Catherine Mesick - Folklore, Romance and Fantasy
Catherine Mesick is the author of Pure, Firebird, Dangerous Creatures, Ghost Girl, and A Maryland Witch. She is a graduate of Pace University and Susquehanna University. She lives in Maryland. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Pure.
Please give us a short introduction to what Pure is about.
In Pure, sixteen-year-old Katie Wickliff has long been frustrated by the secrecy that shrouds her life with her grandmother—her only living relative. Then one day, people in her small town start to vanish. And she discovers that she’s being followed by a handsome stranger. As Katie starts to investigate the mysteries that surround her, she steps into a hidden world of magic and danger.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
My inspiration was the Rosebud Imperial Easter egg, created by Fabergé in 1895. It’s red and gold, and it looked magical to me. You can see it here:
I imagined what the egg might be able to do if it really did contain magic, and it was the inspiration for the powers that Katie has in Pure.
Tell us more about Katie Wickliff. What makes her so special?
I hope that readers find Katie to be a relatable heroine. She isn’t perfect, she doesn’t have all the answers, and she doesn’t always know what to do. She just does her best when she’s suddenly confronted by the supernatural. Her struggles may be fantastic in nature, but my hope is that the way she reacts seems realistic.
Why did you title this book "Pure"?
The title actually has two meanings—a minor one and a major one. The minor one: Katie’s full name is actually Ekaterina, which means “pure,” and I thought it would be fun to have a reference to her name in the title. And the major one is thematic: the title also refers to the male lead, William. He has been shunned by his own people because they believe that his blood is not pure enough. William has internalized this belief and is struggling to find his way in life.
Apart from fantasy and vampires, you also mixed a lot of folklore into this story. Why did you pick this approach?
Folktales and fairy tales were my favorite stories as a child. I used to go to the library and get big, fat doorstopper books with titles like One Thousand World Folktales. I loved reading folklore from cultures all over the globe—there are so many different types of magic in the world! I wanted to bring some of that wonder I felt as a child to this story.
How much research did this story require from you?
I did quite a bit of research. I wanted to make any cultural references as authentic as possible—I wanted the story to feel like a fairy tale come to life. A lot of details changed, of course, as the story evolved. But the research was there, even if it doesn’t all appear on the page!
Interesting cover. How did you decide on this one?
I really, really wanted to work with artist Mirella Santana, and I was so happy when she agreed to take the project on! I told her about the characters and gave her the highlights of the plot, and then she had free rein to create the cover art. I was delighted with the lovely, graceful art she came up with.
What did you have the most fun with when writing Pure?
Without a doubt, the best part was working with all the magic!
This is book 1 of your Pure Book Series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in this series tie in with this one?
I definitely think Pure can be read as a standalone. I tried to make each book in the series a complete tale with a satisfying ending. So if you only want to read one you can still get a complete story. Each book in the series expands on the lore and goes deeper into the magical world that the supernatural creatures inhabit. It’s a little like going further into a maze and discovering new levels.
What surprised you the most about readers' reactions to Pure?
What surprised me the most was that anyone picked up the book at all! I’m very thankful to everybody who took a chance on my story. I know that people have limited free time, and it’s a great honor whenever a reader chooses to spend their time with one of my books.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
I look for an idea or an image that grabs me. And then I start jotting down notes. I write down characters, places, plots points—and I add in real-world details that I’ve noticed recently. For example, in the last few days, I’ve seen bright-red autumn leaves fluttering in the wind and sunlight sparkling on morning frost. When I have enough material to work with, I start fashioning a first draft. I try to let the ideas and images take me on a journey.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
My biggest goal right now is to improve as a writer and give readers a better experience with each new book. On a typical day, I write in the morning and afternoon, and then I spend the evening studying and trying to improve my technique. My writing buddy, Jules the cat, reminds me to get up throughout the day and get my steps in! And since I don’t drink coffee, I snack on chocolate chips to give me a little caffeine boost.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on Little Sun—it's book 5 in the Pure series. The manuscript is basically finished, but I’m working very hard to polish the final draft. I’m trying to make this book as good as I possibly can. I want to give readers an enjoyable experience that is worth the investment of their time.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The best place to reach out is my website: https://catherinemesick.com/. That’s where I post news on new books first. And the contact page (https://catherinemesick.com/contact/) is the best way to connect with me. Everyone is very welcome to reach out and just say hi!