Twitter is a beautiful thing, really. Without Twitter, I wouldn’t be able to follow the day-to-day lives of over eight hundred near-strangers. Without Twitter, I couldn’t let over five hundred near-strangers know when I’ve managed to set off the new alarm system in my house (still not yet.) And without Twitter, I wouldn’t have met last week’s featured author, Tess Hardwick, or today’s featured author, Catherine Mesick.
After reading the synopsis on GoodReads and Amazon, I knew I’d have to give it a whirl, because she mixes some of my FAVORITE THINGS–namely Ireland, fantasy, and history. I’m dancing on the edge of my seat, ready to dive in, but I thought I’d introduce her and Pure to you so that you might discover this book along with me.
Catherine was kind enough to answer a few questions–you’ll recognize them, as I can only be original once, apparently. Fortunately, she’s clever, creative, and funny, so they seem like entirely new interview topics. Enjoy the interview, check out Pure, visit her profile pages, and show some warm support for another indie author!
As my husband always says, “What’s your book about?”
Thanks for inviting me to be a part of Life in Words! In my book, Pure, sixteen-year-old Katie Wickliff discovers that she has an unusual – and mystical – heritage. She is descended from the Sídh of ancient Ireland – through her Russian mother. She also discovers that her town is being stalked by a supernatural creature, who is picking off people one by one. Shortly after the trouble begins, Katie meets the handsome William – who just might be a vampire. As the disappearances mount, Katie is forced to confront a terrible question: can she trust William – or is he behind the disappearances?
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? Can you tell us about it?
The first thing I remember writing was a story in elementary school titled Christina’s Christmas. It had a red construction paper cover, and I stapled it in the center to make it into a ‘book.’ It was about a girl who wants a kitten for Christmas, and in a shocking turn of events, she receives the kitten at the end. I believe the whole point of it was to give my parents an incredibly subtle hint.
Do you prefer plaid or stripes?
You know, I thought I knew the answer to this question. My instinctive response was ‘plaid,’ but then as I looked around my house, I realized that I have quite a few stripes, but no plaid at all. So, the answer turns out to be ‘stripes.’
Was choosing to publish independently something you always wanted, or an option you hadn’t considered before?
Interestingly enough, publishing independently was suggested to me by someone else. I had written to a best-selling author, and to my shock, he wrote back to me. He advised me to go the independent route – he said it was the way the industry was headed. And even though he was an established traditional author, he was planning to publish independently himself – he was excited about the freedom it would give him.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
At the moment, I’m working on the sequel to Pure. It’s titled Ignis, which is the Latin word for ‘fire.’ Katie finds herself in the middle of a war that is brewing between the Sídh and the vampires. At the same time, a Sídh prince comes to claim her – but Katie is already spoken for.
Do you have any rituals before writing? Music or silence? Coffee or tea? Twizzlers or M&Ms?
I don’t really have too much in the way of rituals – it’s usually best for me to plunge ahead with my work before I find reasons to procrastinate! But I definitely have to have music when I write – silence drives me crazy. I’m not very good with caffeine, so I’m much more of a tea drinker. And I have a gluten allergy, so Twizzlers, which contain flour, are off limits to me. But I do love M&Ms and all other forms of chocolate.
Have you ever based a character on someone you know?
I have been advised by some attorney friends that the correct answer to this question is always ‘no’ – however, a few personality traits of people I know may have sneaked in here or there.
What color is your umbrella?
My umbrella is pink and white with a breast cancer awareness ribbon on it. It may be my favorite umbrella ever.
Who is your favorite author and why?
My favorite author is mystery queen Agatha Christie – I love her intricately constructed puzzles. I find myself reading her books over and over again, even though I already know the identity of the murderer.
What was the last book you read?
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie.
Do you write about locations you’ve visited, or do you rely on research? Or do you make up entire settings in your head?
I actually do all three. In Pure, the house Katie and her grandmother live in is based on my cousin’s house in Pennsylvania. For the more exotic locations, like Tblisi, Georgia, and Sochi, Russia, I have to rely on research – though I would love to visit the places myself. Other locations, like the Mstislav mansion, the abandoned monastery, and the underground tunnels in the town of Krov are all inventions.
