I am excited to welcome author Karen Chance, who is celebrating the release of her sixth Cassandra Palmer novel, Tempt the Stars.
Being a goddess is a lot less fun than you might think. Especially when you’re only a half goddess, and you only found out about it recently, and you still don’t know what you’re doing half the time. And when you’ve just used your not-so-reliable powers to burglarize the booby-trapped office of a vampire mob boss.
Yeah, that part sucks.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Cassandra Palmer, aka the Pythia, the freshly minted chief seer of the supernatural world. After all, Cassie still has to save a friend from a fate worse than death, deal with an increasingly possessive master vampire, and prevent a party of her own acolytes from unleashing a storm of fury upon the world. Totally just your average day at the office, right?
Literary Escapism: For those of my readers unfamiliar with the Cassandra Palmer series, can you give us a brief look at your novel and what readers can look forward to? Something we haven’t seen yet?
Karen Chance: Something serious: Tempt the Stars is a major step forward on Cassie’s coming-of-age. She learns more about her parents, including some things she’d rather not know. She learns more about the supernatural community and her place in it. She learns a lot more about the war that she’s supposed to help fight. And she even learns something about her heart. How much more can fit in a single book?
Something silly: How about a snippet of conversation between Cassie and Pritkin?
“Is it obvious that I’m not wearing a bra?” I asked nervously. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to what I would wear when I went to visit my parents, but a thin old t-shirt with nothing underneath wasn’t on the list.
“I…hadn’t noticed,” Pritkin told me.
I looked down at the offending mounds, which were straining the soft green cotton. And making a couple of points about my lack of underwear. “Do you think anyone else will?”
He glanced at me and then looked quickly away. “Well…”
“They are a bit…jiggly.”
“Jiggly?” I looked down in horror. I wasn’t jiggly. I was too young to be jiggly. I bounced a little on my toes, and they moved, sure. But that was normal. Wasn’t it? “They’re not jiggly!”
“Perhaps it was a bad choice of words.”
“You’re damn right it was!”
“I merely meant that they tend to sway a bit when you…”
“When I what?”
“Do anything really.”
LE: Why Cassie? What was it about Cassie that drew you to her and want to tell her story?
KC: Lots of things, really. The pythia always interested me—I mean, think of it. More than two thousand years of highly respected oracles who helped, at times, to shape the history of whole countries. And that’s not even fiction! They just cried out for a place in urban fantasy somewhere.
As far as Cassie herself goes, I enjoy her because, despite everything that’s happened to her and even some startling recent revelations, she remains an everywoman. I liked the idea of exploring what an average person would do if dropped into a crazy fantasy world, and watching her grow as a result of her experiences. She kicks butt at times, but in her own way. She doesn’t always assume that shooting something in the head is the best way to deal with it (looking at you, Dory!) She isn’t always perfect, and she certainly has her flaws. But she tries, and she persists and she’s got a good heart. I just like her.
LE: Cassie tends to meet some interesting characters during her many travels. Can you introduce us to a few of the characters she’ll be encountering in Tempt the Stars that we haven’t met so far?
KC: Tempt the Stars is mostly about exploring new areas of Cassie’s world, but with characters you’ve already met. You get a chance to know some of the old favorites better, like Caleb, Casanova, Marco, Jules, and everybody’s favorite demon lord, Rosier. Not to mention Cassie’s parents! But you do meet some newbies, too, in particular three powerful, pissed-off witches and a very confused pythian initiate. Good times.
LE: Has there been any character, over the course of the series, that didn’t make as big of an impact on the story that you thought they would? Was there a character who stayed on the page longer than you thought they would?
KC: No, not really. Sorry!
LE: Have you always had an idea as to where Cassie’s story was going or does the story evolve as you write?
KC: Well, the whole point of writing a series in the first place is to be able to tell a longer story. I’ve never understood people who can start a series and just leave it to faith that it’ll all turn out all right. I guess they’re braver than I am! But on the other hand, you can over plot, too. I need to be in the storyline, and telling myself all the fun stuff that’s happening at the same time I tell the reader, or else I lose interest! So, when I approach a new book, I go in knowing three or four big points that I need to hit in order for the overarching story line to progress as it should, and I concentrate on those. But everything else I do seat-of-the-pants. I’m not saying that everybody should write that way, but it seems to work best for me.
