A Chat with Author MICHAELA L. CANE
Today on the Witch Haunt, please welcome indie author of erotic horror, Michaela L. Cane!
WH: Hi, Michaela! Please give us a brief introduction of your fabulous self:
Spells in Waiting is my first novel, but I’ve been writing horror and dark fantasy for about as long as I can remember. I spend my days as a full-time editor—working mostly on horror, fantasy, suspense, and paranormal romance—but I spend my evenings writing.
WH: Your novel, SPELLS IN WAITING, came out in October 2018 from HellBound Publishing. Tell us a little bit about it!
This is a story that started with the characters—the first scene in the book is what came into my mind, and it simply demanded that I start there and then tell the story in full. By the time I’d lived with the characters and story for a while, I realized it was much bigger than planned, and now I’ve got one sequel written, with plans for up to four more!
In short, it’s the story of a witch named Lauren who’s picked up by two government agents engaged in hunting for her mother, who’s long been an unstable force in both Lauren’s life and the world in general. Their interrogation accidentally triggers a spell that Lauren’s own mother cast on her years before, setting off a chain reaction of events that work with the ongoing investigation to complicate… well, everything.
I’m a big fan of novels that bring together complimentary elements of different genres—mash-ups as they’re sometimes called—and this story brings together dark paranormal romance, suspense, and erotic horror in a kind of natural entanglement.
WH: I love mash-ups! The key is in getting all the elements to work well together. What inspired you to write SPELLS IN WAITING?
I was working on another book when this story came to me, but I couldn’t seem to get the characters out of my head. I’d been wanting for a while to write something that would key in on both sexuality and the horror genre, being a big fan of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, and also watching a ton of Supernatural. I’m a huge fan of that show, and thinking over the dynamics that I most love there helped me really envision what I wanted for my characters, especially in terms of how good people can be entrapped by circumstances that are beyond their control. Once I realized that the interrogation at the beginning of the book was leading into something much larger, I let myself be inspired not just by the world and characters, but by some of the tropes and discussions that I want to get into as the series builds.
I also wanted to see what would happen if I tried to write about genuinely good people, who care about others, but who are forced into dark situations and decisions. Situations and decisions that can’t easily be walked away from, and cleared up in a few chapters. I didn’t want to pursue an easy happy-ever-after ending that didn’t fit a story, but to get there honestly and to struggle for it, without necessarily knowing what was coming around each corner. (That, admittedly, is probably why this one book idea turned into a series…)
WH: SPELLS IN WAITING contains some dark themes, such as witchcraft, murder, and rape. What do you say to readers who might take issue with these themes, particularly that of rape, in today’s #MeToo climate?
I understand that a lot of readers don’t want to read about dark themes, and that there’s more and more discussion of ‘triggering’ content. For me, the simple truth is that these dark themes are part of the world we live in. Even if we’re not personally accosted by them, we live with them. We train ourselves not to leave our drinks unattended in bars, to lock our doors, and to deal with what we see on the news each night. Pretending that these things don’t happen—for the purposes of fiction—doesn’t get us anywhere. I’m not sure why it seems that fiction gets more heat for writing about them than television does for presenting them, but that seems to be the case. There’s a reason that the Law & Order series and the Criminal Minds-type series have such followings. They talk about dark truths, and attack them head-on in a way that shows the gray territory in people, through created characters. That’s territory I’m interested in exploring.
In terms of this particular novel, I did a lot of thinking about what these characters would potentially do in different situations. How far would I or anyone else go to catch a serial killer? Would I think of a witch as more human or monster, if I thought she was capable of evil? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, but they’re problems the agents in this book struggle with, and confront, just like we all have to confront the worst pieces and the best pieces of ourselves. But, of course, these questions are a big part of the reason this is published as erotic horror, vs. it just being dark, paranormal romance/suspense.
This book is absolutely not for everyone—for a lot of reasons—and the sexual situations presented are a big reason for that. At the same time, we need both good stories and bad stories, and because we can’t do a whole lot to control the problems that the world forces us to confront personally, each day, I think there’s a lot to be said for writing about characters who struggle to control themselves and the world around them. Maybe writing about them and thinking about them through a lens of horror and suspense makes it easier to consider them without being overwhelmed—I certainly think that’s true for me—or maybe darkness and monsters are just a part of the world, and thus a part of fiction. I think that’s probably true, too.
WH: Well said and absolutely true. Like most literary witches, your main character inherits her powers from her mother. Do you think the theme of inheritance is integral to the witch literature canon, or do you believe powers can come from a character’s own agency?
