Monday, November 16, 2015

Interview with Beth Cato, author of Wings of Sorrow and Bone

Title: Wings of Sorrow and Bone
Author: Beth Cato
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Steampunk
Format: Ebook

From the author of The Clockwork Dagger comes an exciting novella set in the same world…

After being rescued by Octavia Leander from the slums of Caskentia, Rivka Stout is adjusting to her new life in Tamarania. But it’s hard for a blossoming machinist like herself to fit in with proper society, and she’d much rather be tinkering with her tools than at a hoity-toity party any day.

When Rivka stumbles into a laboratory run by the powerful Balthazar Cody, she also discovers a sinister plot involving chimera gremlins and the violent Arena game Warriors. The innocent creatures will end up hurt, or worse, if Rivka doesn’t find a way to stop Mr. Cody. And to do that means she will have to rely on some unexpected new friends.

Wings of Sorrow and Bone is available for order at  
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What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Well, I'm proud to have released two novels with more on the way, but I'm really honored to be the mom of a ten-year-old with autism. It can be hard sometimes, for him and for us, but he has an unabashed joy for life and I'm proud to see him grow up. He just recently learned to use a straw for the first time. That is such a small thing for most people, but it's huge for us.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

I'm from the agricultural heartland of California. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had love, faith, and library cards. I connected with science fiction and fantasy from an early age. As a baby, my first words were 'Mom' then 'Star Wars.'

When and why did you begin writing?

I was an odd four-year-old, illustrating and binding my own books. I always wanted to grow up to be an author. My brain overflowed with stories. When I was a teenager, my writing dream withered and died. I had no confidence in myself, and I had a lot of family pressure to not write fantasy. It took me about a decade to realize I wasn't being true to myself. I needed to read and write again.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

No. It was always there. I remember being two-years-old and practicing writing my favorite letter, W. I needed to express myself in words.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

As a kid, I took it for granted. I wrote because I liked to write, so of course I would get published someday. As a teenager, I subscribed to Writer's Digest and became aware of how hard it was to get published and that it involved a lot of rejection. Even after I started writing again as an adult and accepted that I was a writer, it took me years to gather the nerve to submit anything.

What inspires you to write and why?

Everything inspires me. The news. The angle of the sun on dead rose petals. My cranky old cat. The injustice of the world. The stories are there and they need telling.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I naturally gravitate to fantasy. I love the idea of magic in the world, of mythical creatures being real, and our brains holding bonus powers we can draw on at will.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My debut novel, The Clockwork Dagger, arose from the idea of 'Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, on an airship, with a healer as the intended murder target.' Everything grew from there!

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

For my Clockwork Dagger series, I read a lot of World War I-set fiction, and several nonfiction battlefield medic books from WWI and the Civil War. My interests are diverse. Everything I read, no matter what the genre is, I absorb some details or curiosities that I want to explore in my own writing later.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Rejection. That can be self-rejection, as in I think my writing is utter dreck, or submitting work for critique, or coping with negative reviews, or having book store customers keep walking on by as I do a signing. If you make your writing public, you make yourself vulnerable. It's hard. I make a point of avoiding bad reviews, but I have to face critiques, and scorn, and snark, and try to grow from it. Some days, that's a real challenge.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

Wings of Sorrow and Bone reminded me that powerless characters still have plenty of power. My full novels in The Clockwork Dagger series feature my healer heroine who abounds in extraordinary magic. The heroine of this new novella has no magic. She's a teenage girl with a cleft lip. She's in a strange city. She wants to be left alone with her inventions. Rivka has immense power through her intelligence and compassion, and it was a joy for me to discover how she could succeed through that.

Do you intend to make writing a career?

It is my career. This and being a mom are my primary jobs.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I definitely have themes I like to explore on a regular basis, but I adapt my style depending on the needs of the story. I can do 1st or 3rd person, male or female, and explore different sorts of voices.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 

Descriptions! I love going into visceral detail in my fiction and poetry. Actually, I'm often told to scale back--that I go overkill!

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

Oh gosh, that's a hard question. I think my nonconformity. I think differently than other people, or I approach things in a different way. I was given a lot of grief for that in school and really felt like the round peg in a square hole. It's weird, but in recent years as I have reconnected with old friends online, I have had several people say they admired my nonconformity back then--that I never caved in to teenage pressure, and they wished that could have stood up like that. Weird, the things you learn twenty years later.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

Aspects like depression and anxiety. Things I will always have to battle.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

"Of all the things I've lost, it's my mind I miss the most." No idea who said it first, but my Grandma had it on a 1970s magnet stuck to a cabinet. It always made me laugh. It's such a true statement within my family!

Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham. She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. The newest book, THE CLOCKWORK CROWN, comes out on June 9th, 2015.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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