You can find Caitlen at the following places:
Why she's here:
To start off, can you give us five fun facts about yourself?
Okay, let’s see.
1) I am a huge Renaissance Faire fan. I try to go every single year and it’s always so much fun. Where else can you can eat a giant turkey leg while watching a human chess match? Actually, there should be lots of places you can do that, but so far I’ve only found it at the Renn Faire. Also it fulfills the little 14yo Caitlen that lives inside me, the one that was raised on Disney Princesses and Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Adventures of Robin Hood with Erroll Flynn, who finds it really unfair that we don’t go around in long beautiful dresses all the time. Come to think of it, actual, grown-up Caitlen finds that unfair, too.
2) March 14th is one of my favorite holidays because it is (unofficially, I think?) Pi Day, which to me means fun and pastry and also some math. I really have to thank my high school for that. Math was always my trouble subject, but my high school started celebrating Pi Day — we’d have pie-eating contests and math relay-races and a prize for whoever could memorize Pi to the furthest digit. My friend, Tara, won every year with 11 digits out. They made a subject that I didn’t like so much a lot of fun.
3) The first thing I ever wrote was a Star Wars fan fiction. Because that is how I roll. Actually, I didn’t think it was a fan fiction at the time. See, I was in high school and one of my closest friends got me into Star Wars and we read all the novels together. Then one day in the lunchroom we got the brilliant idea that we could write a Star Wars story and the just send it into the publisher and they would make it a book, because that is totally how it works, because it’s not like the publisher tries to hire professional writers for those things. Not at all. (By the way, Bantam Dell, I’m totally a professional writer now.) I have no idea where it is now, and I can only hope it never sees the light of day.
4) When it comes to movie-adaptations of books, if at all possible I prefer to see the movie first and save the book for after. It’s a policy I’ve recently instituted after way too many time of sitting in a movie theater thinking, That’s not what I thought they looked like, why did they leave that part out, they skipped over that whole section in the forest — that was the best part. If I go into the movie tabula rasa, as it were, I find I can enjoy it for what it is, and still not be spoiled for the book, which is, in my experience, usually better.
5) I think Dr. Doofenshmirtz should be held up as a role model for the children of America. Okay, so, yes, there is the whole ‘heading a corporation of Evil in an effort to enslave humanity’ thing. But the important thing is that he tries, and he never gives up, no matter how many times that Perry the Platypus stops him. Tomorrow is just another -inator waiting to happen.
I may also have a little bit of a crush on him, but please, please don’t tell anyone.
Yay for Pi Day! I've never celebrated...and think I might just start next year! :D
What are five books you think everyone should read?
I think everyone should read a book in every genre, even if they’ve never read or think they won’t particularly like. Granted, most of my reading is middle grade and YA, but I do try to push myself outside my comfort zone every now and again. The books I typically recommend are:
1) I’m not a historical non-fiction person, but Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergren is hands down one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read. It’s a chronicle of Magellan’s journey circumnavigating the world, and let’s just say that I cannot believe some of the stuff that went on during that voyage. It’s a miracle anyone made it back at all.
2) I think it’s odd, considering my mom raised us on Sherlock Holmes, that I’m not a rabid mystery girl. But every now and again, when the mystery mood strikes me, I like to pick up one by Georgette Heyer. My favorite is Envious Casca, set at English manor house, with a bickering family gathered together for the holidays, a locked-room murder, and even a little bit of romance.
3) Speaking of Romance — I love romance novels. I get flak about it sometimes, but it’s like any other genre. There’s good, there’s bad, and there’s a lot in the middle. Contemporary romances are my sweet spot; I deeply love Nora Roberts’ Angels Fall, where the heroine spends most of the book trying to deal with a Holy Cow Traumatic Past, while trying to solve a Mysterious Mystery that brings up said HCTP in spades. Also she’s a cook, and my, oh my, so much talk about food….
4) On Writing by Stephen King. I don’t read a lot of books about writing — I prefer to read books in the genre I’m writing in, so I can get a feel for what I like/don’t like — but I loved Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a wonderful book, and while he does talk about writing, he also takes you through his history as a writer, which was the part I really loved. He mentions at one point he’d hear a lot, “you’re a good writer, why are you wasting your time on horror, etc”, and how he had to get past that. It’s stayed with me because I’ve heard variations of that, when I tell people Ordinary Magic is a children’s fantasy. Fortunately, I’ve also met a lot more people who love children’s fantasies as much as I do.
5) Military science fiction, anyone? I’ve been reading Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet series with my Dad, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. The first six books are based on the battle of Xenophon, with a small band of warriors trapped deep in enemy territory, trying to get home. The space battles are pretty exciting, and I really like how Campbell works in the time delay that would occur in space, which means that his hero has to guess what the enemy’s going to do before they do it so he’ll have time to prepare, and there’s this wonderfully tense sense of are we dead yet and just don’t know it?
I will definitely have to pick up some of these awesome-sounding reads!
How has writing and being published affected your life?
Other than just me walking around with a big goofy smile on my face? I’ve been a lot busier and spending a lot more time online. I’m even on Twitter (yeah, I’m about ten years behind the rest of humanity), which I’m still getting used to. But I think the biggest thing is that my parents constantly tell me how proud they are of me, and my friends have all been saying how they’re so impressed. It’s awesome, but it’s also a little surreal. I just hope it doesn’t go to my head — to which end I’ve hired an apathetic teenager to follow me around and give a long-suffering roll of her eyes whenever someone pays me a compliment.
