Over the years, there have been certain novel series that have stayed with us. Harry Potter for sure, but one other series it’s impossible to overlook is P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast’s House of Night. The mother-daughter writing duo began writing the urban fantasy series over a decade ago, in 2007, before coming to an end in 2014 with 12 books total.
But the end, it seems, wasn’t really the end.
P.C. Cast made a return to the series in 2017. The House of Night Other World series, which sees the return of not only HoN favorite, Zoey Redbird, the beloved heroine of the original series, but also of many others – even some that readers thought they’d never see again. Loved, the first book of the new series was released last year, and this upcoming July will see the latest addition, Lost.
While there are still some months to go before the new book comes out, we got the scoop form P.C. Cast about what it was like returning to the series, how Zoey’s changed over the years and character diversity.
BookTrib: You finished the House of Night book series in 2014, and then returned to it three years later with Loved, the first book in the House of Night Other World series. What was it like returning to that world, and to the characters?
P.C.: Well, at first I was hesitant to start the manuscript. It had been several years since I’d written the final book in the series, Redeemed, and I was surprised by how difficult it was for me to begin. I worried about so many things! Would the HoN kids still be relevant? Would I be able to fall back into the world and give my characters authentic voices? So, I stressed for quite a while. Then Kristin basically yelled at me. I believe her sage advice was, “Woman, it’ll be fine! Write the damn book!” As usual, Kristin was right. As soon as I began writing it felt exactly like coming home. It was a delight to fall back into the HoN world.
BookTrib: How did you come up with the idea for the Other World?
P.C.: HoN fans helped me come up with the idea for the Other World! During the years after the last HoN book was published fans frequently corresponded with me. I knew that I was going to eventually return to the HoN, though I didn’t expect to do so until much later, so I listened carefully to fan comments. I paid particular attention to what (or who!) readers said they missed about the series. When I decided to write a 10th anniversary surprise book for fans I knew that I needed to include two things: 1) JACK JACK JACK! And 2) At least one of Zoey’s siblings. Brainstorming how to bring back a dead character and let readers get to know Z’s brother led me to the Other World.
BookTrib: Zoey has become a really iconic character in the YA genre. Over the course of the series, she’s really evolved and grown so much. Can you tell us a little bit about her development? How she came to be, if she changed from where you first wanted her to go?
P.C.: Zoey began as a character loosely based on Kristin when she was sixteen. But what happens when I base a character on a real person is as soon as that character begins “living” in my book world, he or she evolves and grows according to the world I’ve plopped him or her into. Zoey does share several of Kristin’s personality traits – like honesty and the ability to learn from her mistakes – but her world, her friends, her family, all informed her personality so that fictional Z ended up not being much like adult, real life Kristin.
I am very pleased with Zoey’s maturation throughout the series. I’m especially proud of the difficult, adult choices she makes in Lost. Z gets a lot of flack about her boyfriends, and in Lost she shows how selfless true love should be – something people decades older than her still struggle with.
BookTrib: For years, the characters you’ve created have been diverse, in culture, race, gender, and sexuality, something a lot of authors don’t do, unfortunately. Where did you draw your inspiration from for creating them like this?
P.C.: Well, Kristin is a woman of color, so it has always been important to us to include diversity in our characters. Also, I was inspired to create the HoN cast of characters from my experience with teenagers during the fifteen years I taught at Broken Arrow South Intermediate High School. People often say how authentic the teens are in HoN. That’s because I decided from page one that I was not going to back down from representing teenagers realistically. So, my fictional kids are diverse because the teenagers I taught were diverse.
BookTrib: Looking back on the series now, and knowing what’s to come in the future, is there anything you wish you had changed, or saved for later?
P.C.: That’s such a difficult question because I’m a constant re-writer! If I could get my hands on any of the manuscripts I would mess with them endlessly! But actually change the plot or characters? Probably not. The only thing I would consider changing, except for my habitual need to tinker with my work, would be that I wouldn’t have written any of them in first person. It’s far too limiting, which is why I shifted point of view in the later books.
BookTrib: You have been writing with your daughter for years. What’s the collaboration process between you two like?
P.C.: We don’t actually coauthor HoN. Kristin is my front line editor, and has been since Marked. I write each book, then I send the manuscript to her and she takes out her red pen. I’ve learned over more than a decade that her red pen is usually right.
We do literally co-write, though. We began writing together in a novella called The Scent of Salt and Sand (written in her world of The Escaped). We decided to take a chance and see if we could co-write, and it was awesome! From there we sold a coauthored series called The Dysasters to St. Martin’s Press (releasing March 2019). When we co-write we choose characters and then do a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book. When one of Kristin’s characters takes the lead in a chapter she writes that chapter. When one of mine is a lead – I write. When we get to the finale of the book we literally sit on the couch next to each other and pass a laptop back and forth, filling in dialogue and action. Neither our agent nor our editor can tell which of us writes which chapter, which makes us smile a lot…
BookTrib: Finally, is there one book you think everyone should read?
P.C.: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s especially timely today. It’s a cautionary tale about what happens when a society becomes too apathetic or lazy to fight for free speech and free thought.