There are so many fascinating elements at work in this series, but let’s start with the obvious one: how did you come up with a living prison?
I have had the idea of a sentient building for some time now. It's not a new idea, but buildings often feel as if they have a personality, and might speak in different ways. In my RELICMASTER set I have a section where the heroine, Carys gets trapped in a building which talks to her. It's an abandoned, drowned palace, and I enjoyed making its voice both sarcastic and neurotic. That was just one scene, but it probably laid the foundations (!) for Incarceron.
I loved the way your world was both historical and futuristic – what inspired that blend of an artificially engineered past and a dystopian future?
As you know, it's hard to think back into the processes of writing and see where things came from. It had to be a future world because of the Prison's capabilities, and then the idea of the frozen past of the Era just seemed a good contrast As I elaborated on it I realised it threw upall sorts of interesting images. Both Finn and Claudia think the other's world is a paradise, and find out it's hell. So there was this past/present, hell/heaven idea running through which I enjoyed.
Do you think we too often idealize the past (as has occurred in an extreme way in Incarceron)?
I think we do idealize the past in some ways. Certainly there is a sort of nostalgia for the old days and a whole industry here in Britain based around heritage. On the other hand it's easy to think the past was totally alien to us, but in many ways people don't change. I often visit prehistoric sites like Stonehenge and Avebury, and think about how the people who built them had the same basic concerns that we do. And we're living in their buildings all the time.
If you were placed in Incarceron, what part of the prison would you hope to land in?
I would definitely not want to be in Incarceron! If I was, maybe Blaise's tower would be the safest and most interesting place. Though there are whole swathes of the Prison that even I don't know about.
The second book in your series, Sapphique, is titled after one of the novel’s characters. That’s such a unique name, where did it come from and does it have a special meaning that you could share?
I invented the name Sapphique out of various bits of words- as you say, unique might be one of them, also sapphire, opaque, words I like. It's a feminine sounding name but then I made the character male. I wanted a one word title that would intrigue the reader.
What has been your favorite part of writing this story?
I enjoyed the Chaingang scene and the bits with Jared and the Queen. I also like Rix and his crazy patchbooks. Keiro is always fun to write. And Claudia's changing relationship with her father. But like all books, the enjoyment usually comes after the work!
Thanks for the great questions Andrea, and I really enjoyed Nightshade.
Best wishes Catherine.Thank you, Catherine!! And remember, readers, leave a comment below for a chance to win!!