C. C. Cole dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her book, Act of Redemption, the first installment of her Gestar Series. Read on to learn more about her post-apocalyptic tale about a cursed assassin and her battle with a demon lord.
Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
I am a writer from rural Mississippi and now live in the suburbs with my family. While I enjoy fiction/fantasy/adventure, I also have an interest in 20th century history, particularly World War I. As noted in my website, I began creative writing following the death of my sister following a domestic violence incident. After writing and starting the story over and over through several years, it finally shaped into the Gastar Series.
Can you tell us a little about your book, Act of Redemption?
“Act of Redemption” brings the reader into the city of Gastar in post-apocalyptic state following years of war. A trio of warriors from the past return to the city to help restore hope to the people of the dying city as they face annihilation by Zermon, a demon lord who wishes to claim the city for his own desires. The main character Shevata, an assassin from the past, an ally unknown to the people, but known to Zermon arrives bearing a horrific curse that ignites the spark to distract him from his plans. An evil deity cursed her by removing her soul for killing his last high priest. Her mentor, the dragon Harathgus, who also possesses a human form, attempts to guide Shevata to the path to reclaiming her soul.
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
For “Act of Redemption” Zermon was the easiest character to create, since his dialogue (not the evil actions) is based on my brother’s personality. That’s a family joke now, and my brother is now proud he was such a great influence for the story. The humans, being the least developed characters, reveal the values and emotions of ordinary people, like most of us today. Shevata is a dark, complex character enduring punishment for her past actions while uninhibited from facing her greatest enemies to protect the people of the city. What I wanted the most of Shevata is to begin with a powerful character making her way to redemption to blend in with the people, apart from the “wimpy kid becomes tough” or “damsel in distress” storylines. The boy Goldeon, traitor to the people, Shevata, and Zermon cleverly manipulates one against the other, with his own desires of riches and power.
What have you learned about yourself through your characters?
The characters taught me how quickly human nature becomes complex. For example, Shevata took the law into her own hands by destroying an evil temple, which resulted in her curse and endangered the people she tried to protect. The humans in the story taught me how fear arouses suspicion of people of one another. The evil characters are straightforward in their own desires and complete disregard for the suffering and lives of others.
Is there a message you want readers to come away with after reading the book?
The most impossible odds can be overcome when people come together over a common enemy. The rule of law, whether one agrees with it or not, has an important role in civilized society. Shevata’s actions by breaking the law placed the people at greater risk along with her curse. Also amongst the best of people, traitors exist and are not always simple to find and destroy.
What do you enjoy best about dystopian fiction?
Dystopian fiction gives a writer freedom to put more “edge” in the story, giving rise to the intensity required of the characters to overcome oppression. Generally, I think it’s most suited for older teens and adults. While I do enjoy creating the city of Gastar, I avoid geographic details (maps, etc.) often used by other authors. I prefer to emphasize the dynamics between the characters and guiding the reader to feel what they are going through by use of dialogue. No good character is perfect and no evil character is perfect. I like pointing out that everyone makes mistakes.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
To begin a story, the most challenging part is just taking the time to sit down and write. Some authors say, if you write, the story just “falls out.” I agree, sometimes I don’t know what’s going to happen myself until I start writing.
What’s the most gratifying aspect of having your book published?
My readers have shown me more about myself through this story than I ever anticipated. One reader sent me a multiple-paged, single-spaced analysis of the story that revealed symbolism I hadn’t consciously thought of. To write and learn more about myself to me is the most gratifying experience I’ve had. While I didn’t consciously use my sister’s situation for the characters, many read more into the story than I realized.
Who was your biggest supporter while you were working on the book?
My family is my biggest supporter. Only my mom reads unedited passages. My brother, the inspiration for Zermon, is a great fan and supporter, but will not read a word of my writing until after publication, and limits in-depth conversation about the story because he doesn’t want to influence my writing.
Can you share a little about the next book in the series?
The Second Book of the Gastar Series: “Children of Discord”, hurls Shevata along with the reader back into Gastar many years into the future. Readers of “Act of Redemption” will see similarities between the prologues of both books but the situation changed entirely. I give the reader the chance to get to know Shevata, as she reveals her life history in a brief narrative. She begins to feel the isolation from human society. For the fans of Shevata that like her vigilante-type fighting style, they won’t be disappointed.
If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, what would it be?
Whew. That’s a tough one. Of course Lord of the Rings turned me on to fantasy years ago. Of course I love Harry Potter! Dune is a favorite, and Michael Crichton is a favorite author. More recently the book “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy was excellent in his simplicity of an intense story for a short novel. I’m bad to read books after I see movies. I agree with the critics “Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates is a “writer’s book,” an excellent portrayal of flawed characters on a collision course to tragedy. The disturbing subject matter may not be for everyone, but I appreciate his writing skills.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I like martial arts, reading biographies (Napoleon recently), WWI and WWII print and television documentaries. A book of Winston Churchill’s speeches is also a favorite. Movies of all types inspire my writing as one critic stated (paraphrased), “television-like language.”
Thanks for taking the time to chat!