a rough past and uncertain future. See my review of Immortal Beloved here.
And now for the interview!
1. In your other two book series, witch craft was the supernatural feature. What inspired you to write about immortals for this series? How did you come up with the mythology behind their world?
I’ve always liked the idea of immortals, the double-edged-sword aspect of it: is eternal life a gift or a curse? Or both? I started exploring immortals in my Balefire series, and in Immortal Beloved I took it further. In some ways their world is, for me, still evolving. With each scene Nastasya’s universe is deepened and expanded. In my books, I write worlds that make sense to me, that I would love if they really existed. And the question is always, How would this come about? Answering that question has been really fun.
2. I love that Nastasya is Icelandic (I lived in Iceland briefly). Do you have any ties to the Nordic regions?
I don’t, actually! I’ve been to the Netherlands twice, but never to Iceland or Norway. And I have no Scandinavian family heritage of any kind. But it’s a very compelling part of the world for me, and I’ve loved learning about it and describing it for readers.
3. Will River's Edge figure prominently in the rest of the trilogy, or will the characters be venturing out for the next book?
After Nastasya’s big fall in the second book, the action does move back to River’s Edge. The place itself is special, magickal, and it’s important that Immortal Beloved be centered there. But the beauty part of this kind of project is that these people have been everywhere, and I get to take them to a hundred different places and times. So there’s variety.
4. The characters in Immortal Beloved have really cool names (Innocencio is one of my favorites!). Any specific inspiration behind them?
I love names! Names of characters are very important to me, and in my mind, characters become their names and they really couldn’t be named anything else. But in Immortal Beloved, everyone has lived many lives, under many names. It’s been a challenge finding different names for characters that were authentic for each time and place and still felt intrinsically like that character. I do research, searching for Italian names in the 13th century, for example. I usually don’t just make up something, though that could work well too. But every once in a while, a name will come to me and I’ll put it in, just because it feels like I have to. Nastasya’s birth name, Lilja, is symbolic for me because lilies are a symbol of innocence and purity. I wanted to give a clue that Nastasya is not necessarily destined to be dark. But then for Innocencio, his name is ironic, because he’s anything but innocent. So I play around with themes like that.
5. What authors inspire you?
I have my favorites, and they tend to be my favorites because I admire their writing. I don’t read a lot of fiction, actually—I read much more nonfiction. But in fiction I seem to often prefer women writers, like Jane Austen, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, and Barbara Hambly. And Barbara Pym. I guess I read mostly genre fiction when I read it: romance, science fiction/fantasy, action/adventure. Lately I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s book about writing, and really enjoying that.
6. What is your favorite urban fantasy or supernatural story?
It’s hard to choose—they all seem so possible to me! Which is why I can’t watch scary movies—they seem all too likely to happen. I’ve never recovered from seeing The Exorcist. I don’t know. I like believing in pretty much all of them, though with zombies it seems like it would be harder, if not impossible, for them to blend into society. But witches, vampires, immortals, shapeshifters, were-things—it’s hard for me to believe that they don’t exist.
7. If Immortal Beloved was to become a movie, who would you like to see play Nastasya and Reyn?
Oh, gosh. The person I keep in mind when I write about Reyn is actually too old to be Reyn. It’s an actor, and I just try to picture him younger when I describe Reyn. I haven’t seen a person yet who truly resembles the way Nastasya looks to me, in my mind. But I think Dakota Fanning sort of comes the closest—not so much in looks, but in how she’s quite young but can believably play an older sensibility, as she did in Push.
8. You have been published A LOT (Sweep has 15 parts alone!). What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read a lot. Try to figure why you like some books more than others. Know what you want to say. Know who you want to say it to. Accept the fact that you really have to learn how to write—it’s a craft. It doesn’t just pop out perfectly. I always have to revise, sometimes two or three times.
9. What's your favorite non-writing activity?
I love to travel. And then I love to come home. Eating is very high on my list. I love doing jigsaw puzzles. I don’t know if I have a favorite favorite.
10. If you could live the life of any of your characters for a year, who would you be and why?
Oh, let me think. I feel like I’ve already done my emotional trauma time, so I wouldn’t want to be Nastasya, because she’s still going through it. Ditto with Morgan, from Sweep: she still has a long road ahead of her. I think maybe either Thais or Clio, from Balefire. They have a long way to go, but they’re pretty solid, overall. And I like their environment, where they live.
Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla
Day or night? Day. Night is scary sometimes.
Modern or old school? Both. Definitely both. In clothes, architecture, furniture—I like very
contemporary and also very old. Why is why I have no cohesive style.
Twitter or Facebook? I do both, but prefer the more two-way-ness of FB.
Typing or hand writing? My handwriting is awful, so typing. I wish I had nice or even legible handwriting.
Chinese or Italian? Both, for language and food. Italian for mental outlook.
Paper or plastic? Paper
Fries or baked potato? Fries
Early mornings or late nights? Either one, as long as it’s consistent and can be a pattern.
Sean Connery or Roger Moore? Oh my god, Sean Connery of course. That’s not even a question.
Thanks so much to Cate for the awesome interview, and thanks to Hachette Book Group for arranging the interview and providing the ARCs for the review and giveaway! You can find all of Cate's books in my Amazon store at the bottom of the page and at the provided links within the post.
Contact Cate Tiernan:
Cate Tiernan on Facebook