CS: I think the most relevant thing for you to know about me is that I don’t put milk in my cereal. I pour my bowl of cereal and I pour my glass of milk and I consume them separately (unless the cereal turns the milk chocolate). There’s probably a lot you can tell about a person by the way they take their cereal. Not that I would know what, considering I didn’t do my degree in psychology, sociology, or anything like that. I studied English literature, classics, and creative writing, and this coming year I’ll be pursuing my Master’s in fantasy literature. I’m Canadian, born and raised in Newfoundland, traveled a lot as a young’un, wrote my first published novel at 17, wrote my very first (and most atrocious) novel at 14. It is now locked in a safe at the bottom of the ocean and guarded by a hundred headed sea monster with poisonous scales. I will never reveal which ocean. Is there anything else you should know about me? I really think I covered it all with the cereal.
CS: Greek mythology! I’m a huge mythology geek, which will become quickly apparent to anyone with basic myth knowledge who reads COI. The title itself gives away my myth love. Mythology chiefly inspired the story’s main setting—a labyrinth—and definitely inspired the monsters lurking within said setting. Another huge inspiration was all the survival books, shows and games that I’ve consumed over the course of my 22 years. From Lord of the Flies to everything zombie, I love stories that force a myriad of characters into survival situations. I feel it brings out some of the strangest and strongest character development and, despite any fantastical elements, allows for a tangible, intense glimpses into the human psyche. Plus survival stories can be crazy exciting. Hence my desire to play with the genre.
BBB: Tell us about your main character.
CS: She’s the whole reason Children of Icarus happened! I had the idea for the story back in middle school, a year after I completed my first novel, but I couldn’t really get into the mind of the protagonist so I bailed. I resurrected the idea the summer before last, upgraded and revamped it, but most of all I got to know my protagonist, with a new goal in mind. I didn’t just want to get inside her head, I wanted to write her story so that the readers could get inside her head too, like they’d crawled in and set up a tent and were making s’mores by her frontal lobe or something. I also wanted to explore character growth, especially in dire situations. I wanted to take the kind of character that most of us (myself included) would write off immediately in a horror flick. Oh her? She’s just an extra. But the “extras” in real life have thoughts too, have lives and strengths—even if they’re hidden pretty deep. So I wanted to tell the story of that character, to see how—and if—she’d survive, and how it would change her. Would it break her? Would it make her? Or would it do something else entirely?
BBB: What are you currently working on?
CS: I’m working on the sequel to COI! I’ve already written the very first draft of book two, and I’m super excited to rip it apart and super-glue it back together multiple times. I’m not even being sarcastic. I loved editing Children of Icarus, which freaked me out since editing has always made me cry from every pore, but I seriously adored the process. So I’m pumped to start again! Aside from the sequel, I’m working on a few other novel ideas. They’ll probably never see the light of day but they’ll certainly see the light of my computer screen. The thing is, I write for work but I also write for fun. If I need a break from work writing I get up from my desk, grab an ice-cream sandwich, and go right back to my desk to write something else.
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
CS: They can check out my website (www.caighlansmith.com), Twitter (@caighlan), my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/caighlansmith/) or—if they are interested in photos of desserts, gnomes and the occasional book update—my Instagram. They can also check out my US publisher Switch Press. Alternatively, they could send me a letter via carrier pigeon, or (even better) via carrier owl. Owls are so cute.