Caighlan Smith’s brand new book ‘Children of Icarus’ has been enchanting and horrifying readers for a good few months now. This book is totally mad in the best way.
There’s a labyrinth, monsters, secrets, twists and turns and we just can’t get enough. We had to wrack Caighlan’s brain for all her secrets.
Tell us about Children of Icarus…but only using emojis.
Where did the idea for this come from? My love of Greek mythology, youth societies, and monsters. I actually first had the idea when I was fourteen, but I struggled with the protagonist’s voice so I didn’t get any farther than the first page. I picked up the idea again just before my third year of university, and the protagonist’s voice came to me instantly. Only took six years of gestating.
Was it tough balancing university and writing? Kinda? I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do this balancing act, but the academic mindset is so different from the creative-writing mindset. It can be mentally exhausting switching back and forth between the two. At the same time, university has played an invaluable role in building my writing skills, and I’ve drawn loads of inspiration from my Classics courses. Thanks academia!
What are you working on now? A Master’s in Fantasy Literature. But you mean creatively, don’t you? My editor and I are working on the sequel to ‘Children of Icarus’. I also recently finished my fifteenth manuscript, which is more YA fantasy and is basically about awful sun-burns and math tutoring. I’ve started what might be my sixteenth novel, a dud, or both, but whatever happens it involves cupcakes.
We heard that you actually wrote your first novel when you were fourteen. What was that about and will it be hitting bookstores any time soon? Ah, yes. This creature. I started it when I was thirteen, finished at fourteen. It was called ‘Deity’, and it was a five hundred and fifty page high fantasy novel. At the time I intended it to be YA, but nowadays I’d say middle grade suits it more. It was the coming-of-age story of a group of young gods—a pantheon of gods, like you find in most mythologies. God of fire, god of water, etc. Also, there was a giant wolf, because why not? I actually got a meeting with a publisher for ‘Deity’, but they wanted me to cut it down by two hundred pages. To fourteen-year-old me, this was a big no-no. But then fifteen-year-old me reread the manuscript, decreed it the worst mess to ever bear the semblance of the English language, and completely rewrote it. I didn’t go back to the publisher, because I wasn’t entirely happy with that draft either, and then I moved on to other stories. I tried rewriting it again—actually the month before I wrote ‘Children of Icarus’—and it got really, really weird. I don’t know what to do with it now. This is all to say, you shall not be seeing it in bookstores. It will remain locked away in the depths of my oldest flash drive until that technology is obsolete.
Tell us about Surreality. ‘Surreality’ was my first series, published in North America. It’s YA Fantasy and consists of four books, starting with ‘Hallow Hour’, which was my first published novel. ‘Surreality’ is set in a post-apocalyptic, futuristic take on the real world. Think “zombie apocalypse” but with ghosts instead of zombies. Vicious, mindless, monster-ghosts. And other fun mutants like that. There’s also a flamethrower. ‘Surreality’ follows three characters: Mid, a young ghost hunter with a rock giant companion, her hunter prodigy brother Kanta, and Tai, the eldest of an orphaned family that seem to have supernatural gifts. While ‘Children of Icarus’ was inspired by Greek mythology, ‘Surreality’ was inspired by video games. I wanted to try and write a story that read like a video game played. Maybe I achieved that? I don’t know. I leave it up to the readers. The full series is now available as eBooks, in case anyone feels they don’t have enough homicidal ghosts and man-eating cats in their lives (because ‘Surreality’ is all about man-eating cats at heart).
Do you think your age has ever held you back? Well. I told you I met with a publisher about my first novel-esque creature, when I was fourteen. At first, the publisher didn’t believe I’d written it, because I was so young. So there’s that. When I signed my first publishing contract, for ‘Hallow Hour’, I was eighteen so I still needed a guardian signature. There’s that too. So I guess my age holds me back in some ways, but mostly I consider it a positive thing. More time to write.
We have also heard you’ve done a bit of travelling. Where in the world is best to visit for those seeking magic and adventure? A book. Undoubtedly. May I recommend one? It just came out this past summer, and I might have written it.
Describe your favourite book using only emojis in the comments below.
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