I got the wonderful chance to talk with author Haven Cage about her writing process as well as what drives her! So take a few moments and come get to know her too….
Interview with Haven
How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
I was looking for something to do while my son was in preschool, something that was all about me as a creative person, not a mommy or a wife. I have always had bizarre dreams, and after reading the Twilight Series, then finding out that Stephanie Meyer developed those books based off a dream she had, I thought, “Hey, I can do that. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff stored away in my mind.”
One of my dreams was a vision of me riding a horse and looking out across a field of soldiers riding with me to battle in the night like Joan of Arc. This was the basis of my character, Nevaeh, heading into battle along with the angels. I built on the idea that I wanted her to be flawed but strong, and heading into a fight she never thought she would be a part of, let alone a key player in.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
So far, my books, Falter and Severance, are Urban Fantasies. I’m writing a third book, which will be a standalone, that has fantasy elements but may cross into other genres such as Sci-Fi or Erotica…I’m not quite sure where the story will take me yet.
I tend to stick with fantasy because there are so many scenarios that can play out in the writing. You are not bound to the laws of reality, and, as a reader, I get to escape to more worlds, experience life differently, and think outside the box; as an author, I can break boundaries for the reader and give them flight in their own imagination.
Though fantasy is my favorite, I don’t want to tie myself to one genre, so expect a variety of material from me!
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
This is an unfortunate story. I didn’t dream of becoming an author as a child; there was no staying up late at night to read books, or skipping out on chores to hideaway with a good story. I didn’t even read a book all the way through during high school—which I’m a little ashamed to admit.
My love for reading came much later in life at the age of twenty-three when a co-worker gifted me a copy of Twilight. This was the beginning of my reading and writing desire. I realized that I liked reading, I just hadn’t come across a genre that could hold my attention.
Being a creative person at heart, I wanted to invest my spare time into something new and challenging…and a challenge it was. It took me seven years to finish Falter. It started as a hobby, became a learning experience, and then morphed into a drive that I couldn’t deny. Now, I can’t imagine not writing.
How long have you been writing?
Like I said, Falter took me seven years to write. I’m the type of writer who works on one piece until it’s exactly the way I want it, instead of beginning something, only to throw it away because I’m dissatisfied, then starting a different project. Severance took me about seven to eight months. It’s with the editor now. I’m in a much better place now than I was when I began this journey!
What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I like writing the darker side of things—ideas that make a person question what they would do if put in a situation where the good thing would be the obvious path to take for most, but not always the “right” path for the greater good. I struggle with the gray areas of life, and feel there is more to it than narrow-minded black and white beliefs.
What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
Writing is such a personal, introverted way of expressing issues we have with ourselves and the world. I feel that it is a vital way of opening new doors to others, who are willing to listen, about what our experiences and beliefs might mean to us on an internal level, helping others consider what goes on outside of their own little worlds. It’s a way of sharing the effects of life with those who may not understand. Yet, on the other hand, it’s a means of connecting with those who have been through similar situations and saying, “Hey, you’re not alone in this.” To me, that makes writing one of the most valuable tools of communication we have.
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
Oh, this question pairs with my Faltering Souls series nicely. Spirituality is one of the things I struggle with daily. As I’ve said, I believe there are gray areas in most major issues in the world, and my religion and belief in God is one of those that weighs heavy on me, personally. Being of the Catholic faith, though not very devout, I find connection with the ceremonies, the ideals, and messages I’ve learned along the way; however, my own guilt of believing there is more than what is taught to us—in any religion—from the bible or otherwise, often makes me sometimes question that God will save me as long as I believe.
I have faith that there is a God for sure, but my problems stem from a lack of faith in myself. I try to be a morally good person, but everyone has their demons, their bad habits, to deal with and answer to when the time comes—whether you acknowledge a bigger purpose or not. That’s my belief anyway. This was a building stone for my storyline in Falter. I wanted to address those doubts in ourselves, and our strength to live as a “good” person, even when we make bad decisions.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I wanted to connect with people on a personal level. I wanted to make readers consider views that are possibly outside their norm and put themselves in a different mind-set. I believe I’ve done that. The wonderful feedback I’ve gotten speaks volumes. Knowing there are souls out there that you have touched with your words is one of the most gratifying things in the world.
Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
This book, in particular, didn’t require me to do much face-to-face research. Although, the demon and angel research was quite interesting!
What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?
I used some of my own religious background, as well as, a lot of internet searching. We are so lucky to have an abundance of information at the tips of our fingers today!
