Please welcome Cat Rambo to the blog! Her new book, The Beasts of Tabat, just came out in February and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about it, and more!
Cat, will you tell us a bit about your new book, The Beasts of Tabat, and what inspired you to write it?
It’s a book about a city at a time when it’s about to undergo immense changes in its politics. Tabat is about to switch systems of government, from a hereditary-based system to a more democratic one, because of an ancient treaty, and that’s got everything in upheaval. It’s also facing the threat of the magical creatures who drive its economy demanding their rights.
I wrote because I wanted to write a kickass fantasy story, but also one that talked about how power dynamics and economics shape events and our perceptions of those events.
Why do you think readers will root for Teo?
Because poor Teo is just trying to do his best and survive in a city that doesn’t give a hoot about him. He starts the book a naïve soul, and he makes some blunders along the way because of that, but he learns from them as he does so.
What is your writing process like? Chaos, controlled chaos, or other?
It is so different from project to project. With this book I can only compare it to repeatedly throwing myself against a wall until it broke and the book behind it emerged.
I try to write every day. It’s easier if I have a plan, but if one is lacking, I just put words down until the story emerges.
You are an award winning author with many titles under your belt, but have you always wanted to write since you were young?
Nominated more than winning, generally. And yes! I used to make my own little books by sewing pages together and filling them up with stuff.
What’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
An epic fantasy adventure that starred myself and a vast troupe of intelligent horses fighting against the evil forces of Brutescruel. It was recorded in one of the aforementioned little books.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Oh, holy smokes, what a great question. I think it would be Samuel R. Delany’s The Fall of the Towers. I read it when I was 13 and it blew me away because it showed me how amazing science fiction could be. Or possibly Joanna Russ’s The Female Man, because that was one of my first introductions to feminism. But I don’t know. With both of those books, it was in part the moment at which I read them, those teenage years where so often you find texts and realize that they’re shaping the way you think, or that there’s truth in them you can use to guide yourself going forward.
What are you currently reading?
I am usually reading multiple books at any one time. Right now it’s City of Saints by D.J. Butler, Crooked by Richard Pett, Aetheria by Stephen Blount, the first Nebula Award anthology, and The Vagabond by Colette.
I just finished Waking Up Naked in Strange Places by Julie McGalliard, which I’d picked up at Norwescon and was reading while taking a break from the crowd. I am also wading through How to Manage an Effective Nonprofit Organization, which I am hoping will help me guide SFWA better.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Butt in chair and write. That’s the first priority. Don’t do other stuff like Facebook or housework or volunteer work or anything else until you have produced words of fiction. They do not have to be good words, but they must be words.
What’s next for you?
I am halfway through writing the sequel to Beasts, Hearts of Tabat, plus a YA post-apocalyptic book, The Bloodwarm Rain. Once those are done, I have book 3, Exiles of Tabat, as well as the final book, Gods of Tabat. I’ve also got a collection coming out this fall, another double-sided one like Near + Far, but titled Neither Here Nor There and focusing on fantasy rather than science fiction.
About The Beasts of Tabat:
When countryboy Teo arrives in the coastal city of Tabat, he finds it a hostile place, particularly to a boy hiding an enormous secret. It’s also a city in turmoil, thanks to an ancient accord to change governments and the rising demands of Beasts, the Unicorns, Dryads, Minotaurs and other magical creature on whose labor and bodies Tabat depends. And worst of all, it’s a city dedicated to killing Shifters, the race whose blood Teo bears. When his fate becomes woven with that of Tabat’s most famous gladiator, Bella Kanto, his existence becomes even more imperiled. Kanto’s magical battle determines the weather each year, and the wealthy merchants are tired of the long winters she’s brought. Can Teo and Bella save each other from the plots that are closing in on them from all sides?