An interview with Cas Peace, author of the Artisans of Albia saga, now coming up to its eighth and (dare I use the term?) penultimate volume. “The Captives, Master of Malice Book Two”
Gordon: The last book in this series was definitely the darkest of the whole saga. Do I dare ask where the story is going in this book?
Cas: Yes, this entire final trilogy is pretty dark. But then, I guess you can hardly call a trilogy “Master of Malice” and be wimpy about it. As to where the story is going, these three books deal with the culmination of Reen’s careful plans. We see how the betrayal of Sofira, Reen’s erstwhile ally and Albia’s former High Queen, Sullyan’s shocking discovery of Reen’s true nature, and Reen’s incarceration on the clerics’ island have affected him. It becomes clear that something terrible happened to him on the island, and the results of that trauma have deep and dreadful consequences for those he has cause to hate. As in real life, no one escapes unscathed; it may well be that some of those who fight against Reen will not make it to the end of the novel.
Gordon: When you look back on the whole saga, what do you see as having changed in the style of the books as the story matured?
Cas: There have always been darker elements in the Artesans story, so for the purposes of this question, we can discount the grimmer aspects of the final trilogy. I do feel that my writing style has changed and matured, although I know that some of my author friends feel the style is still a little too emotional for their tastes! But that aside, I do feel I was able to delve deeper into the essential nature of my characters, even those on the darker side, and present a fuller and rounder picture of their motives. It was also nice to be able to wrap up the ends of all the sub-plots, some of which were introduced back in the first trilogy. It felt good to see all these disparate threads coming together as a perfectly formed weave. So satisfying.
Gordon: Which character in this book do you like the most, and why?
Cas: I’m going to alter the word “like” to “enjoy”, for reasons that will become apparent. I think one of my favourite characters in The Captives has to be Seth, Reen’s former manservant. In many ways, he’s an insignificant person – Reen could have managed without him. But he is the one link to Reen as he was before his transformation on the island, and because of his separation from his former master, Seth has no preconceptions about Reen as he is now. Seth’s loyalty is unquestioning, and he doesn’t see it as misplaced. He’s used and abused unmercifully, yet never really blames the Baron. Seth may be naive, but I enjoyed exploring his character and reactions to what Reen asks him to do, and I also enjoyed resolving Seth’s ultimate fate. So although I can’t say I would “like” Seth were he a flesh and blood person, I did enjoy creating and writing him.
Gordon: Which character in this book did you find the hardest to write, and why?
Cas: I hope this doesn’t come across as arrogant, but I didn’t find any of the characters particularly difficult to write. That’s probably because I’ve lived with them all for nearly 17 years now, and have had their reactions, fates, natures, likes and dislikes uppermost in my mind for all that time. Because I know them so well, knowing how and why they do the things they do makes writing their scenes pretty easy. But don’t get me wrong – some of the darker scenes concerning Reen’s revenge were hard going. Relating tough stuff that happens to characters you think of as friends is almost as hard as relating bad things that happen to flesh and blood friends and family. I find they affect me just as much, but I want that, because I think that’s the way to inject realism into my writing and hopefully affect my readers, too.
Gordon: I know authors are always a few years ahead in their creative minds. I see the end of this huge saga coming. What are your post-Albia plans?
Cas: Post-Albia will be a let down as much as a relief. Like most authors, I went though some depressing times thinking this series would never be published. Now that I know it will be published complete, I feel great relief and gratitude toward those who have helped me. Yet I will also be quite sad, because the thought of never having adventures with those characters again is depressing. However, some years ago now, I conceived the idea of a YA prequel, and even began writing it. I decided to go down the YA route because Sullyan’s story begins when she is a baby, yet in the first Artesans novel, King’s Envoy, Sullyan is 23 years old. There’s a wealth of experience and learning that has taken place in her life that the reader only hears about by casual reference. I think younger readers, and especially female ones, would relate to some of the obstacles Sullyan has to overcome in order to grow and progress, and besides, YA readers are pretty good at spreading the word about books they like! So a prequel is definitely on the cards.
I also have to finish writing and recording the folk-style songs and music that accompany the Artesans series. The first five books already have their songs complete, and these are available to listen to or download free from my website, www.caspeace.com, or on Reverberation.
Then, I might concentrate for a while on short stories, as I have had a few successes in that category, the latest being my story The Wyght Wyrm, a retelling of St. George and the Dragon for the Janet and Chris Morris Perseid Press HEROIKA brand anthology, HEROIKA 1: Dragon Eaters.
A Note from Cas: Many thanks to Gordon for his interesting and searching questions. Please share and Tweet this interview, and please don’t hesitate to contact me via www.caspeace.com. I’m always happy to discuss my writing, or anything related to writing, editing, or publishing.
All the best,