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Hmm…my readers tell me I’m very descriptive. They say that my writing plays in their heads like a movie. I love that, since that is how I write; I picture the scenes in my mind, manipulating each event like a director.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The editing is by far the hardest part for me. I wasted a lot of years in the beginning being stingy and refusing to hire an editor. Then, I woke up and realized that my attempts to do it myself were useless. I probably re-wrote Falter twenty times throughout my editing process. Editors are worth their weight in gold, especially if you find one that points out your faults and how to fix them like mine did.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved delving into my darker self and allowing some of that repressed emotion out to play. Doing that sometimes relieves a lot of tension and negativity that we carry around inside. I can’t tell you how moody I get when I don’t have my time to write…just ask my family. It is such a release to be someone you aren’t for a while.
Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.
Celatum are a group humans that have received gifts from God to fight in the Celestial war. They usually develop those gifts at a later age, after experiencing something tragic.
The Clavis is a half Celata, half demon being that has been prophesied to change the future of the war between Celatum, angels, and demons.
As a little sneak-peek, in Severance, book two of the Faltering Souls series, I dabble in the concept of Purgatory.
Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
Nevaeh and George are, actually, homeless, which I think would qualify. I wanted to give my character a sense of building herself up from nothing; having little to lose material-wise, but a lot to lose in love and self-preservation.
Are there misconceptions that people have about your book? If so, explain.
One of the biggest that I’ve ran across so far is that it is a Tolkien type of fantasy. Readers hear “fantasy” and that seems to be their first conclusion. It is very different than your hardcore, wizards and magic though. Falter takes place in today’s time with today’s world.
Also, many people assume it’s a religious read, but having a darker edge sets it apart from Christian writing. Another misconception is that Falter is about the angel and demon war and the magical aspects. It is more about self-discovery than anything.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
As in the previous question, I think people hear the word “fantasy” and assume they are getting unrealistic worlds filled with fairies and vampires. That’s just not true.
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?
Fantasies can be based on reality and have the subtlest elements of magic that place them in that genre. I think if more non-fantasy readers were willing to venture outside of a particular genre, they’d see how many different kinds of subgenres in Fantasies there are, and how relatable they can be. Just because there aren’t the usual limitations to what the characters can do, or the setting, in relation to reality, doesn’t mean the book isn’t, actually, based on a romance story, a mystery, or even a comedy. This was another thing I learned, and was pleasantly surprised about, when I had to categorize my book.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by the things I question—the “What if” situations. I like to blur the lines and find my way to the light in a story full of darkness.
How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
I would have never gotten to where I am today without love and support. My family, though not always sure I would follow through with this crazy idea that I wanted to write a book, has really stepped up and raised my confidence.
Also, without experiencing some of the negative in the world myself, I don’t think I would have the ability to write in the style I do. I use my bad experiences and my short-comings to mold my worlds. Growing up with a mother who made a lot of mistakes, but did her best to bring us out of them, taught me that no matter how bad a situation is, you can endure it and change it if you only have the will to do so. This theory made me a person who fights through hard times with a fire and passion in my heart that helps me win the battle in the end.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I love the fantastic world building, flawed but strong characters, and descriptive writing of Karen Marie Moning. Leigh Bardugo’s clever, folksy storytelling blows my mind and inspires me to get a better/bigger vocabulary…seriously, she makes me ashamed sometimes. Stephanie Meyer gave me the spark to explore this hidden part of myself and transform into a writer!
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
The most useful was learning the difference between telling someone a story versus showing them the scene. I tend to be a passive writer, and I think that was my biggest hurdle. With my editor’s help, I’m getting better though. I don’t consider anything I’ve learned so far “least useful.” Even the worst advice, or lessons, can be good; it’s all in how you take it.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m fortunate to have a job where I work three twelve-hour shifts a week. This allows me three days to write—when I’m not catching up on sleep from the night-shift. I refuse to sacrifice a lot of time with my family to write, so unless I’m in some sort of rush to get something done, I generally keep my writing to the daytime when my guys are at work or school. I would consider myself a part-time writer in those aspects, but I do spend anywhere from four to twenty hours of solid time typing most weeks. When I first started, it was only a couple hours here and there, which is why it took me seven years to finish Falter. Often, I had months where I didn’t write…that was the hobby phase. I’m not as diligent as I should be now, but I definitely take it seriously and allot special time for it as such.
What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I’ve been a bra fitter, a jewelry seller, and an usher at an amusement park, but the job that you see in my book is a waitress. I worked at a Sonic when I was a teenager, and a Cracker Barrel after that. I believe everyone should work in retail or public service at some point in their life. It gives a new perspective on people interactions.
For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
I based many of my characters and events (loosely) on Catholic angel and demon hierarchy. The Catholic Encyclopedia is great for finding that information. Even if you don’t agree with the religion, it’s interesting to read about. Those who have a few misconceptions may find themselves surprised too.
How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I’m a huge fan of e-books, but I appreciate the value of holding a print book in your hand, or purchasing a physical, autographed copy from the writer. That’s why I wanted to make mine available in all platforms. I am, also, very partial to audiobooks. I think it’s a great way to bring the writing to life…if you have a good narrator. One day, I hope to produce my own audiobooks.
As far as publishing, I tried to break into traditional publishing with Falter, but, after querying sixty agents and not getting any takers, I opted for self-publishing. Traditional publishing is very subjective, and, though my feedback was good, the agents just didn’t see me as marketable since the genre is over-saturated. I refused to let that keep me from fulfilling my plans.
Seeing the lack of control that some of my peers have had on their traditionally published books, I’m glad I did this myself. I’m too OCD. However, I don’t get into physical bookstores, I miss out on advances and other hard to reach resources, and the promotional help is next to nil. Those are negative aspects I knew I would encounter, but I accepted it anyway and went forward, determined to share my writing with the world.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
I’m amazed at the writing/reading community. I had no idea how much support a devout reader can give you until I wrote a book. I think reading is like taking a mini-vacation, and for those who don’t have the time or money to take a real vacation, escaping in a good book can often be just as fulfilling. Because of that, I believe there will always be a means to write and read for the sake recreation and communication. We just need to teach our children the importance of it; that will be the hard part.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
With Falter, I did things a little backwards. I wasted time thinking I could edit myself, then finally hired an editor. I queried agents. I waited too long to find betas, though, in the end, I did find them and they are a phenomenal help! They really stepped up to my tight deadline. Also, I didn’t allow myself any time to submit ARC copies for review. All of this made me a little better prepared for Book 2, though. With Severance, I’m going to self-publish, so I won’t spend six months waiting on agents to respond. My betas are ready to read when the edits are done, and I have a timeline to work with, which I didn’t before. I did my own covers for Falter and Severance, and I’m going to learn to format myself, instead of hiring out like I did with Book 1. It’s all a never-ending learning process. You Tube is my best friend!
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Falter puts a different spin on angels and demons; they are flawed and waver in their respective sides. My main character is the same. As a person, she is good, but had weakness like the rest of us. She struggles with the idea of being a Celata, and doesn’t necessarily want the gifts she’s given, let alone, what it might mean for her future, and the dear sacrifices she must make. I feel like most books similar to mine are more about the war between Heaven and Hell, the chosen rising to the occasion and winning their battle. Falter is about the heavy decisions we deal with in trying to be the better person, the doubt we all contend with, and not always recognizing the “big picture” of our lives in order to take the correct path.
How do you find or make time to write?
I designate time when my family is at school or work and I’m alone. I usually go to my favorite coffee shop, since I do better when I’m outside of my normal environment.
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
I use both. I take ideas that are set and followed in today’s world, then I add my own twist on them to bring in the fantasy aspects. I don’t think this will be the case in all my books though. The Faltering Soul series has some of the well-known religious elements, but I’ve used theories I’ve questioned to shape them into something new.
What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
Unfortunately, social promotion is a necessity. You have to invest time in it, so, yes, it does distract from my writing time, but I can’t do anything about it. What stinks about the whole thing is that you have a very thin line to walk. On one side, you promote too little; on the other, it’s too much. I try to approach bloggers and reviewers regularly, but as you know, they are people too and can only read so much at one time. Many have a huge backlist of books to review. I’ve done some author takeovers on Facebook and found that helpful for reaching people outside of my friends group, and I’m honored to have had some great people to allow me to do these interviews with them. I must say though, outside of working the social media and networking, readers are the best means of promotion. They don’t realize how much their reviews and word-of-mouth promoting helps us.
What is your role in the writing community?
I have many roles in this community. Aside from writing, reading is a must. I read as much as I can and contribute to other authors when I’m able, leaving at least a rating when I’m done with their book. I’m, also, proud to say that I beta read for a fantastic author, Renea Mason. You should definitely check her out if you like erotica with a great plot!
What do you like to read in your free time?
