Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Catherine Cerveny?
I am a total nerd fan-girl on the inside, but seem like a straight-laced conservative on the outside. I have degrees in English and History, and a Master of Library and Information Science — a professional shusher — but currently work in logistics and transportation, where I use math and science every day. I didn’t see that one coming. I love to read and have a “To Be Read” mountain of books large enough to ski down and potentially hurt myself if I fell at the bottom. I love traveling and try to go on at least one amazing trip a year, if possible. I am also married to someone who generally tolerates and indulges my quirkiness fairly well.
Your Felicia Sevigny series was recently published by Orbit Books. It looks rather interesting: How would you introduce the novels and series to a potential reader?
I think the short answer to that would be: a Tarot card reader in space, which are two things you wouldn’t necessarily say pair-up well together. The Felicia Sevigny series is a crossover between science fiction and romance, so while I’d like to think it considers some of the moral /ethical issues of genetic manipulation and cloning for example, the series does so in a lighter, less serious tone. I also intended the series to be a fun, sunnier read that offers up the future in a more optimistic light than most science fiction novels might. The human race has survived the “end of days” so to speak, and has come out the other side better than ever. While the future isn’t exactly a utopia, it’s still bright.
What inspired you to write the series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I’ve always been intrigued by Tarot cards and the psychic world in general. I’m not sure I really believe any of it is true, but it provided great source material for the series. I liked the idea of a character who could predict the future and whose predictions were true, not because of a connection to the spirit world or magic, but because of science. Or in this case, genetics. I wanted to turn the fortune teller idea on its head. Plus, I liked the idea of taking a fantasy/paranormal sort of character and tossing them into a science fiction based world to see what would happen. I also love fast-paced action movies/quest stories with lots of twists and turns where you never know what’s happening next, so I wanted this series to reflect that. I’ve also always been attracted to the romance angle in stories, so I wanted to have a relationship at the core of this story as well.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I’ve loved science fiction for as long as I can remember. I think this is primarily my dad’s influence. When my brother and I were kids, my mom worked as a nurse and did a lot of shift work, so my dad was left in charge on the weekends. To keep us entertained, we ended up watching a lot of movies. And since he ended up watching them with us, they had to be movies that held his interest as well. So, growing up I cut my teeth on Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman, etc. They were the first movies I really recalling seeing, and they influenced me for the rest of my life.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I love it. Being a writer is my dream come true and something I’ve wanted to happen forever. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I get to do the thing I love most and there are people out there who actually want to read what I’ve written. I pinch myself every day because I can’t believe how lucky I am. I also love being part of Orbit and knowing I have a team behind me who will support my stories and make sure they see the light of day.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Not really. I love world building, so I enjoy setting up my world and making sure all the details fit together and make sense. It’s probably one of the first things I think about when I’m working through a story idea. There’s nothing I hate more than lazy world building! I also keep a notebook handy for every project and jot down ideas as they come to me, whether they be world details, character motivations, or key pieces of dialogue. I try to write a little bit every day, though since I have a day job, I’m usually up writing late into night. I was also lucky enough to have been part of a few critique groups in the past. Though I don’t have a lot of time for them these days, at the time, they were invaluable to me. I learned so much from working with likeminded people, with perhaps the most important lesson being I needed to keep writing even when I felt like giving up.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I’ve always known I wanted to be an author, and have written short stories and novels since I was around ten years old. However, I’d have to say most of it is utter crap and should never see the light of day. Ever. I would ask my friends to read whatever I was working on and they would tell me they loved my story/novel/whatever I’d forced on them. I suspect they were probably lying. Let’s just say, all that other writing in the past was practice to get me here to this point and I’m still always learning and trying to improve my skills. I actually had a short story accepted for publication years ago, but the magazine went under right before my story was supposed to be in print. Still a little sad about that one!
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I love how science fiction has room for so many different elements and can encompass so much under its umbrella. My series is on the lighter side, but it still fits in with the darker, thoughtful elements in science fiction, as well as straight-up action adventure. I see my work straddling between fun and frothy on one hand but considering more ethical and challenge issues that face the human race on the other.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on The Game of Luck. It’s the third novel in the Felicia Sevigny series and set about six months after the events of The Chaos of Luck. I’m really excited about it because I’m getting to take these characters in a totally different direction than what I initially envisioned. I love that I get to explore Felicia and Alexei’s relationship further and watch it evolve.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
Right now, I’m reading Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai, and The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams. I tend to have a couple of books on the go at the same time, in a variety of different genres.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
That’s a tough one because I have so many favorites, and certain novels have been important or influential at different times in my life. However, if I can only pick a single novel, one I’ve read and enjoyed many times over is The Gate of Ivory by Doris Egan. I think it was the first novel I’d ever read with elements of both science fiction and romance, with a plucky heroine who always landed on her feet.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I was a huge comic book fan, in particular all things X-Men. I sent many a letter to the editor, and eventually had a letter published in one of Marvel’s titles — X-Factor, issue #71. Technically, it was the first thing I ever had published in print and at the time, seemed like the biggest thrill of my life.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Next month, The Chaos of Luck is being released in trade paperback, and then The Game of Luck will be out next September, so I’m looking forward to both those events. I know this seems like gushing, but I’m just so excited about these novels so everything else seems like small potatoes in comparison. I’m also hoping there will be a trip at some point in the next year, but I’ll have to see about that. A vacation away from home is a great way to clear the mind and find inspiration for new stories.