How Did the Cathell Series Get Started?

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I get this question often. I'm going to take a couple minutes to answer it in today's post.

Book 1, as I've mentioned before, is Into the Darkness. I got the idea for this book after I quit art school and was trying to figure out, literally, what to do next with my life. Up until that point, I'd thought I was going to become a full-time illustrator. A couple of different things derailed that idea, not the least of which was my school cutting the illustration track the semester before I arrived. Also, to be perfectly honest, I don't have the patience required to be a really great illustrator.

So, here I was, thinking to myself that I have no degree, which really limited my options, and I wasn't going to be happy taking just any job for the next 50 years or so. I needed something more. Writing didn't occur to me then, because even though I'd been an artist and a writer for most of my childhood and teenage years, that was an aspect my family didn't support as much as art. I had a couple of artists in my family already, so they kind of treated that as the right path for me.

Then, one night I had a crazy dream about this woman -- a sell-sword -- searching these black caverns for something. I could feel her desire to find something, but also that there was something darker waiting for her at the end of her journey.

A couple days later, I decided to sit down and write out some of my dream. I knew pretty quickly that there was a story to tell, one that revolved around a sell-sword and her need to fulfill her late father's dream and also escape her deep guilt over something. And then there was a young thief, who is trying desperately to save her brother from a man who has absolutely no moral compass, and a dead man who cannot escape his past, in the most literal sense.

Into the Darkness was never intended to be a series. That's obvious by the way it ends: loose ends tied up, but just a hint that there was more for the future. My characters, however, decided that it was just the beginning for me.

Thystle, the best friend character to the sell-sword Aeryn, is a pretty vocal character, in-story and out. She's been described by reviewers as "a surprisingly likeable vampire", a badge of honor she proudly wears. After Into the Darkness, we mutually decided I needed to dig into her character and story more. So, then came The Taming.

What's next for this series?

I think I've mentioned books 3 and 4 at least once. Book 3, The Joy Thief, comes back to Aeryn and Theo and functions as the direct sequel to book 1. Book 4, Shadowboxer, jumps back to Thystle and provides a bridge between books 1, 2, and 3. It will also kick off a tightly interwoven three-book arc that brings in just about all of the characters from Into the Darkness and The Taming.

I'll be talking more in-depth about those books in future posts.

If you're wondering why I didn't write direct sequels, but instead decided to jump between one story line and the other, Dragonlance style, don't worry. I'll get to that too. Stay tuned.

A.M.