As part of the Write Hive’s Blog Tour, and following on from my review yesterday, I am thrilled to present my interview with S Kaeth, enjoy!
Hi again SK! Congratulations on the recent release of Between Starfalls. How did you find writing your second book; did things come easier after having already published Windward?
Thank you for having me! Interestingly, Between Starfalls was written before Windward. I began working on it 8 years ago, and it took several renditions to get the story to flow properly. This basic plot line and premise was started 5 years ago, and then it was years and years of editing as my skills weren’t quite up to the task and I kept learning and growing. I actually began Windward as a break from the series, which is why Windward is so much simpler and more local in scope, with just a single Point of View (PoV) and no huge, world changing effects to consider. I needed a chance to focus on a smaller scale and a completely different character for a change.
One of the standout and relatively unique elements of your book is the main character, Kaemada, being a mother. Was this something you wanted to do from the very outset and revolve the story around, before the plot took shape? How much of your experience as a parent went into the way you told Kaemada’s story?
The characters and the world have been in my head for several years, growing and becoming more developed over time, of course. But I wanted to do something a little different and so I made a conscious decision to begin with Kaemada as a mother already. I’d say that a lot of my experience as a parent went into it, really–it wasn’t a plan, but a natural result of imagining what ifs and how a parent would respond. Having three boys of my own, Eian has taken on aspects of each of them, as well as being his own character. I also tried to capture that whole experience of being so drained and distracted with your own big troubles, and then still having to deal with another person’s troubles who is utterly dependent on you. And then of course, when Eian went missing: I drew on my own experiences with grief and loss there–it’s a bit different imagining how you would feel versus knowing.
As I’ve written in my review, I found Between Starfalls quite an emotional book – hope, anxiety, sadness, love, fear, family. You also successfully subverted my expectations on a couple of occasions and left me in a bit of a daze – especially the ending! Was this intentionally emotional or simply a by product of the story you wanted to tell?
I think it was a little of both! I very much love new twists on old tropes and taking the expected path and putting a little spin on that, so that part was by design. I originally wrote the story with quite a bit of distance narratively-speaking and so it didn’t tug on the heart quite as powerfully as it does now. However, as I edited it repeatedly, readers asked for more depth, and a closer narrative distance. They wanted to feel more and have more described. I actually had readers asking for even more events described than are already there, but I chose to have much of the most horrible stuff happen off-screen, so to speak, to avoid the story getting too dark for my own comfort. Lots of terrible things happen, but I didn’t want to go through them so completely to write them down, or have my readers experience them quite so vividly. What I wrote was dark enough for my tastes!
Through editing this story, I’ve learned a ton about deep-PoV and staying close and tight to the characters (even though Taunos and Kaemada have a tendency to be slippery and hide away from deeper PoVs) and I’ve poured out my own emotions from the last years with being a parent and being an aunt and going through stress and hardship and heartache of my own.
The ending! I was hoping for a dazed-but-inevitable feel. I wrote the ending three or four different ways, but this was the only way that made sense and really worked. Everything else broke down. It launches off nicely for the rest of the series, though, I think! The rest of the books are designed to seamlessly continue the story that this begins, picking up the threads left dangling and carrying them on into the sequels.
How did you find the experience of building the culture of the Rinaryn people? I got the impression that a lot of hard work went into building a believable and interesting cultural aspect.
It was a lot of work, but it was also very rewarding. It was hard to break out of Western styles of thinking and I’m not actually sure I 100% made it, but I really wanted to create a fictional people that nevertheless feel real. I go far more in-depth into my process during other stops in the tour, but I built the culture from the ground up, trying to discern what aspects would follow from what I had already set up. Even though they aren’t based on any real people, I wanted to create a fiction that they are a real people of their own right and to invite the reader to join in my illusion for a moment. Hopefully if they haven’t already, readers will explore all the amazing diverse books out there with all sorts of amazing settings–some of which are actually based on real people and done respectfully, accurately, and well!
What’s next for SKaeth? Are you working on anything else; what are your future plans?
I have the sequel out to my second round of beta readers now! I actually just sent that out, so this week is resting, reading the amazing things my CPs have sent me to look at, beta reading this absolutely delicious story I’ve been eager to read for a while, reading more published books, and brainstorming edits for the third book in the series.
It’s been a pleasure to have been a part of your blog tour, best of luck with the book and your future work! Thankyou