You probably already know Cherie Priest as the outrageously imaginative, prolific, and award-winning author of novels such as Boneshaker, Maplecroft, and Dreadnought. But her latest work, I Am Princess X, is what finally pushed me into connecting with her for an interview. I found she’s as awesome as her books are, and wish I’d come up with some more questions just to keep her talking. But there’s always another day! I’m sure we’ll be seeing another book from her very soon.
If you missed it, here’s the review of I Am Princess X.
ZEN: Let’s go with something random to break the ice. What’s your favorite board game?
CHERIE PRIEST: I don’t do much board-style gaming these days, but my all-time favorite has to be Scotland Yard – a game from the 80s that was far more fun than it had any right to be. [Wiki here] My sister and I used to fight over who got to be Mr. X. Actually, if I could easily scare up a box of this one (complete game, decent condition) I’d probably buy it, and badger my friends into playing it with me.
ZEN: Now let’s dig deeper. Your recent release, I am Princess X is quite a departure from your previous books, which were Steampunk and dark fantasy. What made you want to write YA?
CHERIE PRIEST: Sometimes you just want to tell a story with younger characters at the forefront, that’s all. And Boneshaker got quite a lot of YA cross-over – largely because one of its two protagonists is a 15-year-old boy, so my desire to take a dip into the young adult pool wasn’t entirely out of left field.
In fact, I ended up writing IAPX after approaching Scholastic with an entirely different project…which they gently, lovingly rejected. But then they invited me to try something else, and so IAPX was born. So to speak.
ZEN: You have a huge fan following for your other genres. How have your fans reacted to the switch to YA?
CHERIE PRIEST: So far, the reaction has been great! I’ve gotten a lot of support from my existing readers, and a lot of interest from younger readers, too. Besides, this isn’t really a “switch,” per se. After all, I still write mostly for an adult audience – 2-3 books a year, sometimes – all of them speculative fiction, thus far.
ZEN: How did the idea of I am Princess X come about?
CHERIE PRIEST: Actually, the core idea had been bouncing around in-house at the publisher – and I was invited to develop it into a full-fledged project…partly (I suspect) due to my spec-fic career. (The web comic that threads through the story is set in a fantasy world.) I was thrilled to have the opportunity, of course!
ZEN: You’ve described your Raylene Pendle character, from the Cheshire Red Reports series, as “bananas.” Do you find it easier or harder to write a character with a somewhat chaotic personality?
CHERIE PRIEST: Raylene was almost too easy, to be honest. She says and does things that are wildly inappropriate – and was really rather liberating, writing someone who doesn’t care how batty she sounds or looks. I wish I’d had the opportunity to continue those books, but alas. They just didn’t sell well enough, and the publisher (quite rightly) lost interest in producing any more of them.
ZEN: What tv shows are you into? Any cancelled series that you binge watch over and over?
CHERIE PRIEST: Oh God…let’s see. Justified is winding down, and I’m both relieved that it’s ending before it loses its punch – and sad to see it go; Penny Dreadful is to die for, and I’m miserable waiting for season two to finally get underway; Person of Interest is probably my favorite network show that I never, never miss – though Hannibal is also a real stunner; Twelve Monkeys on SyFy is a zillion percent better than I ever dreamed it’d be, and I’m positively addicted; I’m liking Better Call Saul so far, though I was worried it’d be a lame spin-off at first; I hope that Constantine gets to come back for a second season, because it really found its footing in the second half of the first one; likewise I’d love to see more Agent Carter; iZombie is pretty cute so far; and I’m probably forgetting a few things, but that’s what springs to mind.
I’m not much of a binge watcher, generally speaking, but I’ve rewatched Penny Dreadful’s first season a couple of times. It’s gothy comfort food.
ZEN: How do you celebrate a big event like finishing or releasing a book?
CHERIE PRIEST: Booze and a nap.
ZEN: What’s the biggest sacrifice you make in order to have enough time to write?
CHERIE PRIEST: It really takes a bite out of my reading time, which is inconvenient…and sometimes my yard goes to hell. (I live in the southeast, where a yard can go from zero to jungle over a weekend.) I try to manage/compartmentalize my time to squeeze all the important stuff into my day, and more often than not, I can make it work. Discipline doesn’t come naturally to me, but when you work from home, you really have to embrace it.
Let’s finish up with some random word association. No thinking—just the first thing that comes to mind.
*feather – Finches. (We have some nesting on our front porch.
*banana – Gross.
*automaton – Decepticon. (Hey, you said first thing that comes to mind!)
*supersonic – Salt-n-Pepa (Child of the 80s/90s over here.)
*blood – A- (My type)
*funny – Pants (I don’t know why.)
*love – Dogs
*favorite – Rocky Horror Picture Show
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Visit Cherie’s website to find out more about her and her books.