I think inheritance has become integral to the canon because it’s so pervasive that it can’t be ignored, but I do think there’s room for powers to come from a character’s own desire and agency. I didn’t really make that choice in this case—it was demanded by the very story idea and characters that first came to me—but I’d like to explore a self-building of powers in some other book one of these days. That said, I think we see a lot of characters gaining powers through their own agency in fantasy, versus horror literature, so it may be that that’s one of those blurry lines that point authors into one genre or the other.
Inheritance also brings up the question of choice. I don’t think my main character in this book, Lauren, is ever asked whether or not she’d start over without her powers if she could. They’re a part of her, and she’s used to them and considers them part of her identity, so she can’t stand the thought of losing them now. But, if she’d never been born with them to begin with, I don’t think she would have sought them out. That lack of choice—because they can’t easily be ignored, as Lauren learns because of the coven—more comfortably fits into a horror novel than a fantasy novel.
WH: What is your writing process like?
More than anything, it starts out with characters and a situation, just like this book did. Once a situation and the characters who are involved are fully developed in my head, I start writing. Most of the time, by that point, I have a loose idea of the larger plot, and a good idea of an ending point, but very little understanding of how the beginning will get to the end. Writing is all about discovery for me—if I try to outline in advance, then I get bored once the writing begins.
Concretely, I start drafting in notebooks, and then when I get stuck (usually 15-20,000 words in, I think), I go to my computer and start typing up what I’ve written, revising while I go. That keeps me involved, and I always end up writing more in the notebooks in between typing sessions, so that I eventually have a full rough draft in a notebook, and then what amounts to a second draft by the time it’s all typed up.
WH: What do you feel makes a compelling horror novel?
Characters who the reader can care about, and feel sympathy for, who are put into contact with horrific situations or beings. I probably sound like a broken record by now, but for me, everything comes down to character. If I don’t care about the people/beings I’m reading about, I have a hard time getting engaged enough in a book to keep going.
WH: Characters are everything! What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us?
Having this book out in the world is pretty awesome. I’m also doing some last revisions on the sequel, and anxious to get it to readers. Every week or so, someone emails to tell me they have to know what happens next, or loved the story of Lauren and David so much that they couldn’t help emailing to tell me so. Those emails and the reviews coming in mean everything to me, and validate the long hours I put in to build this story, and the next. I’m anxious to keep hearing from readers, and also to get to work on the third book in the series.
WH: It's an awesome feeling when readers want more. So, what’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!
Well, you already know! Book Three in this series has been percolating in my mind for a while, and I’m desperate to see it building on the page. I’ve also got some author cons coming up in the Spring, and a dark fantasy story coming out in an anthology. Depending on how that goes, it may be that that short story turns into the novel that follows the Spells in Waiting books…
Fantastic. Thanks so much for spending time with me today, Michaela! To follow Michaela Cane, visit the links below and don't forget to comment, like, and share!
* Website: www.Twitter.com/MichaelaLCane
* Latest release: Spells in Waiting (Hellbound Books, 2018): https://www.amazon.com/Spells-Waiting-Michaela-L-Cane/dp/1948318482/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Spells+in+Waiting&qid=1549841187&s=gateway&sr=8-1
* Twitter: MichaelaLCane
Michaela discovered Stephen King and Piers Anthony when she was in fourth grade, and there was really no going back from there. She penned her first full-length novel in 7th grade when she fell in love with seaQuest and passed the time between seasons by coming up with her own adventures for the characters; now, she knows to call it fanfiction, but back then it was for her the beginning of a life-long writing passion, and the stories were as real as anything else in the world. From the beginning, her stories ranged from horror to science fiction and fantasy, and involved danger, passion, and character-driven nightmares.
A constant reader and writer, she grew up in Virginia, spending most of her time in the backstage area of her high school theater or wandering the woods near her home, wondering what it would be like to cast spells or meet a vampire. Eventually, she moved to South Carolina and her escapades expanded to sipping whiskey and skinny-dipping in dark lakes where she’d still like to believe monsters lurk.
Now, she lives and writes in southwest Florida, where she works as a full-time book editor specializing in horror, dark romance, suspense, fantasy, and anything at all involving the paranormal. Her own writing always takes dark turns, but tends toward character-driven stories which blur genre lines and ask the questions that she believes we sometimes even hide from ourselves. Spells in Waiting is her first full-length published novel, and she jokes that she didn’t mean to write it… but, in the end, it demanded to be written, and its sequel is now complete and ‘coming soon’ since the characters in the book aren’t people she’s quite found a way to walk away from just yet.
If you’d like to contact her about her works or get in touch for editing, you can email her at MichaelaLCane@gmail.comor follow her on twitter, where you’ll find her @MichaelaLCane.
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🔮 GABY TRIANA ☠️