Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cat Hellisen Uncovered

Today I welcome Cat Hellisen to my world. She's a close friend and writing partner, and I'm absolutely thrilled to reveal the cover art for her YA fantasy novel, When the Sea is Rising Red, which is pegged for an early 2012 release.

Can you tell us about When the Sea is Rising Red in a nutshell?

It's about a girl who fakes her own suicide in order to run away from an arranged marriage. She thinks she's choosing to finally break free of her society's constrictions and limitations, only to discover that it's not all that easy to escape her upbringing. Especially when she ends up falling for the guy who wants to destroy her family.

I think one of the hardest and scariest things about growing up is
realising that the choices you make don't have simple repercussions and that no matter what you do or how much it blows up in your face, you can't return to the safety of childhood. You have to own your
mistakes and make them work for you.

What is it about your "Hobverse" that offers something special to your readers?

As a South African I'm influenced, however obliquely, by the classism and racism I see around me. I've brought that to Felicita's universe: the casual Colonialist racism of the privileged, the human desire to somehow get a label that makes you Better Than another human, no
matter how ridiculous that concept is. But I also loved messing about with all the classic fantasy tropes and picturing them at their most unfantastical.

The Hobverse originally began as this idea of "what if fairies were just like us? What if the magical was utterly mundane and ugly?" And so I ended up building this universe where the unicorns were genetic mutant goats bred as sports for rich women, and magic was accessed by
a kind of drug and rigidly controlled, where vampires, when they did appear, were lower than dogs and about as far from superhuman as you could get. I had a lot of fun playing with ideas.

When is the novel releasing?

February 28, 2012, and it's available for preorder now on Amazon

What was the soundtrack you had playing in the background while you wrote When the Sea is Rising Red?

The closest thing to musical inspiration was Chumbawamba's rendition of the partisan song Bella Ciao. It still manages to give me shivers. For this particular book I drifted into a fairly unmusical headspace. Odd, considering I have constructed lengthy soundtracks for other novels.

Who are some of the voices in YA literature you drawn most inspiration from?

We can sit here all day. *grin* YA is BOOMING, and right now it's filled with some of the most amazing voices. Sticking specifically to fantasy, I love what I've read of Holly Black and Lisa Mantchev's work. Some awesome titles are coming out in 2012, most of which are

I also grew up reading loads of Diana Wynne Jones, Tanith Lee, Ursula le Guin, and Clive Barker, so they were a major inspiration.


Goodreads for When the Sea is Rising Red:


  1. Thanks for giving me some blog-space, bb. :D

  2. I *love* Lisa Mantchev's books. She's also a very sweet lady on top of that. Hey, heard this was your debut Cat. Happy expectancy for book birthday! You're where a lot of gals want to be. Savor this moment. Congratulations.