Indie Superstars with Cait Marie, Author of The Nihryst Series + Giveaway (US + International)
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This week, staff reviewer, Melissa A. Craven is interviewing our very own Cait Marie, author of
"The Lost Alliance: The Nihryst Book 3"
Releasing June 16, 2021
Welcome to YABC, Cait Marie!
Melissa A. Craven: At YABC we love a good retelling, especially when the author creates a unique twist on an old favorite. Tell us about The Nihryst series and your take on this fantastic blend of Rapunzel and Robin Hood.
Caitlin Haines: The Nihryst series follows a sister and brother as they ultimately try to save their kingdom. Each book focuses on finding someone or something magical from a different story.
Princess Adalina grew up hearing about the immortal warriors known as the Nihryst, who were supposedly cursed and abandoned on a lost island by her ancestors over a century earlier. The immortals’ story is essentially Robin Hood—the leader’s name is even Loxley. The first book is about her looking for them.
While she’s off searching, her brother Shane discovers a plague-like illness is wreaking havoc throughout their kingdom and begins working with rebels to find the source of the sickness and a cure. This is where the Rapunzel inspiration really begins. The second book revolves around finding the Heulwen, or sunshine flower that heals.
There is a lot more of these retelling pieces in the second and third books than the first, but it’s spoilery, so I won’t share the details.
Melissa: The Nihryst is your debut series. What was your inspiration for writing this story?
Caitlin: As cliché as it sounds, it started with a dream. Initially, the story was a standalone book that vaguely resembled a pirate Robin Hood retelling. It was solely about Adalina searching for the group of immortals.
It wasn’t until I finished writing the first book that I saw the influence of Tangled on my writing (because I watch it more often than any adult should… I’m literally wearing Tangled pajama pants as I write this). So, I went with it, figured out how to draw in that familiar story more, and tied it all together to make a series.
Melissa: You've clearly put in a lot of work to construct Adalina's world and her character. Do you have a process for developing your world building? How did you decide to add her brother Shane as a secondary point of view character?
Caitlin: I wish I had a good process for world building. In reality, it typically just involves writing random ideas down in a notebook and putting together Pinterest boards for inspiration.
The addition of Shane is one of my favorite stories to tell. Like I said, originally, it was one book that was only about Adalina’s quest to find the Nihryst. Shane existed but only as a side character in a few scenes. When I realized I needed to know what was happening in her kingdom while she was off on her adventure, I decided to write a few chapters from Shane’s point of view with the intent of deleting them later…
Except, his plotline kept developing to the point where he made it necessary to turn it into a series. He kind of took over and has more and more chapters with each book. He and Phillip (a guard and the royal siblings’ best friend) have become fan favorites, and they almost didn’t get their story!
Melissa: The Lost Legends (Book 1) introduces a fairytale involving a deck of tarot cards. Can you tell us about this legend and what inspired it?
Caitlin: The legends say that the Nihryst were cursed by the king’s mother. Their lives were tied to a deck of tarot cards, with each of their portraits on one. So long as their images remained intact, they would be immortal.
This grows throughout the series as the characters learn more about the curse and a prophecy involving Loxley. But in the beginning of the series, this is all they know.
To be honest, I don’t even remember where the idea came from. It might have been part of the original dream because I had initially planned on having the cards play a bigger part with predicting the future and such. As the story developed, that didn’t fit, but the cards are still a part of breaking the curse.
Melissa: You’ve been very busy since your debut novel The Lost Legends released. Tell us about your contemporary fiction series, Leaving Summersville.
Caitlin: Leaving Summersville also started off with just one book. Are we sensing a pattern here?
The Last Summer is young adult romance about Lila who has just graduated high school and has a summer bucket list to complete in two weeks. Gavin is her next-door neighbor and former best friend, and when he finds her list, he decides to help her cross everything off in hopes of figuring out why she’s hated him since middle school.
The Final Chance is about Beth Ann and Dylan (Lila and Gavin’s best friends). Beth Ann has moved to New York for college, and Dylan essentially gives up everything to follow her because he made a mistake and doesn’t want to lose her.
The First Holidays is a short story that takes place between the two main books and focuses on all four characters as they return home for winter break after their first semester of college. It serves as a prequel for The Final Chance as it shows what Dylan did to upset Beth Ann, but all three can technically be read on their own.
Melissa: Music is my inspiration as a writer. I can’t get focused without it. What is your muse when you’re writing? Do you have a book playlist you can share with us?
Caitlin: I absolutely have to have music while writing. It’s essential, and I make playlists for each book or series.
Here’s The Lost Legends playlist.
Here’s The Nihryst series playlist that got chaotic. It’s not in any order after the first book because I just kept adding songs and hitting shuffle.
Melissa: Can you tell us of a funny mishap or situation that happened while writing any of your series?
Caitlin: I can’t think of anything specifically funny, but I think it’s hilarious that all my books keep turning into series with multiple spin-offs.
Melissa: What has been your biggest learning experience as an author?
