is published on April 2, 2019 by Harper Voyager.
Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Caitlin a Happy Publication Day!
: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?Caitlin
: When I was eight years old, I wrote a several chapter (read: ten pages in very large font) Sailor Moon
fanfic. I actually got to reread a copy a few years back, and my grammar was spot on!TQ
: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?Caitlin
: Hybrid, all the way. I tend to outline in very broad strokes, either before I start or sometime after the first chapter or two, once I have a sense of where things are going. I add to the outline as I go, usually just a few scenes ahead of where I’m writing, because I’ve found that I’m far more creative when I’m drafting than I am when I’m thinking
about drafting. I set marks that I have to hit (X character needs to feel Y way by the time Z plot moment happens), and fill in the details organically.TQ
: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?Caitlin
: It’s incredibly humbling. Drafting is like trying to balance twenty spinning plates while also juggling chainsaws. There’s so much to keep track of, and so much I don’t know yet
but that will inevitably shape the story. Not only that, but each project I work on requires that I learn more, try new things, get better at what I do. I can never write a project perfectly, let alone on the first draft, and I will always have things I wish I had done differently.TQ
: What has influenced / influences your writing?Caitlin
: I used to write a lot of fanfiction, where it’s not unusual to focus in with laser-like intensity on one or two characters, and to explore relationships from multiple angles as the focus of the story (without following the genre conventions of a romance novel).TQ
: Describe The Luminous Dead using only 5 words.Caitlin
: Angry, traumatized lesbians in caves.TQ
: Tell us something about The Luminous Dead that is not found in the book description.Caitlin
: It is, in many ways, a love story. A dark
love story that may not be for everybody, and a nontraditional one, but it’s there.TQ
: What inspired you to write The Luminous Dead? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?Caitlin
: The Luminous Dead
was inspired by an initial image - a woman, alone in a cave, listening to a woman she doesn’t trust. I’d been playing a lot of Zombies, Run
, which I expect contributed. I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship in video games between the player character and tutorial/handler/guide characters (Cortana in Halo
, GLaDOS in Portal
, Sam in the aforementioned Zombies, Run
), and I’ve also always been drawn to small casts.
I write science fiction (really, all flavors of specfic) because it allows me to isolate certain elements of relationship dynamics and heighten them in interesting ways. You can’t have the relationship between Gyre and Em the way it is in The Luminous Dead
without some significant tech advances. I also find it very freeing to not have to stick to reality. I can choose to diverge at any time if I think it will make the story stronger.
All that said, while The Luminous Dead
is science fiction, the scenario and technology isn’t that difficult to believe, and it should also appeal to fans of general survival fiction ala 127 Hours
or I Am Still Alive
: What sort of research did you do for The Luminous Dead?Caitlin
: My biggest resource for designing the cave and the physical challenges Gyre faces is the book Beyond the Deep
by Bill Stone, Barbara am Ende, and Monte Paulsen. Beyond the Deep
covers in great detail Bill and Barbara’s expedition into Sistema Huautla, a very real, very deep, very terrifying cave. It covers gear, technique, landscape, and the psychological impacts of taking on an expedition of that scale.
Beyond cave research, I also paid attention to ongoing conversations on resource colonialism and exploitation, read up on gold rush town dynamics, and researched feeding tubes and colostomies. I also read In The Dust Of This Planet
, which (among many other amazing points) has some fascinating theories about setting-as-monster in horror.TQ
: Please tell us about the cover for The Luminous Dead.Caitlin
: The cover for The Luminous Dead
features art by Alejandro Colucci
and art direction and design by Owen Corrigan. That hand probably
belongs to our main character, Gyre… but perhaps not. ;) I absolutely adore it for its sense of space and isolation, as well as the lush, rough textures of the stone and the surrounding cave walls.TQ
: In The Luminous Dead who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?Caitlin
: I don’t have many choices here! But of the two characters in the book, Gyre was probably the easier, if only because I was able to spend so much time in her head. We never see Em’s inner workings, which means I had to do a lot of invisible work to make sure that what we do see is cohesive, even if Gyre can’t make sense of it immediately.TQ
: Does The Luminous Dead touch on any social issues?Caitlin
: It does touch (in a limited way) on some of the ways colonialism, forced settlement, and industrial resource extraction can damage community cohesion, as well as how poverty and lack of an extended family can shape decision-making.TQ
: Which question about The Luminous Dead do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!Caitlin
The movie question- Who would you cast as Gyre? Em?
Going to have to go with Tessa Thompson as Gyre and Janelle Monáe as Em. A girl can dream!TQ
: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Luminous Dead.Caitlin
“Anything interesting happen while I was out?”
“I made you a roast dinner,” Em deadpanned.
: Nothing I can talk about in any detail, but I’m playing around with gothic horror on a few projects. More lies, more creepy locations, more isolation. Right up my alley, in other words!TQ
: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.