I am delighted to introduce you to a great friend and a fabulous writer, Cas Peace. I was fortunate to meet Cas this past June at a Rhemalda Publishing Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cas and her husband had traveled all the way from North Hampshire, UK, to take part in the conference and I am so glad she did. I was able to chat with her a bit at the conference about her publishing experience and listened to her deliver an incredible presentation on Fantasy World Building (this is available at the end of this post).
Cas Peace is the author of the non-fiction book For the Love of Daisy and the fantasy series Artesans of Albia. The first novel in the Artesans series, King's Envoy, was published by Rhemalda Publishing in 2011. Book Two in this series, King's Champion, was published this year and Book Three, King's Artesan, will be released in July 2013. Aside from writing Cas is a freelance editor and offers a variety of author helps on her website: www.caspeace.com. I hope you enjoy her interview.
Cas, you have created a very complex world with your Artesans of Albia series. Can you share how you created your world?
Cas Peace: I can honestly say that my world of five realms grew and developed as my writing progressed. I didn’t ever intend to be a writer, let alone the author of a nine-novel fantasy series, so I can’t pretend that there was much in the way of forward planning when it came to the type of world I wanted my characters to live in. What I did was to concentrate on the plot, the action and the emotion of the story and allow the physical properties of my world to wrap themselves around and conform to what was needed. New settings, realms or physical attributes were added as they became necessary. Quite an organic approach to world building, I guess, but it worked for me! And I knew it was working because each time I needed my world to expand, it did so with no effort. I would often find that I had already laid the foundations for what I needed without even knowing it would arise. This was only one of the spooky things that happened while I was writing the series, and I still don’t understand how or why!
You also created an amazing magic system in your world. Are magic systems important and why do you feel magic should have limitations?
Cas Peace: This was one area where I did know ahead of time what I wanted. (Maybe the only area!) I have always felt very close to Nature, and I consider myself a very spiritual person. Not only in a religious way, but also in the sense of being aware of the forces and workings of the natural world. I have a fascination for the old religions – Druidism and shamanism, for example – and I believe we humans are losing something precious when we cease to be in tune with the natural elements that nurture us. I wanted to create a system of power that was quite different to what we have come to recognize as “magic”. I wanted power-users who were not magicians or wizards, but people who retained a heightened awareness of the earth that created them. Maybe in this way, I could gently nudge readers into thinking about this subject for themselves and make them aware that you can hear and feel and interact with the deeper forces of the earth, if only you open up to them and listen very carefully.
On the subject of limitations, the answer is that any power or force or “magic” simply must have limitations. It would not be credible if power-users could do absolutely anything they liked, and for readers, going through the learning and growing process with a character is something we all can relate to. We each have our unique strengths and weaknesses, and different readers can identify with different characters and come to understand how and why they react as they do by seeing them strive, fail, and succeed. That’s how heroes are born!
In King's Envoy there was a line that stuck out to me. I believe it was Bull who warned Taran not to fall in love with Sullyan because everyone did. I found it funny because the more I read the more I think I too was falling in love. Can you share tips on how to create a lovable character?
Cas Peace: I love it that you felt that way! To a writer, there is no greater praise than to have a reader say that they fell in love with a particular character, or cried with them. I didn’t originally set out to create a character that everyone would come to love. But as Sullyan developed, I realized just how charismatic she was. And I don’t believe it’s the way she looks, either. Yes, she’s beautiful, but I know many beautiful people who have nasty natures. Sullyan’s best attribute, I believe, and the one that affects people most, is the depth of her care. She’s completely loyal, both to her friends and her superiors, and she’ll fight like a lion to defend anyone she thinks is getting a raw deal. She puts others before herself, and has no personal ambition other than to use her skills – whether with sword or Artesan powers – to serve those she loves. She is also fallible, and recognizes it. This, I think, gives her the qualities that draw people to her. So I would say, if you want to create a character that readers can really get to grips with (not every writer wants their main characters to be lovable!) then decide who that character is and focus on what makes them that way. Stay true to those attributes and they will come alive in your readers’ minds.
You live in the UK. Masters like Tolkien and Lewis used their country’s surroundings as inspiration in their books. Do you find your worlds mimicking the world around you?
Cas Peace: The one thing I knew from the start about the setting for my novels was that it would be some kind of medieval world. One reason for this was so I could use and incorporate my love and knowledge of horses. The other was that I have long been interested in English medieval history, so to some extent I would be writing what I knew. It might also be a little kickback on my part against too much technology. I am well aware that my view of medieval England is highly romanticized, and that if I were to be transported back in time to the 13th or 14th centuries, I would certainly not like it, or last long! But I do often hanker after a simpler life, and believe that we humans would be better off if we had to work together more and couldn’t shut ourselves away behind steel and glass office windows. As I said before, I also love Nature, and I am surrounded by countryside where I live. I particularly love trees, and could easily have set my books within a forest. Hmm … good idea; maybe the next ones will be!
You’ve had some interesting marketing ideas to get the word out on your book. You have even performed a ballad taken from King’s Envoy live in a shopping mall. Are there any tips you can share on promoting books?