After the last word is written, then what? Do you have pre-readers and editors who take over? Do you begin query letters immediately?
I’ve actually worked as an editor myself, so I usually do all the editing. Once I’m done with the writing, I let it rest for a little bit, and then I go back over it and correct it – just as if I were doing it for work. Then, once the editing’s done, I usually do something to celebrate – it’s a wonderful feeling to have completed such a big, creative project. I’m typically pretty slow about sending out query letters afterward – it’s so nerve-wracking!
What song would be on the soundtrack for your book?
Where can people find your book?
Can we read a little excerpt?
Absolutely! Since the first chapter has already been posted online, I thought I would give you something a little further along in the book. This excerpt is from Chapter 10. Katie is investigating the disappearances in her town – and an enigmatic smoke trail that only she can see:
I backed away from the smoke into the surrounding trees. The smoke did not follow, as I had half-feared it might, and once I was clear of it, I could see that it was concentrated in the open space of the grove. I looked over the whole mass of the dark, writhing vapor. There was a line of the smoke trailing back the way I had originally come. There was another line running deeper into the woods.
I had seen the smoke at Mr. Neverov’s house and at Mr. Del Gatto’s. Was it possible the smoke trail had something to do with Gleb? It certainly wasn’t anything normal.
I knew I should be getting back to GM, but I wanted to find out what was going on in the forest. I folded up the yearbook photo and put it in my coat pocket. Then I followed the smoke trail deeper into the trees.
I hurried along as fast as I could, dodging branches. I had been to these woods many times, so I knew them well. Up ahead, I knew there was a cave. I had an uneasy feeling that that was where the trail led.
Following an impulse I didn’t quite understand, I grabbed for my neck, searching for the iron charm William had given me. I realized that my neck was bare – I had forgotten to put the necklace on that morning.
I felt a brief stab of panic that I quickly pushed aside. I told myself that I was being foolish – there was no reason for me to be concerned about not wearing a necklace.
I hurried on. The trees thinned, and I could see a clearing ahead. The cave itself soon came into view. As I had feared, the trail of smoke wound down into the cave mouth.
I hesitated for just a moment, and then plunged into the cave.
The cave was dry – not dank as I had thought it would be – and there was light to see by at first. I followed the smoke deeper into the cave, and as I moved further from the mouth, the light grew dimmer.
As the light grew dimmer, the smoke changed, turning white and luminescent.
I continued to follow the writhing white smoke, even after all the natural light had gone, feeling along the cold stone walls with my hands. Twice I scraped my fingers across sharp rocks, and shortly after that I stumbled badly, falling on the unforgiving cave floor. My elbow hurt, and I could feel that I’d torn the knee of my jeans.
I got up and kept going.
Eventually, I spied a bright light up ahead, and a sibilant voice filtered up to me. I couldn’t understand what the voice was saying, though, and I crept closer. I could see that there was a chamber up ahead.
Concealing myself behind an outcropping of rock, I peered into the chamber.
A large man, heavily swathed in furs, was sitting on a flat rock with his back to me, and there was a lantern on the floor in front of him. The luminescent white smoke that I had followed wound into the chamber and whirled in a ghostly, windless tornado, concentrating particularly around the man in furs. Across from him, I could see the shoulder of second person. The face of the far figure was blocked by the bulk of the man in furs, but I was pretty certain that the second figure was the one doing the whispering. Now that I could hear a little better, the whispered words had a harsh, malevolent sound. I shivered.
I still couldn’t understand what was being said, though. I would have to go closer.
I had just made up my mind to edge further into the chamber when I felt fingers lace around my wrist, and I was pulled backward forcefully.
I nearly cried out – but I quickly thought better of it and stifled my scream just in time – the two figures in the cave chamber didn’t seem terribly friendly. In the dim light from the white smoke, I could just see a large, dark shape looming beside me. I tugged on my imprisoned wrist, but I found that I was held in a grip of iron.
I was pulled forcefully to my feet, and then dragged back along the cave tunnel away from the lit chamber.