Caitlin: I’ve learned so much! Writing was never the plan or the dream. I didn’t start writing until 2015, and even then, it was more out of boredom than anything. I hadn’t decided to really try to become an author until 2019. It’s been a whirlwind of learning since then, but I think the most significant thing I discovered is that this is what I’m meant to do. For years, I struggled to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in life. Now, I have no doubts that I belong in the book world as an author, editor, blogger, etc.
Melissa: Tell us about all the fun things we can expect from you later this year. I heard something about a brand new contemporary series you’ll be releasing soon, in addition to the third book in the Nihryst Series and a collection of Nihryst short stories! (Also, do you ever sleep?)
Caitlin: What is sleep? Haha no, that’s not a regular thing around here.
This summer, I am releasing The Lost Alliance (The Nihryst #3) and The Lost Dreams (A Collection of Nihryst Short Stories). The latter will consist of at least five backstories, two of which have recently released individually.
The first three Bennu Firebirds books are releasing this summer as well. These are new adult/college romance, and they’re a spin-off of the Leaving Summersville series. The first book (Making the Play) is about Kaley, who you first meet in The Last Summer.
Starting in the fall, I will slowly be releasing another contemporary spin-off that takes place at Summersville High. Both of Dylan’s siblings will get their own books in this series.
And finally, I will be releasing a dark fae duology at the end of the year! This one is new adult fantasy, and it takes place in the same world as the Nihryst but hundreds of years earlier. In The Nihryst series, we learn that magic was banned after the war in Haevlan… the duology title is The Haevlan Chronicles. I actually wrote the first half of book one before The Lost Legends, and I’ve had the covers for like a year, so I’m excited to get back to that story.
Melissa: Give a shout out to your cover designer because your covers are gorgeous!
Caitlin: Maria Spada designed The Nihryst and Haevlan Chronicles covers, and she is incredible. I have at least a dozen covers by her that are just waiting to be used. I’m particularly excited to share the steampunk fairytale retelling trilogy, which will release next year.
Stephanie Anderson designed the Bennu covers. They’re adorable and will be revealed at the end of May.
And I will be using one of the covers I got from you (Melissa) for the first Summersville High book! I just haven’t told you yet. ;)
Melissa: You are a prolific reader as well as an author. Who are your favorite authors and your most favorite books of 2021 so far?
Caitlin: I have a lot of favorite authors, but my top two are Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas… Yes, I’m that person.
My favorite book so far this year has been Light Singer by Audrey Grey. I’m lowkey obsessed with the Kingdom of Runes series and am dying for the next book!
Melissa: Time for a super fun question. If you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you? Why?
One fictional character from your book
One fictional character from any other book
One famous person that is not a family member or friend
Caitlin: Hmm… probably Loxley from my books because… well, he’s Loxley. Plus, he knows what it’s like to be stranded on an island, so I’m sure we’d survive. From another book—Kenji Kishimoto from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi because I’m fairly certain we’d be best friends. As for a famous person, I’d have to go with Chris Evans so he could finally realize he’s in love with me.
Melissa: And last but not least, what’s coming next for you and how can we stalk you online?
Caitlin: A lot of writing and hopefully reading. However, I am also working toward an MFA in creative writing, have several editing, proofreading, and book marketing jobs planned for the next few months, I write and review books here on YABC, and I manage Functionally Fictional. I like to keep busy obviously.
You can find me on just about every social media! Here are my links:
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/caits.inner.circle/
Newsletter Sign-Up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/v1d5i1
Functionally Fictional: https://functionallyfictional.com/
All her life, Cait Marie has loved fairy tales. When she discovered a passion for writing in 2015, she knew she had finally found the right path.
Cait is the creator and manager of Functionally Fictional. In 2019, she joined the indie staff of YA Books Central as a reviewer and then Indie Co-Manager in 2020. From 2017 to 2020, she held multiple positions within Coffee House Writers, including C.O.O., Editor, Advertising Supervisor, and Writer. She graduated with honors in 2019 from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and she is currently enrolled in their Master of Fine Arts program.
She lives in Indiana, where she freelance edits and provides a variety of other author services. When she’s not writing or reading, she can usually be found watching Disney movies, creating pages in her bullet journal, painting, or singing showtunes to annoy her family and cats.
Meet The Nihryst Series
The Lost Legends (The Nihryst Book 1)
A plague. A prophecy. A centuries-long curse
All her life, Princess Adalina heard tales of the legendary, immortal warriors known as the Nihryst. Cursed and bound to a deck of tarot cards by her ancestors, the Nihryst were stranded on a remote island nearly a century and a half earlier.
Her brother, Prince Shane, is destined to rule the kingdom of Detmarya. Though preparing for this role has encompassed his entire life, control of the kingdom may come sooner than expected due to their father’s sporadic behavior.
Discovering the king's plan to set a war in motion with a mass assassination, Ada unwittingly joins a crew of pirates in search of the only beings powerful enough to stop him: the Nihryst. Meanwhile, Shane and a group of underground rebels make a haunting discovery of a plague infecting the streets of Detmarya.
With a looming deadline to save multiple kingdoms and thousands of innocent lives, both royal siblings join quests worthy of Ada’s beloved fairy tales.
The Lost Alliance (The Nihryst Book 3) Releases July 16, 2021
One winner will receive an ebook copy of The Lost Legends (US + International) Enter to win at the link below