Cas Peace: Ah – that thorny word: Promotion! You either love it or hate it, I think. Many writers and authors are quite shy and reclusive – that’s why we write, we live vicariously! However, anyone who is serious about becoming published must also embrace the idea of self-promotion. If you are someone who loves and uses social media, then chances are you’re already ahead of the game. If you have a popular blog or other social platform – so much the better. Other than that, the only advice I can give is try to find your book’s, or your personal, USP (Unique Selling Point.) It doesn’t actually have to be anything to do with your book at first. Mine wasn’t. As you say, I performed a song from King’s Envoy in a shopping mall. I was a folk singer long before I was a writer, so putting songs and music into my books came naturally. Then I realized that this could be my USP – how many authors can you name who have songs associated with their books, songs they record and sing themselves? There was already a song written into King’s Envoy, and other songs are mentioned as the series goes on. So I decided I would write at least one song per book –and maybe more, who knows? – and record them to use as promo material. The one from King’s Envoy, “The Wheel Will Turn”, is available as a free download from Rhemalda’s website and my own, and the last time I checked had been downloaded over 30,000 times. That’s HUGE! I am also about to release the song from King’s Champion, “The Ballad of Tallimore”, and this will also be available free. I’ve also had radio interest in the songs, which gives me a chance to do interviews and plug my books. So to writers concerned about promotion I would say – what USP can you find in either yourself or your work that you can exploit?
Download the Ballad FREE from Rhemalda’s website: http://www.rhemalda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/the_wheel_will_turn_cas_peace.mp3
Aside from writing and freelance editing you are also an animal advocate. Can you share more on that? I love animals myself.
Cas Peace: My affinity with and love of animals goes back to my earliest memories. We didn’t have pets at home – my parents considered them a tie – but our neighbors both had dogs. Neither were particularly nice dogs, one was a yappy Pug with runny eyes, and the other was a snappy Dachshund which would bite if you leaned too far over the wall. Yet they didn’t stop me loving dogs, so I think it must be something in my genes. My main loves are dogs and horses, and I’ve managed to have relationships with both, although I don’t have a horse any more. I am also a firm advocate of rescue centers, and very against indiscriminate breeding of pets and horses. I have had six dogs so far. The first two were rescue Lurchers, Emma and Ria; the middle two, Daisy and Pepper, were bought as pedigree puppies from reputable breeders, and my current two, Milly and Milo, are also rescue Lurchers. You can see them, plus Daisy and Pepper, on my website. I really should add pages for Emma and Ria as well – they were so gorgeous!
I also champion wildlife as much as I can and support many animal charities. I’m appalled at the way we are destroying the wild areas of our world – we are slowly destroying ourselves and are too stupid to see it. Maybe one day we will realize that we CANNOT exist without the full range of creatures this wonderful Earth contains. I only hope it won’t be too late.
Last question: besides your terrific books, what book would you recommend every author have on their shelf?
Cas Peace: I hope this won’t sound too boring, but I’m going to say Roget’s Thesaurus. I got my first one as an 18th birthday present from my maternal great-aunts, and 37 years later it still has pride of place on my shelf. If I’m actively writing I use it every day, and often refer to it when I’m editing for clients too. I find it invaluable. I also much prefer to use my loved and much-thumbed print copy than look stuff up online. For some reason I trust my faithful book much more than I trust the internet!
Reference books aside, I would say that whatever genre you write in, make sure you have at least one book by a master of that genre in your bookcase. Use it for inspiration, and as a source of learning what works and what doesn’t.
Mikey, I have really enjoyed answering your interesting questions and I’d like to thank you for asking me to do this interview. I love the talent you have as an illustrator and I also know what great writing talent you possess. I want to wish you the best of luck with your own work.
Thank you Cas! You are such a pleasure to talk with and I love your books! I feel so honored to have had you as a guest on my blog.
Links and Other Information:
Shouting out my Writers’ Services. As well as being a fantasy and non-fiction author, I’m also a freelance editor. I copy-edit, line-edit, proofread and critique, and I can also help writers who are in the planning stages. I don’t handle poetry or academic work. Neither do I have a fixed Price List. Because I like helping writers achieve their dreams, I prefer to work with what an individual can afford. Please see my website and feel free to contact me for a personal quote. www.caspeace.com/writers-services
Anyone who would like a signed copy of any of my books can get them from my website, but I do realize the US readers might not want to pay mailing costs from the UK. Watch out for the third book in my Artesans series – King’s Artesan – due out in July 2013.
Below are the links to my books on Amazon.com. They are also available from Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and also the Rhemalda Bookshop. And here I’d like to thoroughly recommend the books of all my fellow Rhemalda authors. They are a fantastic bunch and between them have published a whole host of wonderful books in many genres. Go check some out (but get mine first!!) J
King’s Envoy: http://www.amazon.com/Kings-Envoy-Artesans-Cas-Peace/dp/1936850133/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354724269&sr=1-1&keywords=king%27s+envoy+cas+peace
King’s Champion: http://www.amazon.com/Kings-Champion-Artesans-Albia-Book/dp/1936850095/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354724320&sr=1-1&keywords=king%27s+champion+cas+peace
For the Love of Daisy: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Daisy-Cas-Peace/dp/0955488982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354724373&sr=1-1&keywords=for+the+love+of+daisy+cas+peace
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