Iron Cast is the first novel by Destiny Soria. It’s going to be released this year on October 11th. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2016–a little fantasy, a little historical fiction, and a whole lot of talent. I highly recommend it if those things tickle your fancy. My review can be found here. I received a copy from NetGalley and really enjoyed it, so I wanted to do an interview with the author. I’m very excited to introduce Destiny Soria here on [a cup of tea and an armful of books]!
*･゜So, Iron Cast. Your first book, congratulations! I imagine you’re very excited! It has a lot of really good reviews on goodreads (mine included). What’s it like having your book out there? And could you tell us briefly what it’s all about?
DS: Thank you! It feels pretty surreal actually. I keep expecting it to finally “hit” me, but it hasn’t yet. Maybe when I see the hardcover on the shelf and subsequently faint? And in a nutshell, this book is about magic, mobsters, and two best friends kicking ass in 1919 Boston.
DS: You know, I still haven’t come up with a good answer for that one? Honestly, this novel grew organically from a lot of different ideas about the magic system and the characters. I really just set out to write a story I would have wanted to read when I was a teen—which is to say a story about magic, mobsters, and two best friends kicking ass.
*･゜Why did you go with 1919 as the setting for your book?
DS: The year 1919 marked a big shift in American history. It was the year that Prohibition was ratified (although it wouldn’t go into effect for another year). This year is also considered the beginning of the first Red Scare, which was a time of intense fear in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Both of these movements play a role in Iron Cast. (Fun fact: 1919 was also the year of the Great Molasses Flood and the Boston Police Strike. These both took place after Iron Cast ends, but they are fascinating to learn about nonetheless.)
*･゜I found the hemopathy aspect of your novel really interesting. Where did that idea come from?
DS: Here is the (rambling) thought process I went through one afternoon, just as I was settling in for a nap: Science is pretty cool. Think about all the cool stuff Science can do. In fact, some of the stuff Science can do is so unbelievable that before Science was a thing, people thought it was magic. Fields like chemistry are still kind of like modern magic, if you think about it. So if chemistry is the magic of Science, then why isn’t there a magic of art or literature or music? What if there was? What if musicians, poets, painters, thespians, and other types of artists had their own kind of magic, made possible by their natural talents and an element in their blood that was yet to be explained by Science?
The more I explored the idea, the more it made sense. A talented musician can evoke emotions with their instrument, and a talented writer can create imagery so vivid that you can practically see it. If there was something extra special about a person’s genetic makeup, then maybe the effects of their talent could be more literal. Maybe a musician could make you feel any emotion they wanted you to feel, and maybe a poet could create an illusion so potent that you’d believe it was real.
*･゜Did you find out any interesting new facts while you were researching for your novel?
DS: Tons! I’ve probably forgotten more than I remember, to be honest. I used to fall down a lot of rabbit holes while researching. I think my favorite was probably watching YouTube videos of people driving their restored Model T cars. Did you know that people used to break their thumbs a lot trying to crank the engine? Thank goodness for keys.
*･゜Going off of that, what’s your writing process like?
DS: I’m a pretty hardcore pantser. (If you’re not familiar with that term, it means writing by the seat of your pants, as opposed to a plotter who, well, plots.) So in general my process involves a lot of word sprints with my critique group and writing utter nonsense in the dead of night until a story starts to take shape. To quote James Michener, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
DS: I love Ada and Corinne, the two heroines, fiercely and equally. I think my favorite secondary character is probably Saint, an artist who also lives at the Cast Iron club. He’s a quieter character, but he surprised me in a lot of ways while I was writing him. As for favorite moments, I loved writing about the girls practicing their hemopathic talents together. The imagery and emotions I put into those scenes were really rewarding for me. A runner-up favorite—and I don’t want to give away too much—is a scene where Corinne punches somebody who deserves it right in the face. That part is still very satisfying to me in an evil puppetmaster kind of way…
*･゜Have you always been a writer? If so, what’s the first thing you remember writing? Or was Iron Cast your first project?
DS: I wrote my very first novel when I was seven or eight. It was entitled Horses of All Kinds and included illustrations and a staple binding. After that, there was no going back. I’ve been writing ever since.
*･゜Was there any part of writing Iron Cast that you really struggled with? How did you get past it?
DS: This is a little embarrassing, but I’m not so great at writing romance. There isn’t a LOT in Iron Cast, but there’s enough that I was nervous about getting it right. My very helpful (and awesome and amazing) agent sent me a novel with plenty of romance to inspire me while writing the “swooniness” (her most excellent term). Then my critique group picked through a couple of scenes with their expert eyes and gave me lots of swoony advice.
*･゜Do you have a little writing nook you like to write in?
DS: I have a full time job, and I wrote the first draft of Iron Cast during National Novel Writing Month, so I spent that November writing anywhere and everywhere I could: in bed, on the floor, at the library, in coffee shops, on the kitchen counter, in my car, on my lunch break. Nowadays I tend to write in my bedroom or on my couch, always with my cat randomly sneak attacking my keyboard.
*･゜What did you do when you needed to take a break from writing?
DS: Well, the aforementioned cat is always up for snuggling. I also enjoy hula hooping (badly) in my living room, watching too much Netflix, and of course reading reading reading.
*･゜As impossible as it may be, what’s your favorite book? Is it a world you’d want to live in, or would that be a different choice?
DS: My favorite book changes with the tides, but I’d have to say my current favorite is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It’s an impossibly lovely novel, rooted (see what I did there?) in Polish fairy tales and folklore. I read it twice in the course of a few months, and I’d probably read it again if my To Read shelf wasn’t growing so fantastically out of control. I do think I’d like to live in the world, but only if I could be a witch like Agnieszka.
DS: Make friends with people who don’t mind you texting them creepy research-related questions in the middle of the night, because you are going to do that, and sometimes you are going to sound like a serial killer. Like the time I asked my pharmacist friend if there was an artery in the calves you could cut to make someone bleed out slowly. In retrospect, I probably should have phrased the question better, but she handled it like a champ. A champ who did not call the cops.
*･゜Lastly, do you have any plans for the future? Any new projects?
DS: I am writing away on my next project, but I can’t really talk about it yet! Hopefully I’ll have news to share in the not-so-distant future.
*･゜Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview with me on [a cup of tea and an armful of books]! If readers are interested in contacting you, where can they do so?
DS: Thank you so much for having me! I love being contacted, especially if you want to talk about cats, dinosaurs, hula hooping, or red pandas. Or books too, I guess. My various social media handles and links to Iron Cast are below:
Twitter & Instagram: @thedestinysoria
*･゜A huge thanks again to Destiny Soria for taking some time out of her busy schedule to do an interview here! I had a wonderful time and am really looking forward to what’s next for this author. I hope everyone has a chance to check out her book!