Ha! It took me forever to get on Twitter as well... Seriously, though, it sounds like an amazing thing! Oh, to be published...
Who is your favorite character that you have created and why?
That’s a tough one. I’d have to say it’s a tie between Barbarian Mike and Gil. Right from the start, Barbarian Mike was just so much fun to write, that I ended up looking forward to every scene with him. But I also loved writing Gil, who I originally intended just to be the goofy one in the family. Except at some point I decided he was a writer, and started channeling all of my writerly frustrations into him. We both of us have trouble with deadlines. To be honest, I’m kind of jealous — he has to have a lot more self-discipline than I do, to be able to write at the kitchen table in that crazy house. I always have to get out of my apartment and find somewhere less distracting. Ideally some place without wifi.
THANK YOU! Gil is MY favorite TOO! :D I can't help but giggle every time I think of him. Dr. Doofenshmirtz? Psh! I have a major crush on Gil! ;)
What gave you the idea to write about a non-magical girl in a land full of magic?
I’d like to say that one day I was strolling through the woods, looking for enough gooseberries to make seven little pies, when I was approached by the Idea Fairy, who showered fairy dust over my head until a Story Idea was formed. Because not only would that be awesome, and be a set thing I could do whenever I needed ideas, I’d also apparently be Snow White in that scenario? And, even if the Idea Fairy didn’t show up, hey, gooseberry pies.
In reality it popped into my head one night during a discussion with friends about tropes in fantasy stories. I realized that a lot of the books I loved (kids and adult) had a similar setup for the main character. Specifically that they were either an orphan or the outcast in a really terrible family, and it turned out they had this incredible untapped power. Don’t get me wrong, I love that, but it got me thinking how I’d like to see the opposite — someone with a big, happy, loving family who didn’t have any power and how they’d deal with that.
That's awesome! And little did you know then that that discussion would lead to....THIS! :D
When dreaming up Abby’s character, who was her primary “role model”, or the character who gave you the most inspiration for her?
Abby didn’t have a role model in the sense that I based her on anyone in particular, but I did go into writing Abby knowing that I wanted certain things. As I said, I really wanted her to have a big, loving family — noisy and nosey and crazy, yes, but one that also supported and stood up for each other. I thought that having a family that loves and accepts her for who she is would give Abby a sense of security, and a certain level of confidence.
I also went into it wanting a character who was relatively cheerful. This was just a personal thing, as usually I emo the heck out of my characters, and I wanted to try something different. Knowing that, I sat down to try a few scenes and just latched onto this voice. Once I had Abby’s voice, everything else came from it.
Abby is seriously such a fantastic character! It's so fun to hear how she came about. :)
The humor in Ordinary Magic is fluid and consistent and totally how me and my family joke around each other. Would you say this is reminiscent of your own childhood?
I’d definitely say it was influenced by my own family, as we have a highly developed sense of humor that’s probably a coping mechanism to deal with all of the crazy that we seem to naturally generate. And I’ll admit, I did draw heavily on certain people when writing certain characters. Abby’s parents are directly influenced by my mom and dad, and we both have big sisters that could run the world if they put their mind to it. I also tried to echo the feel of my family around the dinner table whenever Abby’s family gets together. As a kid, I never understood why the grown-ups would want to spend forever, sitting around and talking, when there was running around like a crazy person to do. One of the nicest things about being (legally) a grown-up, is that I get it now. My family has some really fun dinnertime talks.
No wonder her family dynamics are so realistic - you wrote about them from a first hand experience!
What was your favorite scene to write?
Okay, so without giving away spoilers, I’d have to say it was the last action sequence/fight at the school. It was also one of the parts that was very clear to me from the beginning. I knew it was going to happen even if I didn’t know how I was going to get there. It was something I worried about — I feel like humor comes easier to me than action — but I got really caught up in that scene and I liked how it turned out. Of course, getting caught up has it’s consequences; all throughout writing and re-writing that scene, I had the most horrible, gut-wrenching nightmares. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, my stomach in knots, never remembering exactly what the dream was about and a little worried that I didn’t want to know. And…now that I type that out, that doesn’t seem like fun at all.
Oh, no! The nightmares don't sound like fun - but the fact that you finally got to write a scene that had been there from the beginning? Purely awesome.
Which of the characters in Ordinary Magic would you choose as a best friend and why?
Gil. Absolutely. I love Gil. We could have all sorts of intense writer discussions and then go get coffee and just hang out forever. (Gil, we could have so much fun if you were just real…)
YES! Gil. Please be real, for us? Please???
I’m hoping you have a sequel planned?
I am currently on my FOURTH outline for a potential sequel, because apparently my brain has nothing better to do than pull pranks and make me write out three completely separate and detailed outlines for other potential sequels before it finally gives up the goods. Thanks, Brain. (Seriously, I have been tearing my hair out for two weeks over this thing.) Nothing’s guaranteed, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed. Metaphorically, of course. It’s really hard to type otherwise.
*squeals with joy* GASP! Sounds amazing already! (I'm such a fangirl!)
And guess what everyone? Not only do I have my review coming up tomorrow....but on Wednesday I have a giveaway for you all!! :D I know, I know - IT'S SO EXCITING!!! :D So pop back in to be sure you read the review and enter the giveaway to read this fantastic book Ordinary Magic!