(I always choose the winners at random now, but it is so tough to stick to the rules, because you guys write the greatest letters! It is always a thrill to hear what you guys are interested in, and I'm so grateful for every single one of you who entered.
Now, to answer your questions about SPELLCASTER -- or, at least, half of them! You asked so much that it goes beyond just one blog post. I'll answer half tonight and show you the questions that will get answered tomorrow ... how's that?
From lots of you: Who are the main characters in SPELLCASTER? Tell us more about them.
The three main characters --
Nadia Caldani is a young witch, one who has been studying clandestinely with her mother, like most witches do; the Craft is a secret, one closely guarded from the outside world, and most particularly from men. But earlier in the year, her mother left the family, which not only has crushed Nadia emotionally and given her a whole new set of responsibilities, but also has deprived her of the only teacher in witchcraft she has. Nadia loves witchcraft and can't imagine her life without it, but she has no way to complete her training. Right now she has tons of potential and power, but not the knowledge that would allow her to use it well. She's resigned to never being the witch she might have been. But when she moves with her dad and little brother to the small town of Captive's Sound, she immediately becomes aware that there's a dark power there that goes beyond anything she's ever known - and she might not be the ideal person to stop it, but she also might be the only one even able to try.
Mateo Perez is a lifelong resident of Captive's Sound, and yet he's always been an outsider. There have always been whispers about a curse on his family, one that drives them all insane and destroys them. He refuses to believe in it - even though his mother ended her own life in despair years ago. The curse supposedly begins when you begin to see the future, so it must be nothing but a tall tale, right? But then he begins having powerful dreams of approaching danger, even disaster, and one dark-haired girl who's often in the heart of it. When he sees Nadia's face for the first time and recognizes her as the one from his dreams, he knows he's doomed.
Verlaine Laughton knows she's at the absolute bottom of the social ladder in Captive's Sound. Even that crazy Mateo Perez doesn't talk to her. It's not like people hate her; it's more like they forget she's alive. She doesn't even have any hope of making friends with the new girl, Nadia. However, when an accident reveals Nadia's powers to her, Verlaine doesn't care how dangerous any of this might get; something interesting is finally happening, and she's going to be right in the middle of it. But it turns out there are secrets in her own past that she never imagined before - secrets that witchcraft reveals for the first time.
From Kaylynn, :What's Nadia's personality like? Is she outgoing or reserved?
Nadia isn't an introvert, but I would have to call her reserved. It's less a matter of her personality and more the way she was raised -- always keeping the most important thing in her life secret. She can't even talk about witchcraft with her dad. So Nadia is someone who is very careful in what she reveals, though a lot of times she wishes she could share more. She's also definitely someone who takes the weight of the world on her shoulders. That's true in good ways (Nadia will defend anyone, stick up for anybody) and bad (she won't let people help her when she needs it, and she can decide she's doing something for someone's own good when that's not what they'd choose for themselves.) She's very determined and driven, and probably needs a little more fun in her life!
From lots of you: What are your favorite things about your new series/characters?
Coming up with a system of witchcraft has been really fun. And although this is definitely a dramatic series, there's more humor in SPELLCASTER than in most of what I've written so far, which I enjoy.
From Alejandra: Is the story based mainly in one character's life or a group of people?
I'm glad you asked that, because while Nadia is definitely the main character in SPELLCASTER, it's Mateo and Verlaine's story too. This comes much closer to being an ensemble piece than anything else I've written to date, and Verlaine will ultimately get a love story of her own that's just as intense as Nadia and Mateo's. (Not in the first book, though. Hang on, Verlaine!)
From Pavan: It sounds like Mateo is going to be the sexy, brooding hero. Why did you choose this instead of the tough, cocky guys we often see in books?
I hope you'll think he's sexy! You know, a couple times I've tried to write the tough, cocky guy, and you know what? I suck at it. When I write those guys, I don't like them. The sexy doesn't come through, but the jerkface definitely does. Lucas is probably as close to "tough and cocky" as I'll ever write. Anyway, that personality wouldn't work with Mateo's backstory. He has a lot of strength to have made it through all the ostracism and his mother's death, but he's also someone carrying around a burden he thinks nobody can truly help him with. When the visions start coming true, he understands that he's essentially doomed. That tends to wipe out any chance of being "cocky." Also tends to make a guy broody.
From lots of you: Will there be romance in these books like there was in EVERNIGHT?