LE: Since creating your world in Touch the Dark, has there been anything you’ve regretting starting or wish you had started sooner? Was there something that worked out great in Touch the Dark, but now you wish you had done differently?
KC: No, not really. The only thing I wish I’d done differently in Touch the Dark has to do with the writing, not the storyline. It was my first book, and coming out of the academic tradition, I tended to over explain sometimes (as people have informed me. At length. Many, many times). I also have learned a few things since then about keeping paragraphs/chapters shorter, and using more dialogue, which I think makes things more accessible. So, if I was to write it now, it would probably be a little smoother. But I loved the storyline and the characters, and wouldn’t change a thing where they’re concerned.
LE: We’ve had a chance to see a few parts of the Cassie world through Dorina Basarab’s eyes, but is there more of that world that you would like to expand on in the future? Was there an area in either series that you wish you could have explored more, but was unable to at the time?
KC: No, because the world is ongoing. And I’ve never really understood the idea that all world building must be done in the first couple books of a series. You see new areas of Cassie’s world unfolding pretty much with each book, and Tempt the Stars is certainly no exception.
LE: Both Cassie and Dorina have had multiple adventures in Faerie, is there a part of that world that you would love to spend time in? Is there anyone in Faerie who is screaming to have their story told?
KC: Well, Faerie is another ongoing storyline, so I think it’s safe to say that a lot about it will be told in future books. You’ll definitely be seeing more of the usual players in the future (Caedmon, Radella, Aesubrand, etc.) along with some new arrivals, and a trip back to Faerie itself is certainly likely. The next Dory also has Olga in it a fair amount, and the dark fey.
LE: Speaking of Dory, what has she been up to since Fury’s Kiss? Will we get see more of Dorina and Louis-Cesare in the future, whether in a fourth novel or as a cameo with Cassie?
KC: Dory’s up to a lot, as usual, and she will be back (I have a contract for at least one more book, and hopefully there will be more.) Tempt the Stars ended up being about half of my outline for that book, however, since it took waaaay longer to deal with certain aspects than I’d expected, so the next Cassie may be out slightly before the next Dory (that’s yet to be determined, though). But hopefully both will be out quicker than the last few! I can tell you that Dory’s next story will be a lot of fun, and that the senate features heavily in it.
LE: What was it about the fantasy genre that drew you to write in it? Was there a certain book that captured your imagination and lead you to think you could do it or did it come to you naturally?
KC: I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi growing up, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to want to write in it. As far as books making an impact, I’ve read and enjoyed most of the big and some of the small names (like mine ?) in urban fantasy, and enjoyed the vast majority of them. But I wanted to write in it to make my own contribution.
LE: And my favorite question to ask…which authors do you read and/or think “Damn! I wish I had thought of that”?
KC: Pretty much the whole Song of Ice and Fire series by G.R.R. Martin. I am seething with jealousy. Seething. Everything about it pushes my buttons, from the quasi-medieval world (I love medieval history) to the villainous but fascinating characters (I don’t like black and white characters, either, and I don’t think Martin has written a single one yet.) Plus, his series is one of the few that I’ve ever seen translated to T.V. that I actually enjoyed. The T.V. show is different form the books, but it’s just as good in its own way. I’m sure his input had a lot to do with that. So yeah, I if could steal it, I so would! But since I can’t, I’ll just enjoy it with everyone else.
Meet Karen Chance!
Karen Chance is the author of two New York Times bestselling series, plus a number of novellas and short stories, all set in the Cassandra Palmer universe. A full-time writer since 2008, she was previously a university history teacher, which comes in handy when writing the time-travel aspect of Cassie’s crazy adventures. She loves Las Vegas, the main setting for her novels, but currently lives in Florida near her family home.
Dorina Basarab, Dhampir