I enjoy fantasy, obviously, and romance/erotica. Sometimes I venture outside of my realm and dabble in a little mystery and young adult too. Some of my favorite books include: The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning, The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, The Beautiful Series by Jamie McGruire, The Good Doctor Trilogy by Renae Mason, and The Hangman’s Daughter Series by Oliver Potzsch.
What projects are you working on at the present?
Currently, I’m waiting for my edits to come back from the editor on Severance. While that’s going on, I’m working on my stand-alone fantasy, which has not had any information released yet. Stay tuned!
What do your plans for future projects include?
There will be a book three in the Faltering Souls series and perhaps some novellas about a few of the secondary characters. I also have a burlesque based novel floating around in my head. I look forward to jumping out of my usual genre at times too.
Haven Cage lives in the Carolinas with her husband and son. After many years of dabbling with drawing, painting, and working night shift in the medical field, she decided to try her hand at writing. Unfortunately, her love for books came later in life and proved to add a healthy challenge during her writing journey. Determined to hone her craft though, she soaks up as much information as she can, spends her free time tapping away in her favorite local coffee shop, and keeps a good book in hand whenever possible.
Years have passed since she began to write and sculpt her first novel. What began as a hobby has grown into a way of escape and the yearning to take her journey farther, her love for writing and reading deepening along the way.
Haven Cage Author links
@havencage on Instagram and twitter
You can also find me on Pinterest
In FALTER, a dark New Adult/Adult Urban Fantasy novel, Nevaeh Richards thinks she has found a chance to leave her homeless life behind. When the spirit of the only father she knows is wrongfully taken to Hell, Nevaeh is hurled into a world haunted by monstrous demons, rogue Guardian angels, love that is beyond her control, and a soul-threatening choice between the inherent evil inside her and the faltering faith she is struggling to grasp.
Nevaeh and George have lived on the streets as father and daughter since he found her, alone and unconscious, many years ago. When they start a new life employed at Joe’s cafe, Nevaeh experiences debilitating visions and frightening apparitions. Adding to the troubling path her life has taken, George suddenly becomes ill and an Animus demon takes his soul hostage in Hell. Unfortunately, the ransom may be more than Nevaeh can afford.
As Nevaeh spirals into this supernatural world, Gavyn—the handsome café-owner—tries to convince her that she belongs to a hidden race of people with God-given gifts known as Celatum, and she may be a key player in the Celestial war. However, even after all the otherworldly events she experiences, Nevaeh continues to deny her part in it all.
Meanwhile, Archard—a stranger she feels undeniably bonded to—mysteriously wanders in and out of her life, offering none of the answers she suspects he holds.
Will Nevaeh attain the faith it requires to fulfill her fate as a Celata and take part in the Celestial fight? Or will she give into the darkness that calls to her for the sake of George’s soul and damn herself to Hell?
Print edition can be bought on Amazon, or you can purchase an autographed copy directly from my website at http://www.authorhavencage.com
Severance Synopsis and Cover
Anticipated release: Spring of 2017
In Severance, a dark, adult urban fantasy novel from the Faltering Souls series, Neveah has to face the overpowering gravity of her choice to save those she loves while striving for strength to fight her greatest threat—herself.
Nevaeh Richards makes her declaration. Living a life in which she has few possessions, she sacrifices the only thing of worth she has to offer—the precious thing those fiends want the most—all for the slim chance of redeeming the souls of George, the man who raised her, and Gavyn, the Light Celata who holds a piece of her heart.
Her gifts are unfurling now, but so is a fierce, unpredictable beast inside her. While she struggles to keep herself—and the beast—in check, she has to play the part of a Dark Celata and fulfill every wickedly tempting task the evil beings command of her. Each mission she goes on, each time she uses her gifts, the line she toes between the woman she used to be and the monster she reluctantly yearns to become grows thinner.
As Nevaeh deals with her own turmoil, Archard watches the world he’s accepted as his own begin to suffer for the mistakes he’s made. The sacred laws which segregate the realms and hinder demons from freely moving among humans are less and less effective with each passing day. He’s failed to keep Nevaeh out of Evil’s clutches, and so the shadows of Hell are creeping through. In an attempt to right his wrongs—and heal the hole in his heart—Archard chases his elusive woman, but every lead that should bring him closer to her only ends with more questions about who she is, where she comes from, and how to save her—if he can save her at all.
Will Nevaeh survive the soul-severing decision she’s made?
Will those who love Nevaeh survive her?