Most definitely! Nadia and Mateo, and Verlaine and ... you'll have to guess.
From a few of you: How does Nadia and Mateo's romance begin? Is it love/hate, immediate love, or something else?
They're immediately drawn to one another, though it's not quite "insta-love." However, each of them has a really compelling reason to think that it would be a bad idea for them to get involved with anyone - and specific reasons why they might not be able to trust each other. It doesn't take them a long time to be interested in each other, but it's a struggle to trust each other - and, of course, dark magic may work against them -
From several of you: What inspired you to write about witchcraft?
Whenever people ask me what paranormal creature I'd want to be, I always say a witch. Why? Because witches have the power. They're in control. I always thought that would be fascinating to write about.
From Carolyn: Are any of the characters the same as or based on the characters in your story "I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" in VACATIONS FROM HELL?
Very sharp of you to pick up on that! The answer is ... not quite? Basically, that story inspired this series, and there are some links in terms of the personality of the main characters, the setup of her family, the way witchcraft is kept secret, etc. However, it's not the same system of witchcraft, and the characters are totally different. I would say that "I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" is my idea of a supernatural comedy; SPELLCASTER is definitely a drama. So the worlds are different in tone as well.
From Sandra: How will this be different from other witchcraft books?
I'm not sure how "sexy" an answer this is, but the first answer that comes to mind is that Nadia has to work for this. Witchcraft is a power, but it's one you have to learn to control. It requires more than talent; it requires discipline, knowledge and will. I know that's not necessarily untrue in other witchcraft books, but I feel like it's more fundamental to the main character's personality here. Nadia is someone who has earned all the power she possesses.
From Robin: What are your witches' powers and weaknesses? Can anyone be a witch, or are they born that way?
There are some limits to witchcraft, both in terms of things no spell can do (raise the dead, at least in any way you'd ever want them raised) and in terms of the First Laws, rules no witch can ever break (never swear yourself to the service of the One Beneath). An individual witch's limits are only a matter of how much she knows, or doesn't.
Not anyone can be a witch. Only women can do it, and only women with certain bloodlines, and even if you're born into a family that has the gift, you might not. Still, having the gift for it is only the first step. Witches become more powerful through what they learn, and the life experiences they have.
(An analogy -- it's like being an Olympic gold medal gymnast. Not every person has the potential to do this. You have to be healthy, of a certain physical build, with very strong joints that can take a lot of punishment, with excellent balance and coordination, etc. Most of that is something you're born with, or at least born with the potential for (or, in my case, not). Gabrielle Douglas was born with all those things. However, that did not make her a gold medalist. Busting her butt pretty much every day of her life since toddlerhood is what made her a gold medalist. Nadia was born with all the gifts to be a witch - and she's been working hard to be a good one every day.)
From Mara: Will there be a Warlock who befriends the female protagonist, whose powers lie dormant until he embraces her...to then join powers becoming a powerful Spellcaster?
No warlocks in this universe! And Nadia's already well aware of her powers. If anyone discovers an astonishing inner power through this romance, it's actually Mateo -- but now I'm getting into spoilerville.
That's it for part one! The answers to these questions are coming tomorrow --
From Daniela: Is there any kind of music or song that you associate with this book and characters?
From lots of you: Who is your favorite character? Is there one you identify with?
From Viki: Do you love these characters as much as the EVERNIGHT characters?
From Christine: in the Evernight series we watched Bianca not only change forms, but really grow into herself. What is it about the new characters that will make us fall in love with them and their story as much as we did Bianca, Balthazar, and the others?
From Jane: Have you given any of your characters in Spellcaster any defining quirky habits or funny dialogue tics? (like OCD, stuttering, etc.)
From Britney: If you could take one of your characters from SPELLCASTER on vacation with you, who would you take, where, and why?
From Amy: Is this a stand-alone book?
From Connie: What about this new trilogy has you most excited?
From Lea: Can you quote a random sentence from the book?
From lots of you:What was the hardest scene to write, and why?
From Kaitlyn: What was your absolute favorite moment in the production of SPELLCASTER?
And a question that is not about SPELLCASTER but that I just love, from Stacey: Are you ever going to put in a story about your ancient maths teacher who knew maths but not names?
Hope that was interesting for all of you - and if you have more questions, send them along to evernightclaudia at gmail dot com, and maybe I